14 Days In the Land of Khan-Tengry

The Central Tien-Shan Mountain Range is an empire of snow and ice. The highest mountains of Central Asia – Pobeda (Victory) Peak (7439m) and Khan-Tengry (7010m) are to be found here. The beauty and size of these great peaks sends most of the world’s professional climbers into raptures. Indeed it has been said many times, justifiably, that Khan-Tengry is the “Matterhorn” of Central Asia. The similarity between these two great mountains is uncanny.

One of the highlights on the trip is you can enjoy the views of beautiful mountains on the flight by helicopter from INYLCHEK Base Camp to Karkara at the last day of the trek.

At a glance:
Highest altitude (m) – 4003m
Nights in a hotel – 4
Nights in a tent – 9
Distance by car (km) – 1300
Best Season – July, August
Land Cost per person in SGD :  $ 3470 (twin)/ $ 3840 (Single)

Quick Itinerary (Subject to changes)
Day 01: Arrive in Bishkek in morning. Transfer to Karakol and rest. O/N Guesthouse (BL)
Day 02: Karakol Sightseeing – At-Jailoo base camp (200km, 6hrs drive). O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 03: Trek to Beginning of Inylchek Glacier. O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 04: Trek to Glacier then Glina Camp. O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 05: Trek to Merzbacher Glade. O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 06: Trek to Merzbacher Lake. O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 07: Trek to Shokalskyi glacier O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 08: Trek to Dikyi Camp. O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 09: Optional ~ Climb Pesnya Abaya (4901m). Trek to Inylchek Base Camp (4000m) O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 10: Rest day at South Inylchek BC. O/N Tent (BLD)
Day 11: Inylchek Base Camp – Karkara (Helicopter) – Issyk-Kul Lake (Drive 3 hrs) Overnight Hotel (BL)
Day 12: Issyk-Kul Lake – Bishkek (Drive 4-5 hrs) Overnight Hotel (BL)
Day 13: Bishkek tour Overnight Hotel (BD)
Day 14: Departure (B)


Day 1 Arrival in Bishkek early in the morning. Meeting at the airport. Transfer to the Guest House. After short rest and late breakfast transfer to town of Karakol. Lunch on the way. Arrival to Karakol.

Day 2 After breakfast short sightseeing tour around Karakol. Karakol town situated in the east of the lake area, at the foot of the most picturesque mountains of Tien Shan. This sleepy but very interesting Old Russian town was first erected by Cossacks in the middle of 19th century and be came an important garrison settlement. Visiting Dungan mosque, a unique construction in Chinese style, but serving as a mosque. Also you will see an Old Russian Orthodox Cathedral made of wood without any nails.

Lunch in local café. Transfer to At-Jailoo base camp. 200 km drive will take us about 6 hours. The road passes through a number of villages, then continues up along the canyon Turguen Ak Suu towards Ashuu Chon Pass (3808m). Descent to Ashuu Tor valley. On the way we pass by Koilu and Sary Jaz rivers. Later we drive along Sary Jaz river to the check point Echkilitash as we are going to enter the border zone, we must leave our permits here. Sary Jaz river is one of the larg- est in Kyrgyzstan. The river has a length of 200 km and carries its water into Inylchek river which flows to China About 1-1.5 hours drive through a village and along Inylchek river, arrival in At Jailoo camp. Dinner and overnight in tents.

Day 3 Trekking from At-Jailoo along Inylchek River to the beginning of Inylchek glacier Breakfast. Trek with our backpacks on the road. We take lunch boxes and will leave the camp in order to be able to cross At Jailoo river before 9 am while there is still little water and the water level is low. We cross its freezing cold water, but it gets more difficult the later we do it. Within an hour we reach a place called Prijim. If the water level allows, we walk and easily cross another stream here. Otherwise we have to ascent and descend a steep and overgrown path which takes us about an hour extra. All depends on the lake Merzbacher. Whether it is the time when the lake opens and its water rushes down, or it has already or vice versa not opened yet, then we are lucky! Still it is highly recommended to bring along the sandals which you can wear when crossing the river and streams. Overnight in tents.

Day 4 The Inylchek Glacier is the largest glacier and centerpiece of the Central Tien Shan. Extending 62 km in length with a width of over 3 km, the Inylchek Glacier is the third longest glacier outside the Polar Regions. It is estimated that the glacier holds enough ice to cover the entire country of Kyr- gyzstan in three meters of melt water (Stewart, 2002). The first outside to travel into the area and visit the glacier was the European Pyotr Semenov in 1857. Climbing in the area began in the ear- ly 1900’s and continued through the 1930’s. Under Soviet rule, the permitting system restricted foreign access. It was not until after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that foreign climbers began to climb in the area (Stewart, 2002).Breakfast. We take our lunch boxes and leave at about 9 am. Very steep ascents and descents take exhaust. We will try to go through to the right slope of the terrace. The trail crosses the terrace, later small rivers, washes out mountain slope, Putevodnyi glacier. We go up and down, up and down all the time. Lunch on the glacier at about 1 pm.

Then we ascent another steep terrace along a narrow trail. The variety of terrains and the steep ness of the slope trails will add some more adrenaline in blood. Arriving in Glina Camp we will have some tea or coffee and rest. The camp has got its name (which means “clay” in Russian) because of its location on a green clay field. Dinner at 6 pm. Overnight in tents.

Day 5 Breakfast at 9 am. Again we trek up and down various terraces though have also about 10 km of straight path. Only once we trek across a small glacier, passing a river and have lunch on the shore of a small lake, swim and rest. It will be an hour left to get to the Camp. Upon arrival we have some tea or coffee, then dinner at 6 pm. Wonderful views of Merzbacher lake open to us from the Camp. Merzbacher glade is the last grassy place in the area located just across the unique Merzbacher Lake. There is a scientific research station on the glacier. Scientists from all over the world come working here every summer. They study glaciers moving, meteorological situation of the region and the lake Merzbacher itself. There is a large green area around which is flat enough for camping. Overnight in tents.

Day 6 Breakfast at 9 am. We take our lunch boxes and leave at 10 am. Across South Inylchek glacier up to Mertzbacher Lake. The glacier terrain is ice covered with rocks and stones, sand and mud. The trekking time both ways is 4-5 hours.

Sandwiched between the Northern and Southern branches of the glacier lies the mysterious Merzbacher Lake, which form every summer and then, sometime in August, burst through the ice banks and the waters flow into the Inylchek River. (Actually, the timing varies – for example in 2012 it happened on 10,July.) In reality, only part of the lake drains – the lake, which is 6 kilome tres long and one kilometre wide, is in fact divided into two by a bridge of ice and whilst the lower half empties regularly, the upper part is always full of water. Also, the lakes empty twice a year – once in the summer and once in the winter – but most people only know about the summer event. In 1903 the German geographer and mountaineer, Gottfried Merzbacher, first discovered the lake while leading an expedition into the Tian Shan Mountains aiming to reach the summit of Khan Tengri. Forced back by ice, from their originally intended route through the Byankol Pass and along the Semyenov and Mushketov glaciers, they attempted a different approach – along the Enilchek glacier. Once again they failed, but they had shown that Khan Tengri was in fact on a ridge and not in the centre of that particular knot of the Tian Shan Mountains as had been thought. The expedition will be better remembered, however, for the discovery of the mysterious lake that now bears Merzbacher’s name. Overnight in tents.

Day 7 Breakfast at 8 am. We take our lunch boxes and set off at 9 am. It is a long day of trekking sur rounded with beautiful landscapes – snow, rocks and multi-colored ice – black, white and some times even striped. The first part of our trek goes along the right side over terraces and, right be fore we reach Shokalskyi glacier it smoothly goes down. The trail reaches the glacier and the black moraine which flows out of Komsomolez glacier. We follow it up to the glacier itself. The terrain is very diverse: rivers, crevices, ascents and descents, the hikes around those take much time and energy. It will be our first night at the glacier. Strong wind usually starts here after 4 pm. It might be much colder than before. Hot drinks are very helpful here, the dinner is as usual at 6 pm. Overnight in tents.

Day 8 Breakfast at 8 am. Departure at 9 am Lunch boxes. Trekking in this part of Tien Shan is absolutely fabulous. The distinctive characteristic of the region is a great number of nameless peaks, unclimbed yet, about 5000m above sea level high. Straight from the camp we cross Proletarsky glacier moraine, get to the middle of Dikyi glacier moraine and walk along it up to the Dykyi glacier. The first part of the way is uneven, we walk up and down. Closer to the glacier the moraine becomes more even, without so many crevices, creeks and, no needs of working around to escape crossing small streams. Lunch break. In front of Proletarsky glacier we go up straight. Dikyi camp is located behind Pesnya Abaya peak (in 30 minutes). From Dikyi camp you have beautiful view of Khan Tengri, Pobeda, Gorky, Chapaev, Trehglavaya peaks. Tea, coffee and dinner at 6 pm. Overnight in tents.

Day 9 Optionally: Climbing to Pesnya Abaya – 4901 a.s.l.
Breakfast at 8 or 9 am. Short trek,so we can depart at 10 am. We take our lunch boxes. We cross the whole glacier till the central moraine where the base camp is situated. The path is covered with rocks, ice, creeks, lakes and cracks. But it is possible to do without any ropes and crampons. We arrive in the base camp (4000m) at about 2 pm. We have our lunch, tea or coffee. Dinner at 7 pm. INYLCHEK Base Camp is ideally situated in the heart of North Tien-Shan at the South Inylchek glacier approximately at 4000 m. above the sea level. It has a picturesque view of Khan- Tengri ( 7010 m .) and Pobeda ( 7439 m .) peaks. Overnight in tents.

Day 10 Rest day at South Inylchek BC. “South Inylchek” BC is open from 3 of July till 30 of August every year and might be interesting not only for alpinists, but also for usual travelers, who would like to enjoy the views of beautiful mountains on the flight by helicopter. Overnight in tents.

Day 11 Breakfast. Helicopter flight from BC to Karkara helicopter pad. Transfer to Issyk-Kul Lake.

In the afternoon three hour drive to the Issyk-Kul Lake, lunch on the way. Issyk-Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. Measuring 182 km long by 58 km wide, the lake appeared as a result of volcanic activity. It is heated from below by thermal activity and never freezes even in the depths of winter. In the summer the water temperature reaches 25-28 degrees centigrade (warmer than the air) and you can swim in the lake enclosed on all sides by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains. Extremely deep and nicely warm over the centuries the lake has been something of an oasis in this inhospitable mountain environment. With diverse flora and fauna Issyk-Kul Lake and the surrounding environments are rightly considered to be one of Central Asia most remarkable locations. Arrival to the hotel.

Day 12 Breakfast. Time at leisure. Lunch. In the afternoon transfer to Bishkek through tight Boom Gorge where boisterous Chu River, so much loved by rafters (routes up to 6th category difficulty!), cuts its way. On the way visit Burana Tower (old minaret) near Tokmok town. That minaret was constructed in Balasagyn town; one of the capitals of Karakhanid State existed in 11-12 centuries AD. Explore ruins of that important trading point at the Great Silk Road and visit a little local museum telling about that civilization. Also watch a collection of Balbals, Turkic ancient tombs. Arrival to Bishkek.

Day 13 After breakfast a short sightseeing tour in the city. The capital and industrial centre of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a city of wide avenues, handsome buildings and Soviet heritage. It is the perma nently snow capped Kyrgyz Alatau mountain range which towers over Bishkek providing a quite stunning backdrop. Visit Manas Monument, the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Then excursion to the State History Museum and walking tour around main Ala Too Square to watch ceremony of changing of the Guard of Honor, Independence Monument, and finish at the Old Square with Government House. Transfer to the Victory Square to finish the city tour by short ex cursion there. After excursion tourists may go shopping in the largest department store in the city – ZUM and a colorful oriental bazaar. Farewell dinner in restaurant. Overnight is in hotel

Day 14 Early in the morning transfer to the airport. Departure

Land cost per person in SGD $ 3280 (twin)/ $ 3620 (Single)
Tour Code: CA-KYKT_14

Supplement for climbing to Pesnya Abaya Peak – SGD 80/per person, incl. mountain guide service, rent of rope (for group of 5 pax and more price is SGD 60/per person)

A deposit of S$ 800 per person is required upon confirmation and the balance must be paid in full 30 days prior to the departure date. Non-payment by required date may result in the cancellation of your booking and subjected to cancellation charges.

Price is subjected to changes without prior notice
International airfare from S$ 1100 with taxes (by Air Astana) from Bangkok

LAND Price includes

  • Accommodation in Bishkek in Asia Mountains hotel or similar – 3 nights
  • Accommodation in Issyk-Kul Lake – 1 night
  • Accommodation in Karakol town Amir or in Green Yard Guest House – 1 night
  • Accommodation and full board (hot food for breakfast and dinner, lunches as snack boxes) in the permanent tent camps along the trek At Jailoo – Base Camp “South Inylchek” – 9 nights
  • Helicopter flight Base Camp “South Inylchek”- Base Camp “Karkara”
  • All transfers as per program
  • FB during whole program
  • Frontier zone permit
  • Mountain guide service
  • Porter service – not more than 12 kg per person (see below)
  • All ecological and entrance fees as per program
  • Briefing prior departure
  • 15% discount for gears at X-Boundaries

Price excludes

  • All international airfare & taxes
  • Personal gears & expenses such as alcohol, laundry
  • Travel Insurance (Compulsory)
  • Beverages and any expenditure of personal nature
  • Beverages and Meals not stated in main menu
  • Tips for trekking staff and driver
  • Visa support and visa fees (if required)
  • All optional deviations from the main itinerary
  • Any other expenses which are not mentioned on Price Includes section

Pre Trip Preparation

Advice on training and equipement checklist

Luggage allowance on trek

Your baggage on the trek will be carried by porters. The packed weight of your trek bag whilst trekking should be no more than 12 kg of personal belongings. For 1kg extra you pay 10 euro per program (the whole trek).It is possible to leave travel clothes or other items not required on trek in our local partner office – we will deliver them to Karkara Camp on your arrival there after BC.


For this trip you will need the following: 4 season sleeping bag, Thermarest or similar sleeping mat, walking boots, waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket or similar, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, a daypack of around 40 liters, head-torch and batteries, 2 x 1 liter water bottles, sun cream. A down jacket, pair of sandals and walking sticks are recommended.