Camping in Kyrgyzstan and I need your help!

If you haven’t heard much about Kyrgyzstan, I honestly couldn’t blame you.

In a nuthsell, the country has 5,7 mio inhabitants and is landlocked between China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. More than 80% of the entire country is covered by  the mountainous  regio of Tian Shan and it looks stunning.

Together with 3 other travel-enthusiasts, we’ve rented a 4WD from a local company  (there aren’t any other options) and our plan is to drive eastbound for 500km to Karakol, a route which will take us along the Issyk-Kul Lake with stops in places such as Skazka valley (red rock canyon), valley of flowers, Bokonbayevo and Chong-Ak-Suu (big white river). We will go off roading  in the valley, hiking to find a good camp spot and sleep in tents or a Yurt, ..

Travel Gear For Camping and hiking

Taking pictures is important to me and last year I switched from a Canon 700D reflex camera to a Fujifilm X-T1 which turned out to be the right solution for me. At the the time I had a hard time choosing between a full-frame camera, which meant an additional investment, and something more compact because I really had difficulty fitting everything in my bag.

After long consideration, I sold all my gear via second hand websites and bought a new Fujifilm X-T1, this has reduced the weight of my backpack significantly which will make trekking in the mountains much easier.

Anyway, this will be a first for me, switching from hotels to camping in the outdoors so I could really use some on advice on which things to bring along during this trip!

The highlight of the trip will be a two day trek to Ala-Köl lake during which we will ascend to 3860m where we will camp next to the lake – we have just been informed that we will need sleeping bags for temperatures -20°C to -30°C! Apparently it still gets rather chilly in June! The hours of trekking are relatively limited meaning 3-5 during the first day (+1.000m) and about 5 or 6 the second day (or so they say..) If we would have had more time, we certainly would have chosen the 3 day trip! Check this blog post, it does seem like quite the challenge, but amazing nevertheless!

For the entire trip, not just the trek, I’ll need to buy quite a few things:

  • a tent, this Quechua Quickhiker seems like the perfect fit to go camping somewhere along a river. The tent during the trek will be provided by the tour company
  • Do I need walking sticks for the trek?
  • 50l backpack?
  • Fleece sweater, pants, socks,.. Wouldn’t zip off trousers look dandy?
  • Cooking utensils, binoculars, …

Do you have any recommendations for gear?

What have I learned so far about Kyrgyzstan?

It’s not a run-down, overly crowded tourist destination! Thankfully! Some of fondest travel memories are from destinations of the beaten path, so it’s already looking very promising so far! You can find information about the country, its most beautiful locations & treks, but sometimes you’ll have to do a bit more digging! If you’re looking for certain roads, valleys or mountain passes, even Google Maps can’t help you out all the time, so I bought an actual road map to help us out (much more fun anyway).

Other than that, the country’s scenery looks stunning, like absolutely amazing. Take a few minutes to check out the following video… doesn’t this seem like one of the most authentic destinations in the world?


  • Ayshin

    You will have porter during the tour? 50l max pagpack will be good!!!! Bring more clothes, tshirt, fleece, raincoat,. Could still be snow were you will go

  • Kurt

    didn’t you just buy a Mavic drone? lol. You should bring that

  • Katrien

    For inspiration, you can watch my cycle trip in Kyrgyzstan: The second part relates to the region where you will be going (east, Issyk Kol, Karakol, ..)
    In Ak-Say, you can do some off-road adventure. I cycled through a dry river bed (I can mark it on the map, if you want to), which brings you through the badlands (very dry area). The road is really bad (sandy river bed, and along the lake you can then drive further east over a road (which can’t be called a road).
    Skazka valley used to be unsigned in 2012, but I understood they now have made it more visible, and tourists find their way.

    If you want to cook yourself: bring a petrol stove. In case you want to cook with gas, some years ago, only 1 shop in Bishkek sold the canisters. (I might find it back).

    • Sven

      Thanks, I looked at the video! so cool! I think our off-road adventure will take us close to “Ozero Dzhasylkel'” , we’ll see how far we can get 🙂 Good to know about the gas, we have a guide in Bishkek, if you know the name, do share, else I will ask her as well.

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