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Outdoor Activities

The best in South Shore horse treks, mountain biking, and swimming.

Kyrgyzstan is a country built for outdoor adventures and the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul is no exception. While our range of treks take you straight into the Terskey Ala-Too range of the Tian Shan Mountains on single and multi-day trekking experiences, the outdoor adventures don’t stop there.

Discover the lure of the lake with a beach day on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul. Or enjoy the region’s many natural attractions from astride a horse as you make your way and ride through the mountains on the local transport of choice. If two wheels is more your style, our marked mountain biking trails offer rugged terrain, gorgeous views, and the chance to explore at your own pace.

And no matter your style of outdoor adventure, South Shore’s extensive network of yurt camps and guesthouses ensure you always have a place to lay your head each evening and an opportunity to experience our unique brand of nomadic hospitality.

Horses have been inextricably linked to Kyrgyzstan's nomadic culture for millennia and they continue to play a pivotal role in the life of modern Kyrgyz. They're also an essential and favored way for nomadic shepherds to navigate the steep, rocky terrain in the Tian Shan Mountains. Travelers keen to experience life like a nomad could do no better than to book a horse trek in the region. Trekking on horseback offers a fresh view of the mountain-scape and the opportunity to discover the region’s stunning canyons, rivers, gorges and glaciers. With so many miles of beautiful natural attractions, we have horse treks to suit every skill level, interest, and time-frame. The standard price for horse rental is 800 som/day with a horse guide at 1,300 som/day (up to three people). Many of the horse tours mentioned below also include food and any other gear you might need.

How to organize a horse trek: You can contact Destination South Shore to help you arrange any of the horse treks mentioned below, or for any other horseback riding you'd like to do in the region. CBT Bokonbaevo also offers a variety of horse treks as well, from one day to four days.

Favorite Horse Treks in the South Shore

  • Kok-Say Glacier Horse Trek: This enjoyable full-day horse trek leaves from Jaichy Yurt Camp and affords sweeping views of Lake Issyk-Kul and the Terskey Ala-Too Mountains, pleasant green jailoos (summer pastures), and the chance to see the Kok-Say glacier up close. This horse trek can easily be adjusted to meet all skill levels (i.e., it can be offered as a jeep-horse combination). The standard horse trek includes a local Kyrgyz guide, lunch, horse, and gear.  More about Jaichy's outdoor offerings in this brochure.
  • South Shore Panorama Horse Trek: A moderate four-day horse trek that is designed to maximize beautiful views. You’ll end your first day at a gorgeous panoramic sunset spot over Lake Issyk-Kul, and spend the following days slowly climbing higher into the mountains until you reach the top of the Kyzyl-Kia Pass, which offers panoramic views of snowcapped mountains and sloping valleys. 
  • Tong-Ashuu Horse Trek: For the true adventurer and horse lover, you won’t want to miss this two-pass trek which ventures into Naryn oblast. It’s a difficult six- to eight-day trek (depending on time of year, group size, and riding skill) with extraordinary views along the way. You’ll ride through the 4,023m Tong-Ashuu Pass and the 3,893m Tosor-Ashuu Pass — both offering sweeping panoramic views of mountains and lakes. Along the way you’ll soak your muscles in the Jyluu-Suu medicinal hot springs, visit yurt settlements high on the mountain jailoo, and enjoy an experience unlike any other in Kyrgyzstan. 

Bathing beaches along the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul are popular throughout the summer months for a reason — they’re the perfect way to stay cool when the weather warms. And you won’t just find tourists along the South Shore — locals holiday here, too. Along the most popular beaches you can enjoy local vendors offering an array of Kyrgyz foods and snacks. Or indulge in the quirky with the occasional opportunity to take a photo with local resident camels. If you’re after some peace and quiet, the many lakeside yurt camps offer peaceful private beaches along the pebble-strewn shore.

Favorite Swimming Locations Along the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul

  • Kaji-Say Beach: From Bokonbaevo, a shared taxi costs 100 som per person (5 people per car); marshrutka costs 50 som; private taxi costs 1000 som round trip (driver will wait).
  • Tamga Beach: Located further from Bokonbaevo, use a marshrutka to Karakol for roughly 150 to 200 som.

Note: To help you plan your visit, use our map to locate these outdoor activities along the South Shore.

With hundreds of miles of impressive mountain ranges, canyons, and lakeside paths, the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul has a number of high quality mountain biking trails and treks. Thanks to a USAID trail marking project in 2017, all of Kyrgyzstan has emerged as a fast-growing international destination for mountain biking. There are a number of new mountain bike tours available in the region, from half-day to full-day, and even 4-day trips for the adrenaline junkies.

The South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul offers mountain bike treks across the range, from suitable to beginners hoping for a fun day trip, to fit for the well-experienced, advanced mountain bikers who are able to handle off-trail riding on rough, rugged terrain. All of our trails include the best natural sights in South Shore, chosen with an eye toward creating memorable outdoor adventures for travelers in the region.

How to organize a mountain biking trip: Mountain bike rentals start at 800 som/day. You can organize through Destination South Shore or CBT Bokonbaevo. You can also sign up for one of the several mountain bike tours available in the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul region. You can also download this catalog of mountain biking trails in Kyrgyzstan, including South Shore, Karakol, Jyrgalan and Naryn.

Favorite Locations and Tracks for Mountain Biking in South Shore

  • Ak Sai Canyons - Salt Lake: This 21km mountain biking route takes an easy, one-day route from Ak-Sai village (12km west of Bokonbaevo) through the scenic canyons en route to Lake Issyk-Kul. If you’ve packed your swimsuit, stop for a dip in the lake before riding 10.5km along the shore until you reach the remarkable Salt Lake. Enjoy lunch in one of the yurt camps nearby, float on the surface of Salt Lake, and enjoy the scenic views. Offered April through October.
  • Boz Salkyn - Tosor Gorge - Skazka: A medium to difficult mountain bike route that offers the perfect amount of challenge and adventure spread across two days. It combines rugged trails with some of the best natural attractions in the region — the vast Boz Salkyn Valley, Tosor Gorge, and the remarkable Skazka Fairytale Canyons. You’ll cycle 47km total to a maximum elevation of 2,600m, at which point you’ll take in stunning views over Lake Issuk-Kul and the Tian Shan Mountains, and a thrilling downhill ride, too. Offered May through October.