01 Sep KYRGYZSTAN TOUR WITH DE VERDWAALDE JONGENS
When I told people that I was travelling to Kyrgyzstan, most people looked at me rather confused. Some, a little ashamed to admit – asked me where this country was located. Tucked between Kazakhstan, China, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan is without question a unique destination. As much as it’s off the beaten path, it’s also a hidden gem, that I was lucky enough to explore on a Kyrgyzstan tour with De Verdwaalde Jongens.
De Verdwaalde Jongens
There once was a Dutch guy by the name of Jos Oosterbroek – a man that has adventure written all over him, who loved to travel. Preferably to the hidden corners of the world. He ended up discovering the beauty of Kyrgyzstan and fell in love. He felt so connected to this destination, that he decided to set up his travel agency De Verdwaalde Jongens – translated as The Lost Boys. Unlike any other travel company, he bought six Russian Buhanka vans and 2 Hunter Jeeps. These cars, combined with a dose of off-road routes where normal vehicles don’t come, became the main ingredient for adventurous trips through Kyrgyzstan. So, when Jos invited me to join on his Kyrgyzstan tour, I didn’t have to think long.
Up until a few years ago, the New York Times named Kyrgyzstan the least known country on the planet
The stunning nature of Kyrgyzstan
Large parts of Kyrgyzstan are located in the very diverse Tian Shan Mountains, also known as the “Heavenly Mountains”. Not so long ago, this area was recognised by UNESCO as a natural world heritage site. The colourful valleys, blue lakes, snow-capped peaks, natural hot springs, and rugged rock formations make this country a must-visit in our opinion. I will highlight our route and tell you why this Kyrgyzstan tour road trip with De Verdwaalde Jongens is different from any other trip you’ve ever made.
Think unrigged landscapes, rivers, and breathtaking mountain passes
Reasons why you should book your Kyrgyzstan tour with De Verdwaalde Jongens
- People travelling to Kyrgyzstan often follow the Lonely planet route and highlights. Nevertheless beautiful, but you’ll miss out on the hidden gems and the extra adventure. De Verdwaalde Jongens take you to parts of Kyrgyzstan that are off limits for most rental cars.
- It’s a self-drive trip; Yes, YOU are driving around through this incredible country. You will receive coördinates, so you know where you’re heading. At the end of each day, the group meets at a camp where cold beers and vodka, (or tea) are waiting.
- Besides making memories for a lifetime, you will most likely gain a few friends. Young, old(er), couples, friends, or family members, all signup. The average age for this Kyrgyzstan tour is between 25 – 45 years old, but anyone is welcome!
Are you seeking places without mass tourism?
Check out our book Off the Beaten Track!
Good to know about this Kyrgyzstan tour
- Your car will most likely break down, but that’s what makes driving in these cars so adventurous! That being said, these cars are always fixable, one way or another. You don’t need to be a car mechanic to join, there is always a solution, plus someone from De Verdwaalde Jongens is always nearby to help.
- You may not shower for a few days. Yes, there are rivers to wash in, but unless you want to find your inner Wim Hof, you’ll probably pass the cold mountain rivers. Toilets? Well, Kyrgyzstan offers some beautiful holes in the ground, that serve their purpose. Just give in, you’ll be fine.
- De Verdwaalde Jongens is a group tour and at the same time, they really hate that word. Yes, you’ll drive the same route. But during the day, you and your friends are free to do as you please. They do not drive in a column. They don’t stop at the same highlights at the same time and we don’t visit a temple together. At the end of the day, you meet at the most beautiful places to sleep, and more importantly: cold beer, campfires, vodka, and local food.
- During your Kyrgyzstan tour you will lose signal for a few days. Bring a book or just enjoy life as it is.
- Dress to the occasion! It will be cold at times, so trainers or boots, wind jackets and jumpers, as well as your sunscreen are mandatory.
- Try the local delicacy sour horsemilk. Or don’t. Actually, don’t. It’s gross.
The 8-day Route of our Kyrgyzstan tour
Currently, De Verdwaalde Jongens is offering 15-days and 8-days roadtrips through Kyrgyzstan. Our Kyrgyzstan tour lasted a week and we started and ended our trip in Bishkek. Mind you, routes may change on every trip, but this will give you a hint of what’s to come. Trips with DVJ are mainly hosted between June and September. Jos however, is also planning extreme winter trips for the future where snow leopard trekking and glacier hiking will take place. Not for the faint-hearted!
You start every trip with De Verdwaalde Jongens in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. If you are curious about the city and you are looking for some trendy spots (which you may crave after you return from the mountains), check out our Bishkek Guide. Enjoy the comfortable bed, the warm shower, and the kick-off party by DVJ, from tomorrow you will start your adventure.
You will arrive at the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan, where you will sleep at Feel Nomad Camp. One of the nicest and most comfortable yurt camps on the Kyrgyzstan tour. Read beds, warm blankets, and a very big dining yurt with tasty food! From the camp, you can walk towards the lake and go for a swim. The water isn’t that cold between June and September, so do try!
Eki Narin (Tosor Pass)
From Issyk Kul you will drive through the Tosor Pass, one of the most extreme and most beautiful parts of this road trip. Be aware, that you may experience your first altitude sickness here, so bring some aspirin and take it easy (no running and you may want to skip the alcohol). We could tell you a lot about this day, but we would you to experience it yourself as our description will never do it justice.
Eki Naryn – Kel Suu
You will stay the night at a traditional and basic yurt camp in Naryn. You may sleep on the floor and you may feel the occasional water drops falling on your head when it rains, but hey, I signed up for the adventure! Foodwise, not bad at all. Tomato and cucumber salad and a warm lentil soup made me a happy kid. Once you’ll leave this place, you can stop in the village of Naryn to do some grocery shopping and this is where you will have some signal. After this, you will be offline for at least 36 hours. TIP: bring a book, you may finally read something.
Tonight you will sleep at your highest point, near Kel Suu lake, which is about 3520 meters. Oh yes, we experienced some headaches when we woke up. On the contrary, you’ll stay in a traditional yurt camp with the most beautiful mountains surrounding you. Worth the pain! DVJ likes to throw a little party here, but it can get cold at night − depending on the wind and month, so this is the moment to put on your jacket. For a full What-To-Bring-To_Kyrgyzstan-List, check this article. Yurts will be heated overnight though. Meder, the owner and shepherd of this camp has many stories to tell and he is somewhat of a legend. He even stays here when it’s -50 during the winter to look after the herd. The next day you have a rest day and you can visit the famous Kel Suu lake. It’s a hike that takes around 2 hours each way, but you can also ride a horse over there, which we did. It adds to the adventure of your Kyrgyzstan tour and saves your breath.
The place itself isn’t that special – other than it’s a historical medieval Church that you will find in every tourist brochure. The route to Tash Rabat, however, is something else. Firstly, you’ll drive off-road for about 2 hours before hitting the main road, which runs past the Chinese border. Surprisingly, you won’t find many cars on this road. This road was part of the famous Silk Route and Tash Rabat was used as a stop for the caravanserai, selling their goods in the 15th century. Sabyrbek is the first camp you’ll see when you arrive at Tash Rabat, located at 2500 meters. They have a self-made sauna and besides the yurts, they also offer basic rooms that we were VERY pleased with.
Another beautiful camp is located next to, you’ve guessed it, Song Kul Lake. This camp is probably the fanciest and busiest of all camps. Travellers from all over the place join here for great food (they had pancakes for breakfast!), conversation, and pretty yurts. From here you can drive back to Bishkek, but not before you drive the 33 turns. Drivers will love this part.
What will a Kyrgyzstan tour cost you?
Depending on which trip you choose, and with how many people you will travel, prices vary. But to give you an example; the trip we did (8 days) will cost you 1450 per person if you travel in a group of 4. This includes the car, the DVJ roadbook, dinner, beer, permits, and a vodka toast. Flights from Amsterdam to Bishkek, breakfast/dinner, and gas are not included. That being said, Kyrgyzstan is a very affordable country, especially for food and gas.
It was one of the most memorable and incredible road trips I’ve ever experienced and I can highly recommend it. For more info about De Verdwaalde Jongens Kyrgyzstan tour, and their upcoming dates for 2023, check their website.