Do you like camping in the wilderness? Put Kyrgyzstan (Kirgizië in Dutch) on the list as your next destination!
“Kyrgy, what?!” you may stutter.
Simple solution: Open Google Maps and Google “Kyrgyzstan”.
Kyrgyzstan and the Stan Countries
You will see Kyrgyzstan is one of the several ‘Stan countries’ in Central Asia: Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan are not far away. Neither are Pakistan and Afghanistan but it’s generally the first five one refers to when talking about Central Asia, or the ‘Stan countries’.
If you like to travel to little known places, Kyrgyzstan is where you want to go. Now. Today. This year! Between now and a few years, some of them, including Kyrgyzstan, will be on the “must-see” lists of every big travel publications.
Wild Camping in Kyrgyzstan
With 90% being mountains, Kyrgyzstan is a country for those who like the wilds, vast spaces, endless roads and tracks. Wild camping in Kyrgyzstan is possible all over the place. Pitch your tent along a lake, sparkling river, on top of a mountain with 360-degree views.
Kyrgyzstan, and Central Asia in general, is rapidly growing in popularity on the overlanders’ itineraries. This summer we had the pleasure of meeting many of them. We asked them to share their favorite wild camp in Kyrgyzstan with us, and through this website with you.
As you will see, many enjoyed camping along Issyk Kul Lake and Song Kul Lake, and each picked their own favorite camping spot. But there are many others. You may find these camping spots – and many others – on the popular iOverlander app.
Camping in Kyrgyzstan is the ultimate way to experience the very best in the country. Sometimes in solitude, sometimes in the company of local people who may offer you a cup of tea – or maybe you brew a coffee for them.
Wild Camping in Kyrgyzstan & the Best Off-road Tracks
Get inspired by these awesome images that will give you an idea of Kyrgyzstan’s magnitude and majesty. Did you visit Kyrgyzstan this year and do you have a fantastic camping spot to add to this list? Let us know!
A great contribution to the overland community is this fabulous overland guidebook on Kyrgyzstan (available in French and in English). Oun Travela is working hard on making a wonderful series of overland guidebooks designed for, yes, overlanders. Check out their website for more overland travel guidebooks (I know they published one on Ladakh and one on Georgia (Caucasus), too).
1. Beyond Chunkurchak Pass (40 kms south of Bishkek)
Why: This is a really beautiful spot where you can camp with an amazing view of the mountains behind.
It’s passed the ski resort and to access it you need a 4×4 vehicle. The trail can be quite challenging at some point but not too long. It’s fun for some off-road driving.
You will camp not far from a roulotte (a type of caravan) and the farmer will come back in the evening with few cows. He may offer you some fresh milk. This a perfect place to watch a sunset. And the lights of Bishkek in the distance. (We joined our friends there, so we can’t claim to have found it).
GPS Waypoint: 42.65934, 74.58355
Shared by: Stephanie & Leigh. Follow GrizzlyNBear here.
2. Song Kul Lake (south side)
Why: It’s right by the beautiful lake. It can get quite cold until mid-June so if you are there around then you may want to place yourself a little bit away from the lake. If you are there anytime after 20th June it will be wonderful.
A couple of Nomadic families around with their cattle and Yurt camp, making for a great local experience while interacting with them. No facilities. (The local folk have a compost toilet and may offer you tea and bread as you come and meet them.)
GPS Coordinates: 41.78290, 75.16450
Shared by: Barath Seth. Follow Terra Quest Expeditions here.
3. Wild spot Chatkal Valley/Kara-Buura Pass
Why: At the North end of the scenic Chatkal Valley and just before the spectacular Kara-Buura Pass, you will find this plateau overlooking the Chatkal River. It lies a bit hidden from the road, amidst beautiful surroundings. No shadow, only a little protection from wind. Just a shepherd came along with 800 sheep and goats.
GPS waypoint: 42.105084, 71.550966
Driving tip: It’s a beautiful drive from Ala Buka to Talas. Not many travelers here. In the Chatkal Valley you will find gas, food, and ATMs.
Kodak moment: The Kara-Buura Pass from the south offers spectacular views.
Shared by: Marijke van der Veen. Follow Joost & Marijke here.
4. 360˚- View Wild Camp
Why: Very nice campsite on top of a high mountain pass with a 360 panoramic view, overlooking a large desert looking valley with snowy mountains all around you. We took this scenic dirt road because we visited Tash Rabat the following day (approx. 60 kms).
GPS waypoint: 41.093315, 75.022767
Driving tip: follow the dirt road up the pass and use your GPS device to drive the last 500 meters to the campsite, it is of the main dirt road.
Kodak moment: while driving towards the camp spot you pass an impressive Muslim cemetery.
Shared by: Dennis van Dokkum. Follow Raw Travel here.
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5. Song Kul Lake (south side)
Why: Fantastic scenery of the lake in the mountains. Very lovely yurt camps where you can buy fresh bread and, if you want, enjoy dinner and breakfast. There where horses and cows on the meadows. For us, this is so typical of what Kyrgyzstan is like. Over 3000 meters, so maybe some days are windy but in the hot summer in Kyrgyzstan it is very good weather for relaxing (we stayed two nights).
GPS Waypoint: 41.76065, 75.11626
Shared by: Tobias Wunsche
6. Issyk Kul Lake (north shore)
Why: Good swimming, shadow, and the possibility of a campfire. Possible for big rigs. Camping on the beach in the shadow of trees close to Cholpon Alta. Take the winding dirt road passed some cemeteries down to the beach.
GPS Waypoint: 42.64250, 77.11500
Shared by: Bert DeRuiter
7. Road to Chonashupass
Why: Open flat place. Small stream above it. Quiet and nice view on forested mountains. Good for big rigs. It’s on the road to Chonashupass, 100 m. after the barrier and behind bushes (out of sight from the road).
GPS Waypoint: 42.59194, 78.88139
Shared by: Bert DeRuiter
8. River Bolgart
Why: The route through the valleys of the Bolgart River and Jil-Suu River, via the Tosor Pass to the village Tosor near Ysyk-Köl is only feasible with 4×4 and sturdy tires. Most of the bridges are washed away but the way is no problem with heavy offroad trucks. The only bridge that I did not dare to pass with my 3.5t vehicle had a bypass across the river.
But those who do meet the challenge will be rewarded with amazing landscapes and lots of tranquil spots for overnight stays. This spot offers potable water from a small fountain in the mountain slope and the nearby locals sell home-made cheese, fresh bread, cow’s and camel’s milk as well as kumys.
GPS Waypoint: 41.72547, 76.89327
Shared by: Aris.
9. Issyk Kul Lake – Private Beach
Why: Central Asia’s beach life. After following a dirt track we arrived at this place. We camped on the beach direct at the lake but we needed 4×4 to reach the place because the sand was quite deep. Its’ been a while since we experienced real beach life. This is the perfect place to swim, relax and enjoy the sunrise and sunset.
GPS Waypoint: 42.410258, 77.802842
Shared by: Michel & Renee. Follow Overlanding the World here.
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10. Besh Tash National Park
Why: In the lovely Besh Tash National Park are several campingspots by the river. The road/track follows the river up to a small lake. A path goes up to a bigger lake. Along the road you have wide views over green valleys, many yurts and herds. It offers a great day trip, or you can sleep in the park. Entrance fee is 220 som/person.
GPS waypoint: 42.394930, 72.279440 (Entrance to the park)
Driving tip: From Talas, take the road via Arashan. (west of the airport).
Kodak moment: Typical Kyrgyz landscapes with green meadows, herds, yurts and snow capped mountains.
Shared by: Marijke van der Veen. Follow Joost & Marijke here.
11. Chu River (near Kochkor)
Why: We loved this place because of the gentle flowing, crystal clear river. It was hidden from the sun and the wind within the trees. There was a nice flat bit next to the river where we set up our table and chairs for dinner with a view.
GPS Waypoint: 42.25051, 75.82998
Shared by: Charlie & Chris. Follow Starry Nights & Insect Bites here.
12. In the Mountains above Jety-Oguz, near Karakol
Why: It’s a narrow valley with a wild, cold river and lots of forest around. There’s a rough track leading up there. It’s a meadow with horses and cows next to and below the track, 4×4 is recommended because the meadow is soft when wet. It’s quiet and scenic and there’s firewood around and we had only one visitor on a horse in the night to ask for „Schnaps“ 😉
GPS Waypoint: 42.2823149, 78.3060408
Shared by: Fabian & Carolin. Follow A Distant Call here.
13. Song Kul Lake (northwest side)
Why: Beautiful stretch of private beach on the lake. Great to relax after driving the western pass to Song Kul Lake.
Where: 41.89271, 75.03419
Shared by: Mijke & Dennis
14. Issyk Kul Lake (east side)
Why: This place offers all the good things about Kyrgyzstan. It is a quiet place at one of the lakes of this beautiful country and offers views of the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan mountains. Enjoy the sunset and wake up by a herd of sheep passing by your tent owls flying by.
Where: 42.59132, 78.18785
Shared by: Karlijn & Maarten
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15. Near the Tosor Pass
Why: This is camping in Kyrgyzstan’s wilderness at its best, right along a fast-running river, mountains partly hidden in clouds giving an extra touch to that otherworldly feeling. Yet it isn’t entirely remote (although if you drive a bit further, it is).
Here lives a family who own/take care of (not sure) a hot bath. When arriving here after a tough ride up the Tosor Pass, and it’s cold, a hot bath (43-degree Celsius!) with a view of the river is just what you need to reenergize.
How awesome is that?
Where: 41.864804, 77.038520 (at 2,976-meter altitude)
Shared by: Karin-Marijke & Coen. Follow Landcruising Adventure here.
Tips, Suggestions, Contributions?
Question about camping in Kyrgyzstan? Fire away in the comment section below. Would you like to see your favorite overland camp in Kyrgyzstan added to this list? Let us know!
First published September 2019 / updated September 2022
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