Tyup yurts backcountry (2250-3000 m)
Higher peaks to downhill with a bit more opportunities.
The start by the river to the south-east is slower, but there are nice downhills there and the way back is mildly down without putting skins on.
Heights yurt backcountry (2900-3650 m)
Warm up and acclimatization in a lower altitude of Tyup yurts.
Although there is a little bit more walking as a ski tour in the Tyup area, the landscape around is picturesque here.
The yurt operator is based in a Jyrgalan Yurt. They pulled us to the yurts by a cat ski and then we were on your own with a cook and keeper.
From a sleeping bag right to skis.
The offering included a breakfast, dinner and snacks for a day.
The temperature inside the yurt is somewhere between hot and cold:) The keeper did his best to maintain it…
We chose Tyup and Heights locations. Both had a sauna tent that was awesome to relax after skiing. Cooling down in a freezing snow.
We were there alone in our group of 6 except for two days when we were joined by two British guides exploring the area.
There is practically next to nothing in Jyrgalan, so great to plan the arrival to the mornig to continue right to the yurts.
We had a 4×4 Chevrolet Express V8 for our group of 6 because we were considering to go to more distant places initially, but just to Jyrgalan a back it wasn't necessary. Not much snow on roads in 2020 and we finally didn't went offroad.
Biggest town (and maybe the only town among villages in the area).
It takes a full day to drive there from Bishkek.
We more or less stayed here just to have a buffer on our way to Jyrgalan and back, where there is basically nothing at all there.
Issyk Kul monuments
There are many strange old monuments on the way, mostly to the south of the Issyk Kul lake.
The most bizarre monument is Aalam Ordo. It's a mysterious complex of abandoned yurts and fading murals that was meant to be a center of science and spirituality. But it was never finished and it stays there just as a great monument to megalomania.
This city is brutal.
Before our flight back we took a walking tour across its brutalist architecture and monuments.
In two words: faded glory.
Yurt lodge & Jyrgalan base camp
Journey from to Karakol around Lake Issyk Kul
Exhange on airport and ATMs are OK
Take change, they don't give back
They eat horses
Driving by car
Hostile police looking to ask for a bribe for anything. Speeding 10 km/h can cost €40.
Headlights must be always on.
Ask for winter tires (they use tires with spikes as well)
Very slow driving due to many villages.
Buchanka vs. western cars
More expensive than better cars
Unreliable: friends were loosing fluids, petrol pump stopped, not working speedometer etc.
Weak heating: freezing cold.
Even 100km/h ride seems dangerous.
Two tanks with manual switching of pumps.
Best for terrain if you have good tyres.