Upon arrival at the Airport, you will be met and transferred to our centrally located hotel in Almaty. Once the capital of this vast country, it remains the nation's largest city, with a population of 1.5 million. In the late afternoon we'll meet up to assemble the bikes, hold a trip briefing and gather for a welcome dinner. Overnight Kazzhol Hotel or similar.
Our day will commence with a three hour drive to the Turgen River Gorge and the start of our ride. We cycle on a rough jeep track that follows the Turgen River to the end of the valley. Here we start to climb to the top of Assy Pass (2650m). The sky is big, the grass is a vibrant green and the panorama is endless. We also have views here of snow-capped peaks in the distance. We descend for 30km following the Assy River down to our campsite nestled in amongst pine trees. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile +1508 m/ -1748 m.
We have a long day ahead of us as we have another pass to conquer today. We have a short but tough climb to reach the lofty summit of Zhambas Pass at 3150m. Once we've reached the top the riding is undulating as we cross the Ashyk Dala Plateau where we'll not likely to see another person unless they are on horseback. It's a long and exhilarating descent for 23 km along the Zheniska River to reach our camp beside the Sary Bulak River (1600m). All the riding is off road. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile +1,123 m/ -201 m.
Today starts with a climb up but the switchbacks make the gradient easy. We traverse across the Kungey Alatau Mountains and ride through grasslands and fields of wildflowers, including edelweiss. A tough and rocky road leads us through a steep hillside that will test even the strongest of cyclists. We gradually make our way down to the Chilik River where we share our camp with horses and cows grazing nearby. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile + 1,288 m/ -1,954 m.
Today we hit some tarmac as we follow the asphalt road from Saty village for 28 km to Zhalanash village (1,700 m). We'll ride through the quaint villages with their white and blue picket fences and have time to pop into a local store where abacuses are still used. The riding will be mostly flat today with a few undulations and though we are on roads, they will be in poor condition, and we will see very little traffic. We camp near to the Kegen River. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile +1,057 m/ -592 m.
Today we enter into Kyrgyzstan riding through rolling grasslands on a good road to reach the beautiful Karkara Valley. This section was once part of the Silk Road, traversed by Kazakh, Kirgyz and Chinese traders. We spend the next three nights at Base Camp Karkara (2,200 m) staying in "walk-in" tents, and have use of hot showers, a traditional sauna and the bar! Overnight Base Camp Karkara. Cycle elevation profile +101 m/ -1,270 m.
Base Camp Karkara is literally the jumping off point for expeditions to summit Pobedy Peak (7,439 m) and Khan Tengri (7,010 m). We'll be using the same helicopters the climbers use for our next two days of heli-biking! With our bikes onboard we fly up to 3,500 metres and then make a unforgettable 1300 m descent on grasslands, switchback trails and forest dirt roads back to our base at Karkara. We maybe able to stop on the way to meet the nomads who have brought their flocks up to this fertile valley. Stopping inside a yurt we'll see how they live and have a taste of their local tea. The route back to camp takes us along a roaring river that is fed by the mountains above. Overnight Base Camp Karkara. Cycle elevation profile +1,488 m/ -317 m.
Today we take the easy way up again, via our helicopter! We are dropped off on a high plateau with stunning views of the peaks of the Tien Shan mountains surrounding us. Again the riding is pure adrenalin as we downhill it to Base Camp. Stop and chat with the horsemen and try your hand at milking a horse! Afternoon is free to sweat it out at the traditional sauna at base camp. Overnight Base Camp Karkara. Cycle elevation profile +494 m/ -479 m.
Today we say good bye to base camp and head up and over and down into the Koshkar Valley. The first section we'll be backtracking part of our descent of the last two days, then we turn left and the climbing begins in earnest before we descend down into a wide valley formed by the glacier-fed Kokzhar River. We'll have numerous river crossings today, so don't be afraid to get your feet wet. Our camp today is at 3000 m, the highest of the trip. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile +1,163 m/ -326 m.
Another day cycling off road through grasslands with snow capped peak as your back drop, it dsn't get much better than this! We follow Kokzhar River to a junction of three valleys, than take the right hand valley to the Mingtur Pass (3900 m). The views back across to the spectacular Tien Shan and the black pyramid of Khan Tengri worth trying capture on your camera. A long descent takes us down to Kyrgyzstan and the Saary Zhaz River where we'll camp tonight. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile +739 m/ -722 m
We follow the Sary Zhaz River on an undulating road until we see the switchbacks of our climb up to the top of Chon Ashu Pass (3820 m). Our legs are strong now so we'll have no problem with this climb. Once we reach the top we take a well-earned break to admire the view before we have a long and fast descent. We freewheel down to our riverside camp in the upper part of the valley that feeds Lake Issyk Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world. Camp near Ak Bulak village on the river cost. Overnight Tented Camp. Cycle elevation profile +1,557 m/ -2,606 m.
Our route today on dirt roads will take us back to Kazakhstan. We ride through quiet villages and past grazing sheep and horses, perhaps seeing a yurt or two in the distance. There will be climbs up and over many hills but soon we'll come to Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan border check point which we crossed on Day 6. Here our cycling ends. We'll cross the border, pack our bikes and have a bus transfer 6 hours to Almaty. We stop en route for lunch at Charyn Canyon. This stunning gorge has the look of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We have our farewell dinner in Almaty and reflect on the journey we've completed. Overnight Kazzhol Hotel or similar. Cycle elevation profile +965 m/ -706 m.
A last look around Almaty, time to box up bikes before a group transfer to the airport for the flight home. Please note that one group transfer is included but additional transfers can be arranged at a cost.