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Trek to the Inylchek Glacier: amazing hiking tour to Khan Tengri peak!

Tour Country:



14 days

Price per person:

2540 USD

Tour dates:

Group #1: July 10 – July 23, 2020

Group #2: July 28 – August 10, 2020

Group #3: August 7 – August 20, 2020

Tour description:

This trek starts in the At Jailoo Gorge, an amazingly beautiful place, and ends at South Inylchek Base Camp, taking approximately 1 week. From the base camp you’ll get stunning views of Nansen Peak. Where South and North Inylchek meet, you’ll also be able to walk and see the famous Lake Merzbacher known as “the disappearing lake.” In 2020 supplier SR1401 will set up permanent tent camps all along the route so you don’t have to set up or carry any tents with you during the trek!

This tour includes a number of perks:

1. Staff will be waiting for you at every campsite, you’ll be given accommodations in comfortable tents, and be served delicious meals comprised of local and European cuisine;

2. You will have means of communication/cell signal at every campsite and will be able to send information if desired;

3. Your itinerary will be marked and described in detail in a leaflet that you will receive when your book our services. There is no need for you to bring (or rent) lots of things (e.g. tent, dishes, frying pans, etc.);

4. You don’t need to buy any food;

5. You don’t need to hire porters.

Tour Program:

Day 1 – Manas International Airport – Bishkek – Karakol (1,700 m a.s.l.), Drive 400 km, 8 h, +900 m.

Arrival in Bishkek early in the morning. Pick-up at the airport. Transfer to a guest house where you can take a short rest and eat a late breakfast. Transfer to Karakol, eating lunch on the way. Arrive in Karakol.

Overnight stay and dinner at a hotel.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Hotel.

Day 2 – Karakol sightseeing tour. Karakol – At-Jailoo Base Camp (2,500 m a.s.l.), Drive 200 km, 5-6 hrs, +800 m.

After breakfast, go on a short sightseeing tour around Karakol. Karakol is located to the east of Lake Issyk Kul at the foot of the most picturesque mountains in the Tien Shan. This sleepy yet very interesting old Russian town was first erected by Cossacks in the middle of the 19th century and became an important garrison settlement. In Karakol we’ll visit a Dungan mosque, a unique building with Chinese architecture, as well as an old Russian Orthodox Cathedral made of wood and held together without the use of a single nail. Stop at a local café for lunch then transfer to the At-Jailoo base camp.

The 200 km drive will take us about 6 hours. The road passes through a number of villages, then continues up along the Turguen Ak Suu Canyon towards Ashuu Chon Pass (3,808 m). Descend into the Ashuu Tor Valley. On the way we’ll pass by the Koilu and Sary Jaz Rivers. Later we’ll drive along the Sary Jaz River to the check point Echkilitash. Since we’ll be entering the border zone, we’ll have to leave our permits here. The Sary Jaz River is one of the largest in Kyrgyzstan. The river is 200 km long and flows into the Inylchek River which winds its way into China.

After about 1-1.5 hours of driving through a village and along the Inylchek River we’ll arrive at the At Jailoo base camp. Dinner and overnight stay in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 3 – At Jailoo Camp – Iva Camp (2,900 m a.s.l.), trek 18 km, 5-7 h, +400 m.

Trek from At-Jailoo along the Inylchek River to the beginning of Inylchek Glacier. Breakfast. Trek with our backpacks on the road. We’ll take lunch boxes with us and leave the camp early in order to be able to cross the At Jailoo River before 9 am while the water is still low. The water will be cold, but much easier to cross than later in the day. Within an hour we’ll reach a place called Prijim. If the water levels permit, we’ll cross another stream here. Otherwise we’ll have to ascend and descend a steep, overgrown path which will add an extra hour of trekking to our day. It all depends on Lake Merzbacher. If the water from the lakes hasn’t started its exodus yet then we’ll be in luck and can just go ahead and cross the stream. Otherwise we’ll have to take the detour. Whatever happens though, we highly recommended bringing along sandals that you can wear to cross rivers and streams.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 4 – Iva camp – Glina camp (3,100 m a.s.l.), trek 8 km, 5-6 h, +200 m.

The Inylchek Glacier is the largest glacier and centerpiece of the Central Tien Shan. Extending 62 km in length and having a width of over 3 km, the Inylchek Glacier is the third longest glacier outside the Polar Regions. It is estimated that the glacier holds enough ice to cover the entire country of Kyrgyzstan in three meters of melted water (Stewart, 2002).

The first outsider to travel into the area and visit the glacier was the European Pyotr Semenov in 1857. Climbing in the area began in the early 1900’s and continued through the 1930’s. Under Soviet rule, the permitting system restricted foreign access. It wasn’t until after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that foreign climbers began to climb in the area (Stewart, 2002). 

After breakfast we’ll take our lunch boxes and leave the camp at about 9 am. Expect some very steep ascents and descents in this section. We will try to cross over to the right slope of a terrace. The trail crosses the terrace and later, some small rivers until it washes out on a mountain slope of the Putevodnyi Glacier. We’ll be following land that swells up and down until we break to eat lunch on the glacier at around 1:00pm. Next we’ll ascend another steep terrace along a narrow trail and continue to cross a wide variety of terrain. Arrive at the Glina camp where we will have some tea or coffee and rest. The camp is named Glina (which means “clay” in Russian) because of its location on a green clay field. Dinner at 6:00pm.

Overnight in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 5 – Camp Glina – Merzbacher Glade (3,400 m a.s.l.), trek 9 km, 5-6 h, +300 m.

Breakfast at 9:00am. Again we’ll be trekking up and down various terraces, but will also cross about 10 km of straight path. Once we trek across a small glacier, passing a river and having lunch on the shore of a small lake, we’ll go for a swim and rest. From there it’s another hour to get to the next camp. Upon arrival we’ll have some tea or coffee, then dinner at 6:00pm. We’ll get an excellent view of Lake Merzbacher from the camp.

Merzbacher glade is the last grassy place in the area located just across from the unique Lake Merzbacher. There is a scientific research station on the glacier. Scientists from all over the world come to work here every summer. They study glacial movements and the meteorological patterns of the region as well as Lake Merzbacher itself. The glade has a large grassy area which is flat enough for camping.

Overnight in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 6 – Lake Merzbacher, trek 10 km, 4-5 h.

Breakfast at 9 am. We’ll take our lunch boxes and leave at 10:00am. Trek across South Inylchek Glacier up to Lake Mertzbacher. The glacial terrain is covered in ice, rocks, sand, and mud.

The trekking time both ways is 4-5 hours. Sandwiched between the northern and southern branches of the glacier lies the mysterious Lake Merzbacher, which forms every summer and then, sometime in August, bursts through the ice banks and the waters flow into the Inylchek River. (Actually, the timing varies – for example in 2012 it happened in July.) In reality, only part of the lake drains – the lake, which is 6 kilometers long and one kilometer wide, is in fact divided into two by a bridge of ice and while the lower half empties regularly, the upper part is always full of water. Also, the lakes empty twice a year – once in the summer and once in the winter – but most people only know about the summer event.

In 1903 the German geographer and mountaineer, Gottfried Merzbacher, first discovered the lake while leading an expedition into the Tian Shan Mountains aiming to reach the summit of Khan Tengri. Forced back by ice, from their originally intended route through the Byankol Pass and along the Semyenov and Mushketov Glaciers, they attempted a different approach – along the Enilchek Glacier. Once again they failed, but they had shown that Khan Tengri was in fact on a ridge and not in the center of that particular knot of the Tian Shan Mountains as had been thought.

The expedition will be better remembered, however, for the discovery of the mysterious lake that now bears Merzbacher’s name.

Overnight in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 7 – Merzbacher Glade – Komsomolskiy Glacier (3,800 m a.s.l.), trek 12 km, 4-6 h, +400 m.

Breakfast at 8 am. Set off at 9:00am. This is a long day of trekking surrounded with beautiful landscapes – snow, rocks and multi-colored ice – black, white and sometimes even striped.

For the first part of our trek, we’ll cross over terraces and, right before we reach Shokalskyi Glacier, then make a smooth descent. The trail leads to the glacier and the black moraine which flows out of Komsomolez Glacier. We follow it up to the glacier itself. The terrain is very diverse: rivers, crevices, ascents and descents. Hiking around this area takes a lot of time and energy, but is well worth it! This will be our first night on the glacier. The wind usually picks up here and becomes quite strong after 4 pm. It’ll be cold, so pack accordingly. Dinner will be served around 6:00pm.

Overnight in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 8 – Komsomolskiy Glacier – Dikiy Glacier (3,900 m a.s.l.), trek 7 km, 3-5 h, +100 m.

Breakfast at 8:00am. Departure at 9:00am. Trekking in this part of the Tien Shan mountains is absolutely fabulous. A distinctive characteristic of the region is a great number of unnamed, virgin peaks about 5,000 meters above sea level. Straight from the camp we’ll cross the Proletarsky Glacier moraine, arrive in the middle of the Dikyi Glacier moraine, and walk up the moraine to Dykyi Glacier.

The first section we’ll be hiking is very uneven, so expect a lot of uphill-downhill trekking. Closer to the glacier the moraine becomes more even- fewer crevices, creeks and water crossings. Break for lunch. In front of Proletarsky Glacier we’ll be going straight up. Dikyi camp is located behind Pesnya Abaya Peak (roughly 30 minutes). From Dikyi camp there’s a beautiful view of Khan Tengri, Pobeda, Gorky, Chapaev, and Trehglavaya Peaks. Tea, coffee, and dinner at 6:00pm.

Overnight in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 9 – Dikiy Glacier – South Inylchek base camp (4,100 m a.s.l.), trek 8 km, 4-6 h, +200 m.

Optional: Climb to Pesnya Abaya – 4,901 m a.s.l. Breakfast at 8 or 9 am. Today’s trek is a short one, so we can leave at around 10:00am. We’ll trek across the whole glacier until we reach the central moraine where the next base camp is situated. The route we’ll be taking is covered with rocks, ice and interrupted by creeks, lakes and cracks. Nevertheless it’s possible to make our way across without ropes and crampons. Arrive at the base camp (4,000 m) at about 2:00pm and eat lunch. Dinner will be served at 7:00pm.

Inylchek Base Camp is ideally situated in the heart of the Northern Tien Shan at the South Inylchek Glacier at approximately 4,000 meters above sea level. It has a picturesque view of Khan Tengri ( 7,010 m) and Pobeda (7,439 m) Peaks.

Overnight at the BC in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 10 – South Inylchek base camp.

Enjoy a day of rest and relaxation at South Inylchek BC. South Inylchek BC is open from July – August every year and is visited not only by alpinists, but by other travelers who enjoy taking in the sights of the mountains via helicopter as well.

Overnight in tents.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Tents.

Day 11 – Helicopter flight to Karkara helicopter pad – Lake Issyk Kul. Drive 200 km, 3 h, -2500 m.

Breakfast. Helicopter flight from BC to Karkara helicopter pad. Transfer to Lake Issyk-Kul (approx. a 3-hr drive), eating lunch on the way. Lake Issyk-Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. Measuring 182 km long by 58 km wide, Lake Issyk Kul appeared as a result of volcanic activity. Thermal activity heats the lake from below so that even in the coldest of winters, it never freezes. In the summer the water temperature registers between 25-28 degrees centigrade.

The cherry on top – the lake is surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains so you can swim underneath snowcaps! Its beauty coupled with its warm, deep waters make it a unique oasis in the midst of Central Asia. Arrival at the hotel.

Overnight stay and dinner at the hotel.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Hotel.

Day 12 – Lake Issyk Kul – Bishkek (250 km), Drive 250 km, 5-6 h, -800 m.

Breakfast. Free time. Lunch. In the afternoon we’ll transfer to Bishkek through the narrow Boom Gorge which houses the boisterous Chu River, much loved by rafters (rapids of up to a 6th category difficulty level) in Kyrgyzstan. On our way back to Bishkek we’ll visit Burana Tower (an old minaret) near the city of Tokmok. This minaret was constructed in the town of Balasagyn, one of the capitals of the Karakhanid State that existed in the 11th-12th centuries AD. Explore ruins of this important trading post on the Great Silk Road, visit a local museum, and walk amongst a field of Balbals (stone warriors) and ancient Turkic burial mounds. Arrive in Bishkek.

Accommodation at a guest house.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Guest House.

Day 13 – Sightseeing tour of Bishkek

After breakfast, go on a short sightseeing tour of the city. The capital and industrial center of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek is a city of wide avenues, handsome buildings and Soviet heritage. The permanently snow-capped Kyrgyz Alatau Mountain Range towers over Bishkek providing a stunning backdrop. Visit the Manas Monument (Manas is the most beloved national hero of the Kyrgyz people), the State History Museum, Ala Too Square, where you’ll be able to watch the ceremony for the changing of the Guard of Honor, Independence Monument, then the Old Square and Government House. Finish up with a trip to Victory Square and then head out for some souvenir shopping. Farewell dinner at a restaurant in the city.

Overnight stay at a hotel.

Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Accomodation: Hotel.

Day 14 – Bishkek – Manas International Airport

Transfer to the airport early in the morning.

Meals: breakfast.


Single supplement in hotels: 130 USD/person

Single supplement in tents: 110 USD/person

Extra cost for climbing to Pesnya Abaya Peak: 100 USD per person, incl. mountain guide service, and rent of rope and crampons (for group of 5 pax and more price is 80 USD / pax)

Luggage allowance on trek: Your baggage will be carried by porters during the trek. The packed weight of your trekking bag should amount to no more than 12 kg. For every extra kg of weight, there is an extra 12 USD fee/program. If desired, you can leave travel clothes or other items you won’t need during the trek in our office – we will deliver them to Karkara Camp so you can have them upon arrival at the camp.

Equipment: For this trip you will need the following: 4 season sleeping bag, Thermarest or similar sleeping mat, hiking boots, waterproof jacket and trousers, fleece jacket or something equivalent, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, a daypack of around 40 liters, head-torch and batteries, 2 x 1 liter water bottles, and sun cream. A down jacket, pair of sandals, and walking sticks are recommended.

  • • Accommodation in Bishkek in Asia Mountains hotel or similar – 3 nights
  • • Accommodation in Issyk-Kul Lake – 1 night
  • • Accommodation in Karakol town Amir or in Green Yard Guest House – 1 night
  • • Accommodation and full board (hot food for breakfast and dinner, lunches as snack boxes) in the permanent tent camps along the trek At Jailoo – Base Camp “South Inylchek” – 9 nights
  • • Helicopter flight Base Camp “South Inylchek”- Base Camp “Karkara”
  • • All transfers as per program
  • • FB during whole program
  • • Frontier zone permit
  • • Mountain guide service
  • • Porter service – not more than 12 kg per person (see below)
  • • All ecological and entrance fees as per program
Does not include
  • • Flight tickets
  • • Visa support and fees (if necessary)
  • • Any deviations from the main itinerary
  • • Beverages and meals not included in the main menu
  • • Personal expenses (extra luggage, room service, medical expenses/insurance, etc.)


Fixed price per person


  • July 10 - July 23, 2020
  • July 28 - August 10, 2020
  • August 7 - August 20, 2020

About the company

We work to ensure that tourists who come to Bishkek have an opportunity to learn better our city, people and nature. We do our best to improve all services.