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Kyrgyz Republic - Silk Road



Join us for this photo tour of the Kyrgyz Republic, a mindbogglingly beautiful country in Central Asian, that is part of the Silk Road, the ancient trade route between China and the Mediterranean. The Tian Shan mountains, which surround the old caravan route and dominate the country, are home to snow leopards, lynx and sheep. Kyrgyztan is often referred to as the little sibling of Kazakhstan and offers amazing photographic and cultural experiences in a free and laid-back environment.

We were in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2019 and the country exceeded every single expecation by so far that we decided on the spot to come back and give you another opportunity to join us in 2020.

Some highlights of this photo tour:

  • Bishkek. Local models, traditional oriental and very colorful Bazaar, traditional living and clothes
  • Ala Archa National Park. Beautiful alpine views, snow peaks, rivers
  • Burana Tower, national monument
  • Boom gorge. Issyk-Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world after Lake Titicaca
  • Kok-Boru, a traditional sport played on horseback (Kirgyz Polo)
  • “Seven bulls” rocks and hike to the "Tears of Snow Leopard" waterfall
  • A night in a traditional yurt
  • Sunrise at the Son-Kul lake, breakfast in the yurt
  • Traditional handicraft. The Kyrgiz culture is famous for their felt and traditional Kyrgyz carpets
  • Kegety Gorge, home to numerous streams, alpine meadows, and spruce forests
  • Horse ride in Kegety gorge
  • Countless photo ops for landscape, people and nature photography


Day 1 Arrival in Bishkek

Arrival to Manas Airport in Bishkek. Our team welcome you and drive you to hotel situated in the capital. You have the rest until the 12:00 than the lunch in the restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit of the capital-Bishkek to see and capture the Orthodox Church, Oak Park, theater of Opera and Ballet, place of the Victory, TCUM. Dinner at the restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel Plaza

Day 2 – Bishkek

After breakfast in the hotel, we start our visit from the heart of the city – Ala-Too Square at 10:00, photo shooting ~2hours with professional model, gallery of painters, and square of the Victory. Lunch in the restaurant. Closer to evening it is a great time to take a good photo with shadows. Let’s visit largest traditional market (bazaar) in Bishkek. The bazaar where you can take a colorful photo of local citizens during their routine life. Here you can find a lot interesting faces, women in national clothes and children and appreciate the creativity and talent of local artisans. Just as you step the market, you plunge into the real oriental atmosphere: an interminable stream of people, a big variety of goods and colors. Dinner at the restaurant.

Accommodation: Hotel Plaza

Day 3 – Bishkek – Ala Archa National Park -Bishkek

After breakfast in hotel we drive to the National Park Ala Archa, which situated at 30 km from the capital. One hour later, you get a picturesque valley with a mountain river Ala-Archa. You will have the opportunity to hike in the gorge and enjoy the beautiful alpine views. The park has everything that you might expect of an alpine zone – snow peaks, fast-flowing streams, alpine meadows and pine forest, that’s all creates a perfect place to have a rest and relax. You can also enjoy a picnic in the fresh air during the walking in this park. We try to go up to the waterfall. Photo shooting in Ala-Archa gorge ~2hours with professional model. In the evening back to Bishkek where we have Dinner in the local restaurant, you will taste the national cuisine.

Accommodation: Hotel Plaza

Day 4 – Bishkek – Burana – Chon Kemin

After breakfast we are leaving Bishkek and driving around 2-3 hours to the Burana Tower. We will start photo session at this spot at 15:30 with professional model. Photo shooting up to sunset ~19:00. In the evening we will reach Chon-Kemin valley where will stay for overnight.

Accommodation: Guest house «Ashuu»

Day 5 – Chon-Kemin – Cholpon-Ata

Transfer from Chon-Kemin is going through Boom gorge where we will have several stops for taking picturesque photo. We go to Issyk-Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America. It is at an altitude of 1,607 meters and reaches 668 meters in depth. Will stay in the city of Venus-Cholpon-Ata. It is the main resort town of Issyk-Kul region. We will discover the cultural and historical complex Ruh Ordo, a spiritual place and monument for 4 main religions of the world and the open air museum. Free time for photo session of the lake ~17:00 – 20:00, this time is the best for a photography due to the light.

Accommodation: Hotel «Caprice»

Day 6 – Cholpon-Ata – Karakol

Breakfast at the hotel, than we are going to Karakol where we will have a photo session of traditional Kyrgyz game “Kok-Boru”. Instead of usual game playing you will have photo stages of the most spectaculars moments with awesome mountain background. Kok-Boru – it is traditional sport played on Horseback with the Carcass of a Goat. It is like nomad’s polo but more wild and rough. After the photo shooting transfer to hotel. Dinner at the ethno restaurant « Dastorkon».

Accommodation: Hotel «Karagat»

Day 7 – Karakol – Altyn-Arashan - Karakol

This day, we try a special transport on real broken mountain roads; we have to overcome the enormous rocks, ravines and pits. This ride should to be very exciting and fascinating. When we arrive at Altyn Arashan, the incredible beauty of these places strikes our eyes. Later, swimming in the hot springs is optional. The road back will be full of unforgettable emotions thanks to terrain and driver’s talent.

Accommodation: Hotel «Karagat»

Day 8 – Karakol – Jety-Oguz - Barskoon-Tamga

After breakfast, we go Jety Oguz valley. Its name means “Seven bulls”. The name is symbolic, because there are seven huge red-brown rocks resembling ranked furious bulls standing together. Especially romantic look has the rock “Broken Heart” located at the entrance to the gorge. We go for hiking to the waterfall. After we visit, the Barskoon Gorge with impressive nature and the waterfall called Tears of Snow Leopard. At the foot of the mountain, you can also enjoy the beautiful Barskoon River. During the summertime, people build yurts here, so you can try the Kyrgyz traditional drink Kymys and enjoy the beauty of the landscape .In the evening, you will try a real Russian bath “banya” in Tamga.

Accommodation: Guest house «U Pavla»

Day 9 – Tamga-Canyon «Fairy Tale» – Bokonbaevo-Son-Kul

Breakfast in the guesthouse and transfer to Son-Kul lake. On the road, we visit Skazka canyons, which signify Fairytale. Here you can find objects of surprising shapes and sizes. A real skyscraper or an animal may appear in front of you. In Bokonbaevo, we will meet the real eagle hunters who demonstrate you the talent of their birds of prey. When we arrive in the yurts camp, you get to know the hospitality of the nomads, their lifestyle and their customs.

Accommodation: Yurt camp

Day 10 – Son-Kul-Kochkor

Many photographers are visiting Kyrgyzstan only for sunrise at the Son-Kul lake, and here you will have such ability to do it. Breakfast in the yurt. We will return to the civilization descending from the pass and passing along one of the most important roads of the country. In Kochkor, the visit of the cooperative of women, very little museum of antiquity and shop of handcrafts. We will participate in producing the felt, traditional Kyrgyz carpets and enjoy the Kyrgyz traditional folk music.

Accommodation: Fatima’s guest house

Day 11 – Kochkor-Kegety-Alamedin

After breakfast, we go to Kegety gorge. Kegety Gorge is home to numerous streams, alpine meadows, and spruce forests. One stream in particular crescendos into a beautiful waterfall that is one of the most visited features within Kegety Gorge. The falls are 20 meters high and are located just 100 meters from the main road in the gorge. After hiking and having picnic in Kegety gorge, we will go to Alamedin gorge and will stay in very comfortable hotel and have a rest.

Accommodation: Hotel «Jannat Resort»

Day 12 – Alamedin-Bishkek

Early in the morning, the beautiful light will open the new corner of the gorge. The horse riding in the gorge. You can take your time, take photos and enjoy the beauty of the nature around you. After lunch, transfer to Bishkek. Free time in hotel. Farewell dinner in the evening.

Accommodation: Hotel «Plaza»

Day 13 – Bishkek

Flight home


Title: Kyrgyz Republic - Silk Road
Start: Jun 01 2020
Duration: 12 nights / 13 days
Location: Kyrgyz Republic
Language(s): English, German
Host(s): Chris Marquardt, Tim Vollmer
Price: 3999 USD

Single Supplement: USD 400

Shoe rating:
(click for details)

How physical is this workshop/tour?

Rating for Kyrgyz Republic - Silk Road:

We will do several light to medium hikes during this photo tour.

easy (mostly in and around the classroom)
light (some walks, mostly easy terrain, no flip-flops please)
moderate (includes usually optional walks over mixed terrain, suitable shoes and clothing required if not mentioned otherwise)
heavy (includes trekking, hiking boots, altitude under about 10,000 ft)
very heavy (think trekking at altitude, Himalayan tours)

If you have questions about details, please don't hesitate to contact me any time via email at chris@chrismarquardt.com, on Twitter @chrismarquardt or on Facebook


Start of tour: Jun 01 2020 (in Bishkek) End of tour: Jun 13 2020 (in Bishkek)

These dates are subject to minor adjustments.

Single Supplement

The tour price is based on 2 participants per hotel room. Single supplement is US$ 400. Single participants must book single supplement.


If you have any questions about this tour, please don't hesitate to email me chris@chrismarquardt.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @chrismarquardt

(receive sporadic emails with workshop updates)

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  • Transfer from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the Airport
  • Accommodation based on twin room sharing
  • All meals, full board
  • Non-alcoholic drinks
  • Private transport in mini-bus throughout the tour
  • Professional English speaking local photographer guide
  • Two professional photography instructors
  • Local photo models at Ala-Too, Ala-Archa and Burana


  • Photography
  • Hiking
  • Eagle hunter
  • Hot springs
  • Horseback riding

Not Included

  • International flights to and from Bishkek
  • Alcohol and additional non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Travel insurance, health insurances.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, camera or video fees at any sites etc.
  • Tips for your guide and driver (discretionary)
  • Anything that is not mentioned as included

Geography & History

(a little video primer)

Getting there

You will organise your own travel to and from Bishkek, Manas Airport (FRU)


Bishkek, Ala Archa National Park, Ala-Archa gorge, Burana, Chon Kemin valley, Cholpon-Ata, Issyk-Kul, Ruh Ordo, Karakol, Altyn Arashan, Jety-Oguz, Barskoon-Tamga, tamga canyon, Bokonbaevo, Son-Kul Lake, Kochkor, Kegety, Kegety gorge, Alamedin

Pricing and Payment

To reserve your spot on the workshop, a non-refundable deposit of US$ 1000 is required. The balance payment is due 6 months before the start of the tour. You will receive a separate invoice for this. Registrations after that date will receive an invoice over the full price. Single participants must pay the single supplement.











Author: Chris Marquardt

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Shoe pictograms 1 and 2 by Alex Podolsky under a CC BY 3.0 US license