Muztagh-Ata and Kirguistan
Kyrgyzstan is a country of outstanding natural beauty located in the heart of Asia. Entirely mountainous, dominated by the Tien Shan range which covers 90 percent of the country, Kyrgyzstan boasts many tall peaks, glaciers and high altitude lakes. Called “The Switzerland of Central Asia”, it remains little traveled by Western wanderers.
We will arrive in the city of Bishkek, the cosy green capital of Kyrgyzstan. The next day we leave for our adventure, heading south in order to reach the border with China, where the giant Muztagh Ata awaits us. We travel along the route to the ancient caravanserai Tash Rabat. Just before the border we stop to stay overnight in yurts – traditional nomadic houses – in the picturesque Tash-Rabat Gorge at an elevation of 3000m. The caravanserai is hidden between mountain ranges, a solemn stone structure that served as a guest house on the Silk Route in the 15th century; it is the largest of its kind in Central Asia. Then we will cross the border via the Torugart Pass and arrive at the Kashgar oasis, a multicultural city that is fruit of the many cultures that converged in this zone. From there we will head to the Muztagh Ata, or Muztagata, the second highest of the mountains which form the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
Muztagh Ata’s Tash route offers nearly no technical climbing and is essentially one long slope with an incline of no more than 30 degrees. The ascent will take around 18-20 days and normally we ski back down the mountain.
After the Muztagh Ata expedition we return to Kyrgyzstan to explore the country at a more leisurely pace. We stop at the high altitude Son-Kul lake and spend a night in yurts, surrounded by spectacular scenery. We take a trip along the southern shore of the lake Issyk-Kul, one of the largest high altitude lakes in the world and a stunning natural masterpiece. Snowy mountain ranges tower along its steep southern shore, while the northern side hosts many peaceful villages and its beaches are loved by tourists from all over the region. One night we'll stay on the southern shore in Tamga village.
The next day we leave to “Alpinist´s Mecca” Karakol, with a stop in the famous Jety-Oguz Gorge. Karakol is a charming town that still preserves the charm of the past in its wooden architecture. This is where the most famous skiing resort in Central Asia is situated, and it’s the starting point for treks to ascend Khan-Tengri and Peak Pobeda.
While staying in Karakol, we will do an easy trek of 2 days, staying overnight near some hot springs in the foothills of the magnificent Tian-Shan mountain.
On the way back along the relaxed northern shore of the lake Issyk-Kul we will stop in Cholpon-Ata to admire the ancient stone inscriptions, otherwise known as petroglyphs. Further on there´s another historic stop at the Burana tower; it was a part of Karakhanid´s capital, Balasagun, on the Silk Road.
Our trip ends in Bishkek. But first we have one last day trip to visit the Ala-Archa national park, 40 km from Bishkek, beloved for its magnificent scenery. We'll camp near the Ak-Say waterfall with a view of the Ak-Say glacier and its neighbouring snowy peaks. A beautiful finish to a month long journey through one of the most magical places on Earth.
You must be in good physical shape for the ascents. Experience in high mountains, 6000+ and some skiing experience.
Further information available on request.
Iran is the home of a 5000 year old civilisation; it has history, culture and mountains. The latter were formed by different natural forces and almost every Iranian region offers exciting climbing sites: from Bisotun, the fifth highest rock wall in the world, to the hardest climbing routes in the Alamkukh mountains at 4100 metres above sea level.
Our expeditions begin in Karaj, one hour from the international airport of Tehran. From Karaj we will go to the Pol-e Khab mountain, located in an idyllic landscape an hour’s drive away, just a ten minute walk from the Chalus highway towards the north of Iran. A perfect spot for an introduction to climbing in Iran, the wall is up to 100m high with grades that vary from 6a to 8c.
From there we will head to Kermanshah which is at 1420 m.a.s.l. on the slopes of the mountain Koh-e Sefid in western Iran. The city stretches for 10km along the valley of the Sarab river. This was a favourite vacation place for the members of Sassanid dynasty in the 4th Century BC. There’s still a bridge and a caravanserai that have survived from the rule of Safavid dynasty, the most powerful dynasty since the Persian conquest. In Kermanshah we will have the chance to get to know the climbing sites close to the city, to admire the bas-reliefs of the Persian empire, carved in the Behistún mountains and to explore Prav, the deepest cave in Asia, where at a depth of 762m glaciers lie, untouched by the sun, and underground rivers flow. Located not far from the western Iranian border, in different eras Kermanshah was invaded by Arabs and Ottoman Turks. Nowadays not only Iranians inhabit these lands but also Kurds, Lors, Arabs, Turks and local nomadic tribes.
From there we explore the Doshkaf mountain which offers interesting climbing routes from 6a to 8a on limestone. We do a short 5 minute hike up the hill to reach it.
The rock massif Bisotun is 1200m high and 20km long. It is the highest in Iran and the fifth highest rock wall in the world. More than 80 routes of varying difficulty are bolted here, mostly on the southern wall. Limestone.
Then we will go to Isfahan, the capital of Safavid dynasty, which is an Oriental fairytale carved in stone. Isfahan is infused with the scent of roses — those found in the Zayandeh river basin. Royal palaces are hidden in the coolness of shadowy parks, where Iranians like to picnic. The name of the square Naghsh-e Jahan translates from Farsi as “the half of the world”. It is surrounded by galleries which are home to artisanal shops, vast bazaars and “the most beautiful mosque in the world” (as it’s written at the entrance to Sheikh Lotfollah). And in the evening on the ancient bridges above the half-dry riverbed of Zayandeh, “river that gives life”, Iranians gather to sing lyrical Persian songs.
Over the past 2500 years Isfahan has changed its status from important trade centre on the Silk Road, to capital of the Persian Empire (1598-1722, the Safavid dynasty), to tourist “mecca” of modern Iran. Despite its location in the desert, the Zayandeh river makes Isfahan an oasis, where soils are fertile. Noble Persian families loved to reside here before the Arabs came. After centuries of oblivion under their rule, followed by further invasions, Isfahan was resurrected as a capital of reunited Persia under rule of Abbas I.
An asphalt road leads to the mountain Sofeh south of Isfahan. In the national park of the same name, eight rock walls are found: the best climbing spot in Isfahan province for climbers of all levels. There are around 50 routes here of varying level.
The mountain Mohit Zist is found 20km from Isfahan in the direction of Shiraz. The wall is a 15 minute walk from the highway and offers 35 routes. The huge cliff is 140m high and 3km long. The eastern part is not well explored but its relief is great for classic climbing.
The village Khaft on way to Shiraz, which we will visit after Isfahan, seems not to have changed at all over the last few centuries. In clay houses reside 14 families as ancient as their dwellings. For more than a century the Khafr castle has been abandoned. It seems time has no power over this place. The village lies surrounded by mountains, such as the Dena mountain, the fourth highest in Iran. It’s a stunning mountain whose glaciers we will explore over the course of a two day trek before moving on to Shiraz.
People say Shiraz is the most democratic city in Iran. Maybe it is, because until the revolution of 1979 it was the most important centre of winemaking — it’s here that the Shiraz grape is found. Shiraz is known as a city of poets and flowers; people of art and science have lived and worked here. The treasure of Shiraz is its gardens, which are a real-life version of the paradise gardens described in the Koran. Shiraz is situated in the valley of river Hoshk in the Zagros mountains at an altitude of 1500 m.a.s.l.
60km north of Shiraz we find Persepolis – the ceremonial capital of Achaemenid Empire, founded in 560 BC. Persepolis today is a royal palace complex spread over 135 000 km2, comprising mostly ruins of sanctuaries and cult buildings. The most famous is the palace Apadana of Darius I.
In 330 BC Persepolis was taken and destroyed by Alexander the Great. It is said that after sacking the Persian gold, which would have required over 15,000 pack animals to move it, the Hellenics set fire to the Hall of 100 columns of Xerxes as revenge for the burning of the Akropol palace during the Greco-Persian wars. The fire spread throughout the city destroying the remainder of the Persian treasures, among them the sacred books of Zoroastrianism, written in golden ink on bull skins.
En desarrollo de lo dispuesto en el artículo 17 de la Ley 679 de 2001, la agencia advierte al turista que la explotación y el abuso sexual de menores de edad en el país son sancionados penal y administrativamente, conforme a las leyes vigentes.