Trekking Near Osh
Immerse yourself in the stunning Pamir and Alay Mountains.
Throughout history Osh has stood as the gateway to the incredible Pamir Mountains, one of the highest mountain ranges in the world. Surrounded by the Himalayas on one side, the Hindu Kush on another, and blending into the Tian Shan range that stretches across Kyrgyzstan, chains of impressive snow-capped peaks within the Pamir-Alay mountain range have beckoned travelers for millennia.
Trek the same mountain passes, peaks, and valleys that merchants once traversed along the storied Silk Road. Currently, a trek and overnight in a base camp at the base camp of Peak Lenin is the most popular trek in the region. However, Osh’s location means a vast array of trekking possibilities. So if you venture further afield you’ll never find trails crowded or busy. The Pamir-Alay region offers a perfect way to trek into wild, wonderful nature with views that will blow you away.
Below is an overview of the main treks in the region. The most difficult trails for intrepid trekkers climb to more than 4,300 meters, while a number of single- and multi-day treks (and horse treks!) suit adventurers of any style and time-frame. No matter the route you choose, every trek offers unspoiled nature, authentic hospitality as you meet nomadic shepherds in the high jailoo (summer pastures), and a chance to hike in one of the world’s most beautiful mountain ranges. This Lonely Planet article shows we're not the only ones with an opinion on the matter!
Choosing an appropriate trek for your personal situation is an important part of the trekking experience in Kyrgyzstan. The Pamir Mountains offer an abundance of routes to various sites, but more importantly, each route includes unique topography and thus unique technical and physical challenges. It’s crucial that you not only choose a trek that you’d like to experience visually, but you also select the trails and routes best suited to your personal fitness level, energy, and health. Key considerations include the altitude changes on each trekking day, distances covered, and average hours of hiking expected per day. For those of any fitness level, select treks are also available as horse treks, which can make certain vistas and viewpoints more accessible. In addition to the horse treks listed below, please enquire directly if you wish to arrange a customized horse trek in the region.
Guides are recommended for the longer and more difficult trails, but travelers up to the challenge can certainly trek solo on well-marked trails. Thanks to a trail-marking project by the USAID Business Growth Initiative, detailed GPS data is available for the vast majority of popular trekking routes across the Osh and Pamir-Alay corridor. Ultimately, you should choose a trek that is challenging (strenuous, even), but that offers you the chance to also enjoy the beautiful mountainscapes.
If you are unsure about the trek that's best for you, or if you'd like to purchase trekking maps, stop by the Destination Osh office.
June to September is the high season for trekking in Kyrgyzstan, but Osh’s location right on the edge of the Pamir-Alay mountain range ensures that a selection of lower-altitude routes open earlier and later in the year, weather permitting. Trekking season guidelines exist to help you avoid inclement weather and harsh temperatures, and to make your trekking experience as smooth as possible.
Osh is a full service destination, offering both experienced guides and a full range of trekking gear. For soft adventurers, most one-day treks only require that travelers bring their own sturdy hiking shoes, daypack, and water. For the multi-day treks listed below, travelers can easily rent sleeping bags, tents, cooking equipment, and trekking backpacks while in Osh. Visit Alay (aka Osh CBT, +996-555-077-621) offers a full range of trekking gear rentals. All guided treks include the gear necessary for the trek, while independent trekkers can rent gear from Visit Alay as needed. Sary Mogul CBT also offers trekking gear for rent, but it is best to double check with them in advance to be sure they have the right gear you need when you need it.
Trekking maps for the Pamir-Alay Mountains are available at the Destination Osh offices, where you can also arrange a guide and receive assistance in choosing a trek that best fits your unique needs. Every trek below can be trekked independently using these Pamir-Alay Mountains maps and GPS information. You can also book guided treks where all the planning details, transportation to the trailhead, route, and food along the way are handled for you so that you can simply enjoy the experience. Destination Osh, Visit Alay (Osh CBT), CBT Sary Mogul, and Kyrgyz Pamir Tours can book your fully-guided treks and help you secure guides, cooks, and pack horses when required.
Osh’s strategic location as the gateway to the Pamir Mountains and neighboring countries also affords travelers the chance to trek near border regions. As such, one trek from Ozgorush Village in Batken requires a permit. For this trek, you must book your permit one month in advance via a local partner in Batken city. If you have booked with a tour operator or the local CBT (there is Visit Alay in Osh and one coming soon to Batken), each one can help you secure your trekking permit before you arrive. If you need any assistance, you can always contact Destination Osh and we’ll help you find the information and resources you need for a successful trek.
A moderately-difficult day trek that takes you to a series of stunning turquoise alpine lakes, glaciers, gorges, and the highest point of 4,213 meters. Along the way, you’ll pass a yak-filled jailoo (high pasture), and enjoy views of 7,000+ meter Peak Lenin and the Pamir Mountains in the distance. This one-day trek provides a diversity of views, experiences and landscapes, making it one of the best options in the region if you have limited time for trekking. The starting point for this trek is Damjailoo, not too far away from Sary Mogul village. Requires pre-arranging a driver for pickup/drop-off.
Ak-Bosogo — Sary-Mogol Trek (Pamir Highway Dayhiker)
This day hike is perfect for Pamir Highway road-trippers with limited time. Starting just off the Pamir Highway, follow the trail through nomadic summer pastures until you reach Algachart Pass and are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Pamir-Alay Mountains. Requires pre-arranging a driver for pickup/drop-off.
Bulölu — Askaly Trek (Karashagyl Gorge)
Ascend from the evergreen forest of Bulölu Reserve to a series of low mountain passes across popular jailoos (high pastures) where local shepherds and their families live in yurts throughout the summer. Finish this easy day trip by descending through rugged Karashagyl Gorge. Requires pre-arranging a driver for pickup/drop-off.
Kyzyl-Eshme — Daroot-Korgon Trek (Shepherds Loop)
From the pass (3,482 m) above Kyzyl Eshme village, take an easy to moderate downhill walk through red rocks, green valleys, and canyons. Gain insight into local life and nomadic culture as you pass by local shepherds and families along the way. The trail ends in the town of Daroot Korgon, where you can find a hot meal and spend the night at a local guest house.
Karakol — Sary-Tash Trek (Descent into Sary-Tash)
Fantastic mountain panoramas and an easy Pamir Highway trailhead make this day hike a favorite for travelers looking for a long one-day outing from Sary-Tash. Views of stunning Peak Lenin (7,134 m) are the highlight and the reward for reaching Archaty Pass (3,500 m).
A moderately-difficult trek that takes you to Sary Mogul Pass (4,303 meters) and offers stunning views of alpine lakes, glaciers, the Pamir Mountains in the distance, and crazy lunar-like landscapes. You’ll trek through a varied and lush green river valley that ends in a steep, 860-meter ascent to Koshmoinok Pass. The next day will surprise you with its diversity of rock formations and brightly colored mountain layers as you descend into Kojokelen village. From here (3 days) you can decide whether to return to Osh or to continue trekking over the Jiptick pass to Sary Mogul village (5 days). You can carry all your own gear or hire horse porters to lighten your load for this trek. Transport from Sary Mogul is needed to the trailhead.
Papan – Murdash (Truly Nomadic Land)
Experience the heart of Kyrgyzstan's nomadic culture on this rugged trek where you’re never more than a few hours away from a yurt camp. High mountain passes showcase the best of the Pamirs. Don't underestimate the terrain: tough climbs and steep downhills are the trade-off for magnificent mountain panoramas. Requires arranging a driver for drop-off.
Jashtilek — Maidan Trek (Daroot Korgon Loop)
Start in Jashtilek village and follow the river gorge past yurt camps before climbing up to a snow-covered pass. Throughout your trek, many beautiful rivers will accompany your path and every pass rewards with stunning views of snowy peaks and the Pamir Mountains. On the descent, loop back to Daroot Korgon village on this moderately difficult route.
Jangy Nookat Village — Kyrgyz-Ata — Kichik-Alai Trek (Adventure from Osh)
Escape the heat of the city and Fergana Valley on this trek in Kyrgyz-Ata National Park, located a few hours south of Osh. This mountain experience is rich with local yurt camps and shepherds, diverse wildlife, and starry skies. Option to overnight in a yurt. Find out more about transport and how to get to Kyrgyz-Ata National Park.
Journey to two alpine lakes above the village of Kolduk, just south of Gulcha. Climb past a string of small lakes through a collection of rugged mountain valleys, topping out at the 4,133 meter Karashagyl Pass, which offers incredible views of the Alay and Pamir ranges. In the summer months, you'll find a jailoo filled with yurts and local families tending their livestock.
Ozgorush Village in Batken
Trek through the Western Pamir Mountains, a region locals have nicknamed the “Patagonia of Central Asia.” The stunning alpine lakes, rivers, and picturesque valleys around Ozgorush village have long been a favorite with travelers, and new trekking routes account for every skill level and interest. New marked trails opened in 2018 and will continue to develop over the coming years. Enquire directly at the Batken CBT (via Visit Alay, the CBT in Osh), with Aksai Travel, or Destination Osh to plan a trek from Ozgorush village.
Other Treks to Check out around Kyrgyzstan
- For even more treks on foot in the Osh region and Pamir-Alay Mountains, check out the trekking tours offered by Visit Alay. The experiences they offer run from one-day to seven-day treks throughout the Alay Valley and nearby regions.
- Karakol, one of the other major tourism and trekking hubs in Kyrgyzstan, is a great jumping off point for a wide selection of treks in the Tian Shan Mountains just outside its city limits.
- To explore some of the newest treks in Kyrgyzstan, head to Jyrgalan just 60km from Karakol. This village is the starting point for several day-hikes and multi-day treks.
- Experience both lake and mountain life together with these treks in South Shore, Lake Issyk-Kul.
Located just 95 km from Osh and at the foot of the Pamir-Alay range, this trek begins in a quiet valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. Perhaps best known for its variegated-rock landscape, the wide Jiptyk River Valley features gorgeous ochre rocks and an intriguing cave with crystal-clear water. You’ll also discover the Kojokelen waterfall, the beautiful Jiptyk River, and have views of the Jiptyk pass (4,185 m). This experience can easily be enjoyed as a foot-trek as well.
Uzgen to Naryn, Tash Rabat (7-day Horse Trek)
Take to the mountains like the Kyrgyz on this week-long horse trek through the national park. As your horse strides through the mountains, look out for shepherds' yurts hidden in the mountain slopes. Herds of wild sheep are easily spotted on the ridges of the mountains. Stunning views of gushing rivers, snow-capped mountains, and sweeping vistas of the Pamir Mountains define this trek.
Horse Trekking Around Kyrgyzstan
Some of the foot-treks listed above are also accessible on horseback. Contact Destination Osh to discuss the best horse trekking routes for your visit. Additionally, horse trekking is incredibly popular in other regions of Kyrgyzstan. Horse treks from Jyrgalan are notable and offer beautiful vistas in the heart of the Tian Shan range. South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, Karakol, and Naryn also offer unique horseback riding experiences through Kyrgyzstan’s towering mountain ranges.