by far most common way to arrive in Kyrgyzstan is by air and a large
majority land at Bishkek's international airport. Tashkent in Uzbekistan
and Dushanbe in Tajikistan also have airports with international
connections. All these cities have companies or agencies which can
arrange the red tape, transport etc.
is well served by railway and the prices arriving from capital cities
in Europe, usually via Moscow are very low, but travel times are
long and quite complicated visa regulations in Russia makes you
think twice if it's worth the extra hassle.
last minut shopping for provisions or gear, Osh is the only city
of any size close to Pik Lenin. Count on 6-8 hours travel(230km)
in between Osh and BC.
to Central Asia
alternative is usually Pulkovo Airlines, which serves Bishkek, Almaty,
Tashkent, Dushanbe and Samarkand. Usually you have to overnight
in St. Petersburg. Transfer hotel is paid by Pulkovo.
back Aeroflot was the given alternative, but nowadays their prices
are not as good as for example Pulkovo.
There - From Kyrgyzstan
two main routes from Bishkek to Pik Lenin. Via Toktogul and via
Naryn. Regardless of which route you choose, there are some high
passes along the way and minor high altitude symptoms may occur.
Highway 41 takes you first over the Töö-Ashuu Pass (3586m) to Toktogul
which is roughly 300km from Bishkek. Beautiful mountainous scenery
and pasturelands along the way. The next leg is a long gradual downhill
to Osh via Jalalabad. Roughly 330km. Osh have one of Central Asia's
largest markets and can be a nice place for a stop-over.
to Sary-Tash is a scenic experience amongst a mix of green pasture
lands, karst areas, high passes and finally the first views of the
High Pamirs. Road conditions can in places be pretty rough and two
switch-back passes have to be negotiated.
The ride from Sary-Tash is mostly over the huge grassy valley of
Alau before it finally climbs up towards BC.
A very busy
stretch of industrial wastelands takes you east to the foothills
of a small range and further to the shores of Ysyk Köl Lake. The
3000m Dolon pass give you great views of the lush countryside and
probably it's here you first see nomads. After Naryn (360m out of
Bishkek) the road condition deteriorates step by step and after
Kazarman (560km from Bishkek) the rough climb up the steep 3100m
Kaldama Pass can be a taxing and bone-shattering experience. The
rest of the way to the lowlands and Jalalabad is an easy ride on
many dozens of switchbacks. The rest of the way to Pik Lenin is
the same as the above route via Toktogul.
There - From Tajikistan, Pamir Highway
Get a "Gorno
Badakshan O.A. Permit" in Dushanbe. There are no public transport
that goes all the way and a combination of mini-bus rides is the
most common way of travelling. If you charter a vehicle for your
group, be sure the driver knows the area. Remember, the Pamir Highway
was long considered the most dangerous road in the world and even
if the situation has improved a lot lately, there are danger spots
which should be avoided. Obigarm and Komsomolabad is the two most
notorious places and sometimes all traffic has to be directed via
the southern route/Kulyab.
are serious stuff going on along the road, the CIS-troups in the
check points outside Dushanbe will stop the vehicle and hold it
until the situation is under control. This may take weeks, so if
you're on a tight schedule, forget the Pamir Highway option all
first high pass (Khaburabot 3252m) the road drops into the beautiful
Kalaikhum Valley. The road mostly follow the border river Pandzh
and on the other side you can see the rugged landscape of Afghanistan.
550km out of Dushanbe you arrive in Khorog, the only city of any
size before Murghab which is another 320km away. If you climb some
hills after Khorog, you may be able too see the extremely spectacular
peaks in the Shakhdarinskiy Range. Pik Karla Marksa and Pik Engels
are the most prominent. Be sure you are acclimatized before leaving
Khorog as the road will stay on a high altitude for a long time
is a small Kyrgyz settlement with a few hotels and when continuing
north the highest pass en route is encountered. Ak-Baytal at 4655m
give you great views of lots of high surrounding peaks.
the deep blue Kara Kul Lake and this is the place from where you
get your first glimpses of the Pik Lenin Massif. The border pass
(Kyzyl Art) takes you down to the Alau Valley and Pik Lenin BC is
less than an hour away.
There - From Tajikistan via Garm and Alau Valleys/A372
A much more direct route from Dushanbe to Pik
Lenin is to travel via Dzhirgatal. You avoid the mountainous parts
of Tajikistan and travel most of the way in valleys. The only negative
aspect with this route is the local uprisings and ungoing blood
feuds which have plagued the area since the dawn of time. Also here
the situation has improved a lot lately, but have this in mind as
the road can be closed on a very short notice. The alternative is
to sign a disclaimer, find a driver who's willing to take the chance
of being shot and head off into the heat.
just after Komsomolabad, you leave M41 and head for Dzhirgatal which
is 140km away on A372. You cross the border to Kyrygzstan another
80-85 km away. You are now in the wide and open Alau Valley and
the rest of the way to the turn-off to Pik Lenin BC is a smooth
There - From Uzbekistan
The road from Tashkent to Qoqand/Kokand is mostly
in good condition and there are lots of bus, mini-bus and shared-taxi
alternatives. There are small border crossing at various places
along the way east, but in order to avoid hassles with confused
border guards who see a foreigner for the first time, aim for the
main crossing at Andijan/Osh. Even this border crossing can be taxing
as the Uzbek immigration (also the Kyrgyz, but to a muss lesser
degree) sometimes really fish for "Schtraff". Schtraff
- translation: Pocket money, fine, bribe, gift, penalty, give me
your money, give me your gear etc.
As long as you know you have all documents in order, stand your
ground and be adamant but polite.
The route is 400km easy ride to Osh.
There - From China
There are two options:
From Kashgar/Kashi via Torugurt Pass or Irkestam Pass.
have some hassles attached. The road is going through a sensitive
military zone on the Chinese side and special transport has to be
arranged. This can be very expensive if talking to the "wrong"
you pay for a trip all the way to Bishkek and with an overnight
stay in Naryn. If you want to go straight to Pik Lenin and get the
permits in Osh, make sure the travel agent knows about this before
was closed until year 2000, but now it's completely hassle-free
to leave Kyrgyzstan this way. I have no updated info about the story
going over the border from China to Kyrgyzstan. The above contact
in Kashgar will know.
If shooting for the Irkestam option, be sure you have bought everything
you need before leaving Kashgar as you will not pass any settlements
of size before arriving in Pik Lenin BC.