Getting there

The 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.

Bishkek 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.

For 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.

Flying to Central Asia

The cheapest 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.

Some years back Aeroflot was the given alternative, but nowadays their prices are not as good as for example Pulkovo.

Getting There - From Kyrgyzstan

There are 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.

Via Toktogul.

National 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.

The leg 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.

Via Naryn.

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.

Getting 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.

If there 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 together.

After the 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 ahead.

Murghab 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.

You'll pass 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.

Getting 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.

After 160km, 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 ride.

Getting 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.

Getting There - From China

There are two options:
From Kashgar/Kashi via Torugurt Pass or Irkestam Pass.

Torugurt Pass.

This option 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" people.

Usually, 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 departure.

Irkestam Pass.

This pass 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.

General information
Gear list
Getting there







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