In the last decade or so, aid projects have given many beekeepers in the country a boost, putting Kyrgyzstan onto the global market for the first time. Kyrgyzstan takes great pride in its honey options, particularly a special white honey that is produced from the nectar of one of the flowers in the Tien Shan mountains. This tour will visit several honey-producing regions of the country, meeting with different beekeepers and allowing guests time to visit and experience life as a beekeeper in Kyrgyzstan.
Day 1 | Bishkek
White Leopard staff will meet you in the airport and bring you to the hotel.After lunch and a bit of rest you can see some of the main sights in Bishkek.
Oak Park is an old park full of oak trees, open air sculpture exhibition, and monuments. It’s a peaceful area to absorb stories and artifacts of Kyrgyz history while walking under the shadow of big oak trees. The enclosed cabins of the ferris wheel at nearby Panfilov Park provide breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding landscape.
Ala-Too Square is surrounded by the main attractions of Bishkek city. You will be able to see the main historical characters of Kyrgyz nation, visit the museum, see the white house, and observe citizens enjoying the expansive space that is regularly decorated by the city.
Day 2 | Toktogul
On the way to Toktogul reservoir we will stop by the beautiful gorge “Chychkan”.We will have a picnic there.
Toktogul reservoir is the largest of the four reservoirs in Kyrgyzstan.Set between Talas and Batken, it has a higher altitude but less traffic.Many plants grow here, such as sweet clover, thyme, sulphurous leuzea, sainfoin, clover, dandelion, goldenrod, fireweed, Bogorodsk grass, sage, mint, and oregano.This area produces the most fragrant honey because the summer flowers have such strong aromas.
In Toktogul we will visit some of the many bee keepers who bring their hives to the reservoir during the summer blooming season.
Overnight at a guesthouse in Toktogul.
Day 3 | Suusamyr
Suusamyr is an alpine plateau in Kyrgyzstan, located at an altitude of 2200 meters. It sits between two mountain passes, Too Ashuu and Otmok.This area is rich in vegetation and mountain herbs, and therefore one of the popular valleys for taking livestock on jailoo.
Among the traditional animals brought to Suusamyr, beekeepers also transport their hives to the valley.Zarylbek uulu Maksat was born in Talas city 1990.He started to work as a bee keeper about three years ago, turning a passion into his main source of income.Until 2018 his bees were from Germany, a variety called “Karnika”.In 2019 he bought mother bees from Austria and this year will harvest honey from these new bees.
He feeds the bees with honey and sugar syrup from September till spring.In spring they move to Suusamyr, where the bees eat peppermint, edelweiss, oregano, hawthorn, barberry, meadowsweet. Suusamyr honey, which contains nectar from these herbs, has antibacterial activity, produces a calming effect on the central nervous system, normalizes the activity of the gastrointestinal tract and enhances intestinal motility.
He uses a standard box size, in blue and green colors and says that the best time to visit is June and July.
After visiting Zarylbek we will overnight in a yurt camp in Suusamyr valley.
Day 4 | Son Kol
Our next destination is a beautiful, alpine lake. Son-Kol is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan, but considerably higher in altitude than Issyk-kul. At 3016 m, it can seem as though you are climbing right into the sky! It’s a great place to do yoga, meditate, ride horses, take pictures, and play national games. We will sleep in a yurt and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality. Beekeepers may or may not be present, though in late summer the area around Son-Kol is a haven of alpine wildflowers, including edelweiss and forget-me-nots.The lake is a must-see location and conveniently on our way to Naryn!
Day 5 | At Bashy
Today we will visit bee keepers in the village of At-Bashy in Naryn province.
Talantbek Kyrgyzbaev has been a bee keeper for 5 years. He started beekeeping because he wanted to product natural honey. He is using German bees - “Karnika”.During the summer, the bees feed on peppermint, sage, clover (white and pink), alfalfa, veronica, yellow alfalfa, oregano, geranium, cornflowers, and sainfoin (cockshead).In the winter they are fed with with honey. Their boxes are made from plywood, and painted in the colors blue and yellow. The best time to visit them is June and July.The unique aspect of his bee keeping is that At-Bashy’s white honey is number one in Kyrgyzstan, and they produce quality honey.
After visiting the bee keeper we will go to Tash Rabat.This ancient caravanserai is one of few Silk Road monuments preserved to the present day. It is the most popular spot for tourists coming to Naryn.
There are many legends about the origin of this monument. One of the theories says that Tash Rabat was built in 15th century on the ruins of ancient Christian monastery. As Islam entered the region the monastery was not used anymore and due to the perfect location right on the Silk Road people built a caravanserai. It was a very popular place to stay for merchants coming from China and going further to Fergana valley.
Overnight in yurt camp.
Day 6 | Bokonbaeva
Next destination is south shore of Issyk Kul – Bokonbaevo. In Bokonbaevo we will meet with a traditional “bürkütchü”, a falcon hunter that hunts specifically with eagles. They will give a demonstration of this prized skill that traces its history far back into nomadic tradition. We can also see and practice how to built yurt, as well as visit an artisans collective where they often give demonstrations of the shyrdak-making process.
Overnight in a guesthouse in Bokonbaevo.
Day 7 | Jyrgalan
Today we will drive to Jyrgalan valley on the eastern edge of Lake Issyk-kul.We will go to Tulpar lake, a picturesque alpine lake (2,670 m) surrounded by high mountains with rich thickets of medicinal plants on its shores and occasionally cranes that stop over during their migrations.
We will stay overnight in a yurt camp, where there are also options to walk around, meditate, read books, or learn how to make Kyrgyz food.
There is also a nice hot spring that is best enjoyed during the cool of a summer evening.
Day 8 | Semenovka
Today we are going to this small town on the north shore of Issyk-Kul. We will visit beekeeper Anatoliy Viktorovich. He has been doing beekeeping since 1995, following the footsteps of his grandfather and father.His father started beekeeping about 1990, and Anatoliy went from just helping at first to getting much more involved. They do everything themselves, without help from outside organizations.
He uses two kind of bees: Karpatka and Karnika (German bees). In winter time he feeds the bees with pure honey, in spring time on nectar from dandelions and garden crops: cherry, apricot, and barberry.In summer, the list of plants is huge, though the main honey collection comes from sainfoin. Closer to September the bees gather honey from mountain herbs such as oregano, thyme, Zezifora, and Ivan tea.There are more than 20 different herbs that contribute to the later honey, since they move the apiary from place to place, depending on where the honey plants bloom.
After visiting Anatoliy, we will continue alongside the north shore of Issyk-Kul, stopping in Cholpon Ata to visit the Open Air Petroglyph Museum.
We will end the day in Chon-Kemin, a wide valley tucked between the lake and the border with Kazakhstan.
Day 9 | Visit Chon Kemin bee keeper
Chon Kemin valley ranges in altitude from 1400-2800 m.In the Chon-Kemin district, forests rise to the sky, and springs trickle through the soil layers, creating more of a woodland ecosystem.Seeing a summertime panorama of Chon-Kemin from the height of the mountains, anyone will say: "The valley is really a golden cup."
This color characterization also applies to the honey of the region.The color of mountain honey will vary, but, as a rule, is generally a golden yellow to light brown.
In Chon-Kemin we will visit a second Anatoliy.Anatoliy Nikolaevich has been working with bees since 1998.He started with 5 hives, finding it interesting to make pure honey and discovering that he deeply enjoys the process and result.He is using Central Asian bees.In winter time he does not feed them since, in the fall, he leaves at least 10 kg of honey in each hive.From the end of March he begins to feed them with syrup. In the summer, the bees feed on forbs, flowers of fruit trees, dandelion, clover, clover, oregano, and lemon balm.
As for his hives, he has large hives for sunbeds with 22 frames, called "Dadan".He also has two tier boxes, each tier with 12 frames. This framework is called "Ruta." The beehives are multi-colored and for the summer, they move the hives from the valley to the mountains. The mountain location is a place called Konur.The best time to visit, according to Anatoliy, is the middle of July.
After visiting Anatoliy and grabbing some lunch, we will start back to Bishkek.On the way to Bishkek we will visit the Burana Tower in Chui Valley, a minaret from the 11th century. It it another important historical tower from the Silk Road period.
In Bishkek we will go to one of the local bazaars where you can buy souvenirs or Kyrgyz treats.There are also shops in Bishkek called “Dr. Myed” (Doctor Honey) that sell well-packaged honey for traveling and gifting.
Our final dinner together will be at national café.