Trekking the Torugart Pass, Kyrgyzstan

Trekking the Torugart Pass

If one day you want to be exotic, come to Kyrgyzstan to the Torugart Pass. With Minzifa Travel tours you will have an opportunity to enjoy beautiful views, and we will be glad to keep you company!

Until 2002 Torugart was the only pass that tourists from Kyrgyzstan could cross to China. But even after the restoration of Irkeshtam it does not lose its popularity and attracts tourists who want to walk the trails of the Silk Road.

Torugart is part of the Tien Shan mountain system. It is not only strategically important, but also one of the most picturesque passes in the world, which is worth seeing for every traveler.

At some points in the pass on the roadside, the locals are active traders. Koumiss, carbonated drinks, curd salty balls, which the Kyrgyz called “kurut,” gum, mineral water, and beer – there are plenty of snacks to be found at the stalls.

The Torugart Pass was created in the late 19th century, and in 1906, thanks to funding from the Russian-Chinese Bank, a good road was built here. Until the middle of the last century, Torugart was of special importance, but after that its place was taken by Irkeshtam (the main border point between China and Kyrgyzstan). In the late 1960s, relations between the Chinese and the Soviets deteriorated, and the point was closed until the 1980s. In 1995, the customs on the Chinese side was moved almost 60 km away. Today, there is talk of implementing a project to build a railroad in the pass: it should connect the Fergana Valley and the Chinese county of Kashgar.

It is difficult to call the road through the pass modern: part of the road served as an airstrip in case of an attack from China, and it is still not asphalted. But the views are beautiful, so most tourists are willing to sacrifice comfort.

What is the Torugart Pass attracts vacationers? It’s simple. Firstly, it is an opportunity to get to China. And secondly, this pass was once part of the Silk Road, which means that here could not help but preserve a special medieval atmosphere.

Why shouldn’t I travel on my own?

Many travelers prefer to get acquainted with the Torugart Pass on their own and refuse the help of tour operators. But we do not recommend it. The fact is that:

  • technically, only residents of China or Kyrgyzstan can cross the pass. All other citizens would have to seek permission in Urumqi. It is not so easy to do the paperwork in a foreign country on one’s own;
  • It is almost 500 km between Bishkek and the pass. Even if the weather is sunny (which is not often in the mountains), the road will take at least 7 hours. Such remoteness to unfamiliar tourists seem insurmountable obstacle, which is not far from the truth;
  • There are holidaymakers who are ready to take a risk and cross the border to China without documents and compliance with the rules. Some do, but breaking the law in a foreign country is a very rash decision.

On the Kyrgyz side, Lake Chatyr-Kul is not far from the pass, so you can enjoy one of Kyrgyzstan’s main natural attractions on the way to the Silk Road. You should come to the pass, if possible, in warm season, most importantly, not in winter: during the period from December to February, already narrow roads due to avalanches and snowfalls become impassable.

Torugart Pass is an interesting tourist destination: a short road to China, the atmosphere of the Silk Road, spectacular views. For tour bookings please contact Minzifa Travel e-mail, WhatsApp. See you at the pass!

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