Kyrgyzstan is known for its great, unspoiled natural beauty. In this nomadic country only about 15% of the population use Internet. Often referred as “the Switzerland of Central Asia”, this mountainous country offers many spectacular sights to explore. Great for trekking and camping!
Kyrgystan is really a destination that hasn't yet been spoiled by other travelers, though it has much to offer if you are looking for great scenery! Mountains cover over 80% of the country with numerous valleys, bright blue lakes and glaciers that create an Alpine-like beauty. The steep Kyrgyzstani mountains include five of the world's twelve tallest peaks.
The population is a rich mix of the Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian and over 30 other tribes and nationalities. This is an Islamic country, 75% of the population being Muslims, but for most Kyrgyzstanis Islam is more of a cultural background and not practiced daily. Kyrgyzstan offers great attractions for trekking and camping. You can also hire a local guide or a porter from many different tour companies in Bishkek and in various other big cities.
It is impossible to talk about Kyrgyzstan without mentioning some of their traditions that make them so proud to be who they are. The traditional sports reflect the importance of horse riding. The horse is said to be the dearest thing the Kyrgyz have. The most popular horse riding games include Kyz Kuumai (girl chasing, a kissing game in which a man chaces a girl for kissing her. If he isn't succesfull she can beat him with her horsewhip!), Oodarysh (two contestants trying to throw the other one from his horse) and Kok Boru (mounted riders wrestling one another for the corpse of a headless goat).
Maybe you will hear the komuz, an ancient fretless string instrument that gives Central Asian music its sound. The first ever komuz is believed to date back to 6000 BC!
Most popular traditional dishes include the Kyrgyztani plov, lagman and manti. Taste Kyrgyzstan's national alcoholic bevrage kumiz, which is essentially fermented mare's milk!
Bishkek is the capital and the biggest city of Kyrgyzstan. The clean city centre has a number of buildings built with typical soviet-style and oriental architecture. Bishkek has many monumental sights, Monument of Manas being the most famous. Here you can find some clubs and discos that are sufficient and open till late! Osh Osh is the second largest city of Kyrgyzstan and was part of the Silk Road for centuries. The bazaar of the city is told to be older than Rome. Southern Osh is one of the most popular camping areas in Kyrgyzstan.
Ice blue lake Issyk-Köl is the second largest mountain lake in the world after lake Titicaca in Peru. Admire its beauty with surrounding mountains and glaciers.
Horse riding, trekking and camping
Horse treks are also something interesting to experience. You can never underestimate the importance of horse riding in Kyrgyzstan! You can ride or trek in some of the numerous ranges. Explore the summer pastures and get fit getting up the high mountains! Those interested in trekking can head to Altyn Arashan. Itis an area of marvelous natural beauty for great trekking. When you need a break try one of its hot pools. Lake Song-Köl in the centre of the country is an ideal spot for camping. You will find many summer pastures here and probably you will get to know hospitable herders and local people who bring their animals, horses and cattle here in summer. See the traditional yurts!
It depends where in Kyrgyzstan you are; the country's climate varies from subtropical to polar! South-Western valleys reach the temperature of 40°C in the summer, where as the weather in the northern hills stay temperate. In winter the coldest regions go sub zero with the Siberian winds and it snows even in the desert areas! The average winter minimum is -24ºC! The best time to visit is July to September. Avalanche danger is greatest during March and April and from September to mid-October.
Due to Kyrgyzstan's mountainous land area, roads go through steep valleys where mud slides and snow avalanches do occur. It is almost impossible to travel in high-altitude regions during winter. Railway lines are intersected by international boundaries and it can take time to pass through border formalities. Horses are used, especially in the rural areas and by riding you can get to locations where cars cannot.