24 Stunning Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel toKyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is one of the most beautiful countries Ive ever visited. The Tian Shanmountains cover 80% of the country, making it a paradise for nature lovers.
No wonder that its known as the Switzerland of Central Asia! While hiking, you can also search for the elusive snowleopard, one of the few places on the planet where it remains.
If youre coming in winter, its likely to ski. While I havent personally tried it, I can imagine that it would be fantastic!1/22
Glaciers cover ~ 4% of Kyrgyzstan.
Youll also want to keep an eye open for camels. Theyre released into the wild every winter to look for a mate andcan be aggressive ifwell lets just say if they dont find a mate
Kyrgyzstan has a history of at least 200 years. Due to its geographic isolation from mountainous terrain, much of itsancient culture has been preserved. Try to time your visit with the World Nomad Games, held every two years inSeptember. Its a celebration of nomadic culture and unlike anything Ive ever seen. Despite its isolation, it lies onthe Silk Road, so offers something for culture seekers as well.
Despite its isolation, Kyrgyzstan lies on the Silk Road, so it offers something for travellers interested in culture aswell.
But rather than telling you how amazing Kyrgyzstan is, let me show you.
Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel to Kyrgyzstan:
The rugged peaks, mountainous landscape, and high alpine lakes make Kyrgyzstan a paradise for nature lovers.Less than 8% of the land is cultivated. Everywhere you go, you experience the same thing, silence. Its one of themost peaceful places Ive ever been. Just being there seems to cultivate a sense of calm inside you.
Jailoo is a summer pasture near Cholpan-Alta.
The Tian Shan Mountains are the backdrop for Jailoo, a summer pasture near Cholpan-Ata.
A cow relaxing in Jailoo, a summer pasture near Cholpan-Ata.
Lake Issyk-Kul and its Beaches
Lake Issyk-Kul is the second highest alpine lake in the world.Youll want to take a cruise on the lake. Surrounded bythe Tian Shan Mountains, its stunning. Although its further away from the sea than any other country, the beachesalong the lake will make you feel like youre at the ocean. Yes, thats right, beaches. While Kyrgyzstan probablydoesnt come to mind when you think beach holiday, youll find some surprisingly good ones there.
Youll find incredible beaches along the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, the second highest alpine lake in the world! Remarkably it never freezes!
I highly recommend taking a boat ride on Lake Issyk-Kul. Surrounded by the Tian Shan Mountains, the scenery is spectacular.
Sunset over Lake Issyk-Kul.
Horses in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz people were nomadic until relatively recently, and some still are. As a result, horses played a huge role indaily life. Today, many Kyrgyz are excellent horsemen and women. I was fortunate to see their skills on display atthe World Nomad Games. I cant think of a more beautiful place to go horse trekking as my friends Audrey and Samdid. Im adding this to my bucket list the next time Im back.
Lake Issyk-Kul and its beaches with the beautiful Tian Shan Mountains as a backdrop.11/22
Go for a cruise on Lake Issyk-Kul.
Horses crossing the river in the summer pastures of Jai Loo in Kyrgyzstan.
In traditional Kyrgyz culture, people were nomadic. They lived in yurts, which could be transported and travelled by horse.
Cultural Highlights in Kyrgyzstan
The majority of people living in Kyrgyzstan are ethnic Kyrgyz followed by Uzbeks and Russians. Despite its 2000long history, it only became a sovereign nation after the breakup the Soviet Union in 1991.
If youre seeking culture, youll want to explore the Tian-Shan Silk Road, one of the countrys two UNESCO WorldHeritage Sites.
Also of significance:
Petroglyphs at Cholpan-Ata
These petroglyphs date between 2000 BC and 400 AD and mainly depict hunting scenes. Theres no informationavailable on site, tourism is still very much in development mode in Kyrgyzstan, so I highly recommend going with aguide. This site also has more info on getting there and what to look for once youre there.
Burana Tower (Ruins of Balasagun)
The ancient city of Balasagun south of Tokmok in the Shamshy Valley dates back to the 9th century. Its one of theoldest settlements in Central Asia. Here, youll find the Burana Tower, petroglyphs, small hill hiding a palace andgravestones marking nomadic Turks who used to roam through the area. Visitors can explore the open-airarchaeological museum.
Camels dont play a prominent role in Kyrgyz culture, but you do see them occasionally and roaming freely during the winter months as they search for a mate.
Burana Tower is the most visible of the remains. Legend has it that a witch advised a king that his daughter woulddie when she was 18 years old. To keep her safe her, he hid her all alone in the tower, except for a servant whobrought food. However, there was a poisonous spider hidden in the princesss food. The princess died as predictedby the witch when she was 18.
Sleep in a Yurt and Support the Local Community
Yurts played a critical role in Kyrgyz nomadic life and thanks to Community Based Tourism; travellers have theoption of staying in a yurt and eating traditional Kyrgyz food. While I ate in several yurts, I didnt have the chance tosleep in one like my friend Leyla did. Read this, to see what its really like. Id highly recommend sleeping in a yurtwhen travelling to Kyrgyzstan to get a better understanding of the culture. Besides, its a unique experience!
I LOVED getting to know the Kyrgyz people. Although shy at first, they are incredibly welcoming. This family runs ayurt camp through a community-based tourism project and went above and beyond to make us feel at home.Meeting the Kyrgyz people was also one of my highlights at the World Nomad Games. I had the opportunity to chatwith a camel herder, and meet Zura, one of the most impressive women Ive ever met anywhere. (You can readabout it by clicking on the above link.)
The petroglyphs at Cholpon-Ata depict mainly hunting scenes, revealing what was important in earlier times.
Know Before You Travel to Kyrgyzstan
Plan your trip between late June to late September. Due to its high altitude, snow arrives early and stays longinto spring.
On the other hand, if youre into skiing, head to Kyrgyzstan in winter. Check out Stephens very thoroughguide to skiing.
Yurt camps are typically only open during the summer months so keep this in mind when planning your visit.
Kyrgyzstan is still developing its tourism infrastructure. The easiest way to travel is with a guide.
When planning to travel within Kyrgyzstan, schedule longer than you think youll need. Distances can bedeceiving with the poor quality of roads in some parts of the country.
Try to tie your visit around the World Nomad Games if possible. Its held once very two years in Cholpan-Ataand is one of the coolest events on the planet in my opinion.
Always travel with travel insurance. Its especially important in remote countries like Kyrgyzstan and evenmore so if youre doing any adventurous activity like horseback riding, hiking or skiing. I recommend WorldNomads.
Note: My trip was organized in cooperation with Discover Kyrgyzstan, and made possible by the support of the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID). All opinions are my own.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links in which I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thiskeeps the site ad free.
Gravestones from nomadic Turks who used to roam through Central Asia.
Travellers can stay at a yurt camp and support community-based tourism projects. This one is along the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul.
A Kyrgyz family that runs a yurt camp as part of a community-based tourism project.
24 Stunning Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel to KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan is one of the most beautiful countries Ive ever visited. TheTian Shan mountainscover 80% of the country, making it a par