Kyrgyzstan is a true heaven for trekking and outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its beautiful mountain sceneries, large number of sunny days and huge choice of trails with varying degrees of difficulty from easy to extreme.
There are a large number of trails, many of which exist since Soviet times. The most favorite areas for hiking are:
- in north: Ala Archa, Alamedin, Issyk Ata, Chon Kemin, Altyn Arashan and Karakol gorges, Eki Naryn valley, the plateau of Son Kol lake, Talas range;
- in south: Karavshin gorge, Chatkal valey and Arslanbob valleys, Sary Chelek lake, Aigul Tash mountain.
About 95% of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is covered by mountains, which belong to two major mountain systems of the world – Tien Shan and Pamir mountain ranges. There are great opportunities for both beginners and professional mountaineers and climbers.
Every year more than a thousand climbers come from all corners of the world to conquer the heavenly mountains of Kyrgyzstan, including the world-famous Pobeda (7439m), Khan Tengri (7010 m) and Lenin (7134 m) peaks, which are on the territory of Kyrgyzstan.
Pobeda Peak is the highest and most difficult to climb due to unpredictable weather conditions. On the other hand, the second highest peak of Lenin is the most accessible of seventhousanders for the ascent. The route has no particular technical difficulties and does not require specialized technical equipment. Khan Tengri is in world climbers’ elite list and every self-respecting mountaineer at least once in a life must climb it.
Apart from the seventhousanders, Karakol, Boris Yeltsin and Oguz-Bashi (Terskey Ala-Too) peaks, Ak-Sai glacier (Kyrgyz Range), the Manas peak (Talas ridge), Karavshin, Ak-Suu (Turkestan Range) and Dugoba gorges (Alay range) are also of great interest to professional as well as amateur climbers.
Nearly 70% of the roads in Kyrgyzstan are not paved. This makes the country an ideal place for jeep and motorcycle journeys. One can enjoy the beauties of Kyrgyzstan’s pristine nature and learn about the rich history and culture of the nomads while driving from one place to another.
The road around Issyk Kul, Bishkek-Osh and Bishkek-Torugart highways, Too Ashu, Kazarman and Moldo Ashu passes, Son Kul, Chatyr Kul, Kol Su and Sary Chelek lakes are the most favorite routes and destinations for jeep and motorcycle travelers.
Horseback tours in Kyrgyzstan are as popular as trekking and hiking. Trails go through the virgin landscapes of Tien Shan and Pamir with pristine mountain lakes, beautiful spruce-fir forests and alpine meadows. One can taste kymyz, local kyrgyz beverage made of mare's milk, learn about the local culture and spend unforgettable night in bozui. The best season for this kind of vacation is from mid-June to September.
Kyrgyzstan is truly the center of jailoo tourism. As summer comes, thousands of kyrgyz shepherds in different parts of the country move with their livestock to high summer pastures called jailoo. It is a centuries-old tradition still regularly practiced in Kyrgyzstan. There the families erect round felt yurts (known as boz ui) and stay up until the beginning of October.
Going on a jailoo trip truly gives the full experience of old kyrgyz nomadic culture. In jailoo, travelers have the opportunity to drink a cup of koumiss (fermented mare’s milk), eat beshbarmak (famous kyrgyz national dish) for dinner and also enjoy the beautiful surronding landscapes hiking or taking a ride on a horse. Nights in jailoo are amazingly peaceful and serene.
Considered rather extreme, jailoo holidays are not recommended for ones with poor health and those traveling with their children.
Koumiss (or kymyz) treatment is a developing form of health tourism in Kyrgyzstan during the summer season.
Koumiss is a dairy product obtained as a result of fermentation of mare’s milk. Doctors recommend it in the treatment of tuberculosis, gastritis, pancreatic disease, anemia, neurasthenia and cardiovascular diseases.
There are resorts in some regions of the country which offer professional koumiss treatment along with other recreational services.
Another place to drink koumiss is jailoo (high summer pastures), where one can rent a bozui (round felt yurt) for a couple of days and enjoy this magic beverage.
The modern Kyrgyz cuisine is quite rich in the sense that it has adopted elements from culinary cultures of both nomadic and settled Turkic peoples of Central Asia, as well as those of Eastern (Chinese and Indian) peoples.
As for the traditional Kyrgyz cuisine, it is dominated by meat and dairy products with their natural appearance and flavor and have a high calorie content and nutritional value.
Mainly mutton, beef and horse meat is used in cooking. The most famous and respected dish of the Kyrgyz is beshbarmak (en.five fingers). It is finely cut boiled meat of a young sheep mixed with home made noodle and some amount of broth. Chuchuk, a sausage-like type of dish, is another delicacy of Kyrgyz meat made from boiled horse meat.
Kyrgyz traditional dairy products comprise of kaimak (cream), sary mai (melted butter), airan (sour yoghurt), byshtak (cottage cheese made from boiled milk) and kurut (small pressed and dry salty cheese made from sour yoghurt) and only boiled milk is used in preparing all these products. Another dairy product that deserves special attention is koumiss (or kymyz) - fermented mare's milk, which is available only in summer. Kyrgyz people drink koumiss not only for its refreshing properties, but also for its curative factors.
Cereals are mainly used to prepare bread and several nutritious, refreshing and energizing drinks such as maksym and bozo.
The modern cuisine in Kyrgyzstan owes its richness to culinary cultures of peoples with whom the Kyrgyz have co-existed for centuries: the Uzbek, Tajik, Uighur, Dungan, Russian and Caucasian peoples. Today, dishes such as pilaf, samsa, lagman, ashlıam fu, manty, kuurdak and shashlyk exist in the food table of each kyrgyzstani.
Finally, tea. In Kyrgyzstan, no meal is complete without tea. Mostly preferred is green tea and black tea with milk.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the fewest places on Earth, where real hungting with birds of prey is still practiced.
Training a bird is a very time-consuming and meticulous process. Especially, eagle training requires special mastery.
Usually deer, fox, lynx and other small animals are chosen as prey. A well-trained eagle is capable of killing even a young wolf. There are legends about some famous golden eagles, who were powerful enough to take snow leopards.
The season of hunting with eagles in Kyrgyzstan begins in October and ends in February. Nowadays in order not to let this art to die out, competitions between falconers are held every year, where enthusiasts have a chance to watch the spectacular performance of these beautiful birds.
Special hunting shows are arranged individually for guests and tourists in Issyk Kul, Naryn and areas nearby Bishkek. Rabbits, pigeons and fox skins are used as prey in these types of demonstrations.
Want to color your holiday in Kyrgyzstan with sharp and vivid impressions? Then you should definitely try white water rafting.
Of the Central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan has the best conditions for rafting and kayaking. The country has plenty of wild mountain rivers suitable for this kind of activity. There are routes of different categories of difficulty from elementary to the most difficult.
Top rafting destinations are Chon Naryn, Kichi Naryn, Chatkal, Kekemeren, Suusamyr, Chon- Kemin, Chu, Sary Jaz and Kyzyl Suu rivers.
Thanks to wonderful climatic conditions, abundant snow, pistes suitable for both amateurs and professionals and excellent service provided by ski resorts Kyrgyzstan has become the center of winter ski vacation in Central Asia. The number of tourists visiting Kyrgyzstan for skiing is dramatically increasing from year to year.
There are more than ten ski resorts which provide full package services for visitors. The best known are Karakol, ZiL, Orlovka, Too Ashu and Chunkurchak ski resorts.
Off-piste lovers can enjoy the untouched slopes of the mighty Tien Shan mountains. Horseback and snowmobile transfers to freeride terrains are available. Popular destinations are Karakol, Jergalan, Suusamyr and Arslanbob.
Another form of freeride in Kyrgyzstan popular among extreme skiers and snowboarders is heliski. Reaching a mountain peak over 4000 meters above sea level by a helicopter and skiing down from it over untouched slopes is truly a thrilling experience.
Ski season starts in December and lasts till the end of March.
World Nomads Games is Kyrgyzstan’s one of the major tourism projects on an international scale. The goal of the project is to revive and preserve historical and cultural heritage of the nomadic civilization and introduce its greatness all over the world.
The 1 st Games were held on September 9-14 2014 on the shore of Kyrgyzstan’s pearl Issyk-Kul Lake. The Games brought together athletes from 19 countries. That was an absolutely new format of sporting event on ethnic types of sports which had not been introduced at any major sporting event before.
Cultural events such as concerts, festivals and conferences showing the richness of the nomadic civilization in all its glory were held within the framework of the Games.
The 2 nd World Nomad Games again will be held in Kyrgyzstan on September 3-9 2016 on the shore of Issyk-Kul Lake. This time representatives of more than 40 countries are expected to join the Games.
Rich in natural healing powers Kyrgyzstan deserves to be ‘the health resort center’ of Central Asia.
Issyk Kul region boasts the largest health resort zone all accross Central Asia with its unique microclimate, crystal clear lake water, mineral springs and therapeutic silt muds forming a great base for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. Spa and health resorts located in Cholpon Ata city and its surrounding areas, Tamga and Jyrgalan villages, Jeti Oguz and Altyn Arashan gorges are well known not only in the country but also abroad.
Other areas with rich deposits of mineral springs and therapeutic mud are Issyk-Ata and Alamedin districts of Chui region and the city of Jalal Abad.