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Kyrgyzstan

Image of horses running across the steppe of Kyrgyzstan - KILROY
Image of a snow-covered landscape in Kyrgyzstan with rugged hilltops - KILROY

Travel to Kyrgyzstan - land of great heights

Kyrgyzstan is known for its great, unspoiled natural beauty. In this nomadic country only about 15% of the population use the internet. Often referred to as “the Switzerland of Central Asia”, this mountainous country offers many spectacular sights to explore. Great for trekking and camping.

Kyrgyzstan is really a destination that hasn't yet been spoiled by other travellers, 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 Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian and over 30 other tribes and nationalities. This is an Islamic country, with 75% of the population Muslim, but for most Kyrgyzstanis, Islam is more of a cultural background and not practised daily. 

Traditions in Kyrgyzstan

It is impossible to talk about Kyrgyzstan without mentioning some of the 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) - it's a kissing game in which a man chases a girl trying to kiss her. If he isn't succesful. she can beat him with her horsewhip!. There's also Oodarysh (where two contestants try 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. While for cuisine, the 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

Bishkek is the capital and the biggest city in Kyrgyzstan. The clean city centre has a number of buildings built with typical Soviet-style and oriental architecture. Bishkek has many monumental sights, with Monument of Manas being the most famous, and some clubs and discos that 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 said to be older than Rome. Southern Osh is one of the most popular camping areas in Kyrgyzstan.

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. 

Best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan

Our top recommendations on where to go in Kyrgyzstan are coming soon.

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