From mid August I spent just over three weeks travelling around my first ‘stan, Kyrgyzstan. I had so many incredible adventures in those three weeks and I’m sure many of you are wondering Kyrgy where?? So here’s a little about the little Central Asian country with the big impact.
So first things first, where is Kyrgyzstan geographically? Kyrgyzstan is a small landlocked country in the middle of the continent of Asia. It share borders with China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Traditionally the region has been home to nomadic people, however in the late 1800s the region came under the control of the Russians and ultimately the USSR (as did the other Central Asian countries).
Today Kyrgyzstan is a relatively young country having only gained independence in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Despite years of soviet collectivisation and modernisation the remnants of a nomadic culture remain. This nomadic culture can still be experienced today as a visitor with yurt stays a highlight of any visit and the mountain hospitality of the reserved but kind Kyrgyz people evident throughout your travels.
As well as wonderful hospitality travelling in Kyrgyzstan is about the mountains, not the cities and towns. No trip to Kyrgyzstan would be complete without some time in the mountains.
For me the following came to represent Kyrgyzstan:
- Mountains – with so many mountains in such a relatively small country it’s no wonder there are many different kinds of mountains. Kyrgyzstan is starting to develop a reputation for wonderful and remote trekking. My favourite mountain experience was my four day trek to Ala-Kol
- Lakes – Kyrgyzstan is blessed with some beautiful lakes. The two most well-known and beautiful lakes are Issky-Kol and Song-Kol.
- Horses – with nomadic roots horses are a strong part of the nomadic tradition of the Kyrgyz people. While travelling in Kyrgyzstan you will see horses everywhere. For those interested it’s possible to organise horse treks in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
- Yurts – traditional portable dwellings of the nomads which are made of felt. Yurt stays are a quintessential Kyrgyzstan experience and there is no better place to stay in a yurt than the beautiful Lake Song-Kol or Tash Rabat
- Hats – the Kyrgyz men wear tradition tall hats made of felt. A sight unique to Kyrgyzstan
- Reserved but kind people – the Kyrgyz people are kind, hospitable people and another highlight of your travels in their country.
For many nationalities, including Australians, no visa is required making Kyrgyzstan the easiest ‘stan to visit.
For accommodation homestays and yurts are the best option and offer a unique insight into the local culture.
Shared Taxi or mashrutka are the best way to travel around the country
Experiences that make a visit to Kyrgyzstan special include yurt stays, horse treks and community-based tourism. To find out more about each of these I recommend you visit http://www.cbtkyrgyzstan.kg