Top 7 Things to do in Kyrgyzstan

by Jules on February 17, 2013

Kyrgyzstan is an adventure lover’s paradise where over 90% of the country is rugged mountains, stark glaciers and pristine lakes. Dubbed the Asian Patagonia, this is the place to come to escape the crowds and experience a real back to nature experience. Sports and activities enthusiasts will be in their element with trekking, climbing, kayaking, horse riding the main mode of transport! History buffs will be impressed with the Silk Road connections running through the country.

Adventure Sports

Kyrgyzstan is carving a niche as THE sports adventure destination in Central Asia with heli-skiing, freeriding and alpine skiing all on offer. There are an abundance of pristine, virtually deserted mountain slopes perfect for tour groups of all sizes. The unspoilt Tian Shan Mountain Range lies on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, with the highest point at Jengish Chokusu aka Victory Peak at 7,439m (24,406 ft). The Pamir Mountains rise to 7,495m and are formed from a mountain range comprising; The Himalayas, Tien Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun and Hindu Kush mountain range. Kyrgyzstan may be relatively unknown – so far – as a ski destination but that’s the appeal to try somewhere new and challenging, off the beaten track, before the regions beauty becomes more mainstream.

Spend some time in the capital city of Bishkek

Snuggled into the Tien Shan mountain range is the capital city of Kyrgyzstan; Bishkek. The city was built by a czar and such retains the Russian atmosphere with vast boulevards and Soviet-style buildings. This is the most popular place for travellers to start their Silk Road adventure so spend a few days in Bishkek getting to know the local history. Visit the National Historical Museum beside the huge Lenin monument. Browse the Osh Bazaar with locals delicacies including shashlyk (marinated lamb), samsas (much like Indian samosas) and besh barmak (traditional dish comprises horse and noodles).

Culture and History of Kyrgyzstan

There are many important cultural, historical and archaeological sites throughout Kyrgyzstan. There are caves and settlement sites dating back to the Bronze Age, ancient burial mounds, elaborate rock drawings, remains of ancient cities and settlements of the antiquity, notable graves, intricate rock statues, fascinating mausoleums, impressive minarets and so much more.

There is just one World Heritage site in Kyrgyzstan to date; the Sulaiman Too Sacred Mountain which lies in the Fergana Valley enveloping the city of Osh, which was an important crossroads on the famous Central Asian Silk Roads. Sulaiman was an important landmark, a place of worship for travellers who believed the mountain was sacred. Today the site contains 16th century mosques which have been reconstructed, hundreds of petroglyphs depicting humans and animals and 17 places of worship some of which are still in use today.

Explore by Bike

Take to two wheels to travel to locations that cars just can’t reach! Explore the often hidden paths and dirt tracks around the mighty Tian Shan Mountains and the Pamir Mountains, where apart from your own party; you’re unlikely to see any other travellers! Saddle up and prepare yourself for an adrenalin rush to beat no other. A local guide is an absolute must for this particular adventure!

See Kyrgyzstan on Horseback

Kyrgyzstan is a highland country and nomadic herders have bred cattle here since as far back as the ancient times. Pivotal to the highland lifestyle has always been the horse and now you too can discover the rugged terrain for yourself on horseback. In fact this is the most convenient and practical mode of transport to traverse the steep mountainous paths. You’ll see locals en-route as they shun cars and bikes in favour of the horse. Experience the freedom and charm of the nomadic lifestyle for yourself and travel over the ancient well-worn mountain paths that many Kyrgyz nomads have taken centuries before you.

Travel along the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia

The ancient caravan trade routes meandered from India, into China and on into Central Asian countries such as Kyrgyzstan. The routes which became known as the Silk Road traversed the Pamir and Tian Shan mountain passes. Where the paths were forged, towns and settlements emerged and developed. In fact the Great Silk Road itself remained unaltered for centuries. And since the introduction of the Silk Route, three main routes have passed through the modern day Kyrgyzstan, leaving a rich cultural heritage in its wake. The caravans themselves comprised poets, writers, philosophers and pilgrims from across the world that carried and taught their ideas, traditions and beliefs to locals.

Explore Kyrgyzstan on a local trekking tour

There’s nothing quite like pounding the ground and getting back to nature to really appreciate a destination. By trekking Kyrgyzstan you’ll experience so much more, such as the very heart of the Tian Shan Mountain Range and Lake Merzbacher which vanishes after a season. Trek the Terskey Alatau Mountains which is renowned for the stunning red canyons and natural hot springs. Experience a base camp trek to Lenin Peak which is the tallest mountain within the Trans-Alay Range at 7,125m. Climb mighty Muztagh Ata Peak and visit Lake Sary Chelek in the Talas mountains which has been dubbed the ‘Asian Patagonia’. Find out for yourself why this is one of the most exciting things to do in Kyrgyzstan.

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