Kyrgyzstan – Mountains, Lakes and Nomads
Kyrgyzstan has to be one of the most striking countries in Asia. Its landscape of towering snow capped peaks, azure blue lakes and alpine forests, are populated by iconic wildlife such as bear and snow leopard.
Elsewhere nomads move between summer and winter pastures with their vast herds, following a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for generations. Kyrgyzstan is one of the last bastions of nomadic culture in an increasingly modernised world. This two-week Kyrgyzstan holiday encompasses the very best the country has to offer, from its scenery to its traditional cultures and its ancient Silk Road monuments.
Starting in Bishkek we travel through the Suusamyr Valley to the Toktogul Reservoir and the Sary Chelek Reserve. Here we mingle with local villagers and hike in the surrounding mountains, hoping to spot bears along the way. Kyrgyzstan has excellent community based tourism programmes and for much of our time we stay as guests of local families in homestay accommodation. This is one of the best ways to gain an understanding of traditional culture and customs.
Moving on we explore the monuments of Uzgen and Osh – an ancient city dating back more than three thousand years with a wealth of history to explore. From here, our journey takes us across the centre of Kyrgyzstan, crossing the Kaldarma Pass. We’ll have incredible views along the way as we travel to the lake of Song Kul. This is a great place to meet local nomads and learn about their lives, and we have a full day to explore the area.
South from Song Kul lies the 15th century caravanserai of Tash Rabat, once an important stop for traders on the old Silk Road. We stop here before moving on to Issyk Kul. We travel around the southern and northern shores of this great lake, stopping to explore picturesque canyons and meet traditional eagle hunters. We see the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata, which is the jewel in Kyrgyzstan’s crown and we have plenty of time to explore the region.
Finally, before heading back to Bishkek we visit the Burana Tower, all that remains of a once powerful civilisation.
Kyrgyzstan is a truly enchanting country and its breathtaking landscapes and traditional nomadic cultures are an intoxicating combination.