Ever heard of Kyrgyzstan? Not to be confused with its neighbour Kazakhstan, made famous in the film Borat. Kyrgyzstan is a smaller Central Asian country located along the ancient trading route, the Silk Road. It may not be high up on your travel bucket list, but it should be. It is a gorgeously rugged country that has held on to its ancient culture. There is a lot to love about this mountainous, landlocked country but I’ve narrowed it down to my three top reasons you really should go.
The Untouched Nature
The number one reason to visit, for me, is the nature. Affectionately known as the “Switzerland of Central Asia”, 80% of the country is covered by mountains. As a result, much of the countries natural landscape has been untouched by human farming or infrastructure. It is a mountaineer’s dream, also a hikers dream, its any kind of outdoorsman’s dream.
If you’re not up for scaling the terrain it is also astonishing to look at. When visiting Kyrgyzstan make sure you take a good camera because you’ll want to hang every landscape you see on a wall. Kyrgyzstan is also home to the largest lake in the world, so who cares if it’s a landlocked country. The lake, Köl-suu as it is known, stretches over 10km through a mountain range, nearly reaching the Chinese border.
If you’re a nature lover in any form then Kyrgyzstan is not a country you should overlook.
Authentic and Welcoming Culture
The Kyrgyz are attached to their ancestors’ customs and lifestyle and strongly influenced by their nomadic heritage. Hospitality for the Kyrgyz is a holy affair, it is said that a “guest is sent by God”. So you can be assured that you will be warmly welcomed and overwhelmed by the local generosity.
If invited into their bozuy, more commonly known as a yurt, you will be amazed by their brightly coloured decorations and learn about their savoir-faire. Make a note that in Kyrgyzstan vodka is an important drink. As a guest, especially if you are a man, you must accept all the vodka offered to you, declining may be seen as very rude.
So if you are ready to live closely with nature, while learning about a warm culture, you’ve found the right destination
Another way to travel
Apart from the plane that you will probably take to reach Kyrgyzstan… most of your in-country transport there will be via hitchhiking. If you stand by the roadside with your thumb up, a car will stop to pick you up within a second. However, they might ask for money depending on your destination. You can definitely travel solely by this means of transportation or travel through the country riding a horse, it’s your choice. However, if prefer a more modern way of travelling, a good minibus network exists. The length of your road trip by minibus, however, will all depend on the road’s conditions. Whichever way you choose to travel make sure you sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic views.
Some helpful information for WHEN, not if, you visit Kyrgyzstan:
Currency: ‘Kyrgyzstani som’.
Capital: Bishkek (It’s also the largest city).
Food: It is a mix between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Consisting mainly of rice, boiled meat, vegetables and yoghurt. Also, the bread is considered sacred and must never be wasted or placed on the ground.
Language: Russian in the Capital, Kyrgyz is more common in the South. They use the Cyrillic alphabet.
Climate: This is a continental country, temperatures range from 28 degrees in July to -18 degrees in January. The best period to visit is generally between July and September.
For people visiting from most countries, check the list here, you don’t need a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan for visits of 60 days or less. It’s also not on Trump’s Travel Ban list, so you can visit without worrying about not being able to enter the USA afterwards.
Unlike a number of other countries around Kyrgyzstan, it’s a safe and affordable place to visit, even for women travelling on their own.
Kyrgyzstan made it on the list of the Top 12 Countries From A Man Who Has Visited Every Country In The World . What country would be at the top of your list? Let us know in the comment section below.
Or to start planning your next great adventure click here.