Kyrgyzstan: Things to see and do in Central Asia's Rustic Gem
Central Asia is quite a fascinating place on the map, yet not many people actually consider these stunning countries for a holiday. I took a journey across Kyrgyzstan, with a local and a driver to see how much can be seen in as little as 6 days. Here are the top things to see and do in Kyrgyzstan.
Issy- Kul Lake located 1,609 m above sea level is in itself a wonder. A great opportunity to get to know the locals as they enjoy their leisure time on the lake. The sun is pretty strong so plenty of sun cream is required. The lake offers plenty of minerals for the skin as its left silky smooth after a dip
The Burana Tower of the 9th century, which is in the disappeared city of Balasagun. A great start to learning about the ancient Kyrgyz history and what the Burana tower originally stood for. The museum also displays interesting artifacts highlighting the different countries that traded on the silk route. More on Burana Tower here
Sleep in a Yurt Camp just like the local nomads do. Yurt camps are scattered in the most random places and some can be very unique. We really enjoyed staying at the Asman Yurt Resort only few minutes walk from Issy-Kul Lake.
Stay at a local guest house- Beyond Bishkek and major cities like Karakol, hotels are scarce and the only option would actually be staying at a locals home that has been opened up to tourists. A great way to also meet tourists alike that would most likely be on the same journey.
Dine like a local at a guest house. The locals display their table to feed the eye before the stomach. With desserts ready on the table before the main meal arrives can be tempting, but the pastries with plenty of butter and jam to taste can be found on every table! The layout of the dining table will almost certainly connect nomads to each other.
Watch the ancient eagle hunting and dive into its history and importance for the Kyrgyz nomads. Locals are born with a golden eagle (as they put it) and the Eagle is raised with the child every day for 20 years, building a bond with it so that it can hunt for food and fur. It was a technique for survival for nomads, and many are trying to keep the tradition.
Watch the Kok Buro traditional horse game which could be quite interesting if you have never stumbled on anything like it before. Watching as two teams dunk a dead headless goat into a set of tires that marked the goal on each side of the field while they rode on their horses is something one would never forget as an event. This should be on a bucket list!
Walk through Fairytale Canyon and finding the rainbow hills as well as the elephant like rock formation. The colour of the soil makes for great photos and trying to reach one of the hill tops offers a great view of Issy-Kul lake and surrounding areas.
Hike up some of Jeti-Oguz luscious fields while passing the pastors summer camp, the wild horses in their element, and the locals that greet you as they head up to their Jailoo. A beautiful way to experience Summer living in Kyrgyzstan.
Find the Seven Bulls formations in the rocks some are able to see them, some are not. This is a 25 meter above sea level sandstone formation that is believed to look like 7 bulls. When in the area learning about the fairy tale behind the broken heart formation will leave anyone in 'ahhhhhhhs'.
Explore Karakol, Kyrgyzstans 4th largest city has it's very own charm and sets an incredible view on the region's diversity and history. The city is home to one of the most unique mosques and incredibly beautiful wooden Orthodox church, not to mention the Przhevalsky museum.
Unwind in Jyrgalan on the back of a horse through the open luscious green fields this beautiful hospitable village has to offer. A truly wonderful experience.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the most beautiful rustic destinations to explore, a perfect place for those that love adventure and getting out of their comfort zone. I can truly say that it ranks high on the places, I would revisit again and explore more of.
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