WHY TO VISIT KYRGYZSTAN
One of the best ways to discover the country is the equestrian hike, which will allow you to explore countryside and mountains: one of the must-see sites, Lake Issyk-Kul, in central Kyrgyzstan, surrounded by meadows where locals install their Yurts during the summer, and you can even lend one for a stay among them.
Another beautiful location is Altyn Arachan, with its warm springs and magnificent landscapes, including the well hidden Ala-Köl lake, which will be a sumptuous setting for an unforgettable trek.
As far as the cities are concerned, visit Bishkek, the capital, with its History Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts and the famous Osh, huge and labyrinthine bazaar, which has existed for many centuries. the Silk. In Karakol you will see the cattle market which takes place every Sunday morning, but also the Chinese mosque and the Orthodox church.
Discover also the village of Arslanbob with the largest forest of walnut trees on the planet, where you can hike among the flowering trees.
WHAT TO SEE IN KYRGYZSTAN
Top destinations in Kyrgyzstan are:
- Tash Rabat
- Osh city
- Song Kol
- Lake Issyk Kul
- Lenin Peak
- Sary Chelek Reserve
WHEN TO GO TO KYRGYZSTAN
Best period to visit Kyrgyzstan is from April to June.
Continental type, the climate of the country can be very contrasted because of the omnipresent mountains: it knows a very cold and dry winter, with a strong wind in mountain, and hot summers, especially in the south.
The best times to travel are from April to June and in September / October if you do not climb to the top. For the mountains, it is summer that must be chosen.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Kyrgyzstan.
- World Games Of Nomads: The city of Cholpon-Ata on the banks of Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk Kul lake will play host to the World Games of Nomads in September. Organized in a style similar to the Olympic games, the World Games of Nomads instead features traditional nomadic sports. These include Kok-Boru (horse wrangling), Toguz Korgool (similar to mancala), Kyz Kuumai (chasing the girl), Oodarysh (horseback wrestling) and Alysh (belt wrestling). Participants from Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, China and Russia will each try their hand at these sports.
- Birds Of Prey Festival: Taking place on the southern shore of Kyrgyzstan’s vast Issyk Kul Lake at the Jaichy yurt camp, the Birds of Prey Festival will be held on August. Traditional cuisine and handicrafts – particularly the Kyrgyz women’s colorful felt designs – are enough of an attraction in themselves. However, the real event that takes place is a demonstration of traditional hunting techniques using trained eagles and taigans. In addition to the aviary spectacle, storytellers recite the ancient Kyrgyz epic of Manas. This is an oral recitation of Kyrgyz national history that surpasses the Illiad and the Odyssey in length.
- Horse Games Festival: The Horse Games Festival takes place on two separate dates, on 19 July and 23 August in the village of Kyzyl Oi. The event features horse games, but the most famous of all is undoubtedly Kyz Kuumai, literally ‘chasing the girl.’ In this game, a man and a woman in traditional garb ride horseback, with the man chasing the woman in order to secure her status as his bride. Tyiyn Engmei is another game that takes place only among male participants with the goal of snatching golden coins off of the ground while galloping at full speed. Another game called Er-Enish features two men on horseback who try to wrestle each other off of the horse’s back while covered in oil. In addition to the spectacle of the horse games, visitors will be able to watch a traditional folkloric show and sample Kyrgyz cuisine.
- Nooruz: 21 March. Celebrated across Central Asia, the whole region welcomes springtime with song, dance and good food. In Kyrgyzstan, men and women have their own special dish. Sumalak is a sprouted wheat dish for women, while halim is a meaty porridge for men.
- Bishkek Jazz Festival: April, Bishkek. 3 days of jazz music across Bishkek, with musicians from Central Asia, US and Europe. Jazz.kg has more information.
- Russian Orthodox Easter: An Orthodox celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Eggs are hamstered by babooshkas days in advance to bake the special ‘kulich’ dish, and the midnight mass has a special atmosphere.
- Tash Bashat carpet festival: June, Tash Bashat. Not important enough to make a huge detour, but if you are into carpets or just in the neighbourhood, some of the best examples of Kyrgyz shyrdak come from this region.
- Sabantui: Mid-July, location changes. Tatar holiday celebrated by some of the roughly 40 thousand Tatars in the country. Traditional song, dance and games.
- Summer festivals: In some places, shepherds, in conjunction with the local CBT group, organise events during summer for tourists and locals alike, all offering a mix of horse games, eagle hunting and traditional song and dance. The most important are the horse games festival in Kyzyl-Oi (end of July), the eagle hunting festival in Bokonbayevo (end of August) and the shepherds festival in Karkara valley, near Char Kuduk (end of August). Contact CBT to find out exact dates and planning.
- At Chabysh: Peak Lenin base camp, July. Well-known At Chabysh festival featuring a long distance horse race, buzkashi and other horse games, concerts, poetry contest, handicrafts exhibition, yurt village and more. Part of the festival is held in Murghab, Tajikistan.
- Orozo Ait: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Fitr in the Arabic world, this celebration ends Ramadan with tasty food. Ethnic Uzbeks take Ramadan more seriously than Kyrgyz.
- Independence Day: 31st of August. Dancing and music in every city. In Bishkek, a kokpar game in the hippodrome is a major draw.
- Kurban Ait: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Adha in the Arabic world, on this Muslim holiday it is traditional to go to mosque, sacrifice a sheep and give meat to the poor. This is also big for Kyrgyz.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH KYRGYZSTAN
You will arrive by plane to the airport of Bishkek, via Istanbul, Dubai, Kiev or Moscow. To move around the country, there are buses and especially minibuses, and collective taxis. We can also hire a car in Bishkek with or without a driver.
by plane, main airports are
GENERAL INFORMATION ON KYRGYZSTAN
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice
local currency: Kyrgyzstani Som
local time zone: GMT+5 (+6)
electricity: type C and F (220 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN KYRGYZSTAN
typical food in Kyrgyzstan
- Shashlyk: skewered chunks of mutton barbecued over charcoal) and lipioshka (round unleavened bread) are often sold on street corners
- Plov: rice fried with shredded turnip and scraps of mutton, served with bread
- Samsa: baked triangular parcels of pastry filled with mutton and onions, a little like non-spicy Indian samosas
- Beshbarmak: meal that consists of noodles with shredded, boiled meat in bouillon.
- Kazy Karta: medallions of horse meat
- Oromo: layers of dough that have been filled with finely cut chunks of meat, fat, and vegetables
- Ashlyam Fu: cold, spicy soup made up of meat, vegetables and noodles.
- Borsok: dough cut into little squares and then fried
- Koumys: fermented mares' milk, with a mildly alcoholic and an acquired taste
- Shoro is a well-known proprietary brand of maksym, a wheat-based soft drink
- Bozo: fermented millet, resembling beer is very lightly alcoholic
- Ashlam-foo: a spicy dish made with cold noodles, jelly, vinegar and eggs
- Chuchpara: a form of meat dumplings – minced meat, onion and spices in dough, boiled in a tasty broth, served hot in bowls and eaten with a spoon. Sour cream can be served as a dressing
- Blini: pancakes, rolled and filled with meat, tvorok (a sort of cottage cheese), or jam
- Jarkop: stewed meat cooked with onions, radish and noodles, placed on boiled pieces of dough
- Korut: small balls of cheese made from sheep milk
- Kuiruk Boor: snack consisting of cooked bacon (actually it's sheep's fat – not pig meat) and liver sprinkled with herbs
- Kuurdak: mutton or beef meat fried with onion and spices and served on a plate garnished with herbs
- Laghman: flat noodles cooked in a stew of tiny pieces of mutton, potatoes, carrots, onions and white radishes. A Russian version, minus the noodles, called Shorpo, can often be found
- Manti: steamed dumplings filled with shredded meat (or sometimes pumpkins), usually eaten with the fingers
- Olovo: a dish consisting of sheep's lungs marinaded in a mix of milk, spices, salt and oil
- Pelmeni: a form of Russian ravioli which can be served in a bouillon (or broth) or without, and usually smetana (sour cream)
- Piroshki: flat dough filled with meat, potatoes, cabbage or sometimes nothing at all
souvenirs from Kyrgyzstan
- Shirdaks, traditionl rug
- Kamchi, traditional whip
- Kolpak, traditional hat
- wooden chess sets
- sheep bone games
- tea bowls
- falconry equipment
- a yurt
- wool items
Goodbye: Salamatta boluŋuz
How are you?: Kandaysız?
Thank you: Rahmat saga
What is your name?: Senin atıŋ kim?
How much is it?: Kança turat, al?