5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Kyrgyzstan

15/08/2023

Are you wondering, where is Kyrgyzstan? Well, it’s a land-locked country in Central Asia with Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the south and China to the southeast. As part of the infamous Silk Road trading routes, Kyrgyzstan is a captivating and perspective-shifting place to visit. From traditional nomadic living to stunning mountain lakes, there is truly something for everybody in Kyrgyzstan.

Let‘s explore five reasons you should put this beautiful Central Asian country on your bucket list.

The stunning natural landscape

Kyrgyzstan has much to offer, but perhaps nothing is as impressive as its breathtaking natural landscape. For example, the Chon-Kemin Valley is an extensive network of rivers and lakes stretching across the Kungei-Ala-Too and Iliysky Ala-Too mountain ranges. Very much off the beaten track, this is an experience you don’t want to miss if you love the beauty of the wilderness.

The surrounding Tian-Shen mountains are often snow-capped, and you can even explore the Issyk-Kul Lake. Known as the second-largest alpine lake in the world, it extends down 610 metres in depth. Or for something even more magical, perhaps Fairy Tale Canyon is more your scene. This mystical location has been formed through centuries of wind and water erosion, creating a breathtaking spectacle for those who take the time to immerse themselves in the experience.

Son-Kul Lake is one of the highest lakes in Kyrgyzstan, sitting 2030 metres above sea level. Many nomadic people still live in the area around the lake, and visitors can see and engage in this lifestyle while exploring the lakes. Overall, Kyrgyzstan is a truly immersive destination for people who want to take in all that the natural world has to offer.

Son-Kul Lake
Son-Kul Lake

Unique market shopping

While the Western world may be used to large, carefully planned and structured shopping malls, things are distinctly different in Kyrgyzstan. In this part of the world, huge markets, such as the Osh Bazaar in the nation’s capital of Bishkek, are the norm. The Osh Bazaar is a huge open-air market where you can buy almost anything. From local foods and spices to souvenirs, musical instruments and clothing, you can find anything you want.

Similar markets can be found throughout the country, with Kyrgyzstan people being well-versed in the art of bartering and trading. But while these standard markets are popular, a visit to Kyrgyzstan isn’t complete without checking out an animal market. This is where people trade livestock and other animals, and it’s a unique sight even if you’ve attended more modern livestock sales in other parts of the world.

Markets in Bishkek
Markets in Bishkek

See the nomadic lifestyle first-hand

We touched on the nomadic lifestyle that’s still in full effect around the Son-Kul Lake region. But this isn’t the only place you’ll find nomadic people in Kyrgyzstan. In fact, living this way is just part of the culture in Kyrgyzstan, and it has been for thousands of years. From the traditional housing (yurts) to shepherds taking their livestock across the plains, you’ll see plenty of nomadic life all over Kyrgyzstan.

Another interesting fact is that around 90% of the population follows Islam as the main Kyrgyzstan religion. Known for its welcoming, sharing and giving traditions, Muslim Kyrgyzstan residents, especially the nomadic ones, are often more than willing to welcome you into their homes and share their lifestyle with you.

Nomadic life in Kyrgyzstan
Nomadic life in Kyrgyzstan

Witness eagle hunting

There aren’t many parts of the world where hunting with birds is still commonplace. However, the tradition of hunting dates back to the 10th century in Kyrgyzstan and still plays a role today. Traditionally, hunting eagles or falcons were considered family members, such was their importance to people’s way of life.

Eagle Hunter & His Golden Eagle
Eagle Hunter & His Golden Eagle

Today, many people still train birds for hunting and uphold the tradition. It’s a skill that gets passed down through generations, and on a Kyrgyzstan tour, you’ll get to see first-hand how these magnificent birds are trained.

Discover the Silk Road

The Silk Road is an infamous trading route that has existed for centuries. In fact, rather than just one large trade route, it’s a series of smaller ones stretching around 6,400 kilometres west. Merchants would travel the Silk Road selling wares along the way, and it was particularly famous for trading silk textiles, hence its name.

Some of the Silk Road trading routes stretch through parts of Kyrgyzstan, and you can still visit some of these ancient towns today. While the Silk Road is no longer as it was, larger, more modern infrastructure has replaced the old routes and is still used for trading today.

While the popular trading points along the Silk Road are now very different to the old worldy ways, however, the stories that come from these places are enthralling. If you’re interested in touring through Kyrgyzstan, you’ll certainly hear plenty about the infamous Silk Road.

To find out more about the natural beauty and immersive experience that is Kyrgyzstan, contact Crooked Compass today. We offer journeys throughout Central Asia, giving you a chance to experience this immersive culture first-hand.