In July, Stephen and I traveled Kyrgyzstan as part of #DiscoverKyrgyzstan campaign with Discover Kyrgyzstan. It seemed like an amazingly interesting country thanks to our good friend Stephen Lioy who is currently living and promoting the country with the tourism bureau. Stephen (of Unquote Travel) previously lived in Central Asia and traveled around Kyrgyzstan extensively, but I never had a chance to visit until now. Kyrgyzstan, the name I can finally spell without a typo after 12 days in the country, is a small landlocked country bordering China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. The Kyrgyz Republic is a great introductory country to the region. Here are the reasons why we at Unquote Travel loved Kyrgyzstan so much (and are planning a tour!).
The nomad families and yurts
Engaging with locals is always our favorite part of travel. In Kyrgyzstan, there was no shortage of that. Every day, we met nomad families for tea and lunch or sometimes just for kumis (fermented mare’s milk). We also slept in local families’ yurts most of the nights after a long day of hiking, horseback riding, or driving. And you know what, I love sleeping in yurts! It’s very comfortable and in-touch with nature. Getting my own private yurt is in the back of my mind…
The unbelievable landscape
Wherever we went, it was just so picture-perfect. People say Kyrgyzstan is like the Swiss Alps of Central Asia. I’m not a fan of this kind of comparison but after seeing the scenery, now I know why. It kind of does look like The Alps with the alpine forest, greenery, and rocky peaks. I bet you can’t tell the difference either if you see just one photo!
The undiscovered adventures
Some parts of Kyrgyzstan are well-traveled but the majority of the country is still yet to discover. The tourism bureau is trying hard to develop more regions and there are many entrepreneurs who are setting up yurt camps, guest houses, tour itineraries, and so on. We are excited to partner with many of them. It is definitely the right time to visit, to see all the exciting new ventures and relatively un-traveled locations. We can’t wait to bring you to those places!
Did you know there are more than 2,000 lakes in Kyrgyzstan? As a mountainous country, most of the lakes are located between 2500-4000m elevation. It’s one of many reasons why hiking in Kyrgyzstan is so satisfying. Many of those lakes are glacier-fed, which is why the color is so green and blue. The famous Issyk-Kul, is one place where you can go on a ‘beach’ vacation in this landlocked country.
Tea, bread, cream, and repeat
I quite enjoyed the tea culture in Kyrgyzstan. When guests come to a family’s yurt, they are greeted with a hot pot of tea made with water from a samovar. Homemade bread, cream, a variety of jams, and a bowl of candies are always prepared on the table. I don’t really eat a lot of bread but some of the homemade bread here is just so good I had to have some. The hostess pours tea in a small cup, just more than a halfway, and she continues pouring more each time you finish your cup. It’s polite to pour just small amount because it’s a sign of respect. We had a lot of tea breaks in yurts (often combined with kumis) and I was very glad we did.
For for information, check out the Discover Kyrgyzstan website.
This trip was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.0