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Traumhaftes Kirgistan, Bild: Murrrrr-s / shutterstock

Kyrgyzstan – The land of nomads

Kyrgyzstan is a country of mountains. Nestled between China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan , the country is located in the high mountains of Tian Shan and thus mostly over 1500 meters above sea level. Almost a third of the country is covered by ice and snow. It is home to the snow leopard, which is called the “spirit of the mountains” by natives. Part of today’s Silk Road also runs through Kyrgyzstan.

In Kyrgyzstan, also called Kyrgyzstan, the nomadic culture has survived to this day. Thus, the country is shaped by their traditions and allows a unique insight into this old way of life. Because of this deep-rooted history, travelers are able to join a trekking tour and explore the country on horseback. The night is traditionally spent in yurts run by long-established families who share their meals and way of life with their visitors. An incomparable opportunity to get closer to the culture and the country itself.

Bishkek – City of Culture

Yurt Kyrgyzstan
Image: bajla marija / shutterstock

The capital Bishkek is the economic and cultural center of the country. It developed out of trade via the Silk Road and was initially only a station for passing caravans. Today, the city is mainly characterized by Soviet buildings. This begins in the central square, Ala-Too Square, and continues to do so. The time of the Soviet Union is also omnipresent in the State Museum of History. The city’s attractions are manageable. The Osh Bazaar is still worth a visit. It is considered the largest market in Central Asia and thus enjoys some notoriety. From food to clothing to electrical appliances, the traders there offer all kinds of things. The capital’s nightlife is said to be the liveliest in all of Central Asia and most bars don’t close until around midnight.

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Issykkul – The Warm Lake

Issykkul is the largest of Kyrgyzstan’s 2000 lakes and also the second highest lake in the world. Despite icy temperatures in winter, the surface of the lake never freezes. The causes of this are not yet fully understood. With a depth of up to 668 meters, the lake was formerly used for Soviet submarine tests. The seaside resort of Cholponata is located on the shallow beach of the lake and offers an impressive view over the lake to the mountains beyond. The hotels date back to Soviet times, but are now being renovated to meet the demands of visitors. Not far away, the archaeological site with its rock carvings is also an attraction. There you can see over 2000 illustrations of animals and hunting scenes.

Ala-Archa National Park – home of the snow leopard

Kölsuu Kyrgyzstan
Kölsuu, mountain lake in the Tian Shan, Image: Lone Pine / shutterstock

The 194 km² national park, which bears the name “multi-coloured juniper”, is located about 40 km south of the capital. The area has been under protection since 1976. The national park is home to about 800 plant and 170 animal species. Among them are Siberian ibex, wolves, lynxes and the shy snow leopard. The park is open to visitors all year round and is easily accessible from the capital. The landscape is wonderful for hiking and is also a worthwhile destination for mountaineers. Horseback riding tours through the park can also be arranged, and camping is also allowed in parts of the area. However, dogs are not allowed to be taken along.

Sary-Chelek – The most beautiful part of Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek
Bishkek, Image: Natalia Davidovich / shutterstock

Lake Sary-Chelek and its surroundings are a biosphere reserve recognized by UNESCO. This is sometimes referred to as “the most beautiful sight in Kyrgyzstan”. The reserve covers 24,000 hectares and is home to many plant and animal species. Several lakes and forests are located in this area and travelers can take advantage of the offer of a trekking tour or explore the area on their own.

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Skazka – Like from a fairy tale

In fact, Skazka means nothing more than fairy tales. Bizarre rock formations made of red sandstone. Colorful mountains and in between parts of the Great Wall of China. An obscure work of nature. This stretch of landscape lies near the Issykkul. The widely branched canyon stretches over 5 km and offers a sight that you would expect to see in the USA .

Specialties in Kyrgyzstan

Yurt
Yurt, the traditional tents of the nomads, Image: Rastislav Kostelny / shutterstock

Kyrgyz cuisine is dominated by meat. The typical flatbread is also an important part of every dish. Horse milk is also a special part of the kitchen. It is said to have a particularly strengthening effect. Among other things, it is also processed into yoghurt and cheese, with the salty Kurut balls enjoying particular popularity among the locals. The national dish Laghman is a noodle soup traditionally prepared with mutton and vegetables. Undeniably, it has its roots in China and is also known in most surrounding countries. Although Kyrgyz cuisine has all kinds of surprises in store for travelers, it also offers dishes that are common in Europe in a similar form. There are also many international – but especially Chinese and Korean – restaurants in the cities. Tea enjoys a long tradition in Kyrgyzstan and is still served with preference and abundant hospitality. Another important drink is: fermented mare’s milk. -Quite unusual for foreign tongues.