#A spectacular nature
The whole country is 90% mountainous, half of which is just over 3,000 m high, with records for the Lenin peak or the legendary Communist peak above 7,000 m. In the hollow of these mountain ranges are nestled pearls, such as Lake Issyk Kul or Lake Song Kul, which have become major tourist attractions for the small republic of Central Asia. In other words, you will be served in mountains and magnificent settings. Especially since tourism, which is still underdeveloped in the country, will allow you to access wild or even unexplored areas, provided that you take the time to visit them, because no travel is easy, especially outside July and August.
A rare cultural wealth :
In which other country could you live with nomads on a daily basis and live with them, under the yurt, adopting for a few days or weeks a lifestyle like no other? Admire the work of women leaning over their shyrdak or making kumiss or galloping through the pristine scenery of any human construction for miles. The country offers a rare and extreme change of scenery. In Kyrgyzstan, the knowledge and experience of a new culture is based on one thing only: daring to get in the saddle!
A mosaic of identities
Kyrgyzstan, like its neighbouring countries, has many ethnic groups, most of them Turkish-speaking. There are of course Uzbeks, Kazakhs or Uighurs, but also Tajiks (Iranian-speaking), Russians, Chechens and Chinese, even if relations with the neighbouring giant are not always good. Islam is the dominant religion, but the nomadic lifestyle has retained ancestral beliefs more often linked to Zoroastrianism and shamanism. Diversity will therefore be present at every street corner.
A safe destination
Although Kyrgyzstan makes the headlines in France only during riots in the Ferghana Valley or Taliban incursions into the Batken region, the whole country is characterized by high security. Hospitality in Kyrgyzstan and the rest of Central Asia is not an empty word, and you will be welcomed everywhere as a distinguished guest. The sense of welcome responds to a solid tradition among nomadic populations and a trip will never end without a bowl of kumiss under a yurt, without a shared plov in an Uzbek house whose doors will suddenly have been opened to welcome the passing stranger. Hospitality will be even more often manifested by litres of tea (or vodka) offered in a tchaikhana or simply shared by the side of a road.
A sporting destination
In this tourist country in the making, many leisure and sports entertainment opportunities have appeared that are sure to delight all adventure lovers. And if horse riding and mountaineering occupy the first places, it is now just as possible in Kyrgyzstan to ski almost all year round in resorts whose equipment is sometimes basic but with exceptional scenery. And what about the rafting or canyoning sessions, now well established, in the Chouy valley? or hikes offering all kinds of difficulty levels, types of landscape, walking times...Finally, among the sports in vogue in Kyrgyzstan, there has been the rapidly developing bicycle in recent years. For the time being, they are mainly enthusiasts eager for large mountain landscapes and combining their stay with an incursion into neighbouring Tajikistan. But be careful, the physical requirement is high and pedalling at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres requires rigorous training. Nevertheless, following this trend, some Kyrgyz tour operators have chosen to offer this mode of discovery to their customers by developing dedicated mountain bike tours and providing all the necessary equipment and logistics. This is the case of the Ak Sa agency (see the "Receptives" section in "Invitation to travel"), a leader in this field, which relies on its fixed camps in summer to offer very beautiful stops for lovers of the little queen. If you are embarking on the adventure on your own, remember to bring a good stock of spare parts: specialised shops are rare outside Bishkek. And above all, use solid equipment: roads made of stone or corrugated iron make bicycles particularly suffer!
© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette