UP AND COMING KYRGYZSTAN
Kyrgyzstan is a land of mountains, green valleys and horses. Its people are in touch with their nomadic heritage and traditional yurts are plentiful. Horses are intrinsic to their way of life, and their skill on horseback is the reason Kyrgyzstan dominates events like Kok Boru (‘dead goat polo’) at the World Nomad Games. In a country of over 6 million, less than 40% of the population lives in towns or cities.
But not all Kyrgyz people are nomads. The capital city Bishkek is a distinctly metropolitan place. The faces you encounter are more varied and the Soviet influence is still present in the huge squares, striking monuments and dominant public buildings. It feels like a place that is modernising quickly though, no more evident than in the thriving restaurant and cafe scene.
For the adventurous traveller, three main activities attract people to Kyrgyzstan. Horse trekking is hugely popular – no surprise given their high number and the people’s love of horses. Driving the mountainous Pamir Highway also holds a fascination for many. One of the highest and most remote routes in the world, the road from Tajikistan to Kyrgyzstan (or vice versa) is a special experience. And with its rugged landscape, the country is popular as a trekking destination. The Tien Shan Mountain Range covers 80% of the country, a geographical feature so prized it’s even a Unesco World Heritage Site. It’s this mountain range that’s home to many great and distinctive trekking areas. With Kyrgyzstan, trekkers are spoilt for choice.
The country’s culture and natural advantages, along with historical sites from the Silk Road days, combine to make Kyrgyzstan an up and coming Central Asian destination.