Simply put, Kyrgyzstan is one of the most arrestingly beautiful countries on earth. Bisected by the Tianshan, or ‘Heavenly Mountains’, this is a land of wide steppes dotted with the yurts of nomadic Kyrgyz people, gleaming turquoise lakes, ancient pine forests and craggy mountain peaks permanently covered in snow.
Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan’s mountainous terrain offers some of the most unforgettable experiences to be found anywhere on earth. Relatively undisturbed by tourism, this vast, peaceful land has a bewildering array of landscapes, from lofty snow-capped peaks and mountain passes stretching to China, to creaking glaciers that open out onto verdant plains strewn with traditional felt yurts.
The leafy capital city of Bishkek is located in the Chuy Valley and what is lacks in ancient history, it makes up for in striking Soviet-era architecture and interesting museums. Away from the city, discover the tranquil beauty of Lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest alpine lake on earth and the nearby petroglyphs of Cholpon-Ata. On the eastern lakeshore, visit Karakol with its chocolate box wooden homes and lively weekly livestock market, before heading off into the Tianshan Mountains on foot or horseback. The centrally located city of Naryn lies in a dramatic gorge on the and is an important hub for adventures to Tash Rabat and the picturesque Song Kol Lake.
Further south lies Osh, gateway to the Ferghana Valley and neighboring Uzbekistan. With a history stretching back over 3,000 years, Osh is brimming with culture and character, with lively bazaars and the UNESCO listed Sulaiman Too located in the heart of the city. Whilst the infrastructure across the country is still basic, for those seeking a truly wild and authentic adventure, Kyrgyzstan is just waiting to be explored.
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