ONE OF THE MOST MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD, WORTH A ROAD TRIP
General aspects of Kyrgyzstan
Although the main language in Kyrgyzstan should be Kyrgyz, most people speak Russian.
Your first words in Kyrgyz and Russian (K/RS)
Hello: Salam / Privet
Goodbye: Dshakschy kal! / Proshchay
Thank you: Blagodaryu / spasibo tebe
Yes/No: (si / net) / (yesli/net)
Currency: Kyrgyzstani som(KGS)
The capital: Bishkek
Population: 6, 2 million
Main religion: Islam
Safety Rating: According to the Global Peaceful Index, Kyrgyzstanis the number 95 out of 163 countries.
Solo female traveler: it is not advisable to travel alone to this country, do not go out alone to the street if it is dark and during the day avoid places with few people. The clothing has to be adequate; we should not show the knees or shoulders.
Best time of the year to visit Kyrgyzstanis from May to September.
Kyrgyzstan’s climate is dry continental, but the weather is polar in the high mountains of Tien Shan.
Depending on the area
In the southwest, in the Fergana Valley, the climate is subtropical, and in the area of the northern foothills, the climate is mild. The weather is usually sunny in Kyrgyzstan, but sometimes the mountains attract clouds and block the sun in some places.
Let’s look now at the weather you can expect in the area around the capital and in many other cities. The warmest month here is July; the average maximum temperature is 28 ℃ (82 ℉). The average minimum temperature in this month is 19 ℃ (66 ℉). The coldest month here is January; the average maximum temperature is 5 ℃ (41 ℉). The average minimum temperature in this month is -15 ℃ (5 ℉). The rainiest month here is April and the least rainy month here in September.
In general, Kyrgyzstan is a very cheap country to travel in, especially if you travel there during summer. You can camp almost everywhere for free. Also, do not worry if you don’t like camping, you won’t pay a lot for spending the night in guesthouses, homestays, and yurts.
For camping, in case you have your own camping gear, you will be able to camp for free almost everywhere, if you do not have it, renting it will be around 1$. The best months to camp are from May to September, if not it will be really cold!
Before, nomads spent the whole year living in yurts, nowadays they only spend the summer in this type of houses.
If you visit Kyrgyzstan between the months of May and September, you definitely have to spend at least one night in a yurt!
There are many yurt camps in popular places like Song Kul Lake and Lake Issyk-Kul that are built for host travelers. Staying in such a yurt camp usually costs between $10 and $14 per night.
If you’re a budget backpacker, you’ll easily find a dorm bed in the big cities for $6 a night and you can have a big meal in a restaurant for less than $4.
Manas International Airport is the main international airport of Kyrgyzstan, it is located 25 km from Bishkek, the capital, in a north-northwest direction.
On the road
There are many different ways to travel around Kyrgyzstan. You can make it as expensive or cheap as you want. The most expensive way will be renting a car or a motorcycle. The cheapest way will be to travel by public transport. Hitchhiking is also quite common in Kyrgyzstan but bears in mind that the Kyrgyz drivers might ask you for money when giving you a ride. Magic formula while hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan is paying 5 soum (0,07 $)per km, less than a shared taxi.
By public transport
Marshrutka is a minibus that looks like a van and it’s the cheapest and most popular mean of transport for the locals to travel in Kyrgyzstan. It’s very easy to take a marshrutka to go around Kyrgyz cities or to travel between two different towns. However, it’s not the fastest way as they stop everywhere to pick up passengers. The standard price for a ride within a city or town is 10KGS (0, 14 $)The cheapest price you will find if you are renting a car is 21 $/day.
The three main traditional dishes are:
- Beshbarmak: It is the most traditional Kyrgyz dish eaten by nomads. You take a shaved lamb and dump it on top of a pile of steaming noodles and onions served with a broth/sauce.
- Laghman: this traditional dish consists of lamb meat that is cooked with potato, tomato, onion, and pepper to create a simple, colorful, and delectable noodle sauce. It is then poured on freshly boiled handmade noodles to make a delicious and healthy one-dish-meal.
- The Manty: They are dumplings that are usually smaller than the size of your palm. They are filled with a mixture of meat (usual lamb), onions, potato, and fat (because everything is better with fat, right?).
These dumplings are usually served with some vinegar or some ketchup, but I also enjoy them with sour cream.
5 things to do in Kyrgyzstan
It is a Russian-style city, with large avenues, many parks, and Soviet-looking buildings. The people are very friendly; they immediately take out Google translator to make a conversation possible since the only speak Kyrgyz and Russian.
Located in southern Kyrgyzstan’s fertile Fergana Valley, for three millennia, Osh has served as a pivotal city in Central Asia welcoming travelers from across the world. Sacred Sulaiman-Too Mountain rises from the center of the city, it once served as a beacon for Silk Road travelers and traders as they descended from the stunning nearby Pamir-Alay Mountains.
This huge lake (6,200 sq. km), which means “the hot lake” in the Turkic languages of Central Asia, holds the title as one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. At an altitude of 1,609 meters above sea level, it is exceeded only by Lake Titicaca in Bolivia as the highest of the large mountain lakes. Two mountain chains of the Central Tien Shan Range border the lake – in the north the Kungei-Alatau (in Turkic: “facing the sun”), and in the south the Terskei-Alatau (in Turkic: “turned away from the sun”).
Trekking in this valley is incredible, you’ll be amazed by its nature. The Alay Valley is a wide and dry valley that runs from east to west in most of southern Osh, a province of Kyrgyzstan. It is about 180 kilometers long from east to west and about 40 km wide from north to south, it stands between 2500 and 3500 m of altitude.
What do I mean by Silk Road?
The Silk Road is a set of trade routes that were specifically organized for silk trade since the 1st century BC., which covered almost the entire continent of Asia. It began in China and could cross many of the countries of Central Asia, plus Iran and Turkey. There, the goods were scattered throughout Europe. This legendary one through which caravans have traded products from the East and West through centuries. In addition to this, it also functioned as a bridge through which ideas, knowledge and also the foundations of Buddhism and Islam were transmitted.
Nowadays, instead of a merchant purpose, some brave travelers do it by motorbike, hitchhiking, car or public transport. Do not worry; stay tuned to read the article about the Silk Road I did last year! Kyrgyzstanis one of the countries I passed through.