Whenever I speak with my travelers excitedly preparing to take a trip to Central Asia, I get such pleasure from offering them insider information about our destinations and the secrets to those once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences in my homeland of Uzbekistan, neighboring Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.
Preparing for this spring travel season, folks are once again keen to explore new places with our award-winning Silk Road Treasure Tours team. During recent chats with clients, I found that most still consider Kyrgyzstan solely an outdoor adventure destination! Yes, it's one of our most popular destinations for photography, trekking and bird watching, but Kyrgyzstan is also an intriguing cultural destination. It's rooted in hospitality and craftsmanship, semi nomadic traditions, and new economic endeavors.
One of our most enticing "stans", Kyrgyzstan is truly on the road less traveled. Being off the radar for so long means there's no press of tourism here, and plenty of opportunity to enjoy unhurried exploration of the unique textiles and fine arts, history and culture, as well as easy access to nature at its best. Like the rest of Central Asia, visitors are always honored guests here and welcomed into local homes to participate in meals, celebrations and festivals.
While Kyrgyzstan is well known for its outdoor adventures and spectacular natural beauty, I want to share some of its rich cultural heritage as well - it's not all nomadic yurts and mountain trekking in the lair of the snow leopard! (Although that is truly amazing).
Kyrgyzstan is a captivating ancient Silk Road nation. Originally on the perilous route through the Tien Shan mountains towards Europe and the Middle East, the Russians found it a strategic location. Bishkek, the capital city, lies in the north of the country. Like the history of Kyrgyzstan itself, Bishkek is a blend of ancient traditions, czarist planning, and Soviet era architecture. With a backdrop of high snowy peaks and windy steppe, Bishkek is a green city, filled with gardens and parks and remnants of the 20th century, including one of the last remaining statues of Lenin in Central Asia. It offers fine arts performances and museums, people watching at Ala-Too Square, modern shopping complexes and the busy, endless maze of Osh bazaar. No visit is complete without experiencing the Supara cultural center, though. It's traditional Kyrgyz yurt dining on a grand scale, with folk performances and a specially arranged dinner surprise by our Silk Road Tours culinary team.
Kyrgyzstan is a melting pot of ethnicities (and cuisine), with Kyrgyz, Tatar, Russian, Dungan, Uighur, Kalmyk and Uzbeks calling it home. Caravans from China came through the perilous mountains to Karakol and and the ancient city of Osh, making their way through the sprawling region known as Turkestan, gathering wool and felt fabrics, carpets, and handicrafts, and horses… moving towards the lush Ferghana Valley for silks and ikat fabrics. (See our new Textile and Fashion tour that includes Ferghana!). For over 15 years now, Silk Road Treasure Tours has been offering our own life-changing caravans through Kyrgyzstan, and the magical destinations all along the ancient Silk Road.
Silk Road Treasure Tours' experienced teams create tailor-made itineraries with local knowledge and connections. We provide VIP access to the World Nomad Games, equestrian festivals, eagle hunting demonstrations, culinary experiences, handicraft and art exhibits, music and dance performances, and access to the burgeoning fashion and textile industry in this part of the world.
It doesn't stop there. Our clients receive that service whether at a yurt camp, guest house or 5-star hotel with us. We have the intel on the best sunsets and photo opportunities, expert chaperones to bazaars and workshops, welcoming refreshments after a day of touring or trekking, restaurant and museum access, and knowledgeable, skilled guides who take every opportunity to ensure your trip is memorable.
In Kyrgyzstan local artisan and textile studios in Bishkek, Bakanbayeva and the Issyk Kul region are open to us. Felt is king here, and incorporated into brilliant, engaging designs in traditional ala-kiyiz and shyrdak carpets, beautiful art, and award-winning contemporary fashion. Artisans are happy to show off their skills and there is always a cup of tea and a relaxing chair at hand for visitors. High quality silk, wool, embroidery and custom fashion delight the senses and the budget in Kyrgyzstan.
On everyone's must see list is Lake Issyk-kul and there's a visit to the charming village of Tamchi for a felt-making experience with a master, and even a champagne lake cruise in the glorious sunset. On the south shore of this beautiful lake you can find your Kyrgyz "wings". This is an equestrian nation, where the horse is revered and our connections with local horsemen offer fun, safe riding experiences for any level of confidence. Exciting displays and hands-on encounters with amazing eagle hunters and falconers are often a highlight of anyone's time in the area.
I can't recommend Kyrgyzstan as a destination enough - it has treasures for everyone, and we can't wait for you to find yours! Visit the link to join our extraordinary tours to Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asia countries.
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