kyrgyzstanAdmittedly, Kyrgyzstan is not the first destination choice for most travelers.

Most have heard of it, but knowing its location in Central Asia is not as common.

Should you require a five star hotel or food similar to what you can find at your local fast food joint, Kyrgyzstan is not the vacation spot for you.  It extends its invitation to the adventurous.

Intrepid travelers know packing light guarantees ease of transport and the chance to explore this country with its fascinating culture fully.

At just over six pounds, the Eagle Creek Thrive 90L Backpack is the luggage to take along.  Among its many features is the detachable rain safe cover.  Used during inclement weather or when in a crowded area it provides safety and security. Keep your luggage’s airline receipt handy as it is strictly checked upon arrival to guarantee everyone has the correct bag.

It’s important to understand that the country’s tourism is still in its virgin state.

Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the People’s Republic of China to the east. Centuries ago, branches of the Silk Road crisscrossed the country. As a result Kyrgyzstan is a melting pot of ethnicities.

Its distinct seven regions each reflect the unique cultural aspects of the area’s population.

The Chui region is where you can find many of the nation’s tourism attractions, including the capital city of Bishkek.

Once, hordes of traveling caravans took refuge here. By the mid 18th century the Russians moved in to remain until 1991 when the Soviet Union dismantled.

While the city possesses the country’s most European feel, it is still rustic with a capital “R.” Much of its infrastructure has not been renovated, or even repaired since the Communism left.  Mass transit consists mostly of minibuses called “marshrutkas”.

Embrace the uniqueness and travel to the Osh Bazaar, on the city’s west side, to buy fresh food and local handicrafts from clothes to musical instruments. This is where good bargaining skills are appreciated and used freely, with and without English. One of the best buys is a man’s Kyrgyz felt hat.

Mountains, glaciers and rivers and their valleys dominate the geography of the whole country and offer a full range of treks via foot or horse.  These are great ways to meet the locals. It is suggested you plan these excursions with a reliable tourism outfit before leaving the States or one in the capital. One of the easiest is the Ala-Archa trail. It is less than one-mile in length, but delivers stunning views.

Many itineraries include traveling nomadic style with outdoor camping or staying in a yurt. The latter is the portable wood latticed and felt covered dwelling.

Renowned for their hospitality, the Kyrgyz will likely share such gastronomic delicacies such as freshly made yogurt, fermented mare’s milk and a boiled sheep head or two.  As always when faced with something unusual from your normal routine, never complain.  Instead smile and continue chewing or swallowing.

When in the high mountain altitude remember to be healthy by staying hydrated.

During the winter, you can find skiing less than an hour’s drive from Bishkek at the ski facilities of Toguz Bulak. Nearby, the world’s fifth deepest alpine lake, Issyk Kul, is a popular destination during the summer.  Be prepared,though, the nights are quite chilly, so pack layers in your luggage.

You might not be able to find lots of Kyrgyzstanian postcards to send home.  However, it is a sure bet the colorful stories you will gather will entertain more friends and family for years.

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  • Anonymous

    I am always confused by the “Stans” – but this could be a very interesting journey.