Best time to visit:
from April to October
In a word:
Trascorrere una notte in una yurta; ammirare la caccia delle aquile; hiking lungo il fiabesco Ala-Archa Canyon
In this great adventure we rented an off-road vehicle and left Bishkek, the capital, we went into the wonderful Kyrgyzstan steppes following the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, we slept with local families, in a yurt in the mountains, witnessed the hunt of the eagles and walked along ancient paths among picturesque canyons.
We reach the capital of Kyrgyzstan by land from Almaty, Kazakhstan. Hours and hours plowing the gray asphalt tongue in the middle of the flattest and most endless Kazakh plain ever seen ... often herds of wild horses appeared in the wild ...
We travel on a comfortable off-road vehicle, supplied by the efficient ITMC Kyrgyzstan, with the sympathetic Andrei who will be our guardian angel for all this Kyrgyz parenthesis.
Viaggiamo su un comodo fuoristrada, fornitoci dall’efficiente ITMC Kyrgyzstan, con il simpatico Andrei che sarà il nostro angelo custode per tutta questa parentesi kirghisa.
Kyrgyzstan is a nation defined by its topography. The vertiginous peaks and the jagged mountain ranges represent both barriers and boundary lines; once you enter this corner of paradise, two steps from the sky, it can be difficult to abandon it.
Surely, the Kyrgyz people, coming from these places from Siberia, will have thought the same thing: to a nomadic people of the north, the mountain landscapes and the magnificent pastures must have seemed the perfect places where to have their herds fattened and defend themselves from invaders.
Even today, the Kyrgyz people have maintained their nomadic spirit and, in the summer, the families of the farmers move to the "jailoo" (high altitude summer pastures).
Finally we arrive in the green, quiet and relaxed Bishkek! The peaks of the Alatau create a magnificent natural background and the water from their glaciers pours into the gurgling ducts that run through the city center. Finally, the low buildings of the Soviet era and a few effigies of Lenin create a picturesque atmosphere!
We are tired and take refuge in the comfort of our wonderful Hotel Ambassador, a few steps from the main square of the capital. The best choice for those who decide to spend a few days here!
About 80 km from Bishkek stands the "Tower of Burana", a monument dating from the 11th century and similar to an imposing minaret. The climb with 40 cm high steps, ever higher and in complete darkness ... Nora, step by step, managed to reach the top! What a great satisfaction for this first real journey!
Along the way we stop to eat corn on the cob and know aspects of local daily life that immensely soften us. Nora, barefoot, munches the corn sitting on a stool next to the old lady's oven; her husband proudly shows us his car, a Soviet museum piece, filled to capacity.
A few hours later we reach Lake Issyk-Kul. Tonight we will sleep in the home of a local family. Here they have created a real community: CBT (Community Based Tourism) to support the economy of small villages, in fact, part of the profits are used by the community itself for the construction of social infrastructure and services of various kinds.
The house is very humble but decent, it is very cold and it almost seems like going back in time. The bathrooms are located away from the house, behind a small garden, the sink is in the courtyard in front of the house and we are surrounded by magnificent colored carpets.
Karakol is a quiet town of low buildings with side streets dotted with romantic and dated Russian dachas and lada shaded by long rows of impressive poplars.
We are at 1800 meters above sea level, at the foot of the majestic Tian Shan Central chain (in Chinese: celestial mountains) whose highest peaks reach 7500 meters.
We visit the "Chinese Mosque", a building that, at first sight, has all the appearance of a Mongolian Buddhist temple but which, in reality, is a mosque built by an architect and twenty Chinese artisans, very curious!
Not far away is the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. the yellow domes of this splendid cathedral have risen after the devastation wrought by the Bolsheviks.
Here we experience the typical experience of spending the night in a yurt! We will sleep on the floor on mattresses that look very comfortable; two wolf furs next to it and a fur hat attached to the circular wall. Everything is organized with mastery by the local Ryce Travel. Great job guys!
We leave for Jeti-Oghuz, an extraordinary formation of very picturesque red sandstone peaks. Several yurt camps appear in the green valleys topped by these ageless red rocks. Suddenly a large, shattered hill appears before our eyes called "Razbitoye Serdtse" or "broken heart". The legend tells of two contenders who shed their blood in a duel to win the heart of a beautiful woman; both died and this rock represents the broken heart of the lady.
In the afternoon we arrive in Tamga, an old military nursing home and semi-abandoned village now where nothing ever happens ... a long dusty road with old wooden houses from the Soviet Communist era and some old ones with the typical kalpak on their heads or old ladies in slippers, socks, headscarves and tired eyes.
The hunt with the eagle. This is a tradition handed down from father to son. We are greeted by two boys in traditional clothes and with two large, majestic eagles perched on their arms. A profound relationship is created between the man and the bird of prey, a kind of relationship of trust.
They tell us that the training takes a long time: the eagle is placed on a perch and gently rocked while their father sang ballads after ballads. The sound of his voice was so strongly imprinted on the head of the bird that a relationship was established between animal and master.
Subsequently, he secured himself to a rope of fox skins and dragged them behind him at a gallop riding his horse. At this point the eagle was released, giving it the chance to launch itself in pursuit of the skins. When the bird was ready to get serious, they took the path of the hills.
Consider that after one or two years, the eagles are released and return to their natural habitat in the wilderness to be able to regain their free spirit.
A Kyrgyz curiosity is that of the "kidnapped bride".
The Kyrgyz men have a very special way of dropping a woman at her feet: they load her with weight on a car that is waiting with the engine running. Kidnapping is the traditional method by which boys usually find themselves wives and, although this practice is illegal today, it still happens ... and, they are said to be happy too!
After several days in the pristine nature of this beautiful country it is difficult to return to the congested and busy capital.
Two blocks from our hotel is the sparkling Ala-Too Square, a vast expanse of concrete, it was Piazza Lenin until 1991.
This morning it was very hot and many locals took the opportunity to crowd around the fountains in the square to find some coolness in the cool clouds of steam.
I recommend: do not miss the changing of the guard at 8 pm, right under the majestic red flag that represents the 40 Kyrgyz tribes and depicts the circle in the center of the roof of the typical yurts.
We wander through the city park where many families are drawn to the merry-go-rounds, the Bazaar in Osh with products from the southern regions up to Piazza della Vittoria where stands an imposing memorial in the shape of a yurt in memory of the Second World War.
Tomorrow we will continue our journey to another very interesting and still little tourist country!
We go to Tajikistan!