From the red rock mountains to the warm culture of its people, Kyrgyzstan is one of the most exciting off-the-beaten-path hiking destinations in the world. Our Trip Leader Hashmat Singh recently came back with a field report from our first expedition. Take a look at what the group experienced on our Kyrgyzstan: Hiking in the Celestial Mountains trip.
Kyrgyzstan is the most beautiful place you’ve never heard of and everywhere in the country is off the beaten path! Big mountains of the world have always attracted me so it was just a matter of time before I made it to this fascinating country at the base of the Tienshan Mountains. Geographically fascinating, the several valleys south of the Issyk Kul Lake are lush green with red cliffs and snow-covered mountains. We explore many of them.We have the trails all to ourselves—when they exist at all!
Kyrgyzstan is 80 percent mountainous and is a great place for hiking, and it has yet to receive a lot of tourists. The Jeti Ogyuz rocks, or the “Seven Bulls,” is a well recognized and dramatic geographical attraction, yet we were the only ones on the hike leading up to the rocks. We set up a deluxe camp for two nights in the Kuzl Su valley with stand-up tents with cots and even a “Banya,” a Russian-style tented sauna! It was difficult to choose the hikes as there were far too many beautiful trails.
The petroglyphs in the Cholpon Ata area date from the 2nd millennium BCE to the 4th century AD.
Kyrgyzstan has more to offer than several countries combined. Besides its huge mountains, the country is home to many lakes, is a melting pot of cultures, and the food is delightful! Yurts are everywhere—we even learned how to make yurts on our adventure!
And we stayed in some yurts as well!A melange of cultures in this land has left a rich tradition of folk music. We have several performances on our trip. There are endless photo opportunities in the Osh Bazaar in Bishkek. Enough of a reason to arrive a couple of days earlier. Osh Bazaar and its many food stalls are fascinating and will send you into a buying frenzy.
—Text and photos by WT Trip Leader Hashmat Singh, Kyrgyzstan: Hiking in the Celestial Mountains.