Unfortunately, classrooms trained us young that learning was not always fun. This is not surprising when you are sitting in a small room stuffed with 30 other kids and a monotonous teacher that would obviously rather be out golfing. However, learning how to do exciting things and getting your hands dirty in the process (like blowing something up in chemistry class), had more appeal, didn’t it? Well, if you have a desire now in your adult years to learn something on your vacation for some real-life, hands-on education, there are 3 golden opportunities waiting for you in Kyrgyzstan!
SPORT AND TOURISM IN KYRGYZSTAN
Diving in Lake Issyk Kul
Issyk Kul is a massive, brilliant blue lake in Kyrgyzstan that is sprawled out in the middle of Kyrgyzstan’s famous Tien Shan “Heavenly” Mountains. There are lots of things you can do at the lake, but one of the more unique activities is diving. Along the bottom of the lake are remains of an ancient 2,500-year-old settlement where you can get glimpses of items like battle axes, bones, and ceramics. Never done any diving before? No problem. Travelers with no diving experience can take an instructional course prior to their excursion underwater.
Mountaineering Courses in Ala Archa Gorge
Have you dabbled in mountain climbing and are ready to improve your skills? Ala Archa Gorge (located just 40 km outside of Bishkek) is a popular destination with climbers. Mountaineering training courses are offered in the gorge for different levels of climbers. Learn everything from setting up belays, tying common knots, and navigating crevices to rescuing injured climbers. In each course, you will ascend at least one peak, but often more. These include some of the most famous mountains in Kyrgyzstan: Korona Peak (4,810 m), Ratseka Peak (3,900 m), Box Peak (4,200 m), etc.
CULTURE AND TOURISM IN KYRGYZSTAN
Much like Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan is home to pastoral nomads that continue to live off the land and move from season to season. Tourism in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia both offer travelers the opportunity to experience homestays with nomads, but some of Kyrgyzstan’s nomads have recently started offering something else that is quite unique. It is called Nomad University. Instead of just staying in a yurt with a nomadic family, how about learning skills directly from nomads themselves? Learn what it means to be a nomad and do it. Nomads will teach you Kyrgyzstan customs and courtesies, hosting etiquette, how to ride a horse, how to herd sheep, how to butcher your own sheep, how to make traditional Kyrgyz dishes, and more. Don’t just listen to someone talk about the customs and courtesies in Kyrgyzstan and then go home. After you learn about them, put it into practice by visiting your teacher’s neighbors or hosting a party for them. You won’t get a more authentic cultural experience than this!
So if you want your vacation to broaden your skills and horizons, take a look at one of these educational opportunities. What’s your preference? Learning how to dive to the bottom of a brilliant blue lake in Kyrgyzstan that houses an ancient settlement? Combining sport and tourism in Kyrgyzstan by learning new mountaineering skills in the middle of a stunning gorge? Learning how to ride a horse and herd a flock of sheep in the Tien Shan Mountains with nomads as your teachers? Tourism in Kyrgyzstan has so much to offer travelers looking for a one-of-a-kind vacation experience.
Photos by Vlad Ushakov