Endless mountain ranges, remote villages and alpine lakes, rugged passes, wandering nomads, and herds of roaming horses are all trademarks of Kyrgyzstan, a country sandwiched between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan just west of China. Of all the Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan’s natural beauty is the most stunning, making it an up-and-coming destination for international travelers. Kyrgyzstan is saturated with nomadic culture and the snowcapped mountains of the Tian Shan Mountains. One of the draws of Kyrgyzstan is its rugged, rebellious terrain, but for people interested in learning more about this Central Asian stowaway, that also means it’s harder to navigate. Road conditions inside the country are poor, with 70% of them just dirt and gravel. To get around Kyrgyzstan and reach its many remote destinations, 4×4 off-road tours are the most efficient way to see the country.
Jeep tours of all different lengths and varieties are available to suit Central Asian explorers’ specific tastes. Here are some examples of 4×4 tours found in Kyrgyzstan.
1. BROAD STROKE JEEP ADVENTURES
Visitors to Kyrgyzstan that want to see as much of the country as they can take a 4×4 tour around the country. Start in Bishkek and visit Kyzyl Tuu (village of yurt makers), Song Kul (alpine lake), Kazarman Pass (high altitude pass connecting the northern and southern regions), Arslanbob (natural growing walnut forests), and Sary-Chelek (alpine lake). This route covers a lot of ground, giving you a chance to see many different regions in Kyrgyzstan.
2. JEEP TRIPS WITH A THEME
History buffs can take a 4×4 trip to visit Koshoi Korgon and Tash Rabat. Koshoi Korgon is an ancient fortress that you can now see lying in ruins. Tash Rabat is an ancient caravanserai that used to be a inn/safe haven for merchants crossing the Great Silk Road located over 3,000metres above sea level near the town of At-Bashi.
3. ACTIVITY ORIENTED 4X4 ADVENTURE TOURS
Travelers looking for a more active vacation can book a jeep tour from Bishkek to Karakol to Too Ashu that ends with a chance to climb Peak Lenin (7,134m), the second highest and most accessible peak in Kyrgyzstan. Climbers stay in basecamps located at 3,600 and 4,500metres during the trip.
On all jeep tours through Kyrgyzstan, it’s important to be aware that lodging will often be in guesthouses, yurt camps, or tents depending on the nature of your tour. Some of the larger cities have hotels, but once out of them, accommodations will be much simpler. Guesthouses have clean rooms and beds, but may or may not have running water or ensuite bathrooms. In Yurt camps you’ll get a taste of nomadic culture as you sleep in round felt tents with plenty of cushy sleeping mats and warm blankets, but not running water. Kyrgyz culture places a high value on hospitality, so wherever you stay will have eager, friendly hosts that will take good care of you.
Travelers looking to break new ground on their international expeditions will find Kyrgyzstan bursting with potential for jeep adventures. Whether it be a sweeping trip across the country, a safari tour to soak in the wildlife and nature of the Tian Shan, an excursion to a specific destination or activity, or a trip to a local festival, tour options are limitless. Out of all the places to visit in Asia, come see what makes this Central Asian country such a diamond in the rough.
Photo by supplier SR1402