There are tons and tons of mountains in the world, but I think what makes mountains spectacular or not is whether or not the people that live amongst them still enjoy them. Speaking as someone who lives in Kyrgyzstan, I can honestly say that the mountains have never lost their allure. Walking back home with some fresh bakery bread looking up at the white-tipped mountains standing guard over the city, I still can’t believe how beautiful they are.
The Pamir-Alai and the Tien Shan “Heavenly” Mountains are the 2 main ranges that weave their way through Kyrgyzstan. The Tien Shan have been named as one of the 10 most beautiful mountain ranges in the world and rightly so. Their grandeur and snowcapped peaks combined with an emanating sense of comfort and lazy, meandering clouds bring together a perfect combination of majesty and hospitality. Add tranquil blooming pastures, crystalline lakes, and wandering herds of mountain horses and it’s an Asian paradise.
The mountains in Kyrgyzstan aren’t just easy on the eyes, but they contain a lot of opportunities for extreme sport lovers as well as people looking for some peace and quiet. If you want adventure, novice or experienced mountain climbers can work on summiting one of 14 virgin peaks in Kyrgyzstan, or try their hand at some of the “seven thousanders:” Pobeda Peak (7,345m), Khan Tengri (7,010m), or Peak Lenin (7,134m). Trekkers can explore Kyrgyzstan’s wilderness to find secluded waterfalls, caves, and hot springs. Horseback enthusiasts can saddle up a sturdy mountain steed and conquer elevated mountain passes and deep breathtaking gorges alike. Cyclists can work up a good sweat following the contours of the mountains to end up at a glorious alpine lake. Rafters can meet the unbridled energy of Kyrgyzstan’s white water rapids head on. Paragliders can float above the mountains for a surreal tour of the country. Skiers can challenge themselves by heli-skiing down the pristine slopes of the Tien Shan. Fishermen can make their way to a quiet, undisturbed spot to fish for some trout. Hunters can find a perch in the mountains where they can set their sights on a Siberian Ibex or Marco Polo Sheep. Swimmers can relax and play in Lake Issyk Kul’s rejuvenating waters. Off-roaders can tackle Kyrgyzstan’s mountain wilderness to reach remote crevices of the country. Whatever you like to do, be it something outrageous and adventurous or something relaxing and quiet, the mountains of Kyrgyzstan hold lots of opportunities.
Beauty and cool stuff to do aside, Kyrgyzstan’s mountains contain an extra dimension that is hard to describe, but irresistible. The best way I know how to explain it is that when you’re in the middle of them, you feel like you’re being welcomed into a safe haven apart from the rest of the world. They’re tranquil and sparsely populated, making them feel like they’re your own. All of these things set Kyrgyzstan’s mountains apart as the most spectacular mountains in the world.
Photo by Garthwillis, photo by BigLee, photo by Rebecca Coles