Thousands of tourists come to Kyrgyzstan every year. Foreigners admire the nature of the mountainous country, beautiful lakes and the incredible beauty of the mountains. But there are things in our country that make tourists say: “Wow!”. If you are going to Kyrgyzstan, then you most likely want to experience all the delights of local life and Kyrgyzstan culture. Many foreigners believe that there is some kind of freedom in Kyrgyzstan and life here feels brighter. Locals find it difficult to realize because they have not seen the other.
By the way, we would like to add that in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, you are unlikely to feel the vibes of the local life of Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek is more developed than in other areas of the country. But we do not say that it is impossible to find a hint of local life in some parts of the city. Bishkek is a city of contrasts, both modern trends and echoes of the Soviet past can be found there. Specially for you, we picked up a place where you can plunge into the life of local people, even become a part of this life. This place is Jyrgalan, it takes about six-seven hours to get there from Bishkek, but it’s worth it. You will not only see the mode of life of locals, their traditions and customs but also see the majestic landscapes on the way to this place.
The valley of Jyrgalan is located in the eastern part of Issyk-Kul region, 60 km far from the city of Karakol. There is unusually fresh air in Jyrgalan, and the beauty of the local valleys will simply amaze you with its superiority.If you like trekking, then this place is perfect for you. Even with the change of seasons, this place does not lose its magnificence. Every freeride skiing fan will want to ski on the local snowy slopes.
Perhaps you have a question why it is Jyrgalan that we advise you in order to feel the local life. The answer to this question is not so complicated. We advise this place because of people living here. The population of Jyrgalan is very friendly and hospitable people who will not only warmly welcome you, but also introduce you to all the pleasures of local life. Here you will be not just a guest, but a member of a large family. Together with people living in Jyrgalan, you will get a chance to cook, or to take part in the production of the national drink kymyz. You can even milk a cow or a mare if you are not afraid. This is only a small part of what you can do in Jyrgylan.
As you probably already understood, Jyrgalan is a place that is definitely worth a visit. Now let’s try to figure out how to get there. If you are going to go to Jyrgalan, then most likely you are leaving the city of Bishkek or the city of Karakol. If the starting point is the city of Bishkek, then it will be more convenient for you to hire a private taxi to the village of Jyrgalan. The cost of a trip from Manas airport to Jyrgalan is about 6000 som. The car can accommodate 4 people, and the trip will take about seven hours.
If you want to go to Jyrgalan from the city of Karakol, you have two options for going there. You can also hire a private taxi for 1500 som (the car can accommodate 4 people). The trip will take an hour. You can also get there by marshrutka #331 from Ak-Tilek Market (The Big Bazaar), located at the intersection of Derbisheva and Bektenov streets in Karakol. The cost of the trip will be only 80 som. Marshrutka rides daily three times a day throughout the year: in the summer at 8:30, 13:30 and 17:30; in the winter at 8:30, 13:30 and 16:30. If you rent a car, it will not be difficult for you to get to the village of Jyrgalan. Using Google Maps, you can easily reach from Bishkek to Karakol, and then, along the Karakol-Jyrgalan route, English-language signs are installed, so you will not get lost.
Despite the fact that the valley of Jyrgalan is beautiful at all times of the year, we still advise you to visit it in summer. In winter it is cold and snowy enough, some destinations become difficult to reach. We would even say that winter in Jyrgalan is good for skiing and snowboarding, but not really good for experiencing local life. In the spring and autumn, you literally risk “drowning” in the mud.
Where to stay?
The options where you can stay here can be very diverse. You can stay in the homes of locals (if you are looking for a homestay in Kyrgyzstan), who converted their homes to guesthouses, or in new, but no less comfortable dwellings, also built by local residents. There are also yurts in which you can live. All owners of guest houses are members of the Destination Jyrgalan, and they transfer part of their income to social projects in the village. For this reason, your stay in Jyrgalan is not just an exploration of a new place, but a kind of cultural exchange and you directly benefit the locals.
Guesthouses there offer home-cooked meals for travelers and it’s a great way to learn more about Kyrgyzstan cuisine. Breakfast is usually included in the accommodation price. A fixed price for lunch and dinner is 450-500 som per person. You can also be provided with a lunch box for 350 som if you are going to go horse riding or trekking for a day. There are no cafes or any other places to eat in the village of Jyrgalan, there are only small shops where you can buy some snacks. If you are a vegetarian or have a special diet, you should inform the owners of your guesthouse in advance so that they can prepare individual meals for you (dietary restrictions are taken into account).
What can you do?
The valley offers adventure routes with hiking trails, horse riding trips, and even mountain biking. Even winter is a great time to visit Jyrgalan. The climate of Terskei Ala-Too mountain range is perfect for skiers and snowboarders. You can definitely enjoy the solitude in the mountains that will be at your disposal. Freeride skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are the most popular winter sports in Jyrgalan. This is also a good place to dive into Kyrgyz traditions and customs that were handed down from generation to generation. Those who want to improve the general condition of their body can undergo a course of therapeutic nutrition horse milk in nature. You can also participate in the manufacture of felt products that are in great demand or join the Kok-Boru incendiary game.
Come to Jyrgalan, make an unforgettable journey to the wonderful world of nature, plunge into its secrets and make new discoveries for yourself. Prices for some services that you have seen in this article are indicated at the time of this writing. We hope that we have fully described to you all the advantages of rest in Jyrgalan. Enjoy your stay!
Photos from sources: twostaywild.com, thetrek.co, travel-tramp.com, destinationkarakol.com, jyrgalan.com