March 2, 2015

Mongolia vs. Kyrgyzstan: Similarities & Differences

horses by vlad ushakovMongolia is famous for being the country that really put the spotlight on nomads in Asia’s tourism industry. A lot of people do not realize it, but nomadic culture in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan is quite similar. If you are trying to find information about travel to Kyrgyzstan related to nomads verses Mongolia you should know first of all that both groups of nomads have a similar lifestyle, value hospitality, revolve around breeding and herding animals, and live in yurts. Diet is also similar: lots of meat, tea, and dairy products. However, there are several differences in terms of tourism in Kyrgyzstan versus Mongolia and nomadic culture.

TOURISM IN KYRGYZSTAN VS. MONGOLIA

Tourism in Kyrgyzstan is quite a bit younger than the tourism industry in Mongolia. Depending on your point of view, this could be considered a problem of tourism in Kyrgyzstan or a benefit.   On the one hand, it means that not everything is as smooth and controlled. On the other hand, it means that you get a more authentic view of nomadic life within the country. For travelers that enjoy more comfort and less spontaneity, this could be considered one of the problems of tourism in Kyrgyzstan. For adventure travelers, this would obviously be a benefit.

GETTING TO KNOW EACH COUNTRY: LAND & CULTURE

LAY OF THE LAND

Let’s start by looking at the most obvious difference: landscape. Mongolia has an area Khan-Tengri-Peaknomads of 1,565,000 km² with a wide variety of terrain that includes desert, semi-desert, mountain-forest steppe, and mountain steppe. Kyrgyzstan on the other hand is smaller, 199,900 km², and is covered in over 90% mountains. Thirty percent of Mongolia is covered in desert whereas 80% of Kyrgyzstan is dominated by Tien Shan Mountains. The highest mountains in Kyrgyzstan are over 7,000 km high (Peaks Lenin, Pobeda, & Khan Tengri) whereas the highest peak in Mongolia is 4,374 km (Khuiten Peak). So overall, imagine Kyrgyzstan one step above Mongolia as far as elevation is concerned.

HORSES & CAMELS

Both Mongolian and Kyrgyz nomads ride horses for transportation, but Mongolian  camel from remotelands.comuse camels more frequently than the Kyrgyz. In fact, camels are rare animals in Kyrgyzstan and are not as useful for getting around the steep, rocky mountain terrain. For Mongolian nomads, camels are much more useful in the desert areas.

RELIGION

Both Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia were originally shamanistic before other religions were introduced to each country. However, each country was exposed to a different religionas time passed.from remotelands.com For Mongolia, it was Tibetan Buddhism and in Kyrgyzstan, it was Islam, though now nominal. As such, you will see each group of nomads celebrating different holidays and observing different religious rules.

TRADITIONAL DWELLINGS

The portable dwellings that nomads live in are quite similar between Kyrgyz and Mongolian nomads. In Kyrgyzstan, these are referred to or boz oi and in Mongolia, they are called ger. Most English speakers know them as yurtsAs you can see in the pictures, they are similar. praying stone and prayer flags on steppeKyrgyz yurts have curved roof poles that add some extra space to the inside of the yurt while Mongolia yurts have straight roof poles. Also, Mongolian nomads set up 2 poles in the middle of their yurt that represent the man and woman of the household and according to custom, you are not allowed to walk between them. Kyrgyz nomads do not include these poles inside their yurts.  

MUSIC

The most popular instrument used by Kyrgyz nomads is the komyz, a lute that is smallenoughto be carried around on the back of a horse. Mongolian nomads on the other hand are famous for their throat singing in which a skilled singer can hit two pitches at the same time, using their voice more like an instrument than a singer that recites lyrics.

юрты-у-озера-Daniel-Korzhonov

OVERALL

When you look up information about travel to Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia, you will see
that the cultures are very similar at their core. Both move seasonally, eat lots of meat and drink lots of milk, treat guests with honor, enjoy horse competitions, etc. However, the differences are definitely there. Life for a Mongolian nomad in the desert looks different from the life of a nomad living in the highest mountains in Kyrgyzstan. Certain customs and holidays are different due to religious differences. In the end though, these 2 nomadic cultures are definitely kissing cousins.

Photos by Vlad Ushakov,  Daniel Korzhonov, photos from sources: http://remotelands.com, http:/imgkid.com

16 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
07/25/2020 - 08/09/2020

Bike Tours in Kyrgyzstan: Meeting Nomads 2020

This is an adventurous tour on your own or rented bicycle in a country not often visited by western tourists. During your bike tour there will be plenty of time to enjoy our wonderful nature ...

From 
1345
The price depends on a group size. The price 1345 EUR per person is available for groups of 4 people.
More info
16 days

Horse Riding Tours in Kyrgyzstan: In the Steps of Marco Polo

We shall go by traces of well-known traveller Marko Polo through the most beautiful pass on the Great Silk Way. This magnificent travel will lead you to the high plateaus which divided the W ...

From 
$1780
Price from 1780 USD to 3100 USD per person (the price depends on a group size). The price 1780 USD per person is available for groups of 6 people.
More info
8 days

Horse Riding Tours in Kyrgyzstan: Terskei Ala Too Ridge

We will help you to discover a wonderfuul Terskei Alo-Too ridge in the sourth of the Issyk-Kul Lake, the second largest mountain lake un the world after the Titikaka lake in Sourth Amarica. ...

From 
$800
Price from 800 USD to 1480 USD per person (the price depends on a group size). The price 800 USD per person is available for groups of 6 people.
More info
14 days

Bike Tours in Kyrgyzstan: Cycling Combined with Trekking and Horse Riding

If you are active and adventurous, we can offer you this unforgettable trip. Imagine yourself cycling in the Tien Shan mountains, 3 days hiking in Tong and horsebacking in a yurt camp at 245 ...

From 
1350
The price depends on a group size. The price 1350 EUR per person is available for groups of 4 people.
More info
13 days

Asian Holidays in Kyrgyzstan silk road: 13 days

This Kyrgyzstan tourism packages has everything needed for a true off-roading games! Enjoy Kyrgyzstan’s pristine natural beauty by visiting alpine lakes (Lake Song Kul and Lake Sary Chelek), ...

From 
$3224
The price depends on a group size. The price 3224 USD per person is available for groups of 4 people.
More info
11 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
08/04/2020 - 08/14/2020

Trekking the Terskey Ala Too

Trekking through the Terskei Ala Too Mountain Range is an experience full of breathtaking landscapes and the thrill of exploring remote places. On this tour you'll sleep under the starlit sk ...

From 
$1980
The tour price is 1980 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info
14 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
07/10/2020 - 07/23/2020
07/28/2020 - 08/10/2020
08/07/2020 - 08/20/2020

Trek to Glacier Hopping

This trek starts in the At Jailoo Gorge, an amazingly beautiful place, and ends at South Inylchek Base Camp, taking approximately 1 week. From the base camp you'll get stunning views of Nans ...

From 
$2540
The tour price is 2540 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info
20 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
07/01/2020 - 07/20/2020
07/05/2020 - 08/24/2020
07/08/2020 - 07/27/2020
07/12/2020 - 08/31/2020
07/15/2020 - 08/03/2020
07/22/2020 - 08/10/2020
07/29/2020 - 08/17/2020

Lenin Peak Expedition 2020 from Osh

Our special offer for fans of climbing - an expedition to the famous Lenin Peak with an experienced guide! The program is quaranteed to run at several fixed dates, which makes it very afford ...

From 
$1980
The tour price is 1980 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info
22 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
06/30/2020 - 07/21/2020
07/07/2020 - 07/28/2020
07/14/2020 - 08/04/2020
07/21/2020 - 08/11/2020
07/28/2020 - 08/18/2020
08/04/2020 - 08/25/2020
08/11/2020 - 09/01/2020

Lenin Peak Expedition 2020 from Bishkek

Go on an expedition to Lenin Peak with an experienced mountaineering guide! Tour dates are fixed and tours are guaranteed to run no matter the number of the group! The tour price includes an ...

From 
$2180
The tour price is 2180 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info
9 days

Holiday Excursions to Kyrgyzstan silk road: 9 days

This 9-day trip culminates in a visit to the stunning alpine lake Sary Chelek. Lake Sary Chelek is located in a remote biosphere reserve that also houses 6 other lakes as well as unique wild ...

From 
$1320
Price from 1320 USD to 1620 USD per person (the price depends on a group size). The price 1320 USD per person is available for groups of 6 people.
More info
2 days

Enchanted rock climbing program “Open Climb”

The Open Climb program consists of 3 modules. The first one is about introductory methods of climbing and types of belay in Chunkurchak canyon. The second module includes the Climbing to “Li ...

From 
$330
The tour price is 330 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info
4 days

Lake Issyk Kul: Southern Shore

The beautiful scenic views around Lake Issyk Kul’s southern shore are beyond compare. On this trip you’ll visit the Jeti Oguz Gorge which is famous for its spectacular red rock formations an ...

From 
$630
Price from 630 USD to 750 USD per person (the price depends on a group size). The price 630 USD per person is available for groups of 6 people.
More info
21 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
08/04/2020 - 08/24/2020

Guided expedition to Khan Tengri Peak 2020

In 2019 we will run 2 expeditions to great Khan Tengri peak: via the Northern ridge (26 July-15 August 2019) and via the Western ridge (4-24 August 2-19). Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of th ...

From 
$2950
The tour price is 2950 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info
11 days
Guaranteed!
i
Fixed dates for 2018:
07/22/2020 - 08/01/2020

Tien Shan Lakes and Mountains

Tien Shan Lakes & Mountains is an 11-day trekking tour that begins in Bishkek and takes you to some beautiful alpine lakes, gorges, small cities, mountain passes, etc. The tour starts ou ...

From 
$2000
The tour price is 2000 USD. The price doesn't depend on the amount of people in a group. The tour will be fulfilled even if only one person buy it.
More info