Technology and busyness are claiming a larger and larger portion of modern times. Families are coordinating online calendars; people’s lives come to a halt when their phone battery dies. While most people would agree that technology is often helpful, sometimes it’s just nice to step back and get away from it all. Touring a country on horseback gives you just the opportunity to free yourself from the possessiveness of electronics and breathe a little easier; it’s a throwback to simpler, more peaceful times. What better place to do that than in a country that’s not overrun with people and buildings, but filled with gorgeous, remote trail riding and people that come from a long line of expert horsemen? Kyrgyzstan is just that place.
KYRGYZSTAN: TRAVELING IN NATURAL BEAUTY
Taking a vacation in Kyrgyzstan means stepping into one of the most glorious, pristine mountain settings in Asia. Surrounded by China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, 90% of the country is covered in mountains with smatterings of crystal clear alpine lakes either relaxing on high mountaintops or encompassed by them. There are over 2,000 lakes in Kyrgyzstan, many of them small, but 16 of which are substantial, which can be visited via a horseback riding tour. The most famous alpine lake is Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest alpine lake, measuring over 6,236 square kilometers. It’s considered the “pearl of Kyrgyzstan” and one of the country’s two natural wonders that can easily be visited on horseback.
The second natural wonder is the naturally growing walnut forests of Arslanbob. These ancient walnut groves were well known even during the times of Alexander the Great. They are the single most massive natural location of walnut growth in the world (11,000 hectares, 27,000 acres) and produce 1,500 tons of walnuts each year. The entirety of the country is a sight to behold, not just a series of beautiful places with lackluster stretches in between. Exploring the Kyrgyz Republic is best done on horseback to truly absorb the virgin beauty of the landscape that is largely untouched by civilization and the presence of hundreds of cars.
THE HOME OF EXPERT HORSEMEN
Traveling around Kyrgyzstan on horseback may seem daunting, but the local guides in Kyrgyzstan are the best. The Kyrgyz people come from a long line of skilled horsemen. For thousands of years, the nomadic Kyrgyz and their ancestors have been raising horses either in the Steppes of Siberia or Central Asia. A wandering, nomadic lifestyle is the foundation of Kyrgyzstan’s lifestyle and culture so even people that live in the villages and high mountain pastures today ride horses as a regular means of transportation. Young boys that live in the countryside learn to ride horseback almost as soon as they can walk and people traveling in the mountains often see pre-teens shepherding flocks of sheep on horseback. Almost everyone in the countryside is comfortable in a saddle, so Kyrgyzstan is a perfect place for an overqualified guide. Kyrgyz horses are used to traipsing through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and are sure-footed, strong, and known for their endurance, so whether you’re a novice or expert horseback rider, a horseback riding holiday is Kyrgyzstan is a treat. Just grab a camera and choose where you’d like to go. Horseback excursions can be arranged for as little as a couple hours to a couple weeks. Don’t miss your chance to explore this beautiful, mountainous paradise. Photo from source: www.mountpix.livejournal.com, photo by Dmitriy Chistoprudov, photo by Daniel Korzhonov