Tucked away in Central Asia is a small country that is rife with potential for wintertime backcountry tour lovers, Kyrgyzstan. Never heard of Kyrgyzstan? Kyrgyzstan is an almost entirely mountainous country located west of China and south of Kazakhstan. It’s the farthest country from any of the world’s oceans, but contains the world’s second largest alpine lake. It’s full of wandering herds of horses, Silk Road history, snowcapped peaks, breathtaking valleys, nomads, hot springs, gargantuan gorges, and endless ranges.
However, the main draw of Kyrgyzstan is the Tien Shan Mountain System that covers 80% of the country. Known as the “Celestial Mountains,” the Tien Shan provides a spectacular playground for backcountry adventure tours. Labeled one of the world’s top ten most beautiful ranges, the Tien Shan System is the largest mountain system in all of Asia (length: 2,800 km, widest section: 800 km). It sports over 88 major mountain ranges with 40 peaks that stand at over 6,000 meters. While it stretches across several different countries, most of it resides in the Kyrgyz Republic. The best part about the Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan is that they’re limitless in more than one way. First of all, Kyrgyzstan is a country with very few restrictions.
People looking for backcountry adventure tours with challenging or just remote stretches of wilderness to tackle via skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling can find it in spades in Kyrgyzstan. The majority of the population resides in a few large cities, but most of the country is open wilderness that’s sparsely populated. Because the country’s history is a nomadic one, buildings are few and far between, making Kyrgyzstan feel wild and unexplored. Going on backcountry snowmobile tours, freeriding, or snowboarding tours on top of 1.5-2 meter deep snow in these boundless mountains is a surreal, liberating experience. Secondly, the best areas for backcountry ski touring and snowboarding are so expansive that they feel as though they go on forever. The Suusamyr Valley, Karakol area, and Arslanbob provide breathtaking sprawling mountain areas for the best backcountry tours in Central Asia.
Backcountry snowmobile tours are especially popular around Karakol due to the dense snowfall (1.5-2.5 meters) that lasts from November to April. Not only is the country a free-for-all when it comes to exploring and provides more than enough space to roam, but entrance into this Central Asian country has never been easier. To help promote tourism in Kyrgyzstan, the country has recently gone visa free for citizens of 44 countries including the EU, USA, and Canada. Travelers from these countries can stay for up to 60 days hassle free.
So as you’re looking at your backcountry tour options, consider Kyrgyzstan! It’s off the beaten path, has a unique atmosphere saturated with Asian nomadic traditions and Silk Road history, resides high up in some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, and offers an excellent snow-saturated environment in its heights for skiers, snowmobilers, and snowboarders alike. Take advantage of all that Kyrgyzstan has to offer for a backcountry tour you’ll be talking about for years to come!
Photo from source: www.freeride.co.uk