One of the world’s most spectacular trekking destinations is largely unknown by international travelers. Perched above the rest of Central Asia are the towering, exotic mountains of Kyrgyzstan blanketed in green, topped with snow, and decorated with crystalline alpine lakes and plummeting gorges. Kyrgyzstan is a modest country with quiet people that doesn’t seek to draw much attention from the outside world, making it a rare oasis of beauty and serenity for trekkers. Here are some things to expect when taking a tour trekking in Kyrgyzstan:
TREKKING CELESTIAL KYRGYZSTAN MOUNTAINS
Kyrgyzstan is over 90% mountains. Imagine a country levitating in the air. Eighty-five percent of the country stands over 1,000 meters tall and 40%, over 3,000 meters. The two most famous mountain systems that consume most of the landscape are the Pamir Alai and the Tien Shan Mountains. The Pamir Mountains in Kyrgyzstan start in the south near the city of Osh and contain the world’s second highest international highway.
The Tien Shan “Celestial” Mountains are the dominant Kyrgyzstan mountain range. Labeled one of the world’s ten most beautiful ranges, the Tien Shan are striking in their majesty, comfort, and tranquility.
Cheerful white clouds move along the peaks like lackadaisical pilgrims making their way across the country earning them the nickname of the “Heavenly Mountains.”
The Tien Shan System has more than 88 major mountain ranges with 40, 6,000+ meter peaks. While it stretches over a number of countries, a large portion of the system lies in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan trekking destinations are too numerous to count. The whole country is a trekking destination! A quarter of Kyrgyzstan’s population lives in the capital city of Bishkek and most of the rest is spread out of a couple other larger cities, so the rural countryside is largely uninhabited, wild, rugged, and remote. Trekking in Kyrgyzstan, travelers may come across some small villages or scattered yurt camps used by nomads peacefully herding on the mountainsides, but that’s about it. Gorges, canyons, valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, and hot springs are all common sites while trekking the mountains in Kyrgyzstan.
FLORA & FAUNA IN KYRGYZSTAN
In Kyrgyzstan mountain trekking is relatively bug-free. Some wildlife than calls Kyrgyzstan home is the endangered snow leopard, the Marco Polo Sheep, the long-horned Siberian Ibex goat, porcupines, foxes, and hundreds of different bird species. The snow leopard, Marco Polo Sheep, and Siberian Ibex can only be found at the highest elevations of the Tien Shan.
Most of the mountains of Kyrgyzstan have little tree cover, however, many gorges do have thick forests within them. In the spring and summer, many mountainsides are filled with wild-growing herbs, mushrooms, and many different wildflowers that have yet to be categorized and named.
WEATHER FOR TREKKING
Kyrgyzstan averages 245 sunny days a year with little rainfall, but lots of snow in the winter. Trekkers making their way across high elevations should be prepared for extremely cold weather at night, yet pleasant, sunny weather during the day in summer months.
THE CHERRY ON TOP
Kyrgyzstan is a fantastic vacation destination. Not only is it a beautiful country, but trekking Kyrgyzstan is easy to make happen. To encourage tourism, Kyrgyzstan has recently gone visa free for citizens of 44 counties including the USA, Canada, and most of the European Union. Tourist visas are good for 60 days, making entering and traveling around the country a breeze. All in all, trekkers planning to go on vacation in Kyrgyzstan’s mountains can expect a fabulous experience: beautiful scenery, untouched landscapes, good weather, friendly people, exotic wildlife, and easy access in to the country.
Photo by Andrey Osyanin, Beebyme, Steven Hermans, Adam Juniper