Nomadic Traditions and Village Culture
This week in Kyrgyzstan starts with a visit to the capital and then journeys into the lovely countryside. There you’ll watch trained eagles soar, learn from masters about traditional felt making, take easy hikes through the scenic landscape, and break bread with welcoming locals. You’ll come away with an appreciation for the deeply rooted traditions and unspoiled natural beauty of this remote country.
Travels to: Kyrgyzstan
Days 1-2: Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
Start in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, where visits to the city’s museums, main bazaar, and central square serve as an introduction to Kyrgyz culture.
- Bishkek’s Osh Bazaar, with its fruits, nuts, prepared foods, and brilliant Kyrgyz textiles
- The tools, clothing, and other artifacts showcasing Kyrgyz history and traditions at the Ethnographic Museum
- The State Museum of Fine Arts, featuring Kyrgyz art and handicrafts
- Ala-Too Square, the city’s central meeting place, surrounded by imposing Soviet-era architecture
Days 3-5: Kochkor, Lake Issyk-Kul, Karakol
Drive to the sprawling village of Kochkor and meet with a family of felt makers – an essential part of traditional Kyrgyz culture. Share meals with them and observe a demonstration of their craft. Touring around Lake Issyk-Kul includes a performance of trained golden eagles showing off their hunting skills; visits to evocatively named Fairytale Valley, Broken Heart Hill, and the Valley of Flowers; and lunch at a yurt camp, with an optional horseback ride. Spend the night in the city of Karakol and visit two of its landmarks: the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and the Dungan Mosque.
- Getting to know traditional felt makers in Kochkor
- A demonstration of hunting skills by trained golden eagles
- Scenic Jety Oguz Canyon, where short walks lead to brilliant red Broken Heart Hill and the Valley of Flowers, carpeted in spring with a floral color
- Karakol’s Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and Dungan Mosque, both reflecting the city’s multicultural heritage in their design
Day 6-8: Chon-Kemin, Bishkek
Head to a traditional village in the beautifully situated Chon-Kemin Valley, stopping along the way to admire thousands of ancient petroglyphs. In Chon-Kemin get a dose of local culture, dining with a resident family and watching a demonstration of traditional games played on horseback. The following day return to Bishkek with a stop at Burana Tower, one of the few remaining Silk Road watchtowers in Kyrgyzstan. On your final night, attend a performance of selections from the Epic of Manas, a poem passed down by word of mouth for centuries.
- Ibex, camels, and snow leopards portrayed in petroglyphs thought to have been created by tribes of the Neolithic period
- Watching fiercely contested traditional sports played on horseback
- Climbing to the top of Burana Tower
- A performance of selections from the Epic of Manas, a traditional poem deeply rooted in Kyrgyz culture
Dates & Prices
- Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
- Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
- Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.
Land tour price, per person, starting from:
- Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
- Meals, as noted in the itinerary.
- Restaurant tips for included meals.
- One arrival and one departure transfer. Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether or not we make your air arrangements.
- Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
- Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff, as noted in the itinerary.
- Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Special events, excursions, and cultural performances, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
- Final document packet, including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
- International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement if requested or required.
- Baggage handling.
- Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Travel-related insurance including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
- Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
Level 3: Medium, but Customizable
This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel features long days walking and standing, some rustic accommodations, some long days of overland travel, some stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.
There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate streets of packed dirt, cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. Accommodations in rustic guesthouses and/or homestays feature shared outdoor WC facilities, and may not offer showers. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases. Museums and hotels rarely have elevators.
Past travelers have encountered challenges with bureaucratic service, plumbing in and out of hotels, and availability and quality of public restrooms. Accommodations in the basic program will vary from tourist class hotels to more basic homestays and/or guesthouses. Upgrades may be available in some cities, please call for details. Air-conditioning is a luxury and may not be available.