Central Asia

Essential Kyrgyzstan

Photo credit: Douglas Grimes

8 Days
From $2,995
Trip Type
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
Flexible Private Trip — Book Your Dates for You & Yours

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


Essential Kyrgyzstan Map


  • 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
    • Ala-Too Square, the city’s central meeting place, surrounded by imposing Soviet-era architecture
  • Days 3-5: Chon-Kemin, Lake Issyk-Kul, Karakol

    Head to a traditional village in the beautifully situated Chon-Kemin Valley, stopping along the way to admire thousands of ancient petroglyphs. Pay a visit to Burana Tower, one of the few remaining Silk Road watchtowers in Kyrgyzstan. On your first night, attend a performance of selections from the Epic of Manas, a poem passed down by word of mouth for centuries. In Chon-Kemin get a dose of local culture, dining with a resident family and watching and participating in a master-class on cooking Kyrgyz type of bread Boorsok. Spend the night in the city of Karakol and visit two of its landmarks: the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and the Dungan Mosque.


    • Ibex, camels, and snow leopards portrayed in petroglyphs thought to have been created by tribes of the Neolithic period

    • Climbing to the top of Burana Tower

    • A performance of selections from the Epic of Manas, a traditional poem deeply rooted in Kyrgyz culture

    • Karakol’s Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and Dungan Mosque, both reflecting the city’s multicultural heritage in their design
  • Day 6-8: Kochkor, Bishkek

    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 Broken Heart Hill, and the Valley of Flowers; and lunch at a yurt camp, with an optional horseback ride. Make a stop at the village of Kyzyl-Tuu, known as the yurt-maker’s village, to learn about the traditional yurts in Kyrgyzstan.


    • 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

    • Learning about the traditional yurts and the techniques for creating them from local experts in the yurt-maker’s village

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • 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:

  • 2024 Dates
    Available: April - September
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Accommodations as noted in itinerary. All room types, even in upgraded properties, are standard entry-level doubles or twins. Please call for room category upgrade pricing and information.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary: 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 4 dinners.
    • One arrival and one departure airport 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 we make your air arrangements or not.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by car, or van (size of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your party).
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers and other staff.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
    • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, Touring with MIR hand-book with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
    • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates and more.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare or taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Items of a personal nature (phone calls, email, laundry, alcohol, excess baggage, etc.).
    • Baggage handling.
    • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.
    • Single supplement charge, if requested or required.
    • Visa/passport fees, airport departure fees.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel and trip cancellation insurance.

Activity Level

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.


Traveler Reviews

  • "A desolate, but beautiful landscape, gracious hospitable people, and magical, intimate introduction to village culture and traditions."

    S. Heikkala

    Seattle, WA

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