Named the Pearl of Central Asia, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan is a small country mostly covered by mountains and almost untouched by tourism. These attributes make the perfect combination to live a memorable trip! As I toured the country, I experienced many moments that I will never forget and I am sharing 10 of them in photos with you.
And if those pictures convince you to plan your next holiday, check out my Destination Guide to Kyrgyzstan with many more photos and detailed planning information.
10 Reasons to Love Kyrgyzstan
Explore the Skazka Canyon
Not far south of the Issyk -Kul Lake, you can find the Skazka Canyon, also called Fairy-Tale Canyon. Plan enough time to go explore on your own, climb this rock or that one and discover more intriguing shapes and colorful landscapes.
Interested in travel to Kyrgyzstan , you may also like our travels in Kazakhstan.
Listen to Kyrgyz Music
At the Burana Tower, an old minaret surrounded by stunning scenery, we met with 2 young Kyrgyz girls and their music teacher. They practiced in front of us on their traditional guitars. And, seeing how interested we were, their teacher started singing for us too! Her love for music was contagious. Check the video at the bottom of my dedicated article if you want to hear how this sounded.
Get an Allergy Just for the View
Early morning I had ordered a cab to go watch the sunrise on the eastern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake. As the sun got higher I spotted a huge field of flowers and decided to go capture the beauty even though I was sure to get an annoying allergy. Don't you think this view was worth the sneezing?
Hike in the Altyn Arashan Valley
Altyn Arashan is an isolated valley east of Issyk-Kul Lake. Famous for its hot springs, it is also a great place to hike. Imagine those horses trotting past you all at once!
Enjoying these photos of Kyrgyzstan, check out our photo story from Kazakhstan
Observe Locals at the Karakol Animal Market
Every Sunday, Karakol welcomes nomads and sedentary Kyrgyz from the whole region. They come for the animal market where you can find mostly horses, sheep and cows. They are not yet used to travelers and are happy to exchange as much as possible (they only speak Kyrgyz and Russian). But watching them do business was already fascinating.
Go Further than the Seven Bulls
One of the most famous geological features in Kyrgyzstan is Jeti Oguz and its Seven Bulls. This is not what you see on the photo above. I decided to climb on the hill opposite to take better photos and discovered that it actually continues into the Dragon Gorge which is impressive too.
Sleep in Yurts at Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan
One of my favorite nights in Kyrgyzstan was the yurt stay at Song-Kul Lake. It was freezing at 3000 meters (9850ft) but the profound silence and majestic landscapes were all I needed.
They are Yurts in Kyrgyzstan but in Mongolia they are called Ghers: Check out Share the View, a Look Back at Mongolia
Spend Time Admiring Horses
The Kyrgyz love their horses. How many they own determines how rich they are (except in the cities…). So they are well taken care of. Many times I just stopped and admired them. On the photo above, it was during sunset at Song-Kul Lake.
Love horses? Check out Icelandic Horse – Pure Beauty
Stop and Admire Painting-like Landscapes
The roads in the center of the country are lesser known. The few tourists traveling to Kyrgyzstan often focus on the more famous locations. However I was blown away by the many landscapes I drove by, that look just like paintings. I promise, this was not altered by filters or post-processing!
Thinking of a trip to Kyrgyzstan ? You may want to drive: Here's our tips for driving from England to Mongolia
Get stuck between 2 walls of Ice and horses
This is one moment I would never have imagined: driving at a mountain pass between two walls of ice and being stuck because of horses and cows!
So what do you think? Is Kyrgyzstan your next destination?
Claire is the French Traveler and Travel Planning Addict behind ZigZag On Earth where she shares her growing collection of destination guides, with detailed location articles and plenty of beautiful photos.