Part of the Soviet Union until Independence in 1991, but with a history going back a thousand years earlier, Kyrgyzstan lies in Central Asia between Uzbekistan and China. The country was part of the Silk Road and its beautiful alpine landscapes remain a place to see a semi-nomadic way of life that can seem unchanged since ancient times. If you're thinking of exploring this beautiful place where centuries-old traditions still reign supreme, read on for our beginner's guide to Kyrgyzstan
The Kyrgyz people were originally a group of nomadic tribes, among whom hospitality was often a matter of life and death. Guests are still treated as well as the host can afford, and most travellers return from Kyrgyzstan with epic stories of the warmth and generosity they meet.
Horses remain central to the traditional way of life and a riding tour is among the very best ways to experience the countryside. During the summer, you’ll often see horse riders engaged in the national sport of Kok Boru (“Blue Wolf”). With origins in the constant battle that the tribes once fought to protect their flocks against wolves, it pits two teams of fluid size against each other in a fierce fight for a goat carcass. Horsemanship and bravery are a prerequisite to taking part, never mind winning.