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Alay Region, Kyrgyzstan: An Experiential Travel Guide

Alay Region Travel Guide

Travel to the Alay Region in southern Kyrgyzstan and you’ll find a growing, off-the-path, accessible adventure destination. Experiences run from mid-alpine treks and horse treks in the Alay Mountains to high-alpine experiences up into the Pamir Mountain peaks and epic Pamir Highway road trips into the high desert. Paths are dotted with yurts, shepherds and high pasture nomadic culture along the way. For pan-Central Asia travels and itineraries, the region also serves as a crossroads between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China.

This article explains how to plan and organize a trip to the Alay Region, including what to do and see in the Alay Mountains and Pamir Mountains.

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Kyrgyzstan Experiential Travel Guide: 27 Experiences to Get You Started

Colorful Yurts at Kyrchyn Jailoo Cultural Festival - World Nomad Games, Kyrgyzstan

When readers ask, “If I travel to Kyrgyzstan, what should I do? Where should I go? What kind of experiences will I have?” We wonder how we’ll keep it short.

Because the country is still relatively undiscovered and serves so many different styles of travel, the answer is: it really depends on what you’re after. There's much more to do and experience in Kyrgyzstan than you might first have imagined.

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Trekking in the Alay Mountains, Kyrgyzstan: The Ultimate Guide

Sary Mogul Pass on the Heights of Alay Trek, Kyrgyzstan

Striding toward the Pamir Mountain range-line on the horizon, I chased the waning light across a broad meadow dotted with horses in the distance. We'd descended from a mountain pass surrounded by turquoise alpine lakes and defined by glacier ridge lines. Yak herders we met earlier invited us into their yurt for tea and local specialties, a gesture typical of Kyrgyz nomadic culture and hospitality.

This is trekking in the Alay Mountains of southern Kyrgyzstan.

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An Experiential Travel Guide to Osh, Kyrgyzstan: 20 Ideas to Get You Started

Osh People and Cuisine

If you visit Kyrgyzstan, it’s possible to overlook the Central Asian cultural mixing bowl that is the city of Osh. For many travelers, Osh serves as a transit point en route to the Pamir Mountains, Irkeshtam Pass to China, Dostyk crossing to Uzbekistan, or the newly marked trekking trails in the Alay Mountains rather than a destination in and of itself with a diversity of things to do, see and eat.

However, if you’re looking to encounter a unique blend of cultures and history, lively markets, gregarious people, and a culinary scene which many Kyrgyz call their favorite, then we recommend giving Osh a closer look.

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Issyk-Kul South Shore, Kyrgyzstan Experiential Travel Guide: 20 Ideas to Get Started

Southern Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide
If you travel to Kyrgyzstan, it’s almost impossible to miss Issyk-Kul, the second largest alpine lake in the world (after Bolivia’s Lake Titicaca). But Lake Issyk-Kul is large with two long shores, each a different personality. So where to focus your effort? We suggest the South Shore and this Experiential Travel Guide explains why with 20 things to do, see and eat in the South Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.

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Offbeat Trekking in Kyrgyzstan: Jyrgalan Boz Uchuk Lakes Trek, A Beginner’s Guide

Trekking in Jyrgalan Valley, Kyrgyzstan

With over 90% of its territory covered in mountains, Kyrgyzstan has no shortage of treks filled with stunning landscapes, alpine lakes, shepherds, yurts and a feeling of being very far out, immersed in nature. It's why we often recommend Kyrgyzstan to travelers interested in trekking with a taste of the offbeat. Our recent trek of the newly developed Boz-Uchuk Lakes Trek in the Tian Shan mountains above Jyrgalan village reminded us again why we make such recommendations.

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The World Nomad Games, Kyrgyzstan: An Experiential Guide of Things to Do, See and Eat

What do you get when you combine competitive goat carcass polo, hunting with eagles, wrestling on horseback, sheep bone-throwing, stick wrestling — and an opening ceremony complete with hearkenings of Genghis Khan, men ablaze on horseback, and a ceremonious appearance by Steven Seagal?

The World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan, of course!

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Kyrgyzstan Visas

Alay Region Southern Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide - Yurts and Mountains

Kyrgyzstan is known as the most visa-friendly country in Central Asia as it offers visa-free travel of up to sixty days to travelers of sixty nationalities. This allows you to focus your planning time on what you want to do inside the country vs. navigating Kyrgyzstan visa bureaucracy. So nice.

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Pamir Mountains: A Beginner’s Guide

Our visit to the Pamir Mountains introduced us to some the most spectacular scenery we’ve taken in on our journey thus far. Other mountainous areas, hyped in guidebooks and on travel websites, have only paled in comparison. The Pamir region not only stands out for the severity and beauty of its landscape, but it shines most of all for the colorful, hospitable and fascinating Pamiri people who live there.

The Pamir Highway, roughly speaking begins in Kyrgyzstan and winds its way through Tajikistan, is one of the world's greatest road trips.

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