Why would you go to a country known by the majority of people only by its name? Whoever knows that’s in Central Asia and was part of the Soviet Union already knows way over the average. Actually, Kyrgyzstan has one of the fastest rise in tourism in Asia with already a lot of information for tourists online. Tourist infrastructure started developing recently, but it’s still in baby shoes.
We chose Kyrgyzstan for its authenticity, low prices and because is still remote and not overly touristic. In my opinion is a mix between Mongolia and Nepal, the mountains and the yurts being the image of the country.
How to get there?
The cheapest option is to fly via Istanbul with Pegasus, a Turkish low-cost airline, or with the alternative Aeroflot which has Moscow – Bishkek flights, a bit more expensive.
Bishkek – the capital
Before the mountains, let’s have a taste of the life in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. From my perspective it’s an unimpressive city with just a few hotspots; I wouldn’t recommend spending more than one day for exploring.
The food is simple and interesting, but not very colorful – the meals are made with the same base ingredients: meat, rice, onion, potato. You can find Turkish and Soviet influences and traditional for the Kyrgyz cuisine are the horse milk products.
One of the most popular restaurants in Bishkek: Faiza.
The awesome Kyrgyz bread.
At every corner of Bishkek, you can find a refreshing drink made out of mineral water and milk or barley. The drink is somehow similar with the Turkish Ayran, with slightly different flavours and acidity. Cheap and tasty 🙂 .
The iconic buildings in the center, representative for the Soviet architecture.
The Kyrgyz White House.
A marshrutka in the sunset. Kyrgyz main mean of transportation, with non-existent timetable and questionable amount of people that can fit inside.
Ala Archa national park
Located in the center of the country, just 40 km away from Bishkek, the Ala Archa national park is maybe the most accessible and popular among the tourists.
After we passed through the gates of the national park everything was amazing, exactly as in the pictures on the internet: fairytale valleys, glaciers, waterfalls, animals and steep mountains.
On the left side the Ak-Sai waterfall and on the right, the way up to the base camp, near the Racek shelter.
We carried almost our whole room up to the base camp, to ~3200m altitude. Almost 20kg for each of us, including ice axes, crampons, power banks, tent, sleeping bags, shoes and other things you shouldn’t take up there. The good part of it is that we made the training for the next day’s peak ascent, Uchitel, 4540m.
The basecamp – in the middle of the mountains, beside two glaciers.
The peak day:
The route wasn’t clear and straightforward, the only trek signs where the little “rock people” along the way. While is obvious you just head upwards, searching for the “rock people” camouflaged in the rocky scenery was quite tiring for the eyes.
The glaciers from the top. At night, from the base camp, I woke up a few times thinking it’s an earthquake or rocks falling down, while it was actually the sound of the moving glacier.
The view in motion:
There was no real need to use the crampons or ice axes, but after a strenuous rocky ascent we preferred to take the snow line.
Peak Uchitel, 4540m. Translated into English it means Peak Teacher, and indeed it taught us a lesson.
This is what you get when you don’t do a proper acclimatization. Your only wish is to get down away from this “awful” landscape. And its kind of sad that you don’t get to enjoy the moment fully. Lesson learned 🙂 .
Uchitel peak 360° video
Uchitel’s North neighbor.
At last, we arrived back to the base camp and had a well deserved ~14h sleep.
This beast ate all our peanuts, but posed for some awesome pictures in exchange 🙂 .
Chak-Chack for a sweet end of the day 🙂 .
Of course, with a backpack.