Kyrgyzstan is enfolded by an immense band of towering mountain ranges in Central Asia. This is a paradise for people that love the outdoors as glaciers, gorges, rocky valleys and ice blue mountain lakes make up about 90% of the country. Horse trek into the mountains and let your hair down as you gallop across alpine pastures. Local guides are plentiful and well worth the expense. You will find the locals you meet to be more than generous as they invite you in for fermented mare's milk and fresh yogurt. Just pick a mountain range, like the Pamir Alay or the Central Tian Shan and go for it! Travel to Lake Issyk-Kol, where you can hunt rabbits with a trained eagle, or cheer the locals on as you watch a wild game of kok boru, a ferocious battle in which riders on horseback battle each other. And no trip to Kyrgyzstan is complete without visiting Osh. According to the locals, this bazaar is older than Rome. Osh is the place to haggle over the price of whatever souvenir has caught your eye!
Flights into Kyrgyzstan will require a connection in Russia on Aeroflot, on British Airways, Germany's Lufthansa or on Turkish Airlines. Combining your trip to Kyrgyzstan with travel in one of these countries will most likely result in overall savings. Be aware that foreigners from Belgium, Australia, Canada, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, the USA and the UK can apply for a visa valid for three months upon arrival at the airport. Other nationals from countries not mentioned above must provide a letter of invitation.
Manas International Airport is the biggest airport in the country and is located approximately 15.5 miles from Bishkek, the country's capital. It operates 24 hours a day and handles almost a million passengers every year coming from domestic and international destinations. Some airline carriers that operate out of this airport are Uzbekistan Airways, Turkish Airlines, Tajik Air, S7 Airlines, Rossiya, Itek Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Anikay Air, Air Astana and Aeroflot.
The window of opportunity for visiting Kyrgyzstan is somewhat small. Due to its mountainous terrain and the subsequent altitudes, the Siberian winds bring freezing temperatures, while the mountain peaks and passes stay snow-covered or impassable for months at a time. Luckily, Kyrgyzstan is not high on most people's 'to-do' list, making the peak season a favorable time to travel. Plan as far in advance as possible; booking during the winter months for travel in the summer will result in the lowest airfares. It may also be possible to get a guide at a slightly lower rate due to your pre-planning. The best time to visit will be July to September. A little earlier, or a little later, and the nighttime temps may drop below freezing, though the daytime temps will be pleasant. Cash-strapped inhabitants have turned to tourism to eke out a living, so you will find budget accommodations and sustainable projects meant to encourage tourism.
Even if you are not a total outdoor enthusiast, you can enjoy the country of Kyrgyzstan. Horse back riding may take a little getting used to and you might want to pack some salve for those inevitable saddle sores or muscle soreness, but you will soon adapt to the easy roll of the gait of your steed and become so enthralled with the views that you will soon forget all about being sore. You can also see some great parts of Kyrgyzstan from the inside of a vehicle, rather than the back of a horse...just not as much!
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