Backpacking Through Kyrgyzstan: A 3 Week Roundup

When we set off on this journey, we weren’t exactly sure what to expect from most of the “Stan” countries. The one country that we knew would be a hit though was little Kyrgyzstan, a place that is easy to get in to (no visa anymore), has loads of mountains and activities available and has great infrastructure for tourism. We spent three weeks here and loved every minute of it!

viewpoint kyrgyzstan

Here’s a breakdown of our adventures in Kyrgyzstan

We gazed at the towering Ala-Too Range, while swimming in the second highest lake in the world, Lake Issyk-Kol.

lake issyk-kol

We endured bumpy rides in marshutkas and squished into the back seats of shared taxis to get from point “a” to point “b”.

Shared Taxi In Kyrgyzstan

We brought a map and compass and navigated our way from the town of Karakol to the village of Atlyn Arashan. Trekking up to 3,800m, camping for two nights and gazing out at the stunning lake Ala-Kul before soaking in the hot springs at Atlyn Arashan was a definite highlight of our travels.

trekking in kyrgyzstan

We ate amazing local cuisine, with our favourites being katlet (stewed beef with rice, buckwheat, noodles and sauce) kuurduk (fried beef with sauce, potato and onion), shashlyk (chunks of chicken, mutton or beef grilled on skewers) and laghman (noodle soup with vegetables and meat).

laghman soup

We stayed in wonderful homestays owned by even more wonderful families.

homestay kyrgyzstan

We went on our very first (but definitely not last) horse trek to glistening Lake Song-Kul.

Horse trekking kyrgyzstan

We stayed in yurts with local families and were shown traditional Kyrgyz hospitality.

kyrgyzstan yurt

We went on an overnight fishing trip, camping alongside a river in the middle of nowhere with a 70 year-old fisherman and a guide.

fishing trip kyrgyzstan

We hiked up to waterfalls and gazed out at the scenery down below from picture perfect panorama viewpoints.

waterfall arslanbob

We went to the biggest walnut grove in the world and met families living out there during the harvest season.

walnut grove kyrgyzstan

We were shown nothing but generosity, hospitality and kindness from the local people, no matter which ethnicity they were.

family in kyrgyzstan

We wandered around bazaars looking at and sampling the fresh fruits, veggies, breads and spices.

kyrgyz bazaar

After a very memorable time in Kyrgyzstan, it was time to move on. We’ll never forget the Kyrgyz hospitality, the outdoor activities, the interesting culture and the fantastic scenery. We would absolutely love to come back here and explore more of what Kyrgyzstan has to offer!

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We Returned to Kyrgyzstan in June, 2017!

It had been 4 years since we had been in Kyrgyzstan, and this time around it was just as magical as the last. We marked out a new trekking route around the Village of Jyrgalan, and we did so many things in Karakol that didn’t involve trekking (many of which are new since this year). We camped on the south shore of Lake Issyk-Kul in yurts, saw an eagle hunting demonstration, learned how to build a yurt from scratch, and of course, partied it up in Bishkek!

There are so many things to see and do in Kyrgyzstan. For information on trekking by foot or horse around Jyrgalan, contact Destination Jyrgalan at:, and if you’re interested in cultural activities around Karakol, contact Destination Karakol at: Of course, you can always email us as well for advice and information!



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Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 10 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel. Her advice about long-term travel, remote work, and location independence has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes. Learn more about Dariece Swift on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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