General Information

Kyrgyz Republic – is a unique, in respect of tourism, area located in the very heart of Asia. It extends for 900 km from west to east and 400 km from south to north. North Point of Kyrgyzstan is located on the same latitude as Rome, and south - with the island of Sicily. Mountains cover more than 70% of its territory, and the level of the valleys is never below 500 m above sea level. In the mountains, everything breathes of untouched, pristine beauty.

The relatively small territory of the republic involves almost all kinds of a landscape. To see all of them it’s enough just to climb up the ravine from the foot to the upper.

Here are relict walnut forests, the arrays of the Tien-Shan spruce, Semenov fir, a centuries-old juniper, pistachio and almond - unique in its beauty and therapeutic properties. There are striking wild thickets of sea buckthorn, barberry, black currant, honeysuckle and other berry bushes. Beautiful alpine meadows carpeted with colorful plants, among which about 200 species of herbs.

Among the mountain ridges there are innumerous streams and seething rivers, thousands of large and small crystal turquoise lakes. Issyk-Kul Lake, known as a natural phenomenon, is a huge mountainous lake with clear water and sandy beaches. The total duration of sunny days is much longer than on the Black Sea coast.

In the mountains there are nearly 8,000 glaciers, including the largest in the world. Blue sky is propped up by the highest mountain peaks; the mysterious giant caves go deep into the ground.

The fauna is rich and diverse here. Some of its species are very rare or even unique but at the same time some other dwelling animals can be hunt on. The Republic is unique in its variety of mineral and thermal springs, therapeutic muds (more than 100 groups).

Through the territory of the Kyrgyzstan different people migrated to Europe, innumerous trade caravans left the trail along the Silk Road, as evidenced by numerous historical and cultural monuments.

Kyrgyzstan people are friendly and hospitable, always ready to involve their guests in the fascinating history of traditions and customs, ready to share their secrets of unforgettable cuisine.

Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is blessed with gorgeous mountain scenery almost everywhere you look. The fact that the country is so little known is mostly down to its isolation and a lack of awareness of its very existence – Kyrgyzstan has only been a country in its own right for two decades or so.

 Kyrgyzstan’s landscapes are surprisingly varied, with snow-capped peaks, pine forests and glaciers giving way to open plains and gleaming blue mountain lakes. In places the country really does look Switzerland, whilst elsewhere it can remind one of Scotland, Kashmir and even the Middle East. The mountain vistas alone are reason enough to visit - a visit to Kyrgyzstan would be wasted without trekking to at least one of them and, as there so many locations to chose from, trekking can be done virtually anywhere in the country.

Visitor numbers are increasing gradually, although a short tourist season and the relative difficulty of reaching the country have ensured that it is unlikely to ever become a mainstream destination. What this means is that those adventurous travellers who do make the effort to come are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable experience.

Social conventions

Hospitality is an important component of Kyrgyz life and guests are highly honored, especially in rural households. If invited to a Kyrgyz home or yurt a small gift is appreciated. Shoes should always be removed at the threshold. Kyrgyzstan is a fairly conservative country and handshaking should take place between men but not between men and women. At a meal, bread should be treated respectfully and never put on the floor or casually discarded. Food is eaten with the right hand only. Bride-kidnapping, although now officially illegal, is still practiced in parts of the country.

Weather & climate

Kyrgyzstan has a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers. In the lowlands, the temperature ranges from around -6°C (21°F) in January to 24°C (75°F) in July. In the low-lying Fergana Valley of the south temperatures may peak as high as the low 40s in summer.

In the highlands, the temperatures range from between -20° (-4°F in January to 12°C (54°F) in July, although some high mountain valleys can drop as low as -30°C (-22°F) in winter. Rainfall is fairly low throughout the country but there can be heavy snowfalls during winter. The wettest area is the mountains above the Fergana Valley; the driest, the southwest shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. March to May and October to November are usually the wettest months

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Kyrgyzstan is between May and October as getting around outside this period can be difficult. Trekking is best between June and September, although July and August are the busiest times for foreign visitors. The south of the country, and even Bishkek, can be uncomfortably warm at this time of year, so if these are the prime destinations to be visited, spring or autumn may be a better choice. This time is also great for organizing jeep tours.