Nomad University – Kyrgyzstan Tour

Immersive Experience

Have you ever wanted to experience what it’s like to be a real Kyrgyz nomad? This is your chance!

Days

10

Price

€1290

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Kyrgyzstan

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Issyk Kul
  • Bishkek

Themes: Active Adventures, Immersive Experiences

Nomad University is not a show or a demonstration – this is an active Kyrgyzstan tour that will push your nomad skills to the limits and increase your cultural understanding of Kyrgyz people. Deep in the Central Asian mountains, far away from modern civilization, you will build your own Yurt village together with locals and learn nomadic traditions and customs directly from them. The locals will teach you how to ride horses, herd animals, slaughter sheep and prepare it for dinner, and how to celebrate friendship like a nomad.

highlights

  • Experience central bazaar in Bishkek and animal bazaar in Karakol
  • Join the Saruu Kok-Buru (headless goat polo) the best team in Issyk Kul for a match of a lifetime
  • Riding on horseback to the “jailoo” (summer pasture) where you will build your own yurt village
  • Actively participate in various nomadic activities and get hands-on experience
  • Live with locals and learn directly from them
  • Learn to cook traditional nomadic recipes
  • Hear a performance of a “Manaschi” (storyteller of national epos Manas)
  • Play nomad games, party like a nomad deep in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan
  • Take a swim in picturesque mountain lake Issyk Kul and enjoy the hot springs in mountains

ITINERARY & MAP

Bishkek Square with Lenin and flowers in Kyrgyzstan Tour

You will be picked up at the airport in Bishkek, in the early morning and transferred to your hostel, where you can take a rest and have a breakfast. Bishkek has streets lined with trees which make it a very pleasant city to explore on foot. After breakfast that’s exactly what you will do on a guided tour.

Some of the sights you will see are the Philharmonia, Ala Too, and Victory square.  At a central bazaar, you can buy some locally produced dried fruits and nuts for the next days.

In the evening, you can try Kyrgyz food at a nice restaurant. During the dinner, you will be given a description of the tour as well as a general introduction to the country’s history and culture. In a cozy atmosphere, you can get to know your guides, ask questions and get acquainted with your fellow nomad aspirants.

Group of travelers building human pyramid in front of Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan Tours

Today will be full of contrasts in nature and nomadic sights.  Leaving Bishkek, you will discover a minaret built in the 11th century in the ancient city of Balasagun from the great feudal state of Karakhanid.

One of many legends says that the khan’s daughter was predicted to die from the bite of a very poisonous Karakurt spider. The khan was so worried about his daughter, he ordered a to built the highest minaret to protect her. How does the legend continue? Did it save her? Our guide will tell you the full legend or you can read our Burana blog.

Additionally, you will be able to see ancient “balbals”, grave markers from nomadic Turkic peoples from the 6th-10th centuries. There are different theories about the meaning of these headstones with people carved on them. Right next to balbals are petroglyphs from the 8th-10th centuries BC, which were relocated from across Kyrgyzstan.  These ruins of Balasagun are a must see for all aspirating nomads.

Later in the day you will have lunch in Boom Gorge on the wild Chuy river, the life blood of northern Kyrgyzstan. After lunch, you will be guided to Cholpon Ata to see hundreds of accent petroglyphs from 8th – 10th centuries BC on your way to Karakol.  Karakol is translated into “black hand” where you will spend the night in your first Yurt village.

Wooden church in Karakol can be visited during Kyrgyzstan tours

Today you need to get up early to visit the chaotic animal bazaar of Karakol. With bustling crowds of traders and animals and snowcapped mountains in the background this market offers wonderful photo opportunities. The local herdsmen will welcome you to buy many different types of animals such as yaks, horses, donkey, cows and maybe even a camel. The animal bazaar is the best place to start your training as a nomad in Kyrgyzstan.

After the animal bazaar you will be guided on a walking tour of the city where you will be able to see the local Dungan Mosque, the Russian Orthodox Church, and see the pictures from Ella Maillard a Swiss traveler from the 1930’s at the Karakol Historical Museum.

Lunch will be shared with a local horseman’s family near the mountains of Karakol.  You will be able to see the panorama of Karakol and the Issyk-Kol region.  After lunch, you will be brought back to your Yurt Village in Karakol for some much needed rest and getting ready for the next day’s adventures.  Dinner will be prepared in the most Kyrgyz way possible over the fire with a local family.

Kok Boru horse game played during Kyrgyzstan Tours & Nomad University

On this day you should be ready to spend sometime in the saddle! You will be transferred to the Saruu Kok-buru training grounds near the shores of Issyk-Kul Lake.  Kok-buru is a true nomadic team sport that has been played for ages in Central Asia.  It’s played with two teams on horseback where the teams fight over a goat carcass in order to throw the carcass into their own barrel or kazan.

The roots of this sport come from shepherds in the high mountains, where they had to protect their sheep from wolves.  The shepherds would see a wolf pack coming in and he would save the sheep that were in danger by grabbing them and throwing them under his leg or on top of the horse.

Are you ready to earn your own place in Kyrgyz history by joining the best team in the Issyk-Kul region to play Kok-buru yourself?  First, you will get some basic instructions on how to ride a horse and then there will be plenty of time to learn and practice and maybe even enough time to score a goal.  After the game you will share lunch with the Kok-buru team.  After lunch you will thank the Kok-buru team and you will be able to relax rest the rest of the day by heading down to the beaches of Issy-Kul lake.  Issy-Kul lake is the 2nd largest alpine lake in the world surrounded by snowcapped peaks.

In the afternoon there will be an opportunity to walk along the shoreline of Issyk-Kul’s lake or jump in for a swim.  An early dinner will be provided and then you will head into the mountains to relax at some magical hot springs.  Your final resting place for the day will be a local guesthouse on the beaches of Issy-Kul lake.

Tourists building a yurt during Kyrgyzstan Tours-Nomad

Before the sun rises over the snowcapped peaks you will be busy packing all your things on the back of horses and preparing to ride deeper into the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.  A true nomad has to move from one land to another in search for fresh mountain air, pure water, and abundant grass for their sheep to graze.  This is called “goch” where the whole tribe will move from one land to another.

Once you arrive in your new-found land you will build your own yurt village, the traditional felt home of every nomad family and get acquainted with the locals. The locals are living a semi-nomadic life and you will spend the next days with them.  They live in a summer pasture called “jailoo” where their cattle graze and their family grows; this makes it a perfect training ground for nomads like yourself.

A real nomad knows how to prepare all necessary food and find survive on their own.  Today you will be able to cook with the locals and get to know each other.  Which is key for next days.

Horse Trek: 18 km, 900 meters’ elevation gain, 4 hours

Manaschi national epic teller in Kyrgyzstan Tours

Every Nomad needs to get up early to take care of the animals and get equipped for the day.  You will be educated in the Kyrgyz way of milking cows and maybe even a horse if you’re nomad enough.

The first legend will be described to you on a trek up the valley into the higher mountains where you will see the actual silk road and to see where Kyrgyz people fought back during the time of Urkun.  Urkun was a tragedy that was felt throughout Central Asia, but the Kyrgyz People were the most effected by the invasion of the Russian Tsarist soldiers that colonialized the nomadic tribes of Central Asia.  In the winter of 1916 Kyrgyz people ran away from the Russian Tsarist soldiers deep into the Kyrgyz mountains to escape into China in order to escape the conscription into Russia’s army and being sent to the front of First World War. The Yurt village where you will be living is situated on one of the most common paths that people used when they were running for their life. There will be adequate amount of time to reflect on this historic site and enjoy your lunch over the panoramic view of Issyk Kul Lake and your Yurt village.

After the trek, you will be invited to play “Upai”, a traditional game played with the bones from the sheep knee joint (chuko).  Also you will learn how to compete in mass wrestling and tug of war to see who is the strongest among you.  Then you will collect wood for the camp to get ready for a night of storytelling and diving deep into Kyrgyz history and culture.

A Manaschi will join you for dinner and he will open your eyes to the legends and stories of Kyrgyzstan.  You will be able to practice and learn how to become a Manashi this night. “Manaschi” are highly honored Kyrgyz people, who can speak and sing the national Epic of Manas by heart. Manas is a mythical hero, who fought against Uighur people in the 9th century. The epic poem contains almost a half million verses and has been passed down by word of mouth for centuries. Only in the 19th century it was first written down.  This night you will spend in the yurt village with your local friends.

Trekking: 10-15 km, 1000 meters’ elevation gain, 5 hours

Party like a nomad or eating like a nomad in Kyrgyzstan Tours

Today is going to be a bit rough and dirty, but by now you are already becoming a youthful nomad.  Today you will be responsible for making dinner for the whole village.  You will need to guest the villagers at your Yurt Camp as if you were Kyrgyz.  Hospitality is a central part of Kyrgyz culture and it will be a test to see your skills as a nomad.

First, you should herd all the sheep from one mountain valley to another and learn the special tricks to manage a whole herd. In accordance with the local tradition it is very important to pick the fattest sheep to share with your guests.  Once you catch the sheep you must clean it and cut the wool off its skin.  This can be a very dirty and challenging experience because the sheep are not easy to catch or easy to clean.  After cleaning the sheep, you will be instructed in the Kyrgyz customary way of cutting the sheep for a meal.  Once the sheep has been killed that’s when you will be very busy preparing everything for the “Toy” (party) that evening.

Don’t forget that it’s very important in Kyrgyz culture to be clean and well dressed so you will experience the natural hot springs close to the Yurt Village to wash up.  It’s going to be a traditional party with a lot of Kyrgyz toasting, celebration and excitement. A local Komz band will come to preform and to teach you how to play the national instruments within the Yurt. A “Komuz” a traditional three-stringed instrument and not to be mixed with “Kymyz”, the fermented horse milk.  This will be a night you will never forget looking at the stars though the “tunduk”, the window on the top of the yurt.

Canyon- Skazka-Kyrgyzstan-Tours

Today will be a day of moving from one land to another.  Everyone will share one last meal together and dismantle their yurts and move on.

You will be guided on the south shores of Issy-Kul lake to fairy tail canyon a place full of local legends.  You will be able to explore this area and enjoy a lunch on the beaches of Issy-Kul lake.  After lunch you will be able to go for a swim in Issy-Kul lake and relax at the beach.  Those who are interested can visit a handicraft makers home and see a felt making shop where you can buy slippers, scarfs, and Kyrgyz traditional “shyrdaks” (felt carpets).

This night will be spent on the beaches of Issy-Kul lake at a lovely Yurt camp called Bell Tam.

Fruits in bazaar sold by friendly lady, shopping in osh bazaar during Kyrgyzstan Tours

After breakfast you will leave for Bishkek where lunch will be waiting you at a traditional café.  This afternoon you can choose how to spend your free time in Bishkek, you maybe want to buy some locally produced souvenirs for your friends and family back home or take a walk thought the parks of Bishkek.  In the evening, you will have a farewell party where you will be shown a Kyrgyz movie.  Since you are almost a real Kyrgyz nomad you will understand and enjoy the movie with a much greater understanding.

 

Departure manas airport

Early morning transfer to the International Airport will be provided.

Inclusions

Transport
Minibus, Horse, Foot
Meals
10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners
Accommodation
Hostel (3 nights), yurt (6 nights)
Included Activities

Bishkek – city tour

Karakol – city tour

Kok Buru watching & playing

Manaschi performance

Visit Burana tower

 

 

dates & price

Total trip price

€1290

Euro

10

Days

There is no single supplement available

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
7 Jul 2017
16 Jul 2017
Available
21 Jul 2017
30 Jul 2017
Available
4 Aug 2017
13 Aug 2017
Available
18 Aug 2017
27 Aug 2017
Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by mini bus according to the itinerary, pickups and drop offs
  • Accommodation multishare
  • English speaking guide accompanying the group for the whole time
  • All entrances as per itinerary
  • Full board (breakfasts, lunches, dinners)
Price does not include
  • International air fares
  • Hotel charges for additional service
  • Travel insurance

Important notes

  • For horseback riding, we recommend that you bring your own helmet to ensure your own safety.
  • It’s required to obtain travel insurance from the insurance company of your choice. We recommend for example using World Nomads. Before the tour starts Kalpak Travel requests to have all your insurances on file.
  • A single supplement is not available for this tour. All accommodations are multi-share on this tour.
  • This tour takes place in remote areas with limited comfort and limited accessibility to medical facilities. It’s recommended to be in good physical health to fully enjoy this tour.

KYRGYZSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kyrgyz currency is called the Som (KGS). In the capital Bishkek there are many ATMs that you can find in shopping centers, supermarkets or on the main streets. All of them accept Visa cards and some, like Kyrgyz Kommerts Bank, Demir Bank and Uni Credit accept other cards such as MasterCard or Maestro card. Outside of Bishkek, we don’t recommend relying on ATMs as there are so few of them. We also recommend that you bring some cash in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. There are many exchange offices, some working 24/7. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and a small number of international stores. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kyrgyzstan is the most liberal and democratic country in the Central Asian region. For the last seven years, the political situation in the country has been calm and there is nothing to suggest that this situation might change. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only use official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kyrgyz partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 60 days in Kyrgyzstan. To be sure whether you need a visa or not you can check on www.thevisamachine.com. Any special permits that you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide to you free of charge.
As soon as we receive your deposit payment, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Kyrgyzstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kyrgyzstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. In the Ferghana Valley in the south and in capital Bishkek, summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius. However, most of the country is situated more than 1500 meters above the sea level, where temperatures are in the mid-20s during summer. At high altitudes of 3000 meters or more it may even snow overnight during the summer, so make sure you bring some warm clothes. The best season to visit for activity or jeep tours would be in summer and winter for skiing tours. Please note, weather in some mountain areas may be very changeable.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kyrgyzstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kyrgyzstan are basic at best.

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