pop 900, 000 / elev 800m Bishkek feels green – but not just because of the trees.
Lake Issyk-Köl & the Central Tian Shan
Lake Issyk-Köl (also Ysyk-Köl) is basically a huge dent, filled with water, between the Küngey (Sunny) Alatau to the north and the Terskey (Dark) Alatau to the south, which together form the northern arm of the Tian Shan.
Karakol & Around
Karakol is a peaceful, low-rise town with backstreets full of Russian gingerbread cottages, shaded by rows of huge white poplars.
Bishkek to Osh & the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley
From the standpoint of landscape, the Bishkek–Osh road is a sequence of superlatives, taking the traveller over two 3000m-plus passes, through the yawning Suusamyr Valley, around the immense Toktogul reservoir, down the deep Naryn River gorge and...
Osh is Kyrgyzstan’s second-biggest city and the administrative centre of the huge, populous province that engulfs the Fergana Valley on the Kyrgyzstan side.
The mountainous heart of Kyrgyzstan offers travellers unrivalled opportunities to explore jailoos on foot, horseback or by 4WD.
Alpine lake Song-Köl (Son-Kul), at 3016m, is one of the loveliest spots in central Kyrgyzstan.
Arslanbob is an elevated oasis, a vast tract of blossoming woodland and home to the largest walnut grove on earth (11, 000 hectares) and part of the even larger (60, 000 hectare) walnut forest that extends between the spurs of the Fergana and...
Pik Lenin & Achik Tash
Trekking possibilities in the Alay Valley are legion, but serious trekkers head for Pik Lenin (now officially called Koh-i-Garmo).
The far southern arm of Kyrgyzstan is the exclusive turf of trekkers and mountaineers, consisting as it does mostly of the heavily glaciated Pamir Alay range, a jagged, 500km-long seam running from Samarkand to Xinjiang.
Cholpon-Ata hums during high season (mid-July to August) when the town is besieged by Russian, Kazakh and local holidaymakers, all of whom head for the beach, which is about as far away from the ocean as you can get.
Torugart is one of Asia’s most unpredictable border posts.
Kazarman is the kind of town that begs to be bypassed.
Naryn to Jalal-abad
If you’re planning to travel directly between the Fergana Valley and the Bishkek–Torugart road, it’s possible to cut right across central Kyrgyzstan between Jalal-Abad and Naryn instead of going around via Bishkek.