"Try climbing a mountain for once"... What is attractive about hiking in Kyrgyzstan?

September 10, 2020

Chingis Chuckin at the peak "Uchityel", the Tien-Shan mountains, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: personal archive of Chingis Chukin

Many people suffer from boredom during the pandemic and on quarantine - borders are closed, air traffic is suspended, and our brains, tired of all the negative information, seek rest and innovation. Hiking is an excellent solution to this situation.

In Kyrgyzstan, we are used to our splendid nature, clean water and high mountains. But we don’t really pay attention to the beauty that surrounds us. Chingiz Chukin, a young alpinist, talks about Kyrgyz mountains with such excitement and passion that you yourself start looking at these majestic peaks from the other side.

When we think about mountaineering, we usually see image of a person climbing Everest or Kanchenjunga with an oxygen supplier and a frozen beard. But it turns out that each of us can conquer our own peak and even if it is not as high, the pleasure is not less. Yes, someone may travel to the Canary to enjoy paradisiacal white sand, but there’s a winner in each of us and it’s time to wake him up. 

The Ala-Too Range is the most revered mountain range in the Kyrgyz Republic, and 93 per cent of the country is occupied by mountains. Unfortunately, tourism in Kyrgyzstan is not developing as fast as we would hope, but those who have already visited the mountains of the republic cannot forget them and return again and again.

Foreigners enjoy our natural attractions. Hiking in the mountains, sleeping in yurts, horseback riding is just a small part of what Kyrgyzstan can offer. But before inviting foreign guests to visit our country, we should get to know our nature ourselves. 

Hiking is a type of sports tourism. Its main purpose is to take a short walk through the mountainous terrain. For safety reasons, it’s better to hike in a group. 

"It is great when our compatriots are eager to travel the world. But before you get to know the world, you have to understand how beautiful our Kyrgyzstan is. For professional climbers, we have the Khan-Tengri, Lenin Peak and other 7000m mountains. But an ordinary Kyrgyz does not have to do technical climbs - we have many different options for hiking. Even just next to the capital you can feel like a mountain conqueror - the Ala Archa Nature Park is probably the best place for hiking. Unfortunately, our citizens go there only for picnics. You should try climbing a mountain at least once..."

Chingiz Chukin, alpinist

From left to right, Kudaibergen Aidarbekov, Evgeniy Patlai, Ormusheva Camilia, Chingis Chuckin, Iskander Kydyraliev and Bektur Akkaziev at the peak "Uchityel", the Tien-Shan mountains, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: personal archive of Chingis Chukin

One of the pleasant bonuses of hiking is "educational". Hiking is not always easy. For a multi-day hike, you have to climb a mountain carrying a backpack with a tent, water, mattress (tourist mat), a sleeping bag and a lot of provisions. One step at a time, you feel every gram on your back. Yes, you always give up and turn back where there are a soft beds and warm coffee waiting for you, but summiting the mountain, a person educates themselves to be a champion. An unwritten contract with yourself, rather than with an employer or an official, is worth a lot more. Hiking is great to strengthen your will. 

The best feeling is the end of the journey. After all, when you reach your goal, you feel satisfied. Your eyes aren’t enough to embrace the view that opens up, your body feels an inexpressible feeling of freedom, and everything in your head screams “I am a winner”. 

The UNDP project "Aid for Trade in Central Asia" aims to support the development of adventure tourism. We need to develop tourism in Kyrgyzstan, and an adventure destination like this will allow many people to learn about the magnificent culture and nature of the country.

"When you go to the mountains, you disconnect yourself from all the pressing problems, the negative. You are alone with yourself and this time in nature allows you to get to know yourself. What I like the most is the feeling when I get to the goal and the harder it is to climb, the more indescribable this feeling. It's an explosion of positive emotions.”

Chingiz Chukin, alpinist

Chingis Chukin at Zelenkova Peak, Central Tien - Shan, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: personal archive of Chingis Chukin

Hiking is considered not only a pleasant activity; it is also good for your health. There’s no overtraining and the result of this physical activity can be seen after just a few hikes: your cardio and endurance are increased, which consequently has a positive effect on your immunity.  Adventure tourism is developing well in our country and Kyrgyzstan has many prospects in this area, according to this expert:

"Kyrgyzstan has a huge tourism potential and this is an undeniable fact. It is important to bring this area in line with international standards. We are now actively working with local tour leaders to improve the quality of services on the ground, and we also conduct training sessions aimed at improving the potential of domestic tour operators. Due to the current situation, adventure tourism is now our priority. We are looking for new tourist destinations within the country because uncharted trails always attract travelers...".

Aisha Mambetalieva, Director of the Kyrgyz Tourism Organization LLC  

Aisha Mambetalieva at Lake Merzbacher, south Engilchek Glaciers in the Tien Shan Mountains, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: Stephen Lioy

Many countries around the world are now actively developing domestic tourism and reorienting it towards local residents. Kyrgyzstan is no exception, but perhaps the only obstacle to increasing the number of internal tourists is the lack of information. All types of tourism, including extreme and adventure tourism, are actively developing in the country, and only little support is needed, both from people and the state. Kyrgyzstan's tourism industry is ready to conquer not only the peaks of mountains, but those of success as well.