Why Kyrgyzstan? What made you choose this country?
Honestly, before I came to Kyrgyzstan, I did not know much about this incredible country. However, if I think about the reasons that made me choose this country, I can certainly come up with a few. First of all, it was the content of the project that we realized – it combined travelling with photography and adventures, so it seemed as a perfect match for me. Secondly, my sister visited Kyrgyzstan one year before, and she praised the natural beauties of the mountainous country. Personally, I am a big mountain lover, so above all, it was the mountains that appealed to me. Last but not least, I wanted to get to know the local people, discover their traditions, and spend some time among them, not only as a tourist, but more as a friend.
Coming to Kyrgyzstan, what were your expectations?
Frankly, I did not have any expectations, as I wanted the country to surprise me. I was simply looking forward to new adventures in a country full of mountains with my soon to be friends from the Sayakat project.
What was the first thing that grabbed you (in a positive or negative way) about Kyrgyzstan?
All the men keep up the tradition and wear kalpaks (traditional hats), which is absolutely amazing.
Which places have you visited? Which place did you like the most and recommend it to visit?
As a part of our project, we visited a lot of places. We went from Bishkek to Issyk Kul, Cholpon Ata, Grigorievka Gorge, Skazka Kanyon, Naryn, Song Kul, Tash Rabat, Gulcha, Osh, and a lot of other places. Personally, my favourite place in the whole of Kyrgyzstan was the Song Kul lake. The combination of a huge lake surrounded by beautiful mountains creates an outstanding impression. Moreover, we stayed in an Aksai Travel yurt camp, which was a great experience as all the staff made us feel very welcomed, and the camp itself was very pleasant. The fact, that there is such a vast land with no civilisation except for a few yurts with sheep and horse herds makes the place feel unusually peaceful and sensational. It is perfect for hiking as well as for relaxing.
What Kyrgyz food (or drink) was your favourite and least favourite?
My favourite meal was ganfan – rice with a delicious sauce made of vegetables and meat ( you can also get the same meal with noodles instead of rice – lagman). I also enjoyed different kinds of shashlik! On the other hand, I must say that I am not a big fan of kymyz, the fermented horse milk. I gave it several attempts; however, I was not able to finish a single cup of this beverage.
Can you name the three things that you loved about Kyrgyzstan?
Mountains, hospitality, ulak-tartysh.
Would you recommend others to come to Kyrgyzstan? Why?
Definitely! Both the nature and hospitality of the local people will exceed your expectations! There is an infinite variety of breathtaking landscapes. If you are a meat-lover, you will enjoy the food greatly.
What advices would you share with other travelers, who plan to visit Kyrgyzstan?
Stay with the locals as much as possible, you will get much more out of your experience. Explore the local culture, go to see ulak-tartysh. Stay in yurts, they are awesome. Definitely go to Song Kul! Be ready to eat meat. A lot of meat. And potatoes. Bring medicine for diarrhea, you will need it.
If you had to choose one word to describe Kyrgyzstan, what would be it?