The Beauty East: Cycling Kyrgyzstan

Sift through stunning captures of a cycle detour through the Kyrgyzs' mountains to find what photographer, Bogaard, was ultimately hungry for: raw adventure.

A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
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An Epic Bike Ride Through Kyrgyzstan



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For the longest time, we’d anxiously hear Pamir Highway float around the touring cyclist’s community  — and this summer we finally got our chance at riding it. This ‘highway’ (read: dusty bumpy mountain road) lies in Central Asia and crosses both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. But before doing so, we took a detour through the Kyrgyzs mountains to find what we were ultimately hungry for: raw adventure.

Be sure to follow Tristan Bogaard for more stellar adventures and photography!


A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s Views

The countryside is magnificently beautiful, don’t forget there’s a whole world out there beyond the cities! Not only is 80% of the country of Kyrgyzstan comprised of giant mountains, but it contains an array of colors so vibrant and while — yellow, green, crimson, and cream. And... many of them soar at about 5,000 meters in height, or even higher.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The tail-end of May through the end of September. If one were to visit the outside of those dates, you’ll most likely be stranded in thick snow.

A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s Roads

As a cyclist, Kyrgyzstan’s roads are some of the greatest paths we’ve ever traversed. There are mean, steep grades at a peak of 12%, giving us some serious road burn in our thighs. Much of these roads curve through the rough, wild terrain and offer an incredible perspective at the mesmerizing landscapes. They, too, reach great heights like the mountains — often up to 3,600 meters!

Pro Tip: To see the country up close like we did, cycling is the best way to go about it. But if you wish to rent a car, be sure to rent it with a driver. The Kyrgyz police are often known to bribe tourists, so a guide will help warrant off any trouble (if he doesn’t try to bribe you either!).

A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s Camp Spots

Have you ever been to a country where you could set up your tent freely, wherever you wanted, with most locals even inviting you to sleep inside their house the second they see you setup the first pole? Well, if you’ve dreamed of that as much as we did… Kyrgyzstan is the perfect place. Kindness to strangers is deeply integrated into Kyrgyz culture. ‘Chai, chai!’ is yelled from the side of the road at nearly every turn to invite strangers over for tea. And if we did end up setting up the tent… it would always be in the beautiful spot.

Pro Tip: There are a number of guesthouses to stay in should you wish to stay under a roof than in a tent. These are fairly priced, most only run about $15-$30 a night. It’s a wonderful way to get in touch with fellow travelers and support the local economy, since most natives earn just around $100 a month out of common jobs.

A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s Hidden Gem...

Hand’s down the absolute best part of Kyrgyzstan is a spot that combines all of the above — a winding road towards truly breathtaking landscape where you can either camp out, or stay in traditional yurts where locals are happy to receive you for $15 a night. Welcome to Tulparkul Yurt Camp! Laying underneath the highest mountain in the country, coming in at about 7134 meters in height - Peak Lenin.


And surprisingly, for being so rural, the yurt camp is really comfortable! It houses between 2 and 5 beds per yurt coated with thick blankets to keep you warm at night and a coal stove that can be heated. There’s sleeping yurts, a ‘meal’ yurt for breakfast and dinner, and a small wooden shed with a (normal, yes!) toilet and cold shower for those up for the challenge. Additionally, it is situated on the side of many small hills that hold more than fifty mini lakes that open up to a massive gorge that overlooks the wall of mountains towards the neighboring country of Tajikistan. Easily explored on foot and with the comforts of the yurt camp, who could say no to a few nights there?

A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan
A Cycling Tour of Kyrgyzstan

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