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10 Fascinating Kyrgyzstan Facts: Lenin Peak to Alcoholic Horse Milk

Kyrgyzstan nomad culture

Kyrgyzstan, located in Central Asia, is a country of majestic mountains and diverse cultures. The country is famous for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and unique traditions – a whole hell of a lot of adventure opportunities. 

And the crazy thing is, most people can’t even find Kyrgyzstan on a map…

We first traveled here in 2019, and since then, Epic Expeditions has been back multiple times – showing our clients our favorite places and people we have found along the way.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to this part of the world, Kyrgyzstan is sure to leave a lasting impression. Here are 10 fascinating Kyrgyzstan facts that will make you want to book your next trip to this incredible Central Asian country. 

1. Kyrgyzstan is a Land of Majestic Mountains

Kyrgyzstan is known for its stunning mountain ranges, with over 90% of the country being covered by mountains. Some of the most famous mountain ranges in Kyrgyzstan include the Tien Shan, Pamir, and Alai Mountains.

These towering peaks offer breathtaking views and opportunities for trekking, mountaineering, and skiing. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or just looking for a scenic hike, Kyrgyzstan has something for everyone.

trekking in Kyrgyzstan

2. Lenin Peak: A Challenging Mountain for Climbers

Lenin Peak, located in the Pamir Mountains, is one of the most challenging peaks for climbers in Kyrgyzstan. At 7,134 meters (23,406 feet) tall, it requires a high level of physical and technical ability to reach the summit.

Despite its difficulty and remoteness, many climbers from around the world flock to Kyrgyzstan each year to attempt the ascent. Although the high altitude presents a number of inherent challenges, Lenin is typically known for being an “introductory” level 7000m peak. 

Here is a shot from when we visited base camp a few years ago:

3. The Soviet Period Left its Mark on Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1991. During this time, the country underwent significant changes, with Soviet-style architecture and infrastructure being built throughout the country. While some of these structures are now in disrepair, they offer a fascinating glimpse into Kyrgyzstan’s Soviet past.

On our Kyrgyzstan tour, we even visit a Soviet-era mining town that is completely abandoned. 

Even massive statutes of Vladimir Lenin are still standing – which is pretty unbelievable considering all of the bad stuff the Soviets did in Kyrgyzstan to suppress the local culture. 

4. Alcoholic Horse Milk: A Unique Kyrgyz Tradition

Kyrgyzstan is famous for its traditional alcoholic drink, called kumis. Kumis is made from fermented horse milk and has been a staple of Kyrgyz culture for centuries.

The drink is considered to have medicinal properties and is often consumed for its health benefits (it might not even be possible to get drunk on Kumis due to low alcohol levels).

While it may not be to everyone’s taste, kumis is a must-try for those looking to immerse themselves in Kyrgyz culture.

Spoiler alert: it does not taste very good. 

5. The Food of Kyrgyzstan: A Delicious Blend of Influences

Kyrgyz cuisine is a unique blend of influences from neighboring countries (most notably Russia) and the nomadic lifestyle of the Kyrgyz people. The cuisine features a range of dishes, including roasted meats, fresh dairy products, and a variety of breads.

One of the most famous dishes in Kyrgyzstan is beshbarmak, a hearty stew made with boiled meats and potatoes. Whether you’re a foodie or just looking for a delicious meal, Kyrgyzstan’s cuisine is sure to satisfy – especially the grilled meat (and not so much the horse milk booze). 

6. The Currency of Kyrgyzstan: The Som

The currency of Kyrgyzstan is the som, which has been in circulation since 1993. The som is divided into 100 tyiyns and is readily available in both cash and electronic form.

Travelers to Kyrgyzstan should exchange their foreign currency for som in Bishkek at one of the many money changers, as some remote areas may not accept other forms of payment and ATM machines might not be available outside of the capital. 

7. A Country of Nomads

One of the most unique things about Kyrgyzstan is its strong nomadic heritage. In line with the country’s long history of nomadic life, today many Kyrgyz people still live a nomadic lifestyle, moving their herds of livestock to different pastures throughout the year.

This nomadic lifestyle is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and can be seen in the traditional nomadic architecture, music, and clothing.

Kyrgyzstan nomad culture

8. Traditional Music and Dance

The music and dance of Kyrgyzstan is another unique aspect of the country’s culture. Kyrgyz music is known for its haunting melodies and its use of traditional instruments like the komuz (a three-stringed lute) and the dombra (a long-necked lute).

Traditional dances in Kyrgyzstan are also an important part of the country’s cultural heritage and often involve intricate patterns of movement and the use of traditional musical instruments.

Kyrgyzstan yurts

9. The Manas Epic Poem

The Manas Epic is a long and complex poem that is considered to be one of the greatest works of Central Asian literature.

This epic tells the story of the Kyrgyz people and their history and is still widely studied and performed today and is a source of pride for the country’s people.

10. The the Legacy of Genghis Khan in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan was once a part of the Mongol empire, which was founded by Genghis Khan in the early 13th century. During this time, the country experienced significant changes, both politically and culturally.

The Mongol empire brought new technologies, trade routes, and ideas to the region, which had a lasting impact on the people of Kyrgyzstan.

There is no getting around it: the Mongol empire was also responsible for many atrocities in Kyrgyzstan. The conquest and rule of the empire resulted in widespread death, destruction, and displacement of populations. Though they have been gone for many centuries, the legacy of Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire can still be seen and felt in Kyrgyzstan today. 

trekking in kyrgyzstan

Fascinating Kyrgyzstan Facts: Wrap Up

So you should have gathered by now that Kyrgyzstan is a land of breathtaking beauty and a rich cultural heritage, waiting to be explored by adventurous travelers.

From Lenin Peak to the unique nomadic way of life, many aspects of this country offers a plethora of unique and unforgettable experiences. The delicious cuisine, fascinating Mongol and Soviet history, and friendly locals all make Kyrgyzstan a true hidden gem.

This is a country that promises to leave a lasting impression on all who travel here, and is a must-visit for those looking to escape the beaten path and immerse themselves in a new and exciting culture.

Want to experience Kyrgyzstan yourself? Visit the trip page to check out when we are headed to Kyrgyzstan next. 

More from the blog

Welcome to our Journal!

snow lake trek pakistan

Here at Epic Expeditions, adventure is constantly on our minds. 

Our blog – or Journal as we like to call it – contains epic trip stories, photo diaries, and news about new tours. 

Thanks for checking it out! 

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The trip we're most stoked about

Island Peak Climbing Expedition

Next trip: October 14th - 31st, 2024

Adventure Guide

Hailing from the Toronto region of Eastern Canada, with a background as a former standout athlete (hockey of course) and a  love of mountain adventure, Clark is a welcomed addition to the Epic team.

In addition to being a keen photographer and adventurer, Clark brings his brilliant sense of humor, leadership skills, and positive attitude to everything he puts his mind to. 

When he is not leading trips, he is working on taking over the hard apple cider game in Canada as a skilled craft brewer. 

Adventure Guide

Noemi grew up in the mountains of German-Speaking Switzerland where she naturally developed a deep love and respect for mountain environments.

She is a talented photographer, aspiring climber, and speaks at least 5 languages fluently including Arabic (and probably a few more that we don’t know about), which she taught herself in a matter of months by watching YouTube videos. 

Noemi has spent the last several years traveling, hiking, and photographing her way around many different countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Europe, and we could not be more stoked to welcome her to the Epic team! 

Adventure Guide

As our man on the ground in Mongolia, there is not much this legend can’t do. As a native the Bayan-Ölgii province of the Western Mongolia Altai, Syerik has been working as a guide and tourism entrepreneur…

for the past several years and is one of the rising stars in Mongolia adventure travel industry. 

He is currently building a beautiful Ger (Yurt) camp near his hometown where he will host Epic Mongolia team members on our trip as well as other travelers from around the world! 

He is the perfect guide for your trip to Mongolia. Serik did an amazing job giving us a well rounded experience in the Altai NP region and down in the Gobi…
The food was fantastic and Serik gave us many opportunities to learn about the Kazakh culture in that region including traditional meals. (I can’t recommend enjoying the milk tea enough!)

– Coastal

Head of canine operations

Choriza started off life as a care-free vagabond on the streets of Madeira Island without any place to call home. From the moment we met her, we knew this dog was just different, and it was pretty much love at first sight. 

She gave up the dog street life in favor of joining her new dad Chris to become a full-time member of the Epic family towards the end of 2022.

These days she can be found listening in on the fringes of important Epic business meetings while half-asleep on the couch. She is a keen hiker, lover of mud, rare steak, and might just be the sweetest little dog we have ever seen. 

Adventure Guide

An experienced trek leader and
IFMGA aspirant ski guide, avid alpine climber, devoted adventure photographer.

Organized and guided trekking expeditions, climbs and ski tours in Tajikistan’s Pamirs, Patagonia, Peru, Morocco, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Georgian and Russian Caucasus and Kamchatka.

A full member and meets the organiser of the British Alpine Club. Visited over 40 countries, lived in the UK for four years. Certified first-aider.

We joined Andrew on a fantastic trip to the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan, pure nature and magnificent scenery! Andrey was super prepared and led us safely up and down numerous passes and through some rough and icy cold rivers. Thank you for a very memorable trip, your planning and prep was excellent!

– Monika Steinlechner

epic expeditions team

Adventure Guide

Our man in Nepal, Sandip is what we like to call a “Swiss Army Knife”. There is not much Sandip can’t do when it comes to helping Epic to run our expeditions smoothly in Nepal.

His tireless work ethic, passion for all things trekking in the Himalayas, and smart decision-making mean that Sandip is a truly invaluable member of our team.

Sandip is passionate about showing visitors to his country an amazing time, and he goes above and beyond to make sure that happens. 

His company Himalayan Masters is Epic’s trusted partner in Nepal and one of the country’s top new tour agencies.

We really enjoyed the entire journey, and I would like to say that Sandip is truly professional. He guided us and he is a hardworking person, providing us with the best service and taking care of each one of us. Plus, he is super funny! The kind of professionnal you always want to find on your path for your explorations! 

– Alexandra Ruth

Fairy Meadows

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Our Favorite Experiences

#1 Sunrise from Reflection Lake

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#2 Hiking to Nanga Parbat Base Camp

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#3 Playing cricket with the locals

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Trips Where We Visit Fairy Meadows

Our flagship Pakistani adventure tour.  Road trip with some  hiking and cultural immersion.

A trekking-style tour that features some very remote locations, inlcuding a K2 viewpoint.

Adventure Guide

João has born in the mountains of Madeira Islands in Portugal. Nature lover, writer, musician, guide, for him, a day without contact with outdoor vibes is a nightmare. 

With a degree in Cultural Studies in Portugal and a Master of Arts in Global Cultures and Creativity in the U.K.

João found out what really matters in life can be found on the trails, and in the contact with people from different backgrounds and cultures.

Guiding, crazy trekking missions, and sharing observations about the natural world, – these are some of João’s passions. 

After trekking to K2 Base Camp and exploring all over Northern Pakistan, he fell in love with the country and the local people. His experiences resulted in his desire to share these feelings with the world.

João is one of the most experienced guides at Epic and his skillset and positive mindset in the mountains is second to none

When not in Pakistan, João is  guiding and exploring in the Madeira Islands trails –  discovering some of the hidden treasures on his Portuguese Island.

João I can not thank you enough for the off the beaten paths and views you keep giving. Definitely one of the most challenging and amazing hikes we did 1200m meters all the way up to Fanal forest and circling back to the hidden village. Wow!

– Jeffery 

travel hunza valley

Adventure Guide

Sohail is the newest addition to the Epic team and we are beyond stoked to have him on board. As a veteran of the Karakoram and a native of Karimabad in Hunza, there is not much Sohail can’t do in the mountains. 

Besides having the ability to speak more languages than we can count, Sohail has explored every corner of Gilgit Baltistan and logs more trekking miles 

in a year than most people will do in a lifetime. As of the summer of 2022, Sohail has summited Gasherbrum 1, Gasherbrum 2, and K2 – three of Pakistan’s five 8000-meter peaks. Sohail guides several trips including our annual bespoke expeditions but specializes in Hunza Valley tours.

Chris and Sohail, and the team at Epic are FANTASTIC! Highly recommend anyone to do a tour with ‘Epic’. They have the perfect balance of fun, excitement and wild adventures, tied in with being super professional and ensuring your safety/health in a foreign environment. Don’t waste a moment and book a tour with these guys as the value for money is UNREAL!

– Borgan

iran travel tour

Adventure Guide

Pedro’s been traveling all around the globe since 2009. His keen interests in documentary photography, rural life, and local people from different ethnic groups have been the focus of many of his professional projects.

Since 2012, he has developed his passion for travel and awesome shared experiences into a full-time adventure photography tour leader position.

Pedro has found himself continuously going back to the Middle East, with his likely favorite destination being Iran. Pedro lead his 11th tour in Iran with Epic in spring 2020

When Pedro’s not traveling the world with Epic Expeditions, you’ll find him based in the western south of Portugal planning he’s next adventure missions, logistics and working out his photos in local exhibitions.

 I loved the combination of hiking, camping around breathtaking scenery mixed with the cultural aspects. The guide (Pedro) is knowledgeable and work very hard to make the trip as memorable as possible. All in all an epic adventure with some extremely epic individuals! Go for it, you won’t regret it!

– Coastal

Diane Bouvet

Adventure Admin / Marketing

After fleeing from the corporate fashion world in Paris towards the start of 2020, Diane has been working as a web developer and graphic designer remotely from various bases across the globe

She brings all of her incredible design and organizational power to Epic Expeditions and is responsible for many of the beautiful behind-the-scenes design elements. 

Diane has been to Iran and to Pakistan twice including all over Gilgit Baltistan and KPK.

k2 gondogoro la trek

Head of Operations | Guide

A veteran of Pakistan travel, Ralph is an experienced guide, photographer and writer who specializes in documenting remote locations. 

Not one to simply go where everyone else does, he insists on exploring new and lesser-known areas.

Together with Epic Expeditions, he shows people parts of Pakistan that most other operators don’t even know about. He is particularly fond of the village of Barah, which he believes will become just as famous as Hunza one day.

Just got back from EBT’s Trekking Amongst Giants 15 day tour. The experience was first class. Ralph, our head guide, ensured that the entire trip ran smoothly and relatively on time (a bonus for anyone travelling in Pakistan). We had so many unforgettable days on the tour and the trekking was well-planned, safe but also a rewarding challenge. 

– Calvin

Traveling to a non-tourist destination can be a little intimidating but EBT takes all of the worry and trepidation away. From the pre-trip call to meeting the wonderful staff in person you can tell that you are dealing with a company that has a passion for what they do each and every day. Ralph, Zahid, and Khan were supportive, kind, and always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that everyone on the trip was getting what they wanted out of the experience.

– Katrina 

adventure tours pakistan

Founder | Adventure Guide | Director

Since he started exploring the world, Chris has been seeking out every shade of adventure in various parts of the globe and had visited more than 70 countries along the way. 

Over the last 10 years, Chris has logged more than 7000 trail miles across five continents and climbed multiple 6000 + 7000 meter peaks in Pakistan and Nepal.

A few years back, a distant dream and a deep passion for the mountains and the people of Pakistan led Chris to co-found Epic Expeditions at a time when foreign adventure tourism in Pakistan was almost nonexistent. Since then, Chris has guided more than 20 expeditions to various parts of Northern Pakistan.

Chris believes in using photography and powerful adventure experiences to dismantle negative stereotypes regarding what mainstream media considers “dangerous” countries while facilitating unique and meaningful memories in the mountains for countless people from around the globe. 

For him, an ideal start to the day begins with a steaming cup of good coffee, the beam of a headlamp, alpine boots, and a camera in hand.

He lives in Madeira Island when not leading expeditions in far-flung lands. 

Chris also works as a writer and photographer on his blog Off the Atlas – an adventure travel blog all about Pakistan.  

Read this interview our staff did with Chris to learn more about him!

Chris believes in Pakistan and its people, and he believes in the value of journeys shared with others and family cultivated on the road. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of what he does, and this really shines through in his work as a guide. He also makes great coffee – whether at 5am in an empty guesthouse or half way up a Himalayan peak.”

– Will De Villers

Pakistan is a magical country! Had 3 of the best weeks of my life thanks to Epic Backpacking Tours with owner, and one of our awesome guides, Chris. From detailed itinerary, preparation with an equipment list, and visa assistance. To amazing food, great porters, helpful guides, and great accommodations. Epic really hit home run after home run. […]

Their desire for adventure and amazing trip is just as high as yours. Bring a good pound of coffee for the trip. French press coffee every morning and no average tin coffee, plus you’ll be in your guides good books.

– Clark Tyler

epic backpacker tours

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