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Topics Cultural Tourism in Winter

Tue, 02/23/2021 - 15:45

Kyrgyzstan's traditional nomadic culture and the ongoing revival of these traditions since the end of the Soviet era, as well as the diversity of ethnicities that live together across the country, makes for an elegant tapestry of cultural traditions that visitors often find themselves enjoying as much as or more than the headline 'outdoor adventure' activities that are typically the major flow of tourists to the country. Most of these activities are available for visitors to see or take part in year-round, even if not in their most authentic forms, and some are even complemented by the stark landscapes and mesmerizing scenery created by the winter season to be most beautiful in this season.

The single most iconic image of Kyrgyzstan is, no doubt, the traditional Kyrgyz Boz-ui/Yurt deep in the high mountains of the country. While shepherds have long left the high pastures by the time full winter arrives, several yurt camps dotted across the country operate all winter long to cater to winter visitors, from families looking for a relaxing weekend out in the mountains to hardcore ski bums looking to skin up the nearest peak and freeride back down. Even if winter isn't the time our Kyrgyz nomads would typically be in camps, the warm welcome offered by these heated winter yurts and friendly family hosts is no less authentic than at any other time of the year – and it's certainly a unique experience compared to the landscapes that summer visitors see.Kyrgyz sporting traditions are, in many circumstances, easier to find in winter than during the summer months. Practitioners of Salburuun, the traditional techniques in which Kyrgyz hunters train taigan dogs and golden eagles to aid in hunting, were often even more important in the cold months when other meat options were scarce for nomadic families; and certainly the winter backdrop isn't doing tourists' photos of the sport and harm! Likewise, the game of ulak tartysh (known elsewhere in the region as kok boru or buzkashi), in which two teams of mounted riders battle for control of a goat carcass to toss into goals at opposing ends of the playing field, it much more common to find in the winter months; it's not unusual at this time of year to spot a game forming in any random field just between two villages, as local teams come together to play a match  on a quiet Sunday afternoon. 

красочная игрушка на столе

Of course, Kyrgyzstan's culinary and historical attractions are accessible year-round. Even after a full-day on the ski base slopes, learning to prepare a bowl of the Dungan community's famous Ashlyan-fu (also popular after a long night of celebration!) or joining a local Uighur family in their home for a feast of traditional foods and a long discussion on their history in Kyrgyzstan and beyond, food is an exceptional way to learn more about our country and the people who live here.

Dungan Cultural Dinner in Karakol
Dungan Cooking Class in Karakol
Uyghur Family Dinner in Karakol

Swiss Sustainable Winter Tourism Development Project