To the Other Side of the World

Beautiful Al Archa gorge is less than an hour by car from the capital. Photos by Michael Cook

In a new article up on GoNOMAD, writer Michael Cook talks about his trip to Kyrgyzstan, a country which few travelers think of going to. Cook went hiking through the mountains and did what is a called a “Yurt-Stay”. A Yurt is like a tent that the locals live in up in the mountains. Here is a selection from the article.

Kyzart Pass is a 3000-meter-high (9,842 ft.) gap in the mountains of central Kyrgyzstan. Beka and I would hike it that day, covering ten mountainous miles before coming to our home for the night.

Herds of cattle and horses and flocks of sheep ignored us as they roamed the brown hills. We hiked alone, but tents could be seen on distant slopes and on the trails that skirted the hills we met shepherds on horseback. Beka stopped to chat and give out cigarettes.

I’d met the 23-year-old Beka the day before. He was my guide on our hike, the ultimate destination of which was Lake Son Kul.

Beka speaks his native Kirghiz as well as Russian, English, Urdu, and Farsi. Like any pair of twenty-something guys we spent much of our time talking about girls.

By early afternoon we’d forded our first stream and home was in sight. The altitude had begun to wear on me and we paused.

I offered Beka my water but he refused. “No, I want kymyz.”

Kymyz, or fermented mare’s milk, is a traditional drink in the mountain pastures, or jailoos.

“Is it that good?” I asked.

“Mm…” Beka licked his lips, “You can’t get it in the towns. They add water to it. It’s not the same. Come on.” Beka stood, motivated by his thirst, “Let’s go.”

You can read the rest of the adventure on