The 10 best places to visit in Kyrgyzstan

 

In the south west of the country in the city of Osh within the Fergana Valley is a large rock called the Sulayman Mountain, thought to be a famous landmark of antiquity known as the Stone Tower, supposedly the midway point of the famous Silk Road. Stairs lead up to the highest point where stands a small mosque. Though what remains there today was reconstructed in the 20th century a mosque has stood at this location since the early 16th century. Described as the most complete example of a sacred mountain in Central Asia, having been worshipped for millennia, it has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

10. Sulayman Mountain

 

In the far north of the country east of the capital, Bishkek, is a large minaret named the Burana Tower, one of the last remaining remnants of the 9th century ancient city of Balasagun. Originally standing 45 metres (148 ft) tall, a major earthquake in the 15th century destroyed the top of the tower, significantly reducing it to it's current height of 25 metres (82 ft). An internal staircase allows visitors to climb to the top of the tower, giving an ever so slightly higher vantage point of the beautiful surroundings.

9. Burana Tower

 

Built in the 15th century at an altitude of 3,200 metres (10,498 ft) above sea level in the Tian Shan Mountain Range near to the border with China is the well preserved 31 room stone structured 'Caravanserai' (roadside in) called the Tash Rabat.

8. Tash Rabat

 

In the extreme west of the country along the border with Uzbekistan is a 1,120 square kilometre (432 square mile) area of green lush valleys and mountains known as the Besh Aral State Reserve. Due to it's difficult access the area is relatively wild and undisturbed.

7. Besh Aral State Reserve

 

East of the capital, Bishkek, the Konorchek Canyons is a landscape of rocky sandstone columns that stretch for miles. If it appears familiar, it's probably because this area has a striking resemblance to the world renowned Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

6. Konorchek Canyons

 

In the south of the country just north of Tajikistan is a mountain pass that connects to the infamous Pamir Highway. Connecting Osh and Khorugh, the Taldyk Pass cuts and winds it's way through the Alay Mountains reaching an elevation of 3,615 metres (11,860 ft) above sea level.

5. Taldyk Pass

 

In the north east of the country, the Issyk Kul, meaning 'warm lake' is the second largest mountain lake in the world after Lake Titicaca, as well as being the second largest saline lake in the world after the Caspian Sea. At an altitude of 1,607 metres (5,272 ft) above sea level, any visitor close to the northern of eastern shore will have the perfect view of the lake surrounded by the steep snowcapped Tien Shan Mountains.

4. Issyk Kul

 

In the north east of the country is a 720 square kilometre (278 square mile) area of protected land known as the Sarychat Ertash Nature Reserve. Designated to protect the threatened unique species of the Issyk Kul region that includes the endangered snow leopard, the nature reserve is so remote and wild that most tourists don't venture in.

3. Sarychat Ertash Nature Reserve

 

Stretching 340 kilometres (211 miles) along the south western edge of Kyrgyzstan and the north western edge of Tajikistan, extending the Pamir Mountain Range to the Alay Mountain Range is an area of steep mountains known as the Turkestan Range. It is a rugged landscape of steep bare cliffs and high mountain forests in another area of untouched natural beauty. The highest point of the Turkestan Range is the Pit Skalisty Mountain, standing at 5,621 metres (18,442 ft) above sea level.

2. Turkestan Range

 

Between the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan and the Altai Mountains of Mongolia is the Tian Shan Mountain Range, one of the longest ranges in Central Asia stretching 2,900 kilometres (1,800 miles) from eastern Uzbekistan, right across Kyrgyzstan and into north western China. It is an enormous landscape of high mountains, glaciers and deep valleys that is among some of the most incredible natural sights in the world. One of it's most accessible points is the Torugart Pass, at 3,752 metres (12,310 ft) above sea level it crosses the range at the border between China and Kyrgyzstan. It's name translates to literally mean 'The Mountain Of Heaven', with it's highest peak in the range also Kyrgyzstan's highest peak, the Jengish Chokusu standing a whopping 7,439 metres (24,406 ft) above sea level. The entire range has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pictured is the Inylchek Glacier.

1. Tian Shan Mountains

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