Coming Soon in Central Asia: Travel Plans for 2014

Posted by on February 14, 2014

Upcoming Central Asia Travel Plans

I’m trying hard to slow down this year, and spend more time in Kyrgyzstan or at least Central Asia instead of hopping constantly from one region to another. I’ve been in Kyrgyzstan now for a little over a month, but the only real exploration I’ve managed to do it to get out to the ski bases near Bishkek and take a couple of ski lessons.

snowy abandoned hut in the mountains

I have every intention of spending more time in the mountains this winter, though, some snowshoe hiking and even a little bit of cold weather camping: all in the name of photography!

dancers at Bishkek Philharmonia

Of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything left to do in Bishkek. One of the things that makes being in town in winter more bearable is that there are constantly concerts and operas and plays around town. The apartment I’m living in is literally across the street from the Bishkek Philharmonic Orchestra Hall, so a concert every week or two is definitely part of the plan!

kyrgyz horse game ulak tyrtysh

Central Asia rally

At the end of March is the Novruz holiday, the traditional Persian New Year still celebrated throughout Central Asia as something I was sad to miss the last two years. I’m excited about it, even if I’ll likely spend the day out at the Hippodrome taking photos of horse games just like I have every other major holiday here!

Sometime before then I’d like to get over to Almaty (in Kazakhstan) for a weekend. My first trip there (indeed, my first moments in Central Asia) were right at the beginning of winter, but I was so put off by the snow that I didn’t explore much! In particular I’d like to get up to the gigantic skating rink at Medeo and take some photos if it surrounded by snowy mountains.

For April and May I expect more skiing as the weather permits, with hopefully a trip out to Kyrgyzstan’s best ski resort at Karakol if I’ve gotten confident enough on skis to try it out. Aside from that, more hiking and camping as the weather starts to get a bit warmer and the snow starts to melt.

In June I have to be in Istanbul and the Netherlands for a bit for work, which I am excited about but also bummed that the dates almost perfectly coincide with the Central Asia Rally (details here). The idea of hopping into a car in Astrakahan and riding through the -Stans to get to the big final party in Bishkek sounds awesome. No luck this year, but perhaps for their fourth rally in 2015?

After I get back to Kyrgyzstan at the end of June I’m pretty wide open. There will be a big cultural festival out at Issyk-Kol in September that promises to be pretty interesting, and of course July and August are just about the best times of the year to go trekking around here. So, with any luck, perhaps I’ll be spending my free time this summer camping in the Tien Shan?

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This post is written in collaboration with the folks over at the Central Asia Rally. If you’re looking for a road trip adventure this summer, go check ’em out.

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