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Kyrgyzstan travel guide

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Kyrgyzstan

The snowcapped hub of Central Asia.

High mountains account for 94 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s 198,500 square kilometers (the American state of Nebraska is about the same size). In fact, most of the country’s level terrain around the capital Bishkek is in the north, near the border with Kazakhstan. To visitors, Kyrgyzstan is best known for its mountain hiking possibilities. Travel agencies in Bishkek can make the arrangements or you can set out on your own. The town of Karakol near lovely Lake Issyk-Kol in eastern Kyrgyzstan is an ideal starting point for such treks, and Kyrgyzstan’s second city, Osh, in southwestern Kyrgyzstan near the border with Uzbekistan, is another potential launching pad. The celebrated Pamir Highway over the 4,282-meter Kyzyl-Art Pass into Tajikistan begins in Osh and the city has a more Islamic feel than is apparent in the Sovietized north. A fascinating trail up a rocky peak called Solomon’s Throne begins right in the center of Osh and impressive 12th century architectural remains are in nearby Ozgon. Back in the capital Bishkek, there are several excellent theaters, museums, and galleries to entertain the culture tourist. The State Historical Museum is still dedicated to Lenin and the revolution, an anachronism of the first order with massive statues and murals highlighting the exhibits. All in all, Kyrgyzstan is a safe, friendly, and inexpensive country to visit and most nationalities can purchase their tourist visas upon arrival at Manas International Airport.

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