Road-trip in Kyrgyzstan
All the information to discover Kyrgyzstan by 4×4, van, motorbike or bicycle
Kyrgyzstan, which means “the land of the Kyrgyz”, is a small jewel in the middle of Central Asia. Crossed by the Celestial Mountains, this small mountainous country is home to vast wilderness areas steeped in a thousand-year-old nomadic culture.
In this article, we give you some precious tips and practical information to organize your road-trip in Kyrgyzstan!
Why travel to Kyrgyzstan?
Kyrgyz people hospitality is unforgettable. Their yurts’ door is always open to you and they’re always willing to share some heat, a cup of tea, hot bread or a bowl of vodka… despite the language barrier (main spoken languages there are Kyrgyz and Russian)!
Given the topography of the country, the use of 4×4 is essential: stony tracks, rivers to cross, snowy passes… Nevertheless, these are the same tracks that will allow you to access beautiful, rarely visited areas and locals for whom you will be a curiosity. It is also possible to do horse trekking, which is a funny way to experience nomadic life in the mountains. We have some local guides to recommend on our dedicated page: Horse riding in Kyrgyzstan.
The book Explore Kyrgyzstan
Accompanied by our loyal comrades – a hardy Toyota Land Cruiser nicknamed “Mr Wolf” and the valiant Yamaha 600 XT, “Mrs Crocodile” – we explored Kyrgyzstan over a five-month period between 2017 and 2019. Our time in this country and with its inhabitants has forever left its mark on us, so much so that we decided to write a book about it! We are convinced that the hospitality of the Kyrgyz people and the beauty of their country will leave a lasting impression on you. Designed like a roadbook, and illustrated with a multitude of maps and photos, EXPLORE KYRGYZSTAN is both a tool and guide for independent travellers who wish to discover, understand, and explore Kyrgyzstan.
It is up to you to pick from this selection based on your desires and time constraints. Use this guide to build a personalised itinerary of your own, but do remember to let the Kyrgyz natural hospitality and any spur-of-the-moment decisions sway and tempt you.
We recommend including at least one day of outdoor activities to your itinerary (hiking on foot or horseback, rock climbing, white water rafting, etc.) to turn this trip into an unforgettable adventure!
Forget the “marked roads” taken by most travellers, leading to tourist sites. Forget the “side roads” mentioned on forums and in travel agencies. What we offer in this book is a selection of small, unexplored trails, to discover by 4×4, van, motorcycle or bike.
What itinerary for your trip in Kyrgyzstan?
In order to help you prepare an itinerary adapted to your chosen mode of transport, all routes in the book are indicated with a difficulty ranking from 1 to 5. As some routes are poorly maintained, their degree of difficulty may vary according to the weather and recent flooding or landslides. We recommend that you increase the level of the track by 1 in the event of bad weather. If in doubt about an itinerary, do not hesitate to ask the local people or the tourist offices.
Download a navigation application that allows you to locate where you are and download maps in advance (which can be used offline). We recommend, for example, the Maps.me or OSMand applications. Please note that the maps on these applications are not updated frequently and roads are being built at a fast pace in Kyrgyzstan. So don’t be surprised if some tracks or roads do not appear on the maps or if they are slightly different. If you are using a Garmin-type GPS, download the OpenStreetMap maps before you leave.
We have published a foldable A2 format tourist map (scale 1:2 000 000) to help you prepare and organise your trip to Kyrgyzstan. You will find the main and secondary roads and mountain passes, the 24 off-road routes of the book EXPLORE KYRGYZSTAN
and more than 50 touristic sites. Overleaf, you will find a complete Kyrgyz-English phrase book to help you start a discussion under the yurt!
If you need a precise map of Kyrgyzstan, we recommand the GIZI map (1:750,000). Please note, however, that some roads are no longer up to date.
Be careful, some border areas are subject to strict regulations regarding the circulation of persons, especially foreigners. If you wish to visit these areas, you must apply for a permit in advance. More information in this article about the restricted areas and the border permit.
Pratical infos to plan your trip
No visa required if staying less than 60 days. A passport valid for 6 months after your arrival in the country will be enough.
From Paris : € 300 – 400 round trip
Best season: Spring for the green plains and transhumance. Beware of river floods.
– Local currency: €1 = 79 soms
– Food: €2 – 3 for a meal at the restaurant
– Homestay (Yurt): €2 – 5/pers with breakfast
– Wild camping allowed throughout the country
– Fuel: €0.6/L (0.26 gallon)
– Vodka: €2 a bottle of 1L
Price: 70 – 90€/day according to the model (Toyota Landcruiser, Prado, Lada Niva, UAZ hunter, etc.)
Find our recommendations here: rent a 4x4 in Kyrgyzstan.
- the available models
-driving in Kyrgyzstan
Price: 85€/day according to the model (Yamaha 600 XT, Africa Twin, BMW 650 GS, etc.).
Find our recommandations here: rent a motorbike in Kyrgyzstan.
Warning: there are very few motorcycles and garages in the country. It’s better to book in advance.
There is a plethora of companies and guides in Kyrgyzstan. In order to promote employment in the country, we have created a list of guides that we met during our trips to Kyrgyzstan and whose services we have been able to test. This list is regularly updated, you will find guides for hiking, horse trekking, rafting, etc. Read the article: Things to do in Kyrgystan.
Budget for a road-trip in Kyrgyzstan
Here is the budget for our first road-trip to Kyrgyzstan in 2017. We stayed two weeks in Kyrgyzstan (9 days by 4×4 and motorbike and 3 days by horse). We were a group of 6 people.
|Price||Days||Group Total||Indiv Total|
|4×4 Rental (Toyota Land Cruiser)||75 € /day||9||675 €||112.50 €|
|Moto Rental (BMW 750)||85 € /day||9||765 €||128 €|
|Horse trekking (horse man, guide, accommodation & food)||170 € /day||3||510 €||85 €|
|Accommodation in hotel (Bishkek & Kochkor towns)||36 € /day||2||72 €||12 €|
|Accommodation in Yurt||12 € /day||1||12 €||2 €|
|Food||25 € /day||15||375 €||63 €|
|Fuel||25 € /day||9||405 €||68 €|
|Vehicle repairs||120 €||-||120 €||20 €|
|Flight tickets||400 €||-||2 400 €||400 €|
|Others (camping equipment, taxi)||150 €||-||150 €||25 €|
|Border Pass||25 €||-||150 €||25 €|
|TOTAL||-||-||5 334,00 €||940,50 €/person|
Our favourites in Kyrgyzstan
If you have any questions, please feel free to join our facebook discussion group dedicated to exploring Kyrgyzstan. You will also be able to share your experience of the country and/or discover the photos of other travellers.
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Inspiration for your next road-trip