15 May Kyrgyztan Crossroads of Silk Route
It is more than 2000 years since caravans began to travel the beam of roads from China to Constantinople. To the east, precious metals, ivory and coral. On the reverse path, laden with porcelain, tea, spices and, of course, silk. It seems that, already in the I B.C., Persians took the taste to this fabric and that Romans increased this hobby. In any case, it is clear that this traffic left a deep mark on the villages it was going through. Among them is a great unknown, in the middle of Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan.
The numerous routes that came from eastern China converged into a city at the foot of the mountains, Kasgar, a crossroads of mountain ranges: to the southeast Himalayas, Karakorum to the south, Tien Shan to the north and east, Pamir. The optimal way to cross them with such precious cargo, to reach Samarkand, on the other side of the Pamir, crossed the high passes of Kyrgyzstan. And that’s how this country, hanging in the mountains, got used to the road, abroad and nomadic life.
The Kyrgyz people, who come from Siberia and Turkey, live in their lands. A friendly and hospitable village, simple, dedicated to grazing and agriculture, which keeps its nomadic roots very alive, embodied in its most recognizable housing, the yurt, Intangible Cultural Heritage of Unesco. This construction, temporary and mobile is so present in its culture, that it appears on its flag.
Their story tells us about great achievements of riders crossing the steppes. Even today prevails the figure of Manás, the hero of the eponymous epic poem, 20 times longer than the Odyssey, which chronicles the feat of this patriot in the ninth century. Bishkek International Airport is named after him, and today, the “manaschi” continue to recite their glories.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the tsars set their eyes on these lands, which gave way to Europe so they incorporated their territories. In 1922, under Lenin orther, it joined the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, until 1991 when he achieved independence, becoming the Republic of Kyrgyzstan.
And it’s that duality that marks Kyrgyz culture: on one hand that legendary epic past of horseback warriors and silk traders and on the other the exaltation of the Soviet state, of which it still retains an important legacy.
To top off the appeal of this country, it is a paradise for mountain lovers. The 93% of its surface is mountainous, with more than 1000 m. and an average height of 2750 m. There are numerous mountain ranges: the Tien-Shan (“Celestial Mountains”) is the highest and marks the border with China and Kazakhstan; the Ala Too is located to the north, and to the south we find the foothills of the Pamir, the Chon-Alai Mountains. It has 3 peaks above 7000, the Pobeda (7349 m.) in Tien-Shan, Lenin Peak (7134 m.) in Chon-Alai and the Khan-Tengri (“Lord of Heaven”) which, with its 7010 m. is the symbol of the Tien-Shan.
It also has some 8000 glaciers (8100 km2), 12000 rivers and the second largest alpine lake in the world after Titicaca, the Issyk-Kul, which occupies 6280 km2 and is located at no less than 1609 meters above sea level and has depths of up to 700 meters.
Away from the traditional and crowded tourist circuits, Kyrgyzstan is a gem for adventure lovers. An exclusive trip for the leisurely traveler, who will discover at this crossroads a different, traditional culture, which finds in the mountains its refuge and in nature its livelihood.