Travel on Horse-back The most important means of transportation in Kyrgyzstan is the horse; all the chabans and herdsman of the numerous valleys and mountains, the farmers in other valleys have at least one horse. Type of horses used for horseriding are the Kyrgyz breed and a mix of this breed with the Donskaya breed. Not big horses, shaft between 140 and 165 (max.), but strong and sturdy. In the 'old' days breeding horses was a honorable occupation, Kyrgyz people love their horses.
Nowadays they still breed horses at the horsebreeding farm in Cholpon-Ata and in the Jailoo the herdsmen pasture horses. In Summer the mares have foals and are kept close to the yurta, because the women make the fermented mares' milk, kymyz. As soon as children start walking they teach them how to deal with horses, but first they have to practice on a donkey. In the countryside the skill with horses is very valuable. Games played on horseback and horse races that test speed and skill are very popular. In the history of the Kyrgyz stories are told of the many raids the famous Hero Manas held on the neighboring feud, always on horse. All the games on festival-days are also on horse, herewith some of the best known games: Wrestling on horseback for a goat's carcass 'Ulak Tartysh' (or 'kok boru') is a very widespread game of the Kyrghiz, Kazakh, Tajik, Uzbek and Afghan people. The words 'kok boru' mean 'grey wolf'. To seize a goat's carcass in the centre of the field and deliver it into the gates of the contesting team is the objective of the game. It lasts about 15 minutes, teams consists of 2-4 riders. Wrestling on horseback 'Oodarysh'. It is one of the most popular games. Two riders try to pull each other off the horseback. It is allowed to throw the rival together with his horse. According to the existing rules oodarysh competitions include four weight categories, there are individual and team championships. The time given for wrestling is 10 minutes. The rider who manages to pull the rival off his horse or throw him down together with the horse wins the competition. Chasing after the bride 'Kyz Kuumai'. In bygone days the game was a part of the wedding ritual. The bride, the bridegroom and djene (sister in law), with the friends took part in the game. The bride did her best to gallop away from her fiance, the sister-in-law assisted her in this. The bride was given the best racer and she was entitled to begin the races, so the bridegroom was given a handicap in distance. The bridegroom set out the pursuit, he had to catch up with her in this way proving his love for her and his right to marry her. Being at a disadvantage the bridegroom sometimes failed to catch up the girl. But she did not reject him and the wedding was not cancelled. Horseriding tours available in the Issyk-Kul Lake area, mainly and most importantly in the Terskey-Ala Too. Other popular areas are the Kyrgyz Ala Too and the area around the Son Kul Lake, all are the most suitable areas to go; good horses and good tracks are available. All these regions have also in common, that they are only one day drive from Bishkek, for logistical reasons a perfect place and compared to other regions in Kyrgyzstan greener and sunnier. Camping near clean water and possibilities for a campfire, in the 'jailoos' (summer meadows) is enough fresh grass for the horses, the climate is good (a lot of sunshine), a variety of paths (from small stone-paths to rocks) and on the top of the mountains ice, an arctic zone.
Trek starts in Bokonbaevo, a village on the southside of the Issyk Kul Lake. Typical Kyrgyz village, with a canyon (like a big inlet), fishpond and an orchard. The village has a collective farm and a cooperation.
duration: 15 days
This trek is straight through the heart of the Terskey Ala Too range, from the southside of Issyk Kul Lake over two ranges (and passes) and will finish close to the city Naryn in the Salkyn Tor canyon.
duration: 12 days