Friday, June 27, 2008


Accommodation in Kyrgyzstan takes some getting used to. Outside of the big cities of Bishkek and Osh there are almost no hotels. If you want to stay somewhere, you have to find somebody to take you in.

In many places this is done through B&B style arrangements. In most towns there is a tourism office that can put you in touch with local familys. Rates are set at around $10.00 per person per day including breakfast. Most of the hosts speak little English but all the ones we've stayed with have been great.

In Balykchi, which has no tourism office a young man who spoke some English came up to us to help us out. When we asked for a place to stay he offered up his family's house and we stayed with him and his mother for the night. He wouldn't accept any money.

Outside of the towns the best place to stay is in Yurts. We did a five day backpack trip where we stayed in or at Yurts every night. The Yurts belong to nomadic families that move from the towns to the mountain pastures in the summer to feed their flocks. In the daytime they serve as a kitchen and eating area. At night the tables are pulled aside and everyone sleeps together on the floor.

On our hike we had a Kyrgyz speaking guide which was very helpful. Each evening we'd walk up to a yurt and chat with the shepherds. They'd quickly invite us in for tea (with lots of bread and butter) and Kumuz. The shepherds never knew we were coming but they were always welcoming. We soon realized that we could walk anywhere in the countryside and simply ask people if we could stay with them for the night. The never ask for money, but we typically pay about $10.00 each including dinner and breakfast. Sometimes we sleep in our tents and trade some fresh food for a meal.

We've gotten so used to the yurts that we even did an overnight backpack without supplies, confident that we would be able to find a yurt to stay in. It worked out splendidly.

Some of our best times in Kyrgyzstan have been in the yurts. In just under a month we've spent time with about ten different families. We've played with their kids, answered their questions, eaten their food, and slept on their floors. It's been a remarkable experience and we are humbled by the kindness and hospitality we have experienced here.

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