The ancient Scyths inhabited much of present day Kyrgyzstan. With their disappearance the Kyrgyz people moved from Siberia. The Kyrgyz are descendants of tribes from the Tuvan region of Russia, which migrated to the area now known as Kyrgyzstan in the 13th century, during the rise of the Mongol empire. In 1876 the area was incorporated into the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union. With the tsarist annexation came numerous Slavic immigrants that displaced many of the Kyrgyz and planted crops on their pasture lands. During World War I, many Kyrgyz refused to support the tsarist troops and many were massacred.
Following the creation of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan changed dramatically as industrialization took over and brought factories, mines, and universities. The Soviet influence on Kyrgyzstan was strongly felt and many of the pre-Soviet traditions and cultures were lost and are only being recently rediscovered. In addition, ethnic minorities were deported to Kyrgyzstan, including Germans, Kurds, Chechens, Poles, and Jews. In addition, Ouighur and Dungan Chinese Muslims settled in Kyrgyzstan. This mix of populations makes Kyrgyzstan one of the most ethnically diverse populations in Asia.
During our tours we try to let our guests learn more about the culture of the nomads and the lifestyle of modern Kyrgyz people. Travelling with us you can gain unforgettable experience of sleeping in a traditional dwelling of Nomads - a Yurt, participating in setting it up, cooking the aromatic "Beshbarmak" and drinking "Kumis" - fermented mare's milk, taking part in producing national felt carpets - shyrdak.
Each nomadic family would make items to satisfy their own needs. Most of the materials used were natural by-products (wool, leather, horn) or found in the environment (wood, chiy-river reed, plants' roots and leaves used for dyes).
Along with hunting dogs and birds, horses have always played an important role in the life of Kyrgyz people. They were used in everyday life as true assistants in household and as thoroughbred racers. There are festivals of Horse Games (Ulak Tartysh, Kyz Kuumai, Tyiyn Enmei, etc) held throughout the year.
The Yurt is a traditional shelter for the people of the Tien Shan Mountains in Central Asia, nomadic dwelling which is constructed of a many-pieced wooden frame that is overlaid with several felt coverings. The felt is made of wool sheared from the family sheep. There are usually many blankets and carpets to be found inside, as well as dastorkon - a low table with delicious food. There is a good opportunity for every visitor to Kyrgyzstan to spend a night or two in a yurt camp that is situated on Son Kul lake, Tash Rabat caravanserai or Djety Oguz gorge.
Standing on the crossroads of the Great Silk Road, Kyrgyz cuisine is very varied unlike the cuisine of Nomads who ate only the products of cattle breeding. Caravans carried not only goods for trade, but also brought examples of different cultures: Persian, Arabian, Turkish, Chinese, Indian, Russian, and European. As a result Kyrgyz cuisine has absorbed elements from all of the cultures with which it came into contact. It is said that the food in Central Asia can be divided into three types:
1. The diet of nomadic people (like Kyrgyz): mainly meat, milk products, and bread (For example, "Shorpo" soup)
2. The diet of Turkish people (like Uzbek): pilaff (or plov - rice with meat) and kebabs (barbeque), noodles and pasta, stews and pastries
3. Dishes from the South (Iran, India, Pakistan and China): with more herbs and seasoning.