Walking in Kyrgyzstan holiday
Description of Walking in Kyrgyzstan holiday
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As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetAs a company we advise our customers to travel to Kyrgyzstan with both reusable water bottles with an inbuilt filter that purifies the local water and lunch boxes (for picnics). Both items help minimise the purchase of single-use plastics throughout the trip.
National parks and protected areas in Kyrgyzstan cover almost 1.5 million hectares, which is about 7% of the country’s total area. Our trips spends time in the Ala-Archa National Park, the Chon-Kemin National Park and the whole of the area surrounding Lake Issyk Kul is protected as part of the UNESCO World Network of Biospheres. Visiting these unique places in a responsible way helps to fund, promote and protect them.
On this walking trip, we spend as much of our time as possible exploring Kyrgyzstan's pristine landscapes on foot, minimising our carbon footprint and impact on the environment.
We spend one night by the shores of Lake Issyk Kul at a yurt camp. Yurts are large circular tents made from felt that is placed around a wooden frame and they are the traditional dwellings of Kyrgyz nomads. Our visit both allows us an insight into the traditional nomadic way of life and helps preserve through demand for these structures, the traditional craftsmanship and skills. Yurt camps have a low impact on the environment as they are temporary structures. Once the camp is dismantled, the landscape returns to its original state.
As a travel company we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key, and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage.
PeopleOur Tour Leaders are passionate about responsible tourism and brief each group on best practice on arrival. They are on hand throughout the trip to offer advice on how to get the best from each location without causing any damage or offence, and by contributing to the economy. We work with a local tour operator in Kyrgyzstan based in Bishkek. All our leaders are Kyrgyz people whom we have invested in and trained. They are perfectly placed to bridge the gap between travellers and locals, ensuring that both parties benefit from the interaction.
This trip stays in small locally owned and run guesthouses throughout, ensuring that the financial benefit of our visit goes straight into the local communities we are privileged to visit. Spending one night in a local home stay in the Chon Kemin Valley is a fantastic way to interact with locals and get to know and understand more about their customs, traditions and skills. The home stay is a member of The Kyrgyz Community Based Tourism Association (KCBTA) whose objective is to improve living conditions in remote mountain regions by developing a sustainable ecotourism model that utilises local natural and recreational resources.
This trip includes an evening with members of Kyrgyzstan's Uighur community. The Uighur are a Turkic minority group, originating from China's Xinjiang province. They are Muslim and have their own distinct culture and traditions which we are privileged to learn about whilst sharing a traditional Uighur meal at a family home.
In the Djety-Oguz Valley this trip spends time with a golden eagle hunter and we will get to witness this ancient skill in action. Central Asia is the birthplace of the ancient tradition of eagle hunting. The nomads who roamed the Central Asian steppes began to tame these birds of prey thousands of years ago and the tradition was passed on from generation to generation. Kyrgyzstan is one of the few countries that still follow some traditions of the nomadic civilisation and there are a handful of expert hunters left to this day. Our interest in this tradition helps to keep this ancient practice alive.
Another tradition that our visit helps to support is the traditional art of shirdak making. Shirdaks are felt rugs that are traditionally always made by women. Designed in an inlaid patchwork of highly contrasting colours such as red and green, yellow and black or brown and white, the rugs are usually full of symbolic motif images from everyday life such as goat horns, shepherds and yurts. We visit a shirdak workshop in Kochkor where we can both learn about the process of making them and there's an opportunity to purchase the shirdaks direct from their makers.
As a company we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of the UK travel industry body AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.