Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan could be 2 of the most exotic country names in the world. It just sounds so remote and alien, away from all the hustle and bustle of modern cities.
Out of almost 85 countries I have visited these are 2 of my favourites for adventure and exploring areas off the beaten path.
That’s why whenever people ask where they should go to stay with nomads I always bring these 2 countries up.
Of course there are other places, but these are 2 of my favourites. The friendly nomads are so cool to stay with and are very welcoming.
The Nomads of Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia
Can you imagine horse trekking deep into the Kyrgyzstan mountains and staying at a traditional nomad camp beside a shimmering blue lake?
Brings a smile to the face just thinking of the solitude, with the sun setting behind a group of free running horses. You can have this.
Why is it so appealing the thought of going to stay with nomadic cultures?
I believe it goes back to our routes, as we were never meant to be stuck in one place, hence the urge to travel and see new things.
There’s a romantic feeling to it.
The great thing about Mongolia is it’s such a huge country making it open to so much exploration. The only problem with that is the transport options, meaning you will end up on tours sometimes, especially if there for a short time.
But it’s so worth it.
Going deep into the Gobi Desert and living in the traditional yurts of the nomads as you talk (mostly through a guide who speaks English) and learn about their way of life.
If you don’t go with a guide to translate than it’s going to be nowhere near as good an experience as very few of the nomads speak English.
They have small encampments spread all over the place, hidden away amongst the rocks or out on the desert plateau, all run by families. It’s such a beautiful area.
Some of the food you will eat can certainly be adventurous as well. Intestines anyone?
You can even go camel herding with them in Mongolia, chasing the camels across the desert as the sun goes down. In Kyrgyzstan get on a horse and go riding up into the mountains, an experience you will never forget.
These days it’s relatively easy to get to Kyrgyzstan, in fact Aeroflot often has cheap flights into Bishkek. Once there jump into a shared car with some locals and head to the starting points to get up into the mountains. It’s easy to arrange it all last minute in country.
Kyrgyzstan is a small country so you can see all of it relatively easily, except visiting in winter when some areas will be not accessible.
As for Mongolia it’s more harder as the country is so big, however you can still arrange tours or rent your own vehicle last minute in the capital Ulaan Bator. If you take your own vehicle then it can still be a very good idea to have a guide with you.
It’s all seasonal off course. The nomads move around with the seasons, so if you want to see them up in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan then you will have to go in late spring and summer. The same with staying with the nomads in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.
I did an article with many photos of the gobi Desert to give you a good idea of what to expect and how to organise to get there here – Backpacking in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
I also did an article about horse trekking up to Song Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan to stay with the nomads there which you can read here – Horse Trekking to Song Kul Lake.
One of the best experiences on all my travels was the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan, where they are getting nomadic people together to play some of their traditional games to keep them alive for future generations. You can read various articles about those nomads under the Kyrgyzstan category in the Asia section of destinations.
So hopefully some day you will have your own nomadic adventure.
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