Staying in a yurt camp is one of the best and most wonderful things you can do when you want to learn more about the Central Asia nomadic culture. Kyrgyzstan has the most accessible nomadic culture of Central Asia. Nowadays many Kyrgyz people live a semi-nomadic way of life. This means that during the coldest months of the year, the nomads live in small towns and villages but as soon as the summer starts, they set up in the jailoos (alpine meadows) and spend their days tending to their herds. Many nomadic families welcome travelers in their yurts. You can stay with them for a few nights, participate in their daily activities and learn the various skills that you need to live as a nomad in the Kyrgyz mountains.
The yurts in Kyrgyzstan have existed for more than thousands of years and are nowadays still build in the same way. They are an important symbol of the Kyrgyz culture. The pattern of the tunduk, the circular crown on top of the yurt, is a national symbol of Kyrgyzstan and can be seen on the Kyrgyz flag. It is definitely worthwhile to learn the technique of yurt building. There is a lot more to it then you might think! It takes about 1 to 2 hours to build a yurt that is big enough to house 15 people.
The art of felt-making has always played an important role in the lives of the Kyrgyz people. The secrets of this handicraft were handed down from generation to generation. The felt, made from lamb wool, was primarily used to cover and decorate the yurts but this material was also used to make carpets, bags, toys, and clothes.
Central Asia is the birthplace of the ancient tradition of eagle hunting. The nomads who roamed the Central Asia steppes began to tame these birds thousands of years ago and this tradition was passed on from generation to generation. It was fundamental for the acquisition of food and furs in the harsh winter months. As nowadays this form of hunting is not essential anymore for the survival of the people, the eagle hunting tradition is slowly on disappearing. Kyrgyzstan is one of the few countries where you can find a handful of expert hunters who are determined to keep this ancient practice alive.
Horses have always played an essential role in the lives of the Central Asian nomads. The were the first people in the to learn the skill of horseback riding. The nomads practically lived on their saddles while roaming the endless steppes and jaloos and their children learned how to ride horses before they could barely walk. The horse was a loyal companion that enables the nomads to travel far and fast.
Music has always been a big part of a country’s culture. The traditional folk music in Kyrgyzstan is a symbol of the country’s heritage. There are two styles in Kyrgyz folk music: vocal and instrumental.
The best way to experience the culture and traditions in Kyrgyzstan is by going to an ethnocultural festival. There you will find everything in one place: the traditional clothes, yurts, music, dance, food,…