The yurt is the summertime home of the semi-nomadic Kyrgyz. It can be set up in about an hour and packs up onto only a few horses. On any trip to Kyrgyzstan, a traveler is likely to spend at least one night in a yurt. It’s just a matter of getting out of town and walking up a mountain valley. There’s no better place to do this than Naryn Region.
Naryn is considered the most quintessential part of Kyrgyzstan. It’s where a majority Kyrgyz live and their culture is the strongest. Maybe because it’s the least assessable part of the country. Travelers should set their sights on Naryn–it’s home to Tash Rabat Caravanserai, Song Kol Lake, At-Bashy animal bazaar, and mountains and lakes that make a perfect trekking in Kyrgyzstan Experience.
Our journey into the heart of Kyrgyzstan started with a hike up to Kol Ukok (Lake), outside Kochkor. Here, you will rarely find a lot of tourists. There are only a few families living up there for the summer, watching their animals. The family we stayed overnight with on the way to Kol Ukok arrived on the jailoo (high elevation pasture) in April, earlier than most. It’s at about 2400 meters elevation. They have cows and horses but no sheep. About mid-July they’ll move up to the lake where they’ll stay until September. Their yurt breaks down into 7 or 8 bundles and is put on the backs of horses for the move.
The mom cooks over a dung-fired stove. Dad takes care of the animals. That’s the typical arrangement. Kids run around, play, and occasionally do chores. Families seem to prefer jailoo life to there winters back in town. Most Kyrgyz would agree.
Summer on the jailoo is a crucial part of the Kyrgyz psyche. They are still nomadic souls at heart. The seemingly simple life on the pasture is a part of childhood and like everything, eventually becomes part of adulthood as well. Although, work and responsibility grow with age. Life may be easier back in the village but it isn’t always preferred.
Kyrgyz people desire the material trappings of modern society but they know as nomads it’s better to remain materially light.