Touring cyclists have long found great routes, beautiful lonely landscapes and hospitable people in Kyrgyzstan. Ideal conditions for cycling. Recently, bikepackers have discovered the almost unlimited possibilities of riding on old, hardly used roads and small paths through the wide country. For them this country is a true Eldorado.  

Overview

Roads

The roads in Kyrgyzstan could be divided into 3 categories:

Paved roads


In recent years some main roads have been newly paved with the help of China. The roads are perfect but unfortunately the traffic is increasing fast. Then there are many roads that were probably still built during the Soviet Union. Meanwhile they often consist of more holes than asphalt, especially at the edge where we cycle. The Kyrgyz don't ride very respectfully, most are simply not used to cyclists riding on the road and expect you to make room and ride on the shoulder as soon as they come. Because this is often a bit stressful, I have often voluntarily ridden on the (sandy) shoulder on such routes.

Main  roads 

If not paved, these are mostly gravel roads built with construction machines. Even if there is not much traffic on these roads, the surface is very often really tedious. Heavily corrugated and a lot of dust are what you have to deal with here.

Side roads, tracks

Roads that have never been built or at best a bulldozer has built a track. They are simply created by repeated driving of off-road vehicles along the same route. Practically no traffic here and therefore usually the better surface. In many valleys there are such roads which end however mostly higher up somewhere and change into paths.

Accommodation

In many places there is the CBT (community based tourism). A self-help organisation that arranges private rooms with local families. A great opportunity to get some insight into the everyday life of the people. Beyond the places of course endless possibilities for camping.

Supplies

In the small towns the shops have a very small selection (vodka and sweets) because most people are self-sufficient. In the cities there are now good supermarkets.

Water

There are hardly any areas where water is a problem. Almost everywhere you can find many streams with good water.

Visa

For some years now, visitors of most Western countries do not need a visa anymore. This way you can stay in the country for 60 days.

Border PermitTo go further south than the Naryn Valley towards the Chinese border, you need a border permit. Relatively easy to organize. I ordered mine 14 days before at Visit Karakol and then picked it up at the CBT in Naryn.

Navigation

Finding good and up-to-date maps for Kyrgyzstan is not that easy. For the major roads the usual maps (e.g. Gizi, Nelles, RKH) are sufficient.

But if you want to go on more remote tracks, I strongly recommend a GPS. I use the OSM maps. Many, even the smallest paths are now on this map.

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