What surprised a young couple from France in Kyrgyzstan, why they felt part of the family here and how they soaked up the spirit of nomads, read our piece to find out. 

A French travel blogger couple was very worried about border closures during the pandemic. Despite the lockdown, they kept making plans for new travels in their hearts and headed to Kyrgyzstan for their 40th anniversary trip.

According to the young couple, they have always been fascinated with the Great Silk Road and the countries of Central Asia. 

"When we were planning this trip, visiting Kyrgyzstan became a given. Of course, there are many amazing places on our planet, but Asia is like the center of geography for us and exploring this continent first on Google Earth maps, in books and on the internet, we found ‘the center of that center’ - Kyrgyzstan, a small, little known, but incredibly beautiful country. The nomadic spirit and amazing mountain scenery drew our eyes and today we can already say that the trip has exceeded all our expectations," said Naila Kharubbi.

Naila and Reda Kharubbi on the way from airport to Bishkek. Photo: Reda Kharubbi.

In anticipation of new adventures.  On January 18, 2021, 3:00 pm (local time) we flew from Dubai to Bishkek. What was awaiting us here?  

Naila and Reda stand at the front of the Burana tower. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov

Day 2. We visited the ancient Burana Tower. It turned to be the site of the famous city of Balasagun, once an important stopping point along the Great Silk Road. As the legend goes, the tower was built by a khan to protect his only daughter from a spider bite (predicted by a seer). But one day, a servant brought the princess some fruit, a spider hiding among them, and from its bite indeed she died fulfilling the prophesy. It's an inexpressible experience to touch the ancient bricks and step into the legend of antiquity.

A snowy morning in the small town of Kemin. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov.
Naila and Reda are drinking coffee in Kemin. Photo: personal archive of Naila.

Day 3.  We woke up in the small town of Kemin, where snow had been falling all night. We were indescribably delighted by the mountain scenery and the freshly brewed coffee - that morning unequivocally was the best we had had in the past year.

Naila stands on a frozen lake. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov

The next day, we visited a frozen lake more than 2,500 meters above sea level. The ice was so clear and you could see the water flowing below – it was magical and scary at the same time, especially when you know that it is 60 meters deep underneath.

Naila and Reda stand on a frozen lake. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov

We had a chance to see with our own eyes the king of the skies, the golden eagle (the largest eagle in the world, listed in the Red Book of Kyrgyzstan). This powerful bird lives high in the mountains, and the Kyrgyzs have learned to tame them and use them as hunting birds. A golden eagle can spot a small hare from up to 2 km away. It was an amazing encounter, as were the ones still awaiting us. 

Naila and Reda are in Bokonbaebo village. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov.

Note that Reda and Naila's visit was supported by the Aid for Trade in Central Asia Project through "Kyrgyzstan Tourism" company; the goal of the project is to promote Kyrgyz tourism exports. In 2020, several road shows (events to expand access to foreign markets) were held in Korea, India and the UK. It is expected that implementation of the UNDP Aid for Trade Project will create 160 new jobs, increase the income of local people involved in tourism venture capital by 20 percent and help more than 200 Kyrgyzs expand they knowledge in the tourism industry.

Naila and Reda are close to the "Broken Heart" mountain in Jety-Oguz. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov.

The "Broken Heart" mountain in Jety-Oguz. In the rain, water reddens from the clay flows and the heart seems to bleed. According to the legend, if two people in love confess their love to each other by the rock, their feelings will never fade. Which is what we did with Naila.

Naila and Reda are dressed in national Kyrgyz clothes. Photo: Myrzabek Ozubekov.

We felt like real nomads. Kyrgyz people have a very rich and multifarious culture, and it was very interesting to explore it by wearing their national costumes. 

The UNDP's Aid for Trade in Central Asia project places a special emphasis on women in adventure tourism, as well as on introduction of green solutions into tourism.

"Kyrgyzstan has incredible potential, and all it takes is to wisely put it to use. Fortunately, you have the people who can turn these opportunities into real benefits for Kyrgyz tourism. Therefore, we have gladly agreed to become ambassadors of your country and will promote this tourist destination on their social platforms, as well as promote adventure tourism in general" - Naila Kharubbi. 

This initiative became possible thanks to the Aid For Trade project in Central Asia project funded by the government of Finland.

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