Tien Shan valley near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. HOST FAMILIES NEEDED for high school exchange students from Kyrgyzstan. Contact OCEAN for more information. Toll-Free: 1-888-996-2326; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web: www.ocean-intl.org
Situated in the northern centre of Kyrgyzstan just above the Tian Shan range, Bishkek makes an excellent hub for short trips into the mountains. The closest hikes are less than an hour away, meaning there's a hike nearby just the right length for even the shortest of layovers. Here's our guide to getting out of town and into the mountains, whether you've got a week or just one day.
The Burana Tower is a large minaret in the Chuy Valley in northern Kyrgyzstan. It is located about 80 km east of the country's capital Bishkek. The tower, along with grave markers, some earthworks and the remnants of a castle and three mausoleums, is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun, which was established by the Karakhanids at the end of the 9th century. An external staircase and steep, winding stairway inside the tower enables visitors to climb to the top.
Landing in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, where the vast Kazakh steppe meets the Tien Shan, the northernmost of the central Asian chains. Kyrgyz Alatau group behind the town rises suddenly from the plains over 4km and reaches almost 5000m of altitude.