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Coming to Bishkek

If you fly into Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, at dusk, the last rays of sunshine will highlight rugged, snow-capped ranges that seem impossibly close.  The mountains take your  breath away, and it seems impossible to take your eyes off of them once they are in view.  The good news, for you, is that never, during your stay in Kyrygyzstan, will those mountains NOT be in view.  I like to call this country “the Soviet Montana”, for the constant looming presence of the the Tian Shan peaks remind me of the towering Rocky Mountains in the US.  

Manas International Airport, about 45 minutes outside of Bishkek, is not so big that arriving will require additional trekking, and not so small as to present a challenge in finding flights in and out.  Whenever I arrive, I inevitably undergo a sensation of entering a ski lodge, and begin looking for the hooks on which to hang my coat.  Is it the smell of the Kyrgyz air, holding the promise of snow somewhere?  Is it the pockets of warmth near space heaters that recreate that “coming in from the cold” sensation?  I’ve never quite nailed down why I experience this moment of deja vu, but even in the summer it persists.  

The drive from the airport into the city usually begins with a moment of awe as an expansive view of those stunning mountains gives that impression that they are ever closer and closer.

The intensity of the sun creates a welcoming, warming sensation, while the briskness in the air that fills your lungs with a reinvigoration of youth and vitality.  A sense of aliveness swirls even within the air. 

Once inside the city limits the mountains continue to be persistently in view, with peaks peeking out between buildings, or streets opening up to seemingly drive straight down into the foothills.   Bishkek itself has plenty to entice and delight the foreign traveler, but that physical reminder of what lies beyond keeps alive the call to adventure.

Ruby Mitchell

Online Content Editor @ White Leopard Travel

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