Travelling by road between Bishkek and Syhmkent

You are travelling with your own vehicle and you want to reach Shymkent (Kazakhstan) from Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). So, you have three main roads to take:
– Through Lugovoe/Korday border
– Through Kara-Balta/Merke border
– Through Talas/Taraz border
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How to survive a 48 hours bus ride in Mongolia

Public transport in Mongolia is not really good and some nice spots are only accessible by car. But there are a few routes where you can take the bus. So the title is not a typo, there is an actual bus ride from the city Ölgii in the very western part of Mongolia to the capital Ulaanbaatar (UB) which takes 48 hours (+/- 12 hours) strait! If you’re really considering taking this bus ride or any other long distance bus trip, here are some tips to make your journey a (little) bit more comfortable.

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Going wild – Wildlife in Central Asia and Mongolia

Through all of your travels in Central Asia and Mongolia you will always come across wild animals. It might not be obvious but if you look close you will see it. On the lonesome roads you will be often followed by an eagle. They are nearly everywhere to be seen. In the mountain regions, the golden eagles are magnificent and truly beautiful. In Mongolia, where drives can be very long, we even made a sport out of it who could spot more eagles next to the road. On the road you spot anyway the most animals. There are lots of hares and foxes and of course different species of birds around. We spotted some nice owls as well.

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Travel Season Central Asia & Mongolia

Central Asia and Mongolia are areas which have an extreme continental and dry climate. In the south there are big deserts like Karakum, Kyzyklum, Taklamakan and the Gobi. In the north there are the treeless steppes including the Kazakh steppe, the Kuulanda steppe and the Mongolian Steppe. In the south and east are the big mountain ranges like the Tian Shan, the Altai and the Pamir mountains.

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Apples are from Almaty

The city Almaty was named after its old name “Alma ata” which translated means ‘Father of apples’. And there are in fact many apple trees around the city and some even say that the city is the birthplace of apples. Almaty has about 1.5 Million habitants and is the biggest city in Kazakhstan and the  city Central Asia. Almaty is a quite safe city. It used to be the capital before Astana was named the new capital in 1998. Almaty still remains the business and cultural center of Kazakhstan. The city still has a soviet style but has its own charm. Right behind the city are the mighty mountains of the Zailiysky Altau and the views to the snowy peaks are really stunning. In fact, the location makes Almaty one hell of a city. You simply don’t expect a city with millions of people right underneath mountains that are 4’000 meters high. Almaty is a city with both, an international flair and a Soviet history. You can find nearly anything you want in Almaty. There are lots of parks which make the city quite green. There are many nice and glittery shopping malls with international brands. Coffee shops in the style of Starbucks are on every corner and the night life offers lots of bars and clubs. The young women are well dressed and like to wear the latest styles and fashion. Somehow the city is like many cosmopolitan cities around the world.

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What to bring for your trip to Mongolia & Central Asia

While planning your trip the big question what to pack always pops up at some point. The golden rule, as always, is not to pack too much but just enough to have everything. The difficulty to pack for Central Asia are the different seasons. Since most travelers visit this area in May until October, we will focus the packing list for the summer season. The summers in Central Asia can be quite hot so be prepared for some sweating. However the evenings in the mountains can be a bit chilly. Here are your recommendations for essentials.

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Our guide: Why I love Western Mongolia

If you are tired of standard tourism and seek for an adventure somewhere in the wild nature then you need to visit Mongolia, to be more exact, the Altai Mountains – located in the West of Mongolia. Be sure that here you will get everything what you need for a great adventure: Eagle festival, trekking, outdoor adventures, hiking, fishing, horseback riding tours and other recreation tours.

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Making of a yurt

One of the world’s most practically and attractively designed habitations: The Mongolian yurt, or ger as it is known in Mongolia itself, has been used for thousands of years by the nomads of Central Asia and is still a common sight in many countries in the region.

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Kazakhstan – a paradise for photographers

Kazakhstan has a great variety of unique places attracting people from all over the world. No wonder, it’s a popular destination for passionate photographer from all over the world.

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Hunting with eagles

Deep in the unforgiving wilds of far western Mongolia, the last remaining Kazakh eagle hunters harness a powerful force of nature.

The burkitshi, as they are known in Kazakh, are proud men whose faces reveal the harshness of the beautifully barren landscape they call home.

They have an extraordinary bond with the golden eagle, which to them represents the wind, the open space, the isolation and the freedom found at the edge of the world.

Australian photographer Palani Mohan has spent years documenting the noble hunters, culminating in a book available now from Merrell Publishers. Mohan says only 60 eagle hunters remain, and fears the ancient tradition could disappear within 20 years.

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