Trekking in Kyrgyzstan seems to be gaining a lot of popularity nowadays especially since more people are getting interested in this landlocked region.
But, just because it’s a popular destination for trekkers to go to, trekking in Kyrgyzstan is by no means an easy task. For most people, that’s a 3 day adventure although recently there has been a rise in popularity for short trips that can be done without spending the night out in the wilderness. But, that’s not something that’d give you the full experience. If you really want to experience the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, try the 3 day to a week tour. That should make you fully appreciate nature at its best.
And if you’re serious about trekking in Kyrgyzstan, you have to make sure you’re fully prepared for it. After all, you’re going to be exposed to the elements and humans don’t really do to well outside of the comforts of their own homes. So, let’s have a short checklist of things to do, what to pack and how to truly get ready for your adventure in Kyrgyzstan!
Know The Terrain if you’re planning on trekking in Kyrgyzstan
One of the most important things any trekker (no matter what skill level) takes into consideration is the terrain of the land they’re going to trek in. you need to plan ahead of time to ensure that you’ll have a fun, but safe, trek the whole time you’re there.
Bring along a map and a compass so you won’t get lost. If you have a smart phone that has this application, make sure you have it activated. And try to bring along some extra batteries so you don’t run out of juice in the middle of the mountains.
There are many routes to take for trekkers. Find one that you can easily handle. And if you really have to push yourself, make sure you have someone who has more experience than you in handling such a challenge.
Lastly, no matter how good you are with your survival and trekking skills it’s always a good thing to get a local guide.
Clothes for Trekking in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is literally a cool place. So, you need to come properly clothed because the temperature can drop easily and drastically at night time. Let’s just say, light clothing isn’t going to be suitable.
What you need is layers of clothing to keep your core warm even during the coldest part of the night. Thermal clothing is perfect for the temperatures in the Kyrgyzstan mountain area. On top of that you can have 1 or two long sleeved sweaters (depending on how easily you get cold) before putting on a thick jacket. It’s also important to protect your fingers and toes by wearing thick socks and gloves. Lastly, make sure you have appropriate headwear that keeps your body heat from escaping from the top of your head. For those who are less athletic, you might want to bring a light helmet and some knee and elbow pads because you don’t want to fall on the jagged rocks that can be found just about everywhere on these mountains.
The most important thing for any trekker to have is a good pair of hiking boots. You’ll need ankle high boots (for ankle support) with specialized cleats to dig into the terrain. This is not a place where you’d want to slip or slide easily.
Since the weather is typically cool here, you won’t experience heavy sweating so changing clothes won’t be much of a priority.
Another important thing you should plan for if you’re looking forward to a wonderful experience trekking in Kyrgyzstan is your food. There are many ways to go about this. Some trekkers prefer to pack nuts and eat meals prepared by the guides. This would require gathering food ingredients from the surroundings. That’s a very authentic way to sample the food in this region.
You could also have meals that you can easily cook during your trip but then that would add to the weight of your pack plus the cooking utensils and the actual food items. So, you’ll have to really consider what items you want to bring along so you don’t add unnecessary weight to your pack.
If you really want to be practical about meals during your trek, you might want to choose to bring along MREs (or Meals Ready to Eat). These meals are usually bundled in a way that it provides for all your caloric needs on a daily basis. It cuts down on the weight of the food itself as well as the cooking utensils because you won’t need any. All you have to do is heat them with the use of the heating pads. One of the most popular MRE products out there is the XMRE.
The XMRE comes with many flavors and you can choose the type of course or meal that you want. These are packed in a way that it can take care of your daily dietary needs. So, that’s about 3 meals in one convenient pack. There’s usually the main course, a dessert and a couple of drinks (soda, juice and coffee) to take care of your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For more experienced trekkers, these XMREs are usually just divided into 2 meals. So, that’s basically for breakfast and lunch because that’s when you need it most. The desserts and snacks that come along with each convenient pack can be consumed throughout the day so you don’t run out of energy.
Now you also have to understand that MREs may not be the best tasting products out there but they do fulfill the specific purpose of providing you with the maximum number of calories needed to sustain you during your trip. And XMRE continues to improve themselves, making them the best tasting MREs out there in the market today!
Preparing your XMRE meal is also quite easy to do as all you have to make sure of is placing the meal inside the heating jacket with the pad in it and fill it with enough water. After making sure that the pad is completely drenched, slip it inside the holder and leave it leaning against a rock or something while it completes the process. You have to do this very quickly because those heating pads can get extremely hot within a very short amount of time and you can burn your fingers which is an injury you don’t want happening whenever you’re out in the wilds.
The drinks/ beverages that come with each prepared XMRE pack is usually prepared simply by mixing it with water.
XMRE can be used for both military and civilian purposes. The XMRE can last for a very long time if stored properly. You can also check the validity of the product by checking the numbers on the pack itself. It usually comes marked with 4 numbers. The first number is usually the last digit of the year and the succeeding 3 numbers denote the days since the start of that year. So, if you have a pack that says: 5031, it usually means the pack was prepared January 31, 2015.
The XMRE product comes tightly packed so it doesn’t take up a lot of space inside your pack. The heating pad also negates the need to bring any cooking utensils further lightening your load.
Lastly, make sure you bring along some light snacks like nuts and chips so you can pop a couple every now and then into your mouth while you’re trekking.
And keep yourself hydrated the entire time as there is nothing more devastating to a trekker than exhaustion brought about by lack of water and lactic buildup. Bring along 2 liters of water and make sure you refill at every chance you get. There are a lot of fresh water springs you’ll encounter during your trek. Just make sure you bring along some water purification tablets or sodium tablets to remove any unwanted parasites in the water. If you truly want to be safe, just call for a quick rest and boil the water before placing it inside your canister or drinking it.
Although it’s cold up in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, you don’t really have to bring along a heavy blanket or tent. Wind up in the mountains isn’t as fast so a small lean to or a personal tent should be enough to provide you the shelter you’ll need to pass the night. A good sleeping blanket should also suffice.
Just make sure it’s water resistant because you might find yourself drenched in the morning from all the condensation that builds while you sleep.
If you must bring a blanket, bring one with wool lining inside as those are very effective in trapping heat and keeping the user warm.
Tools for an enjoyable experience trekking in Kyrgyzstan
Although your guides are probably already well equipped for each and every trip they take, you might want to pack a couple of survival tools yourself. You don’t have to pack a whole lot. You can bring along a multi-purpose tool and a flint and you should be good enough to last 3 days up there (with your guides of course!).
A good multi-purpose tool should have a knife and pliers as basic features. The knife, for pretty obvious reasons, is the ultimate survival tool for any survivalist. The pliers on the other hand can be used to help you hold on to things more securely than your hands can.
A flint is also very important so you can start a fire and either cook a meal or keep you warm during the night. You can also bring along a small can of tinder to help you start a fire easier than with just the materials you are able to gather during your trek.
Cordage is also important. A length of paracord should come in handy during these times. Paracord is very popular in the military for its durability and versatility. You can use it for pretty much anything you think of during your trek. Most outdoor and survival shops carry paracord to sell to the general public.
For some trekkers, a walking pole is an essential component of their gear as it helps them during their journey. For some people, they’ll simply fashion one by breaking off a branch from a small tree. The mountains of Kyrgyzstan is mostly a vast swathe of grasslands and rocky outcrops, finding a tree to make a walking pole out of might prove challenging. So, bring along one and strap it to your pack just in case you’ll need it.
Eye protection is also very important during treks as we rely heavily on our vision to navigate. The harsh sunlight can also prove to have damaging effects on your eyes if you are exposed to it for a prolonged period of time. Just bring along goggles or shades that can provide a sufficient amount of protection to your eyes from airborne debris and equipped with UV resistant tint.
Last minute instructions before heading out:
Remember that you are going on a trek. A trek is different from testing your survival skills. A trek is supposed to be a journey from point A to point B without a lot of challenges except time, distance and the elements. So, be prepared, come well equipped and don’t make the journey too hard by thinking you can just use whatever’s there during your trek.
Listen to your guides at all times. They’ve been through this hundreds of times and they know what’s best to do to ensure the safety of everyone involved. They also do this for a living so there are very few surprises they have to contend with that involves the journey.
Put safety on the highest priority. If something doesn’t feel right, you can always turn back. Live another day to do the trek again.
Well, that’s basically all you need to know if you’ve made up your mind about trekking in Kyrgyzstan.