14/05/2024    The 6 best kinds of bread in Kyrgyzstan – all delicious!

NAN – bread for life.

The importance of bread in Kyrgyz life cannot be under-estimated.  Bread is present, in one form or another, at every meal. When travelling with Ecotour, you can be sure you get many opportunities to taste our NAN.

NAN is the Kyrgyz word for bread, all bread.  Confusion can set in as some of the breads have nan in their names, and some do not, but rest assured, all are delicious.

BOORSOK, the most important of all Kyrgyz nan.  Boorsok are small squares of bread, sometimes salty and at other times sweet, that are fried and placed on every table when you have guests.  And when we say placed on the table this is, more often than not, quite literally true.  They will be spread across the tablecloth in between the various dishes.  If you sit down for a meal and there are borsook on the table, this is the first thing you should eat.  Often boorsook are served with kaymak, a thick, almost sour, cream.  Boorsok are usually home-cooked.

BOORSOK, the most important of all Kyrgyz nan.

TANDYR NAN, a largish flatbread cooked in a tandyr oven.  These circular flatbreads have soft puffy edges and a slightly crisper centre.  Tandyr nan is for sale on every street corner, and is a part of almost every meal.  If somebody tells you to go out and buy a nan, this is what they mean.  Many people also use the Russian name – lepyoshka.

TOKOCH are much smaller round breads.  It is rather like someone has taken the flat, thin middle out from a tandyr nan and squeezed the edges closer together.  If you prefer the thick, puffy edges of the tandyr nan, then this is the bread for you.

KATTAMA are often made with some onion sprinkled in the pastry mixture.  Kattama are made by rolling out the pastry, then painting the flat surface with oil or sary mai (ghee), folding it over and then repeating the process numerous times.  The more often you fold and roll the thinner the layers become until you almost have puff-pastry.  The kattama is then cooked in a frying-pan.  Needless to say, when you eat kattama your fingers end up a little bit greasy.

KATYRAK NAN are crispy rolls of fried pastry, about 7 or 8 centimetres high.  A length of pastry is rolled out and loosely rolled up.  This is then fried and you end up with almost a big and crispy snail’s shell.  More often used when entertaining, katyrak nan are surprisingly moreish.

More often used when entertaining, katyrak nan are surprisingly moreish.

KALAMA are quite simply pastry rolled into discs and dry-fried.  Possibly something like Greek pitta bread.  Kalama are again mainly home cooked.

NEVER throw away any nan.  It is truly regarded as a form of sacrilege.  Eat what you can and leave the rest on the table.  Flour and bread have been a staple of the Kyrgyz since time immemorial, and should always be treated with respect.  Not quite so bad, but never place a nan upside down, it is another sign of disrespect.

Do you want to learn yourself how to make one or more kinds of nan, just let us know.

And my favourite?  The one on the table in-front of me.  ENJOY!

And my favourite? The one on the table in-front of me. ENJOY!

    Is it possible for a woman to travel alone in Kyrgyzstan?

Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Kyrgyzstan?

Short hike in Konorchok

If you delve a little into the culture and customs of the country then this should not be a problem.  Public drunkenness and walking around topless will cause problems in many countries, including in Kyrgyzstan.  To know what is and what is not possible, here is some background information.

Life, customs and habits of women in Kyrgyzstan

 Living in the city. There is a big difference between city and countryside.  Especially in cities like Bishkek and Karakol, life, especially at first glance, is very similar to what we are used to in the West. Women dress modernly, often have a job and children go to daycare at an early age.  All younger people have a mobile phone, are on Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, and this obviously influences their views and lifestyle.  Here you can travel quietly alone by public transport, go shopping, have a drink on a terrace or visit a concert or museum.   However, it is not advisable to walk after dark in remote parts of the city that often do not have streetlights. In such cases it is better to take a taxi.  There are several on-line taxi apps that work efficiently.  Petty crime certainly does occur. You should be suspicious of pickpockets, especially on busy streets, in crowded buses and in the bazaars.  Wear your backpack or bag on your stomach and not on your back, and do not carry expensive equipment, cameras and laptops in plain view.

In the countryside it is different.  Here the woman is the one who takes care of the house, children and animals.  In the house the woman is the boss.  A man’s world is outside the home and a women’s world is inside the house.  Most men do not easily get involved in women’s affairs and vice versa.   As a woman travelling alone it is best to contact women.  They will certainly help you if necessary, or tell a man to help you.

Hospitality is characteristic of Kyrgyz society.  When you are a guest, or stay with someone, he/she feels responsible for you.  This dates back to the time when the Kyrgyz were full-time nomads.  Back then people were dependent on each other and had to be able to count on the help of other wandering nomads.  Thus hospitality was a form of mutual aid.  You will still find this hospitable attitude in the countryside.  Unfortunately there are also tourists who abuse this and expect to be able to spend the night for free.

The family is of extreme importance to the Kyrgyz.  Due to the lack of social services, people have to rely on the family for help, and also for financial support. Uncles and aunts, siblings and cousins are also expected to assist in emergencies and contribute financially to weddings and funerals.

Elderly people are treated with respect.  A young person will not easily contradict someone older, even if he/she disagrees.  Saying ‘no’ straight out is considered to be rude.  This makes it difficult for a Kyrgyz to refuse something to an elderly person or guest.  In such circumstances there will be either no response or an evasive answer.

If you delve into the local way of life, customs and habits, and bear them in mind, Kyrgyzstan is a wonderful holiday destination for a woman travelling alone.  Ecotour is happy to organise an unforgettable tour for you.

Email or WhatsApp us: or +996 557 802 805.

Nomadic way of Life
A man’s world – another hard day of work

    Lake Issyk-Kul. Be careful who you upset

Lake Issyk-Kul.  Be careful who you upset.

In the northeast of our country, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lies Lake Issyk-Kul, the second largest mountain lake in the world. At some point, on almost all our tours, you will come to this beautiful lake with clear blue water.

There are several legends about its origins, and this is one of our favourites.  It is about the young woman who sacrificed her life for her loved one.

How it started

It is said that in ancient times there was a city that belonged to an old and powerful Kahn.  He heard about this young woman who was said to be beautiful, but poor.  He decided he wanted her.  However the girl loved someone else.  Her loved one had to travel far away, but before he left he gave his ring to her.  He told her never to take off this ring for as long as she wore the ring nothing could happen to her; and he left and promised to return soon.

The Kahn makes his move
As soon as he had gone the Kahn’s deputies arrived laden with gifts, but the young woman refused to go and said she loved another man.  She left for the mountains and hoped to find her lover there.  Suddenly she noticed that the ring was missing, she cried and decided to return home.  Unfortunately along the way she was ambushed by the Khan’s armed horsemen who took her to his castle.

The Kahn showered her with gifts and expensive jewelry, but still she refused his advances.  Ultimately the Khan decided to make her his bride by force.  When he walked up to the young woman to grab her, she ran to the open window and leapt out with a loud scream.

Never upset a lady

At that moment the walls shook and the granite arches of the castle collapsed. Torrential water flowed from all the gorges, it rose higher and higher, the Kahn’s castle disappeared and the valley filled with water.  And so Lake Issyk-Kul was create

Our beautiful Issyk-Kul Lake

10/04/2024    Festival Visits – A Great Addition To Your Holiday

Make your holiday in Kyrgyzstan extra special with a visit to a festival.  Festivals happen on various dates in July and August.  The festivals, which are all local, will give you a chance to get to know some of the life-style and traditions of the nomads.

During the festivals you will see traditions that have been revived and which test the skills and agility of the nomads on horseback or flying their eagles in competitions and games.

Music, dancing and the tasting of all kinds of nomadic dishes will take place.  Festivals are a great way to sample nomadic traditions.

Festival visits can always be included in your holiday trip.  Please contact us for dates and further information.

19/03/2024    26 years of travelling with Ecotour

Just over 26 years ago, two young Kyrgyz sisters decided that tourism, then still unknown, could play a large part in the future of our country.  But tourism should not have a negative effect on the country, the environment and the people.

So on the 19th March 1998 Ecotour was registered as a legal entity.  Not only was it one of the first companies, but also it was and still is, owned and managed by two Kyrgyz women – a somewhat unique event.

The yurt camp and the homestay concepts were both introduced by Ecotour.  The principal of working with locals and helping rural communities was, and still is, a critical part of our culture. We now organize, horse-riding, trekking tours, cycling tours and cultural tours. Also, family tours, even with young children.   Our staff are all Kyrgyz (with 2 notable exceptions), and our guides and drivers work in the areas where they grew up and know.

We had a party to celebrate our birthday and now, as we enter our 27th year of operation, we look forward greeting you in our homeland.  Over the years we have made many friends, and even today many of our first guests still keep in touch, sometimes revisiting and sometimes coming to see us at the travel fairs.

Make this year the year you visit one of the most beautiful countries, and meet some of the most generous and wonderful people.  Hope to see you soon.

13/03/2024    Lake Merzbacher

New this season, a trek to Lake Merzbacher, nestled between the North and South Engilchek glaciers.

In springtime this lake fills with water from the melting snows and in August it suddenly empties over 2 or 3 days.

If you are a fit and healthy mountain hiker and would like to see this wonder then join our adventure and book this trip – or our website

09/03/2024    New trekking tour for 2024 – mysterious Lake of Merzbacher

Announcing an exciting new tour for 2024.

Nestled between almost 7,000 metre peaks there is a lake that mysteriously disappears every year.  An amazing trek to an amazing place.

For more details contact

02/02/2024    Visit us at Fiets en Wandelbeurs in Utrecht on February 23, 24 and 25

Fiets en Wandelbeurs at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht – 23, 24 and 25 February
Emira and the team will be at stand number 32i (row B) on hall 2.
Come along and find out about holidays in Kyrgyzstan:
Active – cycling, trekking, horse riding.
Thematic – botanical bird watching, photography.
Cultural – textile, nomadic life, felt workshops.
We have a holiday just for you.

11/04/2023    Food for Life

About 400,000 people in Kyrgyzstan, about 6.4 percent of the country’s population, suffer from malnutrition and hunger.
In 2022 “Food for Life” was registered and started operating in 2023, staffed completely by a group of volunteers, now numbering over 20. The mission – to prepare and distribute hot, and delicious, food so that there are no hungry people. This is a goal that is monumental, but achievable.
We provide meals on Saturdays and Wednesdays. In the last 3 months we have provided over 5,000 meals, each one cooked with love. We distribute the meals close to a large bazaar, and also take some to a homeless shelter.
Our volunteers, and there are others who wish to join, would like to increase the number of days we operate by 2 to 3 days per week. Ideally we would like to purchase a small plot of land where we can build a permanent kitchen that will allow us to cook hundreds of meals every day. But to increase our activities we need help in the form of financial assistance. For each meal we prepare we need to buy the ingredients, clean and prep, then cook and transport to our distribution point.
Caring for our neighbours needs to be a priority in society, and by feeding those in dire need will not only feed their hunger, it will also help to satisfy the “hunger of their hearts” and show them that they are valued members of our community. We need to create a healthy and prosperous society, and our contribution is to provide meals for those in need.
However, we need support and contributions to help us achieve our goal. Your contribution, however small or large, will help us help others by enabling us to cook and distribute hot meals to the needy.
We would like to thank you for your compassion and support.

07/02/2023    MEET US AT ITB, BERLIN

ITB, Berlin, March 7, 8 and 9.

The ITB is back and we will be there. Come and find out about Kyrgyzstan and the options available. Now in our 26th season, we have all the knowledge you need to know.

You can find us in hall 7.2b, stand 107.


Fiets en Wandelbeurs, Flanders Expo Centre, February 18th and 19th 2023.
Travel is back, and we will be at the exhibition to meet everyone who wished to know more about holidays in Kyrgyzstan.

Our stand will have members of the Ecotour Team and old clients who have travelled to Kyrgyzstan with us in the past, often more than once.

Come and see us. We will be in het Verzamel paviljoen, on stand 1C05. Everything you have always wanted to know about visiting and holidaying in Kyrgyzstan.


Fiets en Wandelbeurs, Flanders Expo Centre, February 18th and 19th 2023.
Travel is back, and we will be at the exhibition to meet everyone who wished to know more about holidays in Kyrgyzstan.

Our stand will have members of the Ecotour Team and old clients who have travelled to Kyrgyzstan with us in the past, often more than once.

Come and see us. We will be in het Verzamel paviljoen, on stand 1C05. Everything you have always wanted to know about visiting and holidaying in Kyrgyzstan.


The covid infection rates in Kyrgyzstan have been low, less than 5 cases every day, for well over a month.

Even better news, we now have NO entry restrictions to the country, so no vaccination or current PCR is required.

Come and see us soon.

21/12/2021    Kyrgyz Entry Requirements – a Dutch perspective

There is a new website put together by Dutch tour operators. This site gives the latest information about requirements and restrictions when travelling to a  foreign country, which insurance to use and recommendations about safety measurements (from a Dutch perspective).
The best news is that Kyrgyzstan is regarded as a simple to enter country as our COVID infection numbers recently have been low.

28/11/2021    The History Museum reopened

After a five-year refurbishment, the Kyrgyz National History Museum has now reopened. The refurbished museum is truly wonderful and a visit there will included in many of our programmes. Too good to miss.

26/11/2021    COVID refunds

Until further notice, if a booking has to be cancelled due to government or airline imposed COVID restrictions, all money paid, less any bank charges incurred by us, will be refunded.

27/09/2021    We congratulate you on World Tourism Day

Today, 27 September, is World Tourism Day. To travelers everywhere, and to everyone working in the travel / tourism industry, we congratulate you on this day.
The last 2 years have dramatically changed how tourism works. Ecotour have adapted their programmes to reflect today’s world. Kyrgyzstan is open to visitors, let us show you the way.

23/09/2021    Covid rules and regulations:

At present the Covid-19 situation in Kyrgyzstan seems to be in control. Many people have already been vaccinated and the number of cases is still going down each day, and is much lower than in many European countries.

To enter Kyrgyzstan, one needs either to be fully vaccinated or to have a negative PCR test that is no older than 72 hours upon arrival.  If a PCR test is needed for the return trip, this can be done in Bishkek.

Although life in Kyrgyzstan is back to normal, we still stick to safety measures like keeping distance, avoiding large crowds and frequent disinfection. If one takes these precautions in our opinion, it is safe to visit our country again.

14/03/2020    The Power of the Sun

Something a bit more positive.  We have had solar panels installed at the Umai Hotel and they went live today.  Ecologically this is a good move, eventually financially it will be a good move, and one benefit we did not expect is that it seems we have more and hotter water than before.  Thank you Sun.

14/03/2020    Kyrgyzstan Closes Schools

Kyrgyzstan has no confirmed cases of COVID 19.  So far the steps taken by the authorities to protect the country are successful.  The Government today announced that it will be closing all schools and universities for the next 3 weeks.  This follows the suspension of all public gatherings such as concerts.  These steps are being seen as precautionary.

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