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Published: October 16th 2016
One new capital on my list, one new country to discover....and one more river has I'm finally lucky enough to go back rafting. Welcome to Kyrgyzstan. The country has the biggest temperature span in the world....warm summer where it can rise to above 40 and cold cold winter hitting the minus 35 degrees!
I'm staying in a pretty amazing hotel on the outskirts of the capital, the Futuro. Normally, we would say location is the key to a great hotel. Well, here, they don't have the right location, it's in the middle of nowhere...so they throw in so much more to make up for it. For 40usd per night, I had a modern room, something looking like and Ibis or Novotel room. They throw in a super nice breakfast and obviously wifi. But it doesn't stop there. I'm staying three nights, so they came to pick me up at the airport three of charge...and this is a good 50km from Bishkek. They will also drop you in town and pick you up at whatever time. The have a great little cheap restaurant, and staff is just amazing. Welcome to very friendly Bishkek! If you want to stay here,
book ahead...due to their reputation, they were fully booked for 3 weeks ahead!
I came to visit the capital, but also to do some rafting on the Chu River. Not obvious it would be a rafting trip happening. They have very tourists exploring the country. That should change in the future...no need for a visa here, and you are welcomed everywhere with a huge smile. So rafting does happen here in the summer....but mainly only on week-end...or you have to bring your own group of 6 people to have your private trip.
I left my hotel that morning very very early...as the organizer had proposed me to join the staff bus on the road to the Chu River. It's a 2 hours drive on the way to the Issyk-Kul lake....the inside beach of the country! Today, they have some 25 people rafting, and I'm the only tourist....it's all locals....fun and loud ones arriving by Lexus, Mercedes or other Range Rover. Couples, families, friends, some speak great english, some even do speak french. The staff is all ethnic Russian...I asked, and they told me the local are too scared...but the guests today are an happy
We are rafting the Chu River...a good two hours trip. It's mainly class III, which are the easy ones...but it's non-stop Class III...meaning, it's all the time good fun and lot of splashing water all around the place....but nobody did drop in the water...well, except when it was done intentionally! By the way, that water is pretty cold, so the wetsuit and boots are more than welcome.
You can do way more serious rivers around here. They also have multiple days trips with some serious amount of Class V to get you scared as much as you want...or even brusied as much as you want. But when it comes to day trips...it seems the only fun option for some decent adrenaline rush is the Chu River.
The city itself of Bishkek is less interesting. It's a solid change from Tashkent. Here the local are ethnically closer to Asia. You see more commercial activities in the capital too. Sadly, not the season here either for any Opera or Ballet! They have parks, they have flowers...they have few Soviet style buildings...even a mall or two...not sure there is a lot more to
Getting here was pretty easy, I just fly one more time with Air Astana, doing Tashkent-Almaty-Bishkek in a short afternoon on packed planes. Next stop, I'm back to Almaty...this time by the road...
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