New Bike Path For Kyrgyzstan. Tempted?

For us, Kyrgyzstan brings to mind remote dirt tracks, high mountains and generally that wonderful feeling of riding your bike in the middle of nowhere. It’s an adventurous place to ride.

So we were surprised when a journalist recently called to talk about a paved bike path that the Kyrgyz government is planning to build around Lake Issyk-Kul. They want to call it Bai Issyk-Kul  – a word that means ‘rich Issyk-Kul’ in the local language but sounds like ‘bicycle’ to English speakers.

The article by James Kilner appeared on the Daily Telegraph website today. (Incidentally, James also publishes the handy Conway Bulletin with news about Central Asia).

From the sounds of it, this bike path would be quite the change from what we experienced in 2008: a slightly bumpy (although perfectly rideable) road along the relatively undeveloped southern shore of the lake.

Road Around Lake Issyk-Kol

Will this project fly, or will it be a flop? Will it attract the more gentle, less adventurous cyclists who currently cruise around the bike paths of Europe? At this point, it’s hard to say.

Much will depend on how well the path is built and maintained. Cyclists can be a finicky bunch. Nothing ruins our enthusiasm more quickly than a poorly thought out path. It’ll have to be easy to navigate and smooth to ride. Otherwise, we may all well prefer to be on the road which (at least in our experience) wasn’t that busy or unpleasant to ride in the first place.

We also wonder if the kind of people who decide to bike tour along the famous Danube River bike path would be willing to take that long flight and get a visa for what is essentially quite a short path?

If the Kyrgyz government is lucky, it could attract a whole new group of cyclists to Kyrgyzstan, and once they’d tried the bike path they might branch out to other routes through this beautiful country.

One thing is for sure: if any country in the region can do it, Kyrgyzstan can. They already have the most tourist-friendly policies of any of the ex-Soviet countries and a growing tourism network that organises experiences such as homestays and trekking trips.

Would you be attracted to a bike path in Kyrgyzstan? Leave a comment and let us know.

While you’re thinking about it, here are some of our favourite photos from a month of cycling in Kyrgyzstan.

Kids On The Beach at Lake Issyk Kul
Kids on the beach at Lake Issky Kul.

Climbing into the mountains
Climbing into the mountains.

Fording A Stream
Fording a stream.

Hanging Out With Nomads
Hanging out with nomads.

Remote Track Around Song-Kul
A remote track around Lake Song Kul.


  1. Travelingtheworldonabicycle
    23rd January 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Wow! Just had my lunchbreak which i spent in the library. Back with books from Canada, Bhutan, Mongolia and Kyrgistan.
    Only have time to cycle one of them, pffff :>
    Thnxs for the article!

  2. Travelingtheworldonabicycle
    23rd January 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    O gorget to answer your question. Yeah why not ride it (it won’t be like a crowded danuba bikepath annyway – but somehow I think we’ll go there before the bikepath :>

  3. bob powers
    29th January 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    Cycled in Kyrgyzstan twice, sure a good idea to attract more tourists to the Issyk-Kul lake area – the only real tourist area in Kg.
    I think I would either avoid it……. or use it as an
    easy relaxed link between more exciting paths!

    Whatever- Kg. is a great place to cycle.
    Best choice – a mountain bike with road tyres.

  4. Trevor
    30th January 2012 at 7:23 am #

    I think it’s a great idea and should be applauded. That said, hordes of retirees doing laps of the lakes on ‘E-bikes’ is a scary thought!

    Nevertheless, it’s a large country and plenty of ‘real’ cycling will remain for the more adventurous souls.

  5. bob powers
    31st January 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    For anyone thinking about taking a bike trip in
    Kyrgyzstan I have the names of two 100% Kyrgyz companies who
    organise tours but who will also help you organise your own. : a new, small, and enthusiastic company. : been going 14 years, successfully, they also have a guest house in Bishkek.

    Bonus is that in both cases all the income goes to local people, products and projects.
    I know people involved with both companies, as friends.


  6. Steve Coulson
    1st March 2012 at 10:51 am #

    Looks v interesting. May well be heading that way ourselves this year. So will investigate further.

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