* Visa free entrance up to 60 days (The Netherlands, Belgium)
* Your passport must still be valid 6 months after departure from Kyrgyzstan
* Time zones: Kyrgyzstan is 4 hours later (summer), 5 hours later (winter) than Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.
* Best time to travel: May to September, the months July and August can be hot
*Main voltage 220 volts, plugs and sockets are the same as in Europe
*Internet: in Bishkek and Osh there are internet cafes. Most hotels and homestays offer WiFi, however the internet connection and speed can be disappointing at times.
* Mobile phones: the journey leads through a mountainous Kyrgyzstan. You do not have GSM coverage here. You might consider a local SIM card.
* Money matters: the best method is to take cash money from your home country. New or at least undamaged banknotes of 50 euros can be easily exchanged in one of the banks or exchange offices. Banknotes of 100 euros are often not accepted. There are ATM cash machines in the cities, but they are not always reliable. Credit cards are rarely accepted. Count on about 100 - 150 euros pocket money per week during the trip (apart from personal expenses, such as souvenirs etc.). At the end of the trip you can change your SOMs back to Euros in Kyrgyzstan.
* Tips: in Kyrgyzstan it's customary to give tips in restaurants, to the host family of the homestays or yurts, your chauffeur and the English speaking travel guide. Tips are often an indispensable addition to the peoples income and are therefore very welcome. They are received with great gratitude.
Terms homestay and yurt:
Homestay: stay with a local family in their home, experience authentic local hospitality and ancient traditions. Kyrgyzstan has organized a network of homestays. A unique method to interact with the host family. The homestays most often have hot water, a shower and a seated toilet.
Yurt: an ancient nomadic way of living in a round tent. This is mainly used for habitation by itinerant peat nomads, who keep sheep, goats, camels and/or horses, and who live in the cold dry steppe areas of Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.
The layout of the yurt represents the social and spiritual organization of the family living in it. The yurt is often used for generations due to its durability. Within the Kyrgyz culture the yurt also has a symbolic function, as you can see on the national flag.
When staying in a yurt you have to do with a tap and washbasin in the open air. There is a primitive outhouse adjecent to the yurt. The sanitary facilities can therefore be limited. The yurt is usually equipped with a stove.
Both stays are generally simple but neat and very atmospheric. You sleep in these accommodations in a bed. Often the traveller will share a room with several of its group companions. A sheet bag can be nice to take with you, as well as your own towel.
General clothing advice for the journey through Kyrgyzstan:
Since the temperature can vary during the entire Kyrgyzstan trip due to changes in altitude, it is wise to bring clothes that you can wear layered. A warm fleece jacket is necessary at high altitudes and it often cools off the evenings. Rain clothing may incidentally be needed during your trip.
Do not forget your swimwear and towel! Fine (hiking) shoes with a good grip are also a must to take along.
Bear in mind that wearing short skirts, short shorts and sleeveless shirts is not respectfully experienced in Islamic countries.
Other luggage advice:
A ‘hardcover’ suitcase is not handy during this trip. The luggage space during transport is limited. A 'softcover' bag (whether or not on wheels) or a backpack is preferable.
Info about the trekking:
These trips are suitable for the sporty adventurer with a good overall condition and a flexible attitude.
Generally you walk around 4 to 6 hours a day through mountainous areas where paths are sometimes missing. The program of the trekking shows the main lines. There may be circumstances that affect the existing program, for example bad weather, which may make the proposed route impassable. An alternative will then be sought on the spot. Individual freedom is limited during the trekking.
You usually sleep in a two-person tent. Most of the time this will be in the middle of unspoiled nature without hot water or a modern toilet.
Provide yourself with a warm sleeping bag during the cold nights. Take a portable daypack to transport water, sunscreen, sunglasses, any medication, first aid kit, hat, flashlight, (pocket) knife, fork, plate (for lunch) etc. while walking. The remaining luggage will be carried by horses or personal carriers. Furthermore, good footwear with sufficient grip is important. Also keep in mind that it can cool off considerably in the evening. A warm fleece jacket or wind jacket and rainwear is not a luxury and will most likely be needed at moments. It's handy to bring your own towel.
Finally, it is good to know that the roads in Kyrgyzstan are poor quality at times.
The travel time can therefore take longer than expected.