Eco-Tourism in Central Asia

Eco Tourism in Central Asia

The recent trend in global eco tourism is coming to the once-isolated mountainous regions of Central Asia as well. Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are now attracting an increasing number of foreign tourists from the Western world who are attracted by the unique cultures and natural splendor of these previously inaccessible areas.

Eco Tourism in Kyrgyzstan

Rightly dubbed the “Pearl of Central Asia”, Kyrgyzstan flaunts magnificent and unspoilt natural beauty that has until now not been encroached by commercial tourism. The mountains, rivers, and forests of Kyrgyzstan are the major selling points for promoting this mountainous country as a cultural and ecotourism destination.
Lake Issy Kul, a biosphere reserve of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program is the main attraction for ecotourists in Kyrgyzstan. Located at an altitude of 1600m among the mountain peaks of the Tien Shen Mountain range, Issy Kul is the world’s second largest mountain lake after Titicaca. Encircled by several hotels and health spas, Lake Issy Kul can be your ideal ecotourism getaway in Kyrgyzstan, providing excellent opportunities for activities like swimming, hiking and mountain climbing.

The mountainous terrains of Kyrgyzstan feature dramatic glaciers and snow-clad peaks; and its high, grassy meadows are the perfect grazing grounds for several wild species including antelope, ibex, rare snow leopards and brown bears.

Some well known eco-tourism locations in Kyrgyzstan are:

  • Lake Issy Kul
  • Bishkek and Osh
  • Talal
  • Kazarman and Irkeshtam

Eco Tourism in Kazakhstan

The “Giant of Central Asia”, as Kazakhstan is popularly called beckons all you responsible tourists to explore its spectacular mountainous regions, thereby aiding in the protection of biodiversity and the benefit of local communities. The country offers a range of ecotourism activities, including nature tourism among its vast steppes, and rafting, trekking and rock-climbing in the Northern Tien Shen Mountains, which lie along the south-eastern fringes of Kazakhstan. Eco tourism in Kazakhstan also features tours to water bodies including the Caspian Sea and Lake Balkhash.

Aided by the UNESCO Regular Programme funds, the Development of Cultural and Eco-tourism in the Mountainous Regions of Central Asia and the Himalayas is promoting eco tourism in Kazakhstan to ensure that local communities benefit from the growth of tourism and that this growth helps in preserving and conserving the natural and cultural wealth of the region.

Leading eco-tourism locations in Kazakhstan are:

  • Tien Shen Mountains
  • Caspian Sea and Lake Balkhash


Eco Tourism in Tajikistan

Home to the Pamir Mountains, which are locally known as Bam-i-Dunya (the Roof of the World), Tajikistan is prime hiking territory featuring high, wide valleys in the midst of mountain peaks rising over 23,000ft. Many of Asia’s highest mountain ranges originate from the Pamir Mountains, including the Karakoram, Himalayas, Hindu Kush and Tien Shen. The deep valleys, swift-running streams and unspoilt mountain meadows in Tajikistan offers refuge to an enchanting wildlife including Marco Polo sheep, rare snow leopards, wild boar, ibex and brown bears. Although eco tourism is still in its infancy in Tajikistan, and the Pamirs are difficult to access, yet active measures are being taken to develop tourism so as to bring equitable economic development while protecting the environment.
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