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Kyrgyzstan horseman

Horse Games in Kyrgyzstan

15th September 2017


Greetings from Noorgul's camp at Son-Kul lake at 3016m altitude. After a warm night in our cosy felt yurts we awoke to a delicious breakfast: bread prepared and cooked next to our table, kasha (Russian-style porridge) and pancakes with homemade strawberry jam.

Six of us then set off by horse along the shore of the lake, admiring the deep blue water against an azure sky and burnt ochre steppe. Our steeds were surprisingly comfortable and did not put a hoof wrong. Ascending the steep hillside behind Noorgul's yurts we had fabulous views over the lake and its surroundings, as well as finding petroglyphs of goats on the summit.

A tasty lunch of spicy laghman noodles was followed by the excitement of traditional Kyrgyz horse games performed by neighbouring herdsmen. Firstly "tiyin enmei": a galloping rider leans down to snatch money from the ground. Noorgul's daughter featured in the next game of "kyz-kumay". Mounted a swift horse she had to evade the kisses of male riders who chased her but on slower mounts. She eventually was conquered by a kiss but this no longer seals a marriage and was greeted by laughter all round.

Finally the main event of Kok-Boru was played with the body of a recently deceased goat. Teams of 4 battled with eachother to deposit the goat in an old tyre. Wrestling, kicking and whipping each others horses are all part of the frenzied action and the victors get the carcass for dinner.

We settled for a beer by our yurts, enjoying the beautiful evening light on the lake.

Wild mountains and fabled towns tour group

Hilary Napier

Hilary has been mad for travel since hitchhiking to India in the late 1970s (via Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan). She currently works freelance on sci…

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