Locked between the lands of Central Asia, the mountainous nation of Kyrgyzstan is steeped in rich history and fascinating culture.
From before the Silk Road carved its passage across Asia and right through to the days of Soviet control, the now democratic country has been embracing the modern world as quickly as it can arrive. But that doesn’t mean the people have forgotten their past.
For centuries the proud Kyrgyz people have lived a nomadic existence, moving from pasture to pasture as the seasons changed. Their herds of livestock provided sustenance and prosperity, and as a result the tribes thrived throughout the years.
Today the local culture is as strong as ever.
The World Nomad Games is a new event that has brought the personality of the Kyrgyz people to the forefront of the world’s media. An interesting collaboration of nomadic sports, games of intelligence, displays of strength and pure showmanship are coupled with traditional costumes and music. It is heralded as the “Olympics for nomadic people”.
While sports such as kok-boru and er-enish dominate the attention of spectators, it is the nature and displays of the Kyrgyz nationals that capture the hearts and memories of travellers.
We were lucky enough to attend the 2nd annual World Nomad Games held in Kyrgyzstan and it proved to be the most impressive festival we have ever attended. However it was the beauty and hospitality of the Kyrgyz people that made us completely fall in love with the nation once again.
This is a collection of our favourite photos from the people we encountered at the cultural events in Jailoo Kyrchyn at the 2016 World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan.
A young Kyrgyz archer feeling inspired by the experienced experts around him.
Old men posing for a shot at the World Nomad Games.
A Kyrgyz man in traditional dress, relaxing in a yurt before his performance.
The Mongolian team proudly represented their nation in the archery competition. Mongolia is famous for its nomadic culture and the annual Naadam Festival, which made them a force to be reckoned with at the World Nomad Games.
A beautiful lady steps out from a yurt in Jailoo Kyrchyn.
A group of men wearing elaborate garb relax after lunch at the cultural events in Jailoo Kyrchyn.
A young couple poses for a shot between ceremonies.
Ladies toil away in an open kitchen, preparing traditional food to be sold to the masses.
A gorgeous young baby enjoying the warmth inside a yurt exhibit.
Two friends relax before a cultural presentation.
A Kyrgyz eagle hunter masks his bird after a successful catch.
A team from Slovakia represented at the Games. These dapper-looking competitors tackled the archery event.
Felt and handicrafts are an important part of the Kyrgyz culture. Used to make carpets, walls for yurts and souvenirs, felt is a labour-intensive process that can take days to prepare.
Adding beautiful designs for a felt carpet.
A girl sits in the doorway of a yurt while her grandmother reaches for her hand.
Camels have been used on the Silk Road for centuries, and the determined mammals featured prominently at the World Nomad Games.
A local lady standing next to an intricate yurt wall design.
Three generations of women sitting under a felt rug.
Everywhere we went at the World Nomad Games people would stop us to chat and ask where we were from. When they noticed our camera they were always stoked to have their photos taken as well.
A Mongol archer just before his competition heat.
Bearded men sitting in a yurt during one of the daily lunch feasts put on for esteemed guests.
A father and his children on a family outing during the World Nomad Games.
Many people brought out their best clothes for the big events at the World Nomad Games. The colours were simply mesmerising, and made the entire festival a visual paradise.
A group of men hanging outside a yurt.
The true stars of the World Nomad Games were the volunteers of the festival. They worked tirelessly to ensure everything ran as smoothly as possible. For an event that had very little concrete information available, they did their best to help out. Whenever they saw us walking around they would come over to say hi and make sure we were doing ok. A massive thank you to these amazing workers!
We must have bumped into this man about 10 times throughout the event, and every single time he would stop us and ask for a photo. His gregarious personality was simply heartwarming.
Young kids play around on a wooden cart.
Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook
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