World Nomad Games #DiscoverKyrgyzstan

Being nomadic and traveling nearly 365 days of the year is in many ways a dream job for me. However, one thing that I really miss about being back home in Canada is having the opportunity to follow sports throughout the year. When I had the opportunity to attend the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan, the dormant sports junkie inside of me jumped at the opportunity.

Opening Ceremony fireworks to kick of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Opening Ceremony fireworks to kick of the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

World Nomad Games

The World Nomad Games are a sports and cultural event held in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan (not Bishkek) and they are an attempt to preserve and promote nomadic culture and traditions throughout Central Asia. This was only the second year the event was held, yet it featured 23 sports and drew athletes from over 40 different countries.

The following post will share some of the highlights of the World Nomad Games through photos and videos.

World Nomad Games Video:


In this video you’ll see our experience attending the World Nomad Games
If you have trouble viewing this video click here:  http://youtu.be/KwDoJVCLm2Y

World Nomad Games: Favorite Sports

As mentioned previously there were 23 different sports at the games. Here is a brief overview of some of my personal favourite sports. Keep in mind none of these sports were familiar to me at all prior to attending the games!

Kok-boru:

This sport was my personal favorite and it was definitely the most popular event at the World Nomad Games. Basically, two teams on horseback play something that sort of resembles polo, except instead of using a ball, they’re carrying and tossing a goat carcass with the intention of scoring a goal against their opponent. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get right on the field during the game. I got a little overzealous at one point getting too close to the action and I had to retreat suddenly as horse-mounted players galloped in my direction. My favorite match was between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan with the Krygyz team coming out on top.

Mas-wrestling:

Two wrestlers face each other with the soles of their feet on opposite sides of a wooden board. In their hands they’re holding a stick, and it’s basically a tug-o-war to either get the stick or pull their opponent over to their side of the board. These typically massive men were physically exhausted by the end of a match even if the game only lasted a few brief seconds.

Salbuurun:

This was my favorite hunting/prey event involving eagles. The competition was to see how fast eagles can fly while chasing after a fox skin over a stretch of 200 meters. It wasn’t only the human athletes that impressed me during these games!

Here is a complete list of the sports from the World Nomad Games.

World Nomad Games Photo Essay

Now, my favorite photos from the event in no particular order.

One of the traditional Kyrgyz swings with two people swinging back and forth as part of the festivities
One of the traditional Kyrgyz swings with two people swinging back and forth as part of the festivities
Intense Mas-wrestling match between two competitors in Kyrgyzstan
Intense Mas-wrestling match between two competitors in Kyrgyzstan
Men wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats attending the Games in Kyrgyzstan
Men wearing traditional Kyrgyz hats attending the Games in Kyrgyzstan
A shot of the sheep carcass being tossed into the air for a goal during a Kok Boru match between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan
A shot of the sheep carcass being tossed into the air for a goal during a Kok Boru match between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan
A professional Kok Boru player from Kyrgyzstan about to score a goal during a Kok Boru match at the World Nomad Games
A professional Kok Boru player from Kyrgyzstan about to score a goal during a Kok Boru match at the games
Team Kyrgyzstan and team Kazakhstan shacking hands after a Kok Boru match at the World Nomad Games
Team Kyrgyzstan and team Kazakhstan shacking hands after a match at the event
A traditional Kyrgyz yurt setup during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
A traditional Kyrgyz yurt setup during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Men climbing a pole during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Men climbing a pole during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
A lady shooting a bow and arrow while standing upside down during the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan
A lady shooting a bow and arrow while standing upside down during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Cheering after a sword fight during a cultural performance at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
Cheering after a sword fight during a cultural performance at the festival in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz men squatting down to enjoy a plate of Plov during the Games
Kyrgyz men squatting down to enjoy a plate of Plov during the Games
A close-up shot of a man wearing a traditional hat performing traditional Kyrgyz music at the event
A close-up shot of a man wearing a traditional hat performing traditional Kyrgyz music at the event
A high vantage point view of all of the yurt camp during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
A high vantage point view of all of the yurt camp during the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
A Kyrgyz man wearing a traditional hat clapping during a musical performance at the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan
A Kyrgyz man wearing a traditional hat clapping during a musical performance at the world event in Krygyzstan
Two Kyrgyz ladies knitting during the World Nomad Games in Krygyzstan
Two Kyrgyz ladies showcasing their craft during the sporting event in Kyrgyzstan
An overhead shot of the crowd at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games
An overhead shot of the crowd at the event
A talented performer doing equestrian tricks at the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan
A talented performer doing equestrian tricks at the World Games in Kyrgyzstan
Two Kyrgyz men with distinct faces at the nomad games in Kyrgyzstan
Two Kyrgyz men with distinct faces at the nomad games in Kyrgyzstan
An action scene from a cultural performance at the Central Asia sporting event
An action scene from a cultural performance at the Central Asia sporting event
Another action shot from the world event in Kyrgyzstan
Another action shot from the world event in Kyrgyzstan. This was some intense action. Almost as good as the sporting events!
Some Kyrgyz men gather for a quiet picnic at the competition in Kyrgyzstan
Some Kyrgyz men gather for a quiet picnic at the competition in Kyrgyzstan. Possible to find some quiet areas.
A Kok Boru player from Team China carries the goat carcass during a match at the sports games against the United States
A Kok Boru player from Team China carries the goat carcass during a match at the sports games against the United States
A Chinese Kok Boru player throws the goat carcass into the goal at the sporting spectacle in Krygyzstan
A Chinese Kok Boru player throws the goat carcass into the goal at the sporting spectacle in Krygyzstan
A man wearing a distinct hat at the Kyrgyzstan games
A man wearing a distinct hat at the Kyrgyzstan games. I want one of those!
An eagle wearing an eye-cover before the start of the event in Kyrgyzstan
An eagle wearing an eye-cover before the start of the event in Kyrgyzstan
A man practicing archery at the competition in Kyrgyzstan
A man practicing archery at the competition in Kyrgyzstan. Can you feel the concentration?
Gorgeous mountain backdrop at the sporting event in Kyrgyzstan
Gorgeous mountain backdrop at the sporting event in Kyrgyzstan. Sometimes hard to focus on the actual event with scenery like this.
Stunning scenery with mountains in the background at the Kyrgyzstan World Nomad Games
Stunning scenery with mountains in the background at the Kyrgyzstan exhibition. Kyrgyzstan is simply beautiful.
A massive collection of arrows hitting the target at the World Nomad Games in Kyygyzstan
A massive collection of arrows hitting the target at the event in Kyrgyzstan. What great accuracy! 
Wrestling event at the games in Kyrgyzstan
Wrestling event at the games in Kyrgyzstan. Can you feel the intensity?

Now it is over to you! Had you previously heard of the World Nomad Games? What do you now think of the event?

Any particular sport you’re more interested in viewing as a spectator? What did you think of the various events?

Let me know in the comments section below:

This trip was made possible with the support of Discover Kyrgyzstan and USAID. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

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17 Comments

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    1. says: Guest

      Hi Hayley,
      Last time I checked the website still wasn’t live – they are aiming to have that up and running at some point in May. I have been informed that the sporting events and the festival in Kyrchyn will be free to the public, meaning you’d only need tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies. It might be worth confirming that for sure later this summer.
      Cheers,
      Sam

  1. says: Mart

    Quite an amazing place to be. The people seem friendly, the sports entertaining and the scenes just beautiful. The culture seems to be upheld and deeply instilled in the people.
    Would be a nice travel and get to interact with the people

  2. Wow! I had seen the pretty pictures of Kyrgyzstan but didn’t know about the unique games that can be played. Bow and arrow upside down! Amazing! Loved their traditional attires!

  3. This is epic. I will definitely try to attend next year. When I lived in Ireland and Nepal I was exposed to a few new sports, and I never looked back. I started to consistently play hurling and cricket. I think the more important matter that you bring to our attention in this article is the importance of preserving ancient cultural traditions through reenactments – it is a key part of promotion that can help these traditions live on, be recognized and be respected.

  4. says: Zharkyn

    Hi, I’m really happy to read your post about my country. Thank you!!! Great post!) I hope you’ll enjoy in next World Nomad Games 2018. ☺