Guide To The World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan: Sporting Event!

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 in Kyrgyzstan

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?

World Nomad Games: A Cultural and Sporing Event in Kyrgyzstan Not To Be Missed!

The World Nomad Games is an event that ignites the soul and celebrates the ancient traditions of nomadic culture. Hosted in the landlocked Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, this biennial event brings together people from all walks of life to indulge in the spirit of the games.

At the heart of the World Nomad Games lies a profound reverence for the ancient traditions and cultural heritage of the nomadic people. Here, the finest athletes from across the world compete in a myriad of traditional sports such as horse racing, archery, eagle hunting, and the exhilarating Kok Boru. These events provide a platform to witness the strength and agility of these world-class athletes, while also paying homage to the nomadic way of life.

But the World Nomad Games isn’t just about sports. It’s also a celebration of the unique cultural heritage of Kyrgyzstan and its people. Throughout the event, visitors have the opportunity to experience the country’s traditional crafts, music, and gastronomy. With alluring sights, sounds, and flavors, the World Nomad Games gives visitors an immersive experience into the authentic lifestyle of the Kyrgyz people.

The location of the games is as breathtaking as the events themselves. Held on the serene shores of the Issyk-Kul Lake, in the spectacular mountainous region of Cholpon-Ata, the setting is nothing short of enchanting. The natural beauty of the surrounding Tien Shan Mountains, cascading waterfalls, and lush green valleys are truly awe-inspiring.

Attending the World Nomad Games also provides an opportunity to explore the enchanting country of Kyrgyzstan. Visitors can bask in the vibrant atmosphere of Bishkek, hike through the breathtaking Ala-Archa National Park, and immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the ancient Silk Road cities of Osh and Kashgar.

In summary, the World Nomad Games is a celebration of tradition, culture, and sport that unites people from all corners of the globe. It’s an unforgettable experience that allows visitors to witness the magnificence of the Kyrgyz people’s rich heritage while being mesmerized by the natural beauty of this stunning country.

Where To Stay To Watch The World Nomad Games

For those who have been anticipating the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan, finding the right accommodation can make all the difference in your overall experience. Fortunately, the picturesque town of Cholpon-Ata, where the games are held, offers a wide range of options that cater to visitors of all budgets and inclinations.

Nestled on the northern shore of the magnificent Issyk-Kul Lake, Cholpon-Ata is a haven for tourists and adventurers alike. Luxurious resorts in the area offer stunning vistas of the lake and the surrounding mountains, and boast amenities such as swimming pools, spas, and fitness centers to ensure a comfortable and indulgent stay for those who don’t mind splurging on extravagance.

For travelers seeking more affordable options, budget hotels, hostels, and guesthouses are also available in and around Cholpon-Ata. These offer clean, no-frills accommodations that are both budget-friendly and comfortable, making them perfect for those who want to save their money for other activities.

For a truly authentic and unforgettable experience, consider staying in a yurt, a traditional nomadic tent that is synonymous with the Kyrgyzstan culture. These cozy and comfortable tents provide a unique and immersive experience, allowing visitors to get a glimpse into the lifestyle and customs of the Kyrgyz people.

If you find yourself unable to secure a suitable accommodation in Cholpon-Ata, don’t fret. Other cities such as the capital city, Bishkek, and Osh, offer plenty of lodging options as well. Bishkek, which is located around 250 km from Cholpon-Ata, is a bustling city with many hotels and guesthouses, while Osh, which is around 600 km away, offers a range of accommodations as well.

It’s worth noting that accommodations in the area can fill up quickly during the World Nomad Games due to the event’s immense popularity. Therefore, it’s essential to book your lodging well in advance to avoid any last-minute mishaps.

In conclusion, Cholpon-Ata and its surrounding areas offer an array of accommodation options for those attending the World Nomad Games. Whether you’re seeking luxurious amenities, budget-friendly lodging, or an authentic yurt experience, you’re sure to find an option that meets your needs and budget. So, book your accommodations early, pack your bags, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Kyrgyzstan!

Explore the Unseen: Off the Beaten Path Adventures in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is an enigmatic country in Central Asia, a land of rugged mountains, alpine lakes, and lush valleys. While it’s not as popular as some of its neighbors, Kyrgyzstan has a wealth of unique and offbeat experiences that can be found nowhere else on earth. From exploring remote villages to trekking in the wilderness, here are some off the beaten path things to do in Kyrgyzstan.

  1. Trekking in the Tien Shan Mountains For adventure-seekers, the Tien Shan Mountains are a must-visit destination in Kyrgyzstan. The towering peaks, glaciers, and turquoise lakes offer stunning scenery, and there are plenty of trails to explore, including the famous Ala-Kul trek. The trek usually takes around four to five days, and hikers will pass through high-altitude passes, beautiful valleys, and remote villages.
  2. Exploring the Silk Road Caravanserais Kyrgyzstan was once an important hub on the ancient Silk Road, a trade route that connected the East and West. There are several well-preserved caravanserais (inns for travelers and their animals) scattered throughout the country, including the Tash Rabat Caravanserai, which is located near the Chinese border. This impressive stone building dates back to the 15th century and is one of the best-preserved examples of Silk Road architecture.
  3. Visiting a Traditional Yurt Camp One of the most unique experiences in Kyrgyzstan is staying in a traditional yurt camp. These portable, felt-covered tents have been used by nomads for thousands of years and are still used today in rural areas of the country. Staying in a yurt camp is a chance to immerse yourself in Kyrgyz culture, enjoy traditional food, and learn about the way of life of the country’s nomadic people.
  4. Discovering Hidden Waterfalls Kyrgyzstan is home to numerous hidden waterfalls, tucked away in remote corners of the country. Some of the most beautiful ones can be found in the Suusamyr Valley, which is located in the central part of Kyrgyzstan. The valley is also a great place for hiking and exploring the rugged landscapes.
  5. Horse Trekking in the Mountains Horse trekking is a popular activity in Kyrgyzstan, and it’s not hard to see why. With vast expanses of wilderness and a long history of horsemanship, Kyrgyzstan is the perfect destination for horse lovers. One of the best places for horse trekking is the Song-Kul Lake, a high-altitude lake located in the Tien Shan Mountains. Here, visitors can spend several days exploring the area on horseback and staying with local families.

Kyrgyzstan is a country that rewards the adventurous traveler, and these off the beaten path experiences are just a few examples of the unique and authentic adventures that await those who are willing to step outside their comfort zone.

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. 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.

  3. 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. ☺