There is no mistaking the similarities between Kyrgyzstan and the Swiss Alps.This content was published on December 1, 2003 - 09:27
The mountains leave many visitors with the impression that they have arrived in an unpopulated replica of the Bernese overland.
But despite a rapidly expanding infrastructure and political stability, tourists remain a rarity in the region.
And for those that go to effort, a visit to Central Asia offers activities no longer found in many of the world’s most developed countries.
“I was just in the mountains with two Swiss hunters,” said Paul, a tourist guide in Bishkek.
“They were here to hunt Marco polo sheep, wild boar and ibex,” he said.
For hunters seeking to visit Kyrgyzstan’s wildest areas, dozens of companies now offer tours.
At the check-in desks of Bishkek international airport, groups of European and American hunters are regularly seen loading up gun-cases.
The typical cost for a two-week trip to the mountains in the west or south of the country is anywhere between $10,000 (SFr13,000) and $20,000.
Organisers even promise to mount the head of any kills as a trophy, while the hunting itself is done on horseback or by foot.