Located only 3 hours from Bishkek, Kochkor is a large village, ideal for a quick stop before exploring the natural beauty that surrounds it. It counts about 15,000 inhabitants, who are for the majority farmers and breeders. The village has a more convivial, calm and generally less crowded atmosphere than the regional center of Naryn. It is an ideal place to start your trip into the mountains.
Formerly, Kochkor was called Stolypine in honor of the Prime Minister Nicolas II. This name changed to Kochkorka during the Soviet era. Nowadays, it is called Kochkor.
Kochkor is one of the best places to discover the modern nomadic way of life. The village is a perfect starting point for a trek in the mountains of central Kyrgyzstan. Its pastures, which seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, are filled with a few herds of sheep and horses and few men. During spring, the valleys take on a colorful tone with floral carpets tamed by clouds of butterflies.
The beautiful Kol Ukok Lake nearby is just one of many to-see sights near Kochkor. Its sparkling water, sometimes disturbed by a few jumping fish, is breathtaking. Because of its growing popularity, Kochkor has built new tourist infrastructures, making it possible to spend the night in good conditions and organize trips on the spot.
The village of Kochkor is very lively every Saturday morning with its animal bazaar. There, you can see the different Kyrgyz animals and attend the negotiations and sales. Kochkor has two other markets where you can find everything you need for mountain excursions and some local culinary specialties.
Further to the South, you can visit Kochkor Park, a green haven which houses several structures of the Soviet era. Kochkor has its own museum, a cultural hall, a cinema, a sports hall, a wedding palace and even a small night club.
Nevertheless, what makes the reputation of Kochkor is undoubtedly its manufacturing of shyrdak. Visit the Altyn Kol worshop, which translates as "the golden hand". There, you can discover the techniques used to create these magnificent traditional carpets and buy a couple of handmade souvenirs. Founded in the mid-1990s, the workshop became a way for the rural women to get a source of income and make the ends meet. At the end of May and November, shyrdak exhibitions are held at the Kyrgyz Cultural Museum in Bishkek.
Kochkor has recently built a new taxi and bus station on the main road. From Bishkek, you can easily reach Kochkor by bus or mashrutkas. The journey will last between 4 and 5 hours.