Located about 3 hours away from Bishkek , the sizeable village of Kochkor is the ideal stopover before heading out and discovering the natural beauty that surrounds it. It has about 15,000 inhabitants, the majority of whom are farmers and breeders. The village is more convivial, quieter and generally less crowded than the regional centre of Naryn. It is an ideal place to start your excursion to the highlands from.
Formerly, Kochkor was called Stolypin in honor of the Prime Minister Nicolas II. This name was changed to Kochkorka during the Soviet era to finally become Kochkor.
Kochkor is one of the best places to take a dive into the nomadic way of life. The village is a perfect starting point for treks on the mountains of central Kyrgyzstan. Its pastures seem to stretch as far as the eye can see, scattered here and there with a few flocks of sheep and horses, undisturbed by the presence of the discreet man. During spring, plains turn into huge floral carpets tamed by clouds of butterflies, a heavenly landscape as it were. Nearby, the Kol Ukok lake attests to the land's wealth in the region: its sparkling water, sometimes disturbed by a few jumping fish, offers scenes of great natural beauty. Due to its growing popularity, Kochkor has decided to build new tourist infrastructures making it possible to accommodate the travellers in the best conditions.
The population here is very friendly. They happily welcome visitors and exchange with them about their beautiful region. Every Saturday morning, the village of Kochkor gets very lively with its animal bazaar. There, you can attend the display, negotiations and sales of the diverse Kyrgyz cattle. If you are not interested in the purchase of cattle, Kochkor has two other markets: you can find local culinary delicacies and everything you need for mountain excursions. Further to the south, you can reach Kochkor Park, a haven of greenery which houses several structures of the Soviet era. A real place to live, Kochkor has its own museum, a cultural hall, a cinema, a sports hall, a wedding venue and even a small discotheque. However, what makes the reputation of Kochkor is undoubtedly its manufacturing of sherdak. Visit the Altyn Kol handicraft workshop -"the gold hand"- to discover the techniques used to create these magnificent traditional carpets. Founded in the mid-1990s, the workshop became a strong support for the rural families in need for a new source of income. Sherdak exhibitions are held at the Kyrgyz Cultural Museum in Bishkek in late May and late November.
How to get there?
Kochkor has recently built a new taxi & bus station on the main road. From Bishkek, it is perfectly possible to reach Kochkor by bus or mashrutkas. The journey takes between 4 and 5 hours.