Karakol market, Kyrgyzstan
Adventure Travel Ideas Asia Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan: Wandering through the Karakol animal market

If you’re in the little eastern town of Karakol in Kyrgyzstan on a Sunday don’t miss the huge animal market.

Thousands of Kyrgyz gather to trade livestock of all kinds and as this is Kyrgyzstan of course there are hundreds of horses. We had a whole new appreciation of the horse-centric culture of Kyrgyzstan when we did a trek into the mountains near Kochkor.

Karakol market, Kyrgyzstan
You know you’re getting close to this unique Central Asian market when you meet people leading away the reluctant beasts they have purchased. Or, when you’ve bought a nice fat-bottomed sheep, just load it in the back of your Lada and off you go.

Karakol market, Kyrgyzstan
 There are prospective purchasers putting horses through their paces.

Karakol market, Kyrgyzstan
There are moos, baas, bleats and squeals from all directions. How about a carboot FULL of piglets? Everywhere people are happy passing the time of day. Watch a spot of blacksmithery as the horses are shod.

Karakol market, Kyrgyzstan

I stayed at the Yak Tours guesthouse in Karakol, run by Valentin who gave us a ride to the animal market in his motorcycle side car (fulfilling a lifelong ambition of mine). His big old colonial house is comfortable, has a lovely garden and he can arrange trekking tours, excursions and guides.

Karakol market, Kyrgyzstan

Valentin’s wife Bobolinka cooks some of the best dinners in Karakol, or maybe Kyrgyzstan, which is reason enough to stay here. Karakol does not offer much in the way of nightlife and food in Central Asia can be a hit or miss affair so home cooking is always the best option.

By Natasha von Geldern

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  1. The mountain range in the background is a beautiful compliment to the scene you show here. Great images!

  2. Those piglets are darling!!

  3. Ibraim Almazbekov

    Very good story and photos!
    Thank you that you are visiting our city!
    Next time, when come back to the Karakol you can contact a new, modern travel company Visit Karakol
    Phone: +996 772 150951, +996 555 451515
    E-mail: visitkarakol@gmail.com

  4. Good photos and article Natasha. Looks like the horses are all underweight though. Kinda sad.

    • Thanks for stopping by Cynthia! It is a poor country and a hard life for people and animals. Plus they are not the sort of horses you’d get on a farm in the West. These are working, mountain beasts. I didn’t see any animals being illtreated, on the contrary in the mountain pastures the flocks and herds are part of a valued way of life.

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