Hot Spots

The 2010 It List

by Ondine Cohane

Kyrgyzstan

In 2010, the adrenaline addict's ultimate prize will be Kyrgyzstan, the thrill-a-minute nation known as the Switzerland of Central Asia. If it's short on vowels (pronounce it "KERG-i-stan"), it's long on adventures: heli-skiing the virgin snowy peaks of the Tian Shan mountains (pictured), riding rugged Kyrgyz horses along the ravines and lakes of the ancient Silk Route, bunking down in a traditional yurt after a hearty meal (and a glass of the fierce local vodka) around a horse-dung fire pit. The truly intrepid can watch—or even join—a game of ulak, Kyrgyzstan's most popular sport, a less genteel version of polo in which the head of a goat is used in lieu of a ball. After all those daring exploits, soak your muscles in the pool at the Hyatt Regency in Bishkek, the capital, while overlooking the very mountains you just conquered. Book your trip through U.K.-based outfitters Black Tomato, which can navigate Kyrgyzstan's considerable logistical challenges and take you off the beaten track to some of its most spectacular scenery.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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