Your Ultimate Guide To The World Nomad Games 2018

The World Nomad Games 2018 is coming up! Interested in learning more about this mind-blowing event but don’t know where to start? Well, here is your guide to the World Nomad Games 2018. Let’s get started!

The Location:

Kyrgyzstan, World Nomad Games 2018

Kyrgyzstan: a country of 6 million inhabitants nestled in the mountains of Central Asia. A land with a thousand-year history and a crossroads for civilizations and cultures on the Silk Road. For a long time under foreign domination, geographical isolation has nevertheless preserved its ancient nomadic culture. Kyrgyzstan is a pearl of rare brilliance that shines with its different legacies: Persian, Turkish, Mongolian and Russian. However, independent of the fall of the USSR in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has been scourged by years of ethnic and political conflicts, economic stagnation and rampant poverty.

A unique country where the sweet taste of beauty seems to be accompanied by the bitter aftertaste of fatality, as on the pristine shores of Lake Ysyk Köl where, just beyond it, looms the dominating mountain range of Tian Shan. A majestic place considered to be the historic epicenter of the Black Death which decimated Europe between 1347 and 1352. Here, as a tourist center in the Soviet era, the World Nomad Games—the games of the nomadic peoples—are held from 2014 on a biennial basis. An international event that carries out the mission of both protecting and reviving the traditions and identity of the peoples of Central Asia, through the strengthening of cultural ties between the participating nations. The idea, proposed in 2012 by the then president of the Kyrgyz Republic, Almazbek Atambayev, with the support of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, is an important showcase and an opportunity for tourism development within the whole country.

The History:

Opening Ceremony World Nomad Games 2018
The opening ceremony of the World Nomad Games. Photographer: Save the Dream

The first edition of the World Nomad Games took place from September 9th to 14th, 2014. 583 athletes from 19 countries competed in 10 sports. For a total spending of over 3 million dollars, the games were accompanied by a rich program of cultural festivities and entertainment events. The great interest the games generated pushed Kyrgyzstan to propose a second edition in 2016. Held from 3 to 8 September, it included a total of 23 sports and saw the participation of about 1000 athletes from 63 countries.

This year hosts the third edition, the World Nomad Games 2018, which takes place from the 2nd to the 8th of September. And this year is bigger than ever before: 80 participating nations, 3000 athletes and 36 sports from different disciplines of horse riding, dueling and other traditional games such as archery, hunting and strategy board games, etc.

The Mission:

The goal of the games is to revitalize the nomadic sports, giving them international relevance.

The competitions are held in different types of sports, such as Mas-wrestling, archery, or the ordo, in which bones are used.

But the most famous is the equestrian sports, in particular, the buzkashi or kokpar, a sort of central-Asian version of polo, with a notable difference: the aim is to reach the goal with the decapitated carcass of a goat.

Buzkashi, the World Nomad Games 2018
Buzkashi will certainly feature in the World Nomad Games 2018!

More Than Sport:

But the World Nomad Games are not just about sport, it’s also a time to celebrate the cultural heritage and traditions of these peoples. Since the time of the Silk Road, the nomads have welcomed other cultures, while also sharing their own unique traditions with others.

Always in the spirit of cultural exchange, competitions are held for cooking and construction of yurts, the typical Asian mobile home among the various regions of Kyrgyzstan.

The aim of the games is not only to increase dialogue between cultures and to showcase disciplines that otherwise would not feature in other sports competitions, but also to help preserve the nomadic cultural heritage of Central Asia and Kyrgyzstan in an era of globalization. In this regard, in fact, a series of side events have accompanied and enriched the event. Within almost 300 yurts, you’re able to listen to music or attend traditional theatrical performances, fashion shows with clothes for both sexes, as well as a conference discussing the future of the nomadic civilization.

But, with the constantly expanding nature of the event, who knows what additional surprises will be in store this year at the World Nomad Games 2018!

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The Essential Info:

When: September 2-8, 2018

Where: Cholpon Ata, Kyrgyzstan

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased through the World Nomad Games 2018 mobile app or by other trusted retailers. Different types of tickets are also available.

Price: from 8 dollars up to 90 dollars

Top Tips:

1. Book in advance – This is, obviously, one of the first things you should do to make sure you can attend the Word Nomad Games 2018! Book your tickets for the event first, book your flight and hotel afterward. As you’ll know, booking in advance also saves money and time, allows one to be more flexible, and will make for a smoother trip.

2. Have a plan – Use a map and don’t underestimate the distances—Kyrgyzstan is a big country—in order to get there on time for the events. Make sure to find nearby accommodation and figure out beforehand the easiest ways to move around the area. Schedule everything but try to get to the venue a little bit early in case there are any changes to the program.

3. Use public transportation – Relying on public transportations such as local buses that steadily go back and forth from the camp is the best option to keep things cheap and safe. In case you are forced to rely on taxis, ask for the price in advance.

4. Try to keep things authentic! – Experience authentic and traditional things by trying local foods and connecting with the local people. Kyrgyzstan is a unique place, so be sober yet open-minded.

5. Some basic Russian would be helpful – Unfortunately, English is not widely spoken in the area so a little phrasebook or translator app should be considered to avoid unpleasant misunderstandings and to always have a backup plan when things get tricky!

6. Pack for the right things! – Wear comfortable clothes to keep things relaxed and practical. Bring a mask or a bandana as dust is all over the place. Bring solar cream and make sure to stay hydrated!

We really hope you found this guide useful and enjoy your adventure at the upcoming World Nomad Games 2018!

Suggested next reading: Hiking Into The Clouds With The Hill Tribes Of Northern Vietnam

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