The World Nomad Games! The Olympics of Central Asia!

Travel Tramp Rich @traveltrampSeptember 2018 · 3 min read

The World Nomad Games! The Olympics of Central Asia!

The World Nomad Games are a crazy sporting and cultural event that has been held every two years since 2014 in Kyrgyzstan. It's a mad display of Central Asian life, and of nomadic lifestyles. Forget the Olympics. The World Nomad Games is the sporting event to go to!

The games are held in Cholpon-Ata, on the shores of Isssyk Kul Lake, and thousands of competitors, media and travellers visit for the week-long event which showcases the best of the noamdic world's sports.

From hunting with eagles to dead goat polo - I know, I told you this was a mad event! - this is the world's most insane sporting event!

Here's what happened when I visited the World Nomad Games, in Kyrgyzstan!





Kok Boru: Dead Goat Polo on Horses

This event is the highlight of the games although it's not for the faint of heart. It's essentially dead goat polo on horses. Teams charge in on horses to pick up a headless dead goat carcass before attempting to race across the field to fling the carcass into a dead goat bin to score a goal. It's brutal, fast paced and dangerous, but thrilling to watch if you don't mind seeing the dead goat being flung around.

The winning team take the carcass away as a trophy to cook up as a feast, so none of the unfortunate goat is wasted. In the final at the main stadium, Uzbekistan lost to the hosts Kyrgyzstan while the crowd went wild.











Hunting with Eagles

A traditional custom in Kyrgyz culture is to train an eagle, falcon or hawk from birth to hunt. These birds of prey are raised as fearless predators and are trained in their art by the locals. At the World Nomad Games, skills were put to the test as the locals sent off their birds, and had to get them to return as many times as possible within a set time period.

It was remarkable to watch the close bond between man and bird.

Bird of Prey hunters.jpg






Closeby to the birds of prey, archers were ready in their country's national dress to shoot it out in traditional Kyrgyz archery. There were nationalities from across the world, including from the US, who were decked out in cowboy hats for the occasion.

Being a disorganised but resoundingly exciting, the archers were only told the rules moments before they began to shoot, ensuring chaos and spectacle for the crowd.





Horseback Archery

The real event though was the horseback archery, an event which demonstrates nomadic skill and horsemanship. Three targets, three arrows. The competitors had to shoot from the galloping horse to try and score as many points as they could on each pass down the range.

It was thrilling to see, and there were close battles of skill for victory.







Horseback Wrestling

And as if those horseback and nomadic events weren't enough, back at the Hippodrome, huge wrestlers competed on horseback - including an ex-MMA fighter from the USA - for supremacy in the traditional horseback wrestling event.

It was tough and brutal.




All Words and Pictures by Richard Collett

(You can read my blog, Travel Tramp, for more info on the World Nomad Games!)[]

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This is really great I will have to find out more about it and try to get there next year. Sure I would only be a spectator, but it looks wild and genuine old-fashioned non PC entertainment. I have been to some out of the way places and done my bit in entertaining, visiting there will be a league above.
Yes, there are flights from London to Bishkek so it's doable!


Thank you for sharing and really an eye opener for me. Didn't know that in a corner of the world, they have such world game.Your story flow nicely with the pictures. It a bit cruel to see the headless goat and they used it as a competition. Wondering, why they cannot used other object to replace this poor goat. The archery and horse riding skill must be very good in order to participate in this game. and I saw ladies participated as well. Wow.. They were great.

Good sharing @traveltramp.


Hello such an interesting post the photos are amazing!It must have been so interesting to watch all this very uncommun sports:)

Yeninsfer @yeninsferSeptember 2018

@traveltramp Wonderful expectaculo the world games of nomads. They show imprecionantes abilities of balance in the horses and good arm with excellent dominion of the shot for the archery. How much security and firmness to shoot on a moving horse achieving a good shot. Imprecionante horse fighters how much strength used to achieve victory. Excellent world. You achieved incredible photos. You managed to show us everything that happened. A big greeting.


What a thrill!! Most of these games, I have never heard of them before, like the dead goat polo and the hunting eagles, it will be really fun to be there and experience all of these. I feel so sad for the unfortunate goat that will fall prey to this game though.. Hahahaha! Well, its gonna end up in the pot at last..

A clash of different cultures, all there to have some mad fun and to connect with each other, its pretty cool!

The location is just amazing, I love those little huts there. Did you guys stay in there?

This event definitely needs more recognition, it seems so well organized and filled with so much excitement (I can see that in the photos).

Ernesto Durán @eruneSeptember 2018

This is super interesting, the photos are very good, and it's great to know that there are so many different things in so many places, even if I have to confess that the animals did not seem so much to me, but well, we have to respect the acculturation to the extent which is not a threat to the rest. very good post and I love learning things I did not know about the world, by steemit!


Epic post, Richard! I need to get to the next games, for sure.

Niall @niallon11September 2018

That looks unreal and a big crowd at it too. It's important to keep your heritage alive and this is obviously a good way of doing it. I'm sure these games have been going on for a long time and have been over bragging rights in the past. We have similar games and contests over here that have been played for many hundreds of years and they have grown into something bigger and yet still tribal.

Jonboy @jantonSeptember 2018

howdy from Texas traveltramp! oh my gosh this looks so amazing and I agree this is like the REAL Olympics! wow and you got some fantastic action photos like the birds flying and the one with the arrow after being shot out, the horses running... man, just beautiful camera work.
Do you get to go to this every year?