Issyk-Kul Lake

   More than 170 kilometers long and 70 kilometers wide, Issyk-kul-lake is the second largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca (South America). Its name means " "hot lake", with some exaggerations. Although the altitude of the lake is as high as 1600 meters, the depth, heat, and salinity of the lake ensure that the lake is not frozen all year round, even in the cold winter of Central Asia. The mysterious and gentle lake water creates a lasting mild microclimate. In the summer, brave tourists swim in the sparkling blue lake, but they will find it is the beautiful mottled snow of Mount Alatu, rather than the palm grove surrounding the beauty. In fact, the lakeside "resort" attracts many Kazakh tourists, and can also take funny pictures here. There is often rubbish on the lakeside and it is very dirty. The main attraction for Western tourists is hiking. From the lakeside village, you can reach parts of the central part of the Tianshan Mountains, which has the best hiking areas in Central Asia. The most popular route is in the valley to the south of Karakol.


   Over the past few centuries, the surface of Lake Issyk-Kul has risen and fallen periodically, flooding villages and towns along the shores of the ancient lake. From the eastern end of the lake, some cultural relics have been unearthed in the submerged city Chigu, built in the 2nd century BC. At the entrance to Mikhaylovka near Karakol, a partially submerged village remains were also found. Although geological evidence indicates that the water level has been falling over the past 500 years, it has only declined overall 2 meters.

   In the 10th to 15th centuries, the Kyrgyz came here. Prior to this, the area was already the center of civilization of the Saga. According to legend, Emperor Timur later used it as the capital of the summer. At present, there are at least 10 recorded settlements in the waters below the lake, and treasure hunters have searched the bottom of the lake in order to find some gadgets. Issued the owners of the present objects are almost all from Christian monks to the Genghis Khan period.

   In the 1860s and 1970s, after the Tsar officers and explorers put the lake on the map of Russia, immigrants swarmed, and they began to build low, idle, and simple towns here, including Caraco, founded in 1869 Cole, as well as Tip, Teploklyuchenka (now Aksu), Ananyevo, Pokrovka (now Kizilsu), and many other towns in the 1870s, many retain Cossack names. In the 1870s and 1980s, the local Kyrgyz and Kazakhs still mainly lived a nomadic life.

   In the Soviet era, spa resorts by the lake were scattered, but the Issykki region (along with many areas in Kyrgyzstan outside Bishkek) was not open to foreigners. Locals will mention officially recognized and widely used cannabis and marijuana plantations around the lake, but most of these plantations disappeared under international pressure in the early 1970s. More importantly, the Soviet Navy used Lake Issyk-Kul to test high-precision torpedoes in order to escape reconnaissance from Western countries. At the entrance of Mikhailovka near Karakol, the entire military research complex rapidly expanded along Koy-Sary. After independence in 1991, Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president, demanded that the base be continued, but Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev prevented it. Currently, the most secret thing in the lake is the mysterious jean, the Kyrgyz version of the Loch Ness monster. Some jokes about the "Kyrgyz Navy" teased that a fleet of about 40 aging navy speedboats is now either stored in KoySary (not open to tourists) or retired to transport cargo or to sightseeing in the lake. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the local tourism industry has also been hit hard, but in the past 10 years, it has re-developed. This is due to the wealth of tourists and Russian athletes in Kazakhstan, who prefer the region's mild climate and high altitudes as a winter training ground.

Arrival and Departure

   The main access route from Bishkek and Kochkor to this place is at the western end of the lake, passing through the ugly city of Barek, the ugly city that we now hate, where it will at least mine. Asphalt roads are built around the lake, but roads are often several kilometers away from the water's edge. Vehicles along the Bishkek-Karakol route will follow the lake. But the northern lakeshore roads are busy, especially in summer.

   For tourists using private transport, Kazakhstan can also choose this route through the Karkara Valley (summer only). There is also a poor road, which can be more directly from the Great Almaty Lake in Alabo through the 0neny and Kok Ayryk Pass passes to Chong-sary-0r near Cholpon-Ata. However, there is no immigration sentry there, and horse riding or mountain biking enthusiasts need complex special permits to avoid serious immigration problems.

Tailor Your Own Silk Road Tour within 24hrs

  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • No Shopping
  • No Detour
  • No Hidden Charges
  • 99% Excellent Services
Quick Inquiry