Issyk Kul: the world’s second alpine Lake
Issyk kul is the biggest lake in Kyrgyzstan, and with its 170km long, 70km across the second-largest alpine lake in the world. The lake is located in the east of Kyrgyzstan, and in the northern part of the Tian Shan mountains.
The name means “hot lake”; because of extreme depth, thermal activity and mild salinity the lake never freezes, even if its attitude is more than 1600meter.
Before the end of the Soviet Union the lake was used to be a popular place for holiday. Today Issyk kul is the most visited place in the country. Most of the tourists in Issyk kul come from Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Especially the North side is developed with hotels, shops, activities on the water and beaches.
Cholpon Ata is the center of those activities and tourist infrastructure. It is possible to rent a boat, fly-boards, doing paragliding and other activities on the water. This city is crowded with tourists during the summer. From the North side a trip into Tian Shan Mountains is possible, following the Chong Ak-Suu Valley.
The biggest city of Issyk Kul is located on the East side: Karakol. This city is the administrative center of Issyk kul region. Next to the city is Karakol ski base, a small ski resort located in Karakol National Park. This area is perfect for hiking, and try to get close to the highest peak of the park: Karakol Peak (5460meter). Almost every peak in the National Park offers you a great view over the lake.
The south border is more quiet, but not less beautiful.Empty beaches, crystal-clear water, swimming is this part of the lake is a nice experience.
A trip to Seven Bulls (Jeti-Öguz) or Fairy-Tale Gorge is worth it. Both sites offer you a beautiful panorama of red and orange mountains. It is also possible to have a bath in the Salt Lake in the South-West corner of Issyk kul.