Boasting a long and storied history, the lake was once a stop along the ancient Silk Road. Issyk-Kul was also once used by the Soviet Navy as a torpedo testing site, during which time foreigners were not permitted to visit the area. The lake was a popular summer escape during the Soviet Era, and continues to attract sun-seekers from around the world, especially in the warm month of August. A mountain pass will soon connect Issyk-Kul and Almaty, allowing for easier visitor access to the beautiful lake.
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Ancient Scythian Cemeteries
Issyk-Kul Lake, with its ancient and mysterious history, is home to huge burial mounds of historic Scythian Kings. These are marked with silent stone statues to commemorate the civilizations that once inhabited this area. It’s an enchanting sight, also dedicated to the legendary Ferghana horses and is decorated with symbols of solar representations and mythical creatures.
Issyk-Kul Lake is home to beaches that stretch for hundreds of miles, perfect for enjoying some sun and swimming in the lake’s cool, refreshing waters. Those enjoying the sun should, however, be careful - due to Issyk-Kul’s elevated position, skin can succumb to sunburns much quicker than in lower-lying areas.
Due to its salt content, Issyk-Kul Lake never freezes, making it an important stopover point for migratory birds. Bird-watchers can come to catch glimpses of the birds who graze and breed in the foothills of the lake, including the Common Redshank, Kentish Plover, Common Snipe, Little Bittern, Ferruginous Duck and Demoiselle Crane.
With several species of fish, including Soman, Chebak, Carp and Trout, combined with the area’s incredible beauty, Issyk-Kul Lake is a popular fishing destination. Fishing should, however, be done with caution and moderation, as the lake has been a victim of overfishing in the past.
There are many hiking routes in the steep mountains surrounding the lake, allowing visitors to get up-close and personal with the area’s flora and fauna. Rushing rivers and hot springs make wonderful stopping points along a hike at Issyk-Kul Lake.
In the lake’s most popular areas, like Cholpon-Ata, it’s possible to rent rowboats and even jet-skis, making the lake even more attractive for those who wish to have some fun in the sun. There are always plenty of sailboats on the lake as well, being a popular boating destination.
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Issyk-Kul Lake Itineraries
Northern Kyrgyzstan is full of extremes: from the rugged mountains to the peaceful lakes, the hot spring pools to the wild beaches, there is something for everyone in this beautiful, untouched part of the world. This week-long itinerary will take you through the culture and natural beauty this unique place has to offer.
- 8 days / 7 nights
- Price Per Person
- From $5,300
Enjoy a summer’s stay at Royal Beach resort, located along the spectacular shore of Issyk-Kul lake - the largest in Kyrgyzstan. Guests can choose between the main hotel lodge, which holds 66 rooms, and smaller cottages scattered across the grounds. The resort features luscious gardens and easy access to the beach, where guests can rent sailboats and jet skis, or just soak up the sun and swim in the sea-like lake. The resort features several on-site bars and restaurants, spread out across the grounds, so all there really is to do is sit back, soak up the sun, and enjoy the moment.
Three Crowns Hotel (or 3 Korony Hotel) is situated on the picturesque shores of the Issyk Kul lake in the town of Cholon Ata, about 300 miles from Bishkek. With large rooms, modern bathrooms and widescreen TVs, this hotel really stands out as a popular choice for families, tourists and businesses. The 50 or so double and single rooms also have refrigerators, bathrooms with baths, safes, telephones, and free Wi-Fi. In the vicinity of the hotel there is a sauna, swimming pool, fitness and massage. For the the sports and games enthusiasts, a large area has been designated for a billiards table and ping-pong. Closeby, families can enjoy a kids play area with plenty of fun and games to keep them occupied.
Manjyly-Ata Yurt Camp
To the south of Kyrgyzstan’s most famous lake, Issyk-Kul, lies the area known as Manjyly-Ata, a plain notorious for its many hot-springs, which are said to have healing properties. The dramatic scenery of the area is not to be missed and one of the best ways to experience the true natural beauty of Manjyly-Ata and its wonders is to stay in a traditional yurt. Tucked into the hillsides for shelter, these traditional nomadic tents provide unparalleled views of the crystal clear lake with its backdrop of snowy-peaked mountains and here, travelers can truly find some peace and solitude. Though the accommodation is not luxurious, it is cozy with plenty of blankets and provides a truly unique opportunity to experience the simple way of life of the nomads. Travelers will enjoy hiking and trekking in the surrounding hills, not to mention the activities available on the lake, including sailing, fishing and even swimming in the summer.
Kyrgyzstan Goes Well With
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
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- Jay Tindall
Having heard so much about Issyk Kul lake since my arrival in Kyrgyzstan, I was excited to check it out. It is, after all, one of the top resort destinations for not only Kyrgyz nationals, but also for people living in other Soviet nations.
- Remote Lands
Hidden in the yawning expanse of Central Asia that makes up the Stans are some treasures that should be on every intrepid traveler’s map. These seemingly uncharted lands are full of truly mind-blowing ancient and natural wonders.
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