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Issyk-Kul Lake

Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul Lake is not only one of the world's few remaining ancient lakes, estimated to be an incredible 25 million years old, but also the second-largest alpine lake on the planet. Surrounding the lake are the snowcapped Tian Shan mountains, towering as high as 13,000 feet in the sky. The lake itself reaches depths of over 2,000 feet.

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.

Kyrgyzstan's Issyk-Kul Lake is not only one of the world's few remaining ancient lakes, estimated to be an incredible 25 million years old, but also the second-largest alpine lake on the planet. Surrounding the lake are the snowcapped Tian Shan mountains, towering as high as 13,000 feet in the sky. The lake itself reaches depths of over 2,000 feet.

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.

EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES

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.

Beaches

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.

Bird-watching

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.

Fishing

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.

Hiking

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.

Water Sports

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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TRAVELOGUES

TRAVELOGUES

Building a Yurt on the Shores of Issyk Kul Lake

Building a Yurt on the Shores of Issyk Kul Lake

Author : Richard Collett
Richard Collett travels to Kyrgyzstan to build a yurt on the shores of Issyk Kul Lake with a traditional builder, from the wooden willow planks to the tunduk.
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With the Eagle Hunters of Kyrgyzstan

With the Eagle Hunters of Kyrgyzstan

Author : Richard Collett
Aidar and Nursultan, Kyrgyz eagle hunters, train their deadly predators on the edge of Issyk-Kul Lake, a window into the past and a demonstration of nature's raw power.
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World Nomad Games: The Most Unusual Sporting Event of the Year

World Nomad Games: The Most Unusual Sporting Event of the Year

Author : Richard Collett
Richard Collett travels to the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan for an inspiring story of sporting greatness, cultural pride, and dead goat polo – also known as Kok Boru – in one of Asia’s most interesting competitions.
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Stan & Stare: Natural Wonders of Central Asia

Stan & Stare: Natural Wonders of Central Asia

Author : 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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Coney Island, Soviet Style: Issyk Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan

Coney Island, Soviet Style: Issyk Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan

Author : 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.
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