The city itself a main hub for tourism in the region, Karakol describes its rich history through the monuments, museums, and religious institutions that line its city streets. Whether used as a homebase for a mountain trek or as a city break destination, Karakol has much to offer all kinds of visitors.
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Visitors may also wish to check out the local history museum located in the western part of town, which reflects the history of the city, major developments and also famous people of the region, for unique insight into the city’s past.
Issyk Kul Lake - the world’s second largest saline lake - is located near Karakol and is one of the main attractions to the city. Originally a Soviet torpedo testing site, the lake is named “Hot Lake” in Kyrgyz because - thanks to its high salinity - it never freezes. Today, the lake is a popular destination to swim, beach, and fish.
For more history lessons, pay a visit to the grave of Nikolai Przhevalsky - one of the original explorers of Central and Eastern Asia - which is located just north of the city. Also nearby is a museum dedicated to the early exploration of the area.
Taking in Karakol's unique architecture, with influences ranging from Chinese to French, is a great way to view the different cultures and traditions that have inhabited the city.
Worth a visit within the city center are two buildings, very similar in structure: one, a wooden mosque, the other, a wooden Russian Orthodox church - the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The mosque was built by Chinese artisans in the 20th century, and the cathedral, built before the turn of the century, has undergone a restoration.
The snowcapped Tien Shan mountain range is a great place to go skiing in Central Asia. In fact, the Karakol ski base is one of the most popular ski resorts in the region, boasting both cleared and forested trails.
To learn about local and regional history, focusing particularly on the physical landscape, explore the Regional Museum, which includes an exhibit of the area’s geological history as well as one detailing the Issyk Kul Lake petroglyphs.
The Tien Shan, a large mountain range running along the border of Kyrgyzstan and China, is located to the south and east of Karakol, making the city an excellent starting point or homebase for a mountain trek.
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Karakol is unlike any other part of Kyrgyzstan. Its scenery, its diversity of people, its attractions, and even its cuisine are all unique and have a wonderfully authentic feel. And after my kitschy Issyk Kul lake experience, unique and authentic were two traits I was craving.
Dave Stamboulis travels through the wildly verdant Jyrgalan Valley and over the Sary Mogul River to discover a Kyrgyzstan that is quite different than one might expect.
Here is a small selection of the kind words our guests have said about us, as well as features by journalists and travel writers.