In addition to the mild climate, mountain air and healing bright blue water, which have already been mentioned, Issyk-Kul attracts with its golden beaches, hot mineral springs and therapeutic mud: the lake is essentially a large health resort. But a lot of impressions are attached to the healing effect of rest here, because Issyk-Kul has a lot of entertainment and places that you can’t miss. So a boring sanatorium vacation will definitely not threaten you! You can go trekking, climbing, go rafting on the Chu River or take a yacht trip on the lake. The Kyrgyz also managed to organize educational tourism well.
4 things to do in Issyk-Kul:
- Rise into the sky on a hang glider, see the lake from a bird’s eye view and make sure that it is amazingly blue and transparent: you can even see the bottom!
- Visit the Santash Pass, about which there is a legend: Tamerlane many times tried to conquer the tribes that lived on the shore of the lake, on one of the campaigns he ordered his soldiers to pick up stones and make a mountain out of them, on the way back, the survivors did the same, the mountain turned out to be twice as small. These mounds were called Santash, which means countable.
- Get a telescope and at night admire the stars that hang at arm’s length in Cholpan-Ata. Although – you can do without a telescope! In the metropolis, there is definitely no such luxury because of the eternal smog.
- Dive into the depths of Issyk-Kul in equipment and see with your own eyes the ruins of ancient settlements found at the bottom of the lake.
According to wholevehicles, the resort center of the northern coast of Issyk-Kul Cholpon-Ata is famous for its health resorts. There are many thermal springs, hydrogen sulfide and silt mud. The largest water park and attractions in Kyrgyzstan operate on the beach.
Be sure to take a ride on the Ferris wheel: it is definitely worth seeing Issyk-Kul from a 70-meter height!
Surfing, spearfishing and parachuting in tow, hiking in caves and mountain gorges are available for extreme lovers. One of the popular routes is the Kungei Ala-Too ridge, from which you can see the mountain gorges of Chon-Koy-Suu and Cholpon-Ata with their famous petroglyphs and burial mounds. Here, alpine meadows coexist with eternal glaciers and waterfalls.
You can go fishing with the whole family or the hippodrome – look at the breed of Kyrgyz horses bred at a local factory.
When you are in Cholpon-Ata, go to the Stone Garden. An open-air museum spreads over 42 hectares – here the ruins of the city of the era of the Great Silk Road have been preserved. And in the cultural center “Rukh-Ordo” there are 5 white chapels, each dedicated to a particular religion.
Just 200 meters from Issyk-Kul, although this proximity is only apparent on the scale of the lake itself, there is another interesting attraction – Kara-Kol or Dead Salt Lake. In search of this natural miracle, it is still better to focus on the city of Balykchy: from it to Kara-Kola a little more than 70 km. The lake is notable for the fact that it is impossible to drown in it – such a concentration of salt! It is often compared to the Israeli Dead Sea, people come here to treat skin diseases. Silt mud of Kara-Kola – black, blue and green – is credited with an even wider range of healing properties.
Travelers who have chosen the wild southern coast of Issyk-Kul should visit Barskoon. The locals call it in their own way – Barskoon. This is a gorge in the mountains of Terskey-Alata, its length is 10 km. It was here that the Great Silk Road to China ran. But Barskoon is famous primarily for its waterfalls, each with its own, unusual name. For example, Tears of a leopard falling from a 100-meter height, or Splashes of champagne. Local guides will tell an incredible legend about each waterfall.
Don’t be surprised when you see a monument to Yuri Gagarin in the gorge. The cosmonaut often and with pleasure rested here.
Hot Spring Altyn-Arashan
There are many healing thermal springs on Issyk-Kul, but the Kyrgyz themselves consider Arashan to be the best, for which they call it golden. It is located 10 km from the city of Karakol, near the village of Ak-Suu. The main magic of this place is that springs of different temperature and composition of water spring from the ground: in the Juuku spring the water temperature is +34 °C, in Jilisu – +40 °C, in Arashan – +50 °C. The first two are hydrogen sulfide, the last is radon. It is believed that spring water helps with diseases of the digestive system, heart, liver and joints.
You can swim in the springs of Arashan all year round!
Even if you are not a Buddhist, visiting Tanga Tasha is worth it. The local shrine, meanwhile, of world value, is a chain of three giant stones located about 1 km from each other. Often, of course, travelers only get to one. On the stones there are engravings with Tibetan rock inscriptions that have a sacred meaning. This place, assure those who have been here, energizes.
There is a famous resort in the Jety-Oguz mountain valley, and it is known for being located at an altitude of 2200 m above sea level and built on hot hydrogen sulfide springs. The resort is surrounded by rocks with eloquent names: Broken Heart, Seven Bulls – the Kyrgyz have a clear order with a description of their native beauties. There was once an ancient settlement in Dzhety-Oguz, where the headquarters of the Usun ruler was located. Jety-Oguz gorge stretches for 37 km, it is literally strewn with dark green firs.
Hike for the Arab wind
Horses for the Kyrgyz are sacred animals, they have always lived next to people. Because equestrian tourism is flourishing here. You can go on a horseback ride for an hour, or you can go on a 15-day hike through the passes and high-mountain glaciers under the marvelous name “Beyond the Arabel wind”. What kind of wind you have to look for and what Arabelsky syrts are, the instructors will explain to you if you dare. Tourists on this trip cook their own food on a fire, and from what they shot or fished, take care of horses – in general, office plankton is good, and there will be something to brag to colleagues.
Before you go on a multi-day horse trip, make sure you have the strength and health for it. For people suffering from vascular diseases, such a tour is contraindicated.