Petroglyps and horseback riding in Cholpon-Ata by Lake Issyk Kul

The north shore of Lake Issyk-Kol is the main tourist destination for most Russian and Central Asian tourists coming to Kyrgyzstan with its beach scene, water sports and booming bars.  But, unless you’re from the nearby region where coastal beaches are at a premium, I doubt that will really appeal to you – most likely it will just come across as a tacky resort


That being said, if you’re travelling from Bishkek to Karakol (for the hiking in the nearby Ak-Suu mountain region), its still worth stopping off at Cholpon-Ata for the horse-ride around the lake and up to the 3500 year old petroglyps on the glacial boulders just north of town.  Don’t stay much longer though

Hiking near the hot springs of Altyn Arashan near Karakol

Hiking in the Ak-Suu mountain region of Kyrgyzstan must be the highlight of Central Asia.  Snow capped mountains, remote lakes, thermal springs, great hiking routes, and a feeling of being in a place that the modern world has largely untouched as you still see farmers moving their animals to markets on the same routes you are hiking and people generally being open and friendly to help you.  Also, without the usual hoards of tourists for a place so beautiful  . . . I mean, how many people have Kyrgyzstan on their summer holiday list?!


As with all places in Kyrgyzstan, there isn’t really an established infrastructure to make things easy for you when you arrive, but this is all part of the charm and giving you that feeling of adventure.  So, I’ve added some tips below for how to get the most out of the trip

A day in Bishkek

Bishkek lets you see some of the old Soviet concrete buildings, and has some kind of pretty parks, but there isn’t really that much to see.  A visit is more a necessity as a launchpad to the hiking around Ak-Suu mountain region near Karakol, Lake Issyk-Kol and the rest of Central Asia