Karakol. Where to go, what to do, what to eat?

Month of the year to visit: full year
Popular places (mountains) to visit near Karakol: Hot springs in Altyn-Arashan and Ala - Kol lake, Karakol gorge, Karakol ski resort, Djergalan gorge, Enilchek village, Jety Oguz gorge, Karkara and Enilchek base camp

Karakol (formerly known as Przhevalsk from 1889 to 1922 and from 1939 to 1992) is the fourth most populous city in Kyrgyzstan. It serves as the administrative center of the Issyk-Kul region. The city is located near the eastern end of Lake Issyk-Kul, approximately 150 kilometers from the Kyrgyz-Chinese border and 380 kilometers from the capital, Bishkek. Geographically, it is situated at an elevation ranging from 1690 to 1850 meters above sea level.

What to see in Karakol city:

Dungan mosque Constructed between 1910 and 1912, the Dungan Mosque showcases a distinctive architectural style crafted by a team of skilled artisans, led by the architect Zhou Si. Haji Ibrahim went to great lengths to bring Zhou Si from Beijing for this project. The local community also actively participated in the mosque's construction. This single-story wooden structure stands as a remarkable achievement, as it was meticulously assembled without the use of a single nail.

Orthodox Church Situated in the heart of Karakol, the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church stands as a prominent landmark. Its construction took place between 1894 and 1895, replacing an earlier church that succumbed to an earthquake. The exterior of this church, featuring four columns adorned with intricate carvings, a soaring bell tower, and a gilded dome atop the roof, exemplifies the classic design of Orthodox churches. Notably, the church is the cherished home of the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Tikhvin.

The Memorial Museum of Nikolai Mikhailovich Przhevalsky was opened in Karakol in 1957 and houses various items, including documents and artifacts from the archives of the Geographical Society of the USSR. Presently, the museum's exhibition includes documents, photographs, and personal belongings of Przhevalsky. Adjacent to the museum, you'll find his burial place and a monument. One potential challenge for international visitors is that all descriptions of the exhibits in the museum are presented exclusively in Russian.

The town of Karakol is renowned for its bustling Sunday Animal Market, a favored destination for both locals and tourists. As early as 5 a.m., people gather at the market to trade livestock or make purchases.

Mountain places to visit in Karakol:

Altyn Arashan gorge and Lake Ala-Kol, which translates to "Golden Source" and "Colorful Lake," respectively, are a high-mountain gorge and a glacial lake located in the eastern part of the Terskey Ala-Too Range, near the town of Karakol in Kyrgyzstan.

This popular location is known for its pristine nature, hot springs, ancient Tien Shan spruces, and breathtaking views. It is worth noting that the area is a protected nature reserve.

The healing hot springs of Altyn-Arashan attract pilgrims and tourists throughout the year due to their therapeutic effects, containing radon and hydrogen sulfide. There are both indoor and natural open-air pools carved into rocks. The springs are located at an altitude of 2600 meters above sea level.

The high-mountain Lake Ala-Kol, situated at an altitude of 3800 meters above sea level, captivates visitors with its ever-changing colors, depending on the season or time of day. Interestingly, the lake has no outlet. The surrounding natural beauty, with its turquoise water, blue sky, white clouds, evergreen spruces, and rocky backdrop, justifies its name as a "colorful lake." There is also a trail leading to the Aksu Wall or Peak Palatka, named for its rare trapezoidal shape for these mountains, reaching a height of 4600 meters.

Djeti-Oguz gorge and the Kok-Zhayyk Jailoo are located on the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. The name "Djeti-Oguz" translates to "Seven Bulls" in Kyrgyz and refers to a series of red sandstone cliffs that resemble giant bulls. The magnificent peak of Oguz Bashi, also known as "Bull's Head," with a height of 5170 meters, stands at the end of the gorge.

Not far from there, a massive piece of rock with an impressive crack is known as the "Broken Heart."

The path along the river leads to the Kok-Zhayyk Jailoo, which translates to "green meadow." From this point, hiking routes to the waterfall begin. There are also opportunities to stay overnight in traditional nomadic yurts.

The Jyrgalan Valley located in the Issyk-Kul region, just 60 kilometers from Karakol, the village of Jyrgalan was once a thriving mining town. Established in 1932, the Jyrgalan mine was a profitable enterprise during Soviet times, where families built homes, had access to water, and children attended local schools. However, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, much of the town's economic activity declined. Local residents lost their means of livelihood, mining operations at the mining facilities ceased, and most homes lacked plumbing and sanitation.

It is a place filled with natural beauty. Turquoise alpine lakes, rivers, and waterfalls glisten under the warm summer sun. The gleaming white slopes, captivating trails, and tranquility can all be experienced in a single journey. The beauty of nature knows no bounds; it provides people with vivid, unforgettable moments, encouraging them to appreciate every minute and each new day. It's a simple reminder to savor nature and savor life.

You'll feel the crystal-clear mountain air, which will undoubtedly rejuvenate your strength, and the peace and serenity you'll find there will be nothing short of bliss. And the Jyrgalan Valley is simply breathtaking! ... You'll be amazed that in this day and age, there are still places untouched by civilization with such pristine nature that you might never want to go back home.

The "Karakol" ski resort is unique in its natural conditions. It is situated at an altitude of 2300 meters above sea level on the slopes of the Tien Shan mountains, amidst magnificent coniferous forests. The mild climate, influenced by the presence of the unfreezing high-mountain Lake Issyk-Kul, allows for maximum enjoyment of skiing. During the winter, daytime air temperatures rarely drop below -5 degrees Celsius, and the abundance of sunny days allows for both skiing and sunbathing simultaneously. The ski season starts in November and continues through April. Throughout this time, there's no need to worry about snow; it covers the ground with a dense layer, ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 meters in thickness.

Base camp "Enilchek" is located in the northern part of the Tien Shan near the largest glacier - South Enilchek.

BC is situated at an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level, and serves expeditions when climbing peaks and tops.

This location is a climber's paradise, because from here you can see the 7-thousanders’ tops:

- Pobeda Peak, 7439 meters above sea level;

- Khan-Tengri peak, 7010 meters above sea level.

By the way, the top of the Khan-Tengri peak is made of marble, and from the camp you can see not only the mountain itself, but marble too. At sunset and dawn, the marble is reflected, especially colorful, impressive and spectacular an indescribable red.

Places to eat in Karakol and what to eat in Karakol:

In Karakol, a must-try culinary delight is "Ashlam fu" cold soup. This traditional dish is a local favorite and a unique culinary experience that visitors should not miss. Ashlam fu typically consists of flavorful and aromatic ingredients, including noodles, vegetables, and a savory broth. The dish is known for its rich and hearty taste, making it a satisfying choice for those looking to explore the region's culinary offerings. If you're looking to enjoy Ashlam fu in Karakol, be sure to visit "У Саиды" Cyrillic version, "U Saidy" at the Bugu Bazaar. This is the recommended spot for savoring this local delicacy.

Dastarkon Cafe and Altyn Kumara Cafe are conveniently located close to each other and offer a diverse range of culinary experiences. At these cafes, you can not only indulge in local cuisine but also explore European culinary delights.

If you're a coffee lover, the following places are well-known and popular for enjoying a cup of coffee: Sierra coffee, Lighthousekarakol, Fat Cat Karakol.

Places to overnight in Karakol:

In Karakol, there is a variety of guest houses and 2-star and 3-star hotels that you can easily book through platforms like booking.com. If you're looking for a more unique experience, you can also opt to stay in yurts, which can be found in the picturesque gorges near Karakol city.

How to get to Karakol:

There are several transportation options for traveling from Bishkek to Karakol, one of the most well-known being the use of local buses departing from the Bishkek Bus Station. Additionally, taxis are readily available for this route.

Video about Karakol

Other places to visit Kyrgyzstan

Kegety Gorge is a wonderful place near the capital of Kyrgyzstan at an altitude of 4000 m above sea level. Not a classic gorge is appreciated by tourists for its spaciousness - wide and long, about 27 km.

Within our republic's territory, there exist numerous architectural monuments, with one of the most renowned being the Burana Tower. The term "Burana" is derived from the word "monora," which means minaret. The minaret is a part of the ancient Burana settlement, situated 12 kilometers from the town of Tokmok and 80 kilometers from Bishkek. Burana Tower stands as one of the oldest structures within our republic. Its construction dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries. Originally, the minaret's height reached 40 meters, and according to some researchers, possibly 45 meters. Its upper section was crowned with a dome-shaped lantern, similar to other structures of its kind. However, due to the consequences of an earthquake that occurred around the 15th or 16th centuries, the upper portion was destroyed. As of today, the tower's height stands at 21.7 meters.

Sary Chelek is an enchanting place that captivates even the most discerning enthusiasts of flora and fauna. The most popular route leads to Lake Sary Chelek, located near the Chatkal Range at an altitude of 1940 m.

The national park Ala-Archa is a picturesque delight for the eyes, it is located nearby Bishkek, Ala-Too Kyrgyz ridges. The national park stretches at an altitude of 1600-4860m and is a favorite place of citizens and guests of the capital.

Lake Issyk-Kul - a mountain drainless lake (1610 m above sea level), included in the list of the deepest lakes in the world (698 m), located between the Tien Shan ranges. The astronauts call it the eye of the Earth for its color and shape, and the locals call it a pearl because of its framing with snowy peaks

Tours in Kyrgyzstan
Open a beautiful gorge near Bishkek in one day
Fascinating tour with eagle hunting show
3 days
See pearl of Kyrgyzstan