IntroductionThis quiet, picturesque town near the eastern end of Lake Issyk-Kul is a good base for exploring the lake and the central part of the Tien Shan range, or just for relaxing at one of the many nearby hot springs. Among the historical oddities in town are a Tungan (Chinese Muslim) mosque and several 19th-century wooden colonnades on some of the older buildings near the central bazaar. There are also a couple of good markets in and around Karakol, particularly on Sunday. About 40 mi/65 km west of Karakol is a range of odd red-rock formations called Dzhety-Oguz, or Seven Bulls. Local legend says the bulls were turned to stone by the gods to keep them from terrorizing nomads. Karakol is 300 mi/480 east of Bishkek.
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