Lake Issyk-Kul



This turquoise lake with a mountain backdrop is one of the most popular and beautiful sights in the country. It's also the world's second-largest alpine lake (after Lake Titicaca). Issyk-Kul means "warm lake," and the name fits: Hot springs abound in and around the lake, which never freezes over. Some of the shallow bays have temperatures of 77 F/25 C, even in the dead of winter. Resorts (more like concrete sanatoriums than luxurious spas) dot the shore, especially along the north-shore road that runs to Karakol from Balikchi, and in some of the lakeside towns you can rent boats and waterskiing equipment. The town of Cholpon-Ata has several medicinal-spring spas, as well as a beach. There are many campsites and hiking trails around the lake, and there's also some good fishing (carp, pike and trout). 90 mi/150 km east of Bishkek.

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