Just to the east of Issy Kol, the worlds second largest alpine lake, there sits Kyrgyzstans fourth largest city. Karakol is not a large city with less than 62,000 residents, but it doesn’t boast big infrastructure or modern architecture. The small town is surrounded in every direction by huge mountains providing central Asias best hiking and skiing resorts. The view in every direction is breathtaking as the sun reflects off the bright white snow capped peaks. Walking through town, your eyes are forced upward to take in the wonderful nature that towers above.
Just 5 kilometers from the town you will arrive at the town beach on the shore of Issy Kul. But unlike the jam packed beaches of America or Europe, here you will find solitude amongst the horses grazing beneath the mountains, and the few crazy locals who are willing to brave the frigid blue water. But sitting on the shore you can see the rolling green hills turn into the jagged mountain peaks above reflecting off the bright turquoise blue lake.
Despite not having a lot to do in the actual town of Karakol, a stroll around some of the older parts of town can be quite lovely. The antique homes are chipping their bright red, blue, and white paint in contrast to the wall of mountains in the distance. The local parks are filled with pines and tall grasses giving you a fully immersive nature experience. Small restraints and bazaars bring out the life of the town as locals meander the streets in no hurry. An old church and old mosque sit on opposite sides of town, yet both are built with a very look. Wooden siding to fit in with the nature of the area and brightly colored accents paint the roof and walls. Most of your time here will most likely be spent high in the mountains as they lure you from every angle, yet the peaceful tranquility of the small, quaint town may make your stay longer than expected. Either way, the drive to Karakol from Bishkek will be one of the most rewarding aspects of a trip to the east as you circumference the beautiful Lake Issy Kul.