The Issyk-Kul lake is nonfreezing mountain miracle of tectonic origin located in the deep intermountain hollow between Kungey Ala-Too spurs and Terskey-Ala-Too ridge on the 1609 m altitude above the sea level. Mountain ridges protect the lake from cold air from the north and from hot breath of desert from the south. Therefore the local climate is warm and soft – here exhausting heat and strong frosts don’t happen.
Issyk Kul is one of the biggest and most beautiful high-mountain lakes of the world (it has 170 km length and 70 km width, being the second-largest mountain lake in the world after Titicaca – lake in South America). Depths in lake are not everywhere identical (the greatest depth is 700 m) hence the water everywhere gets warm differently.
Translated from ancient Turkic language "Issyk-Kul" means "sacred, reserved lake" and from Kyrgyz it means "warm lake" (because it never freezes). And it is true, in spite of the fact that the lake is high-mountainous, it is famous for its warm beaches, thermo-mineral radon sources, alpine glades and huge coniferous forests. The lake has indented coastline, but due to this here are about 20 picturesque gulfs and bays located.
It is well-known also for its healing properties. Crystal-clear water, mineral sources in combination with mountain, but at the same time soft, almost sea climate, create perfect conditions for resort rest with additional opportunities of mud and thermal treatment. About 80 rivers run into the lake, but no any flows out. In this reason the lake is salty (the water salinity is 5,8 %). About 10 billion tons of various salts are dissolved in the lake waters. That is the reason why from the ancient time people come here not only to have a rest on coast of the natural phenomenon, but at the same time for the health-improvement.
Altyn-Arashan hot source located on a picturesque high-mountain valley at height of 3000 m, jetty-Orghuz canyon consisting of unusual red rocks, huge and a little bit frightening with silence Karkara valley, fascinating and safe trekking in Terskey-Ala-Too – all can be considered as most demanded highlights of the region (certainly, except the lake). Hillsides and gorges of Issyk-Kul side are suitable for the trekking, carving, mountain ski all year round.
It is inexcusable to be on Issyk-Kul lake and not to visit its well-known archeological monuments. In particular, nearby to Cholpon-Ata small resort town the original museum on the open-air where you will see the big congestion of petrogliphs (II millennium B.C. – VIII c. A.D.) is located. Besides petrogliphes, the plenty (up to 1000) burial grounds have been revealed in the territory of Issyk-Kul lake region. In Tamga gorge you will see Tamga-Tash – the huge stone boulder split into half-and-half where inscriptions of Buddhist formulas are carved. And the Muslim mosque constructed without a piece of nail survived till now in Karakol.