Summer at Issyk-Kul
above sea level
|Depth:||Maximum - 702 m.|
Average - 210 meters.
|Type of water:||salty (5,9 %)|
|Water temperature:||Average (summer): 22°С|
Average (winter): 3°С
Issyk-Kul (kyrg. Ыссык-Көл - Issyk - means "warm", Kul - means "lake") — a unique high-altitude lake, that's located in the north-eastern part of Kyrgyzstan. It is the largest lake in the republic, and also one of the largest high-mountain reservoirs in the world. The lake has the second rank in the transparency and purity of its water just after Lake Baikal.
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Issyk-Kul is located in the north-eastern part of Kyrgyzstan in the Issyk-Kul region, between the ridges of the northern part of Tien Shan - Küngüy-Ala-Too and Terskey Ala-Too on altitude of 1,609 meters above the sea level. The coast of the lake is divided into northern and southern parts, the length of the lake of the northern coastline is about 200 km, and the southern 250 km, the total length of the entire coast is about 450 km. The maximum length of the lake from west to east is 180 km and from north to south 56 km.
The maximum depth of the lake is 702 meters, and the average depth is 210 meters. The water is brackish, the salt concentration is 5.9%, which is much less compared to ocean water. Due to chemical composition, water has a significant effect on health.
There is a mild marine climate at Issyk-Kul due to its geographic location and isolation by mountain systems. Climate is relatively milder than in other parts of the republic in Issyk-Kul region, as the lake is located much higher than all other regions of Kyrgyzstan. There are 300 sunny days per year. It is not too hot here because of its mountain ecosystem.
Moderate climate is also characterized by the fact that the lake absorbs the summer heat, the water warms up, so it never freezes even in winter. An exception can be only the eastern part of Issyk-Kul, where winter, as a rule very cold, in January, the temperature can drop down to -20 ° C, the land is covered with a snow cover and the water in the bays is covered with ice. This is characterized by the proximity of the mountains to the lake, as well as the narrowing of Issyk-Kul into numerous bays in this region.
In summer it is very warm, the temperature can rise to 30 °C, but it usually becomes cooler in evenings. It is quite cold in winter, so that the average temperature is -3 -0 °C. Snow falls in some areas are extremely rare, only 1-2 times in few years.
The vegetative world of Issyk-Kul is represented by more than three and a half thousand kinds of plants, such as shamur, geranium, forget-me-not, short-toothed iris. Especially tourists can see edelweiss - a very rare flower, bright dandelions, ligulyariya, mountain aster, primrose and aconite. It can be also found such plants as spruce-juniper and rowan-kalin thickets, mountain thuja, greyhound, sour berries of barberry on the mountains of both the southern and northern coasts.
Issyk-Kul attracts tourists all over the world with its nature, climate, air, water, mountains, beaches and numerous picturesque places. The lake is one of the best places to relax for people living in Kyrgyzstan as well as for tourists from different countries. The tourist season begins in June and lasts until the end of September. This period is the best for visiting. In September starts so-called "velvet" season that can be very convenient for those who do not like hot weather.
There are numerous and different 2-3-4 stars hotels, sanatoriums along the coast. You can always choose cheap or expensive one. On beaches you can take sunbathing, enjoy fresh sea air and the pleasant, refreshing water of the lake. There are a lot of tours to different gorges and places for visiting in Issyk-Kul mountains for those who likes outdoor activities.
Conventionally, the lake can be divided into three parts: the northern coast, the southern coast and the eastern part of Issyk-Kul.
The northern coast lasts about 200 km. and begins from Balykchy town to Tyup village. There much more hotels and resorts on the northern coast than at the southern part of Issyk-Kul. The biggest tourist centers are Cholpon-Ata and Bostery village, where the infrastructure is more developed.
Along the northern coast you can visit the picturesque gorges and enjoy the beauty of local nature. The most popular places for visiting are Semenovskoye and Grigorievskoe gorges. It is also recommended to visit the waterfalls of the Ak-Su river and Lake Syuttu-Bulak. There are several hot spring locations along the northern coast that can be visited even in winter.
The length of the coastline of the southern part of the lake from Balykchy to the capital of Issyk-Kul region Karakol city is about 220 km. There are much fewer hotels, guest houses here than on the northern coast, however, the interest of tourists, especially among fans of outdoor activities is high in this region. Among the tourists here are popular bike rides, visiting local mountains and wild beaches.
The most popular destination along the southern bank of the Karakol - Tamga - Kaji-sai. In these places the nature of Issyk-Kul differs from the northern shore - this is the diversity of local nature.
Eastern part of the lake
The eastern part of Issyk-Kul is a part of the Tyup district characterized by the absence of resorts, hotels and guest houses. It is completely untouched by civilization part of the region with virgin, wild nature. It is notable with its small bays and the proximity of the mountains to the coast, which creates its own microclimate and on the whole distinguishes this region from the southern and northern coast of Issyk-Kul. Transparency of water in this part of the lake is lower in comperison to the northern and southern coasts due to its predominance of the clay bottom in the local bays and the violent growth of various algae.
Like in other parts of the lake, it is possible to visit various picturesque gorges overgrown with coniferous forest. And the proximity of the mountains to the lake will open before your eyes part of the panorama of the Issyk-Kul region.
In winter, this region is also of interest for lovers of alpine skiing, since there is a ski base located not far from the capital of Issyk-Kul region - Karakol city.
There are many resorts, hotels, guest houses along the coast of Issyk-Kul. Most of them are located at the north coast, in the southern part of the lake there are fewer resorts places. The center of resort is at Cholpon-Ata and Bosteri. You can find any level of hotels and boarding houses - from the most simple, budget private cottages to very comfortable five stars hotels.
Summer is the main period for any activities at the lake, but you can also come to the sanatorium in winter. Thers is also possibility to come to ski on the slopes of ski resort in Karakol.
How to get to the lake
One of the major transport hubs in Kyrgyzstan, connecting the roads with Issyk-Kul through the Bomsk Gorge, is the capital of the Republic - Bishkek. There are numerous transfers by buses and taxi from the capital to Issyk-Kul. The price varies depending on which type of transport you need.
The map shows the routes along the northern and southern shores of the lake. The route from Bishkek to Karakol along the northern coast is 400 km, along the southern coast is 390 km, which takes about 5.5-6 hours. The total length of the path around Issyk-Kul is 450 km.
In 2015, a new two-lane road was built from the capital to Balykchy, located in the western part of Issyk-Kul. In 2017, a new road was built from Balykchy to Cholpon-Ata. In general, this improves traffic flow towards the lake and back, and also reduced the number of accidents along the highway. The quality of the roadway along the northern coast for the city of Cholpon-Ata is satisfactorily condition for a while, as well as on the southern coast.
Direct flights to Bishkek include such companies as Aeroflot, S7, Turkish Airlines and others.
- The main part of Issyk-Kul does not freeze in the winter months due to the fact that during summer the water warms up fairly well, except for the eastern part of the lake, as there are a large number of bays and a close location to the mountains.
- The water level reduces and then increases by 10-20 meters for a long time, within approximately one century. At the moment the water level increases.
- The lake has more than 80 mountain rivers that flows to Issyk-Kul, while there is no river that has its source from the lake.
- There are the ruins of the ancient city of Chigu at the bottom of Issyk-Kul.
- There is, so-called, "dead sea" On the southern coast, near the village of Kara-Koo.
- An intriguing version is that this remote lake was the last resting place of evangelist St Matthew, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, and the find may support a theory that an Armenian monastery once existed here at which his relics were supposedly buried. 
- There are ancient artefacts of people (ruins of ancient settlement and barrows) that has been living at this region 1000-2000 years ago.