Karakol is situated near the eastern end of Issyk-Kul lake and near the highest mountains (Pobeda Peak, 7439m. and Khan-Tengry, 7010 m.) and the largest glaciers of Tien-Shan Mountains. Karakol was founded at the end of the 19-th century.
During a sightseeing tour of Karakol one can see a Chinese wooden Mosque built in the style of a Buddhist pagoda without a single nail! One can also see a Russian Orthodox church, a history museum and an oriental bazaar.
One of the main spots is Nickolai Prjevalsky’s (the Great Explorer of China, Central Asia and Issyk-Kul region) memorial complex. At the eastern tip of lake Issyk-Kul, Karakol is a fertile garden town of wooden chocolate-box cottages and shady, poplar lined avenues.
Fringed to the east by the Teskey Ala-Too Mountains, which tower dramatically over its low-rise skyline, Issyk-Kul ripples 10 km to the west. Founded by the Russians in 1869, a European style chequerboard of streets belies the fact that China lies only 150 km over the mountains. The eclectic multi-ethnic mix of Karakol citizens, hower, keeps visitors firmly anchored in Asia.
Karakol is the best base from which to explore the lakeshore and Central Asia’s prime trekking and mountaineering routes with the most spectacular parts of the Central Tien Shan right on its doorsteps and newly open to foreign visitors, the town attracts trekkers, hikers and climbers from all over the world.
There are a few enchanting places in this world to which you might go once and immediately you know that you will newer forget them. One such place is Kyrgyzstan - a remote and mysterious place to many, yet one filled with exotic sights, colorful and pleasant people, and ruggedly beautiful scenery.
Until just recently a "backyard" of the former USSR Kyrgyzstan was a closed country, forbidden to most people. Now we are a proudly independent state and we want as many people in the world as possible to know about us. Many years ago we obtained our liberty and independence and obtained the right to build our lives on the principles of democracy and internationalism.
We are a multiethnic, generous, and industrious nation, which a British newspaper once described as "the nice guys of Central Asia". True. Outside our capital, Bishkek, we do not have many high- class hotels and restaurants, comfortable roads and cozy campsites, but they are in the process of development, and we are confident that all of this will soon come.
We have a beautiful, mountainous country. 94 % of our country is mountainous, and the sheer untouched beauty of our mountains, mostly free from ski lifts and funiculars, frequently used paths and observation platforms, is majestic and intact. We have managed to preserve our natural world. We like to think that the air of our mountains tastes like the purest spring water. We have unsullied rivers and lakes, remote and untouched high mountain peaks; vast and primeval nature reigns and charms the visitor, bringing him closer to actual meaning of life and you can see, we are quite a poetic people.
Kyrgyzstan has sharply continental climate, with hot summers and moderately cold winters. In summer, areas from 800 to 1700 meters see average temperatures of 26-30 (0)C, winter temperatures in the lowlands average -5 (0)C. The country has 1,923 mountain lakes and about 40,000 streams and rivers. However, only 7% of the land is arable, of which 68% is irrigated. Kyrgyzstan's three major rivers are the Naryn (also the longest at 535 kilometers), Chu (221 kilometers) and Chatkal (205 kilometers).
Lake Issyk-Kul is the second largest high-altitude lake in the world and is famous for its magnificent scenery and unique scientific interest. Lake Issyk-Kul is situated in the northern Tien Shan Mountains, bordered on the north by the Kungey Ala-Too Range (with elevations up to 4,771 m) and on the south by the Teskey Ala-Too Range (up to 5,216 m). The lake has a length of 182 km, a width of up to 61 km, and a surface area of 6,280 square km. It reaches 702 m in depth and has a volume of 1,738 cubic km. The lake's name, which derives from a Kyrgyz word for "hot lake," alludes to the fact that it does not freeze over during the winter.
CULTURE and TRADITIONS. On top of a nomad's house, a yurta, there is a "door to the sky" called a tunduk. This circle symbolises the Sun that unites the uuks or wooden beams that support the yurta's cupola, like the cupola of the sky.
The traditional man's hat in Kyrgyzstan is a white felt hat called an Ak-Kalpak, that is a perfect shape and easy and practical to use. The light, white felt keeps one warm in winter and reflects hot sunbeams in summer. Its brim protects the eyes from the light and the face from rain and snow. Outwardly, it looks like the Tien-Shan Mountain peaks and, according to legend it has a holy, conservative force. Kyrgyz men of all ages study, work, and rest wearing Kalpaks.