Issyk Kul Lake
The Issyk Kul Lake is one of the major tourist attractions of the country. This lake is the tenth largest in the world by volume, and is also endorheic, meaning the lake does not flow into a sea or ocean.
The name Issyk Kul translates to “warm lake.” The lake is named so not because of warm water temperatures, but because the lake never freezes even while surrounded by ice-covered mountains.
The area around Issyk Kul is part of the ancient Silk Road – the trade route between Europe and Asia. Two thousand five hundred years ago, when the water levels were much lower, the shores of the lake were a major stopover for traders and travelers traversing the route. There has been extensive evidence on this claim, such as the remains of an Armenian monastery from the 14th century and artifacts and structures found at the bottom of the lake.
Tourists flock to IssykKulLake to swim and bathe in the many resorts located around it. Exploring the shores and hiking in the mountains surrounding the lake are also popular activities.
The Tian Shan
Tian Shan means “Celestial Mountains” – a fitting name for a mountain range that reaches to the heavens. Found in eastern Kyrgyzstan, the Tian Shan is a massive collection of ranges, glaciers, and summits, which is a natural combination of resounding might and flawless grace.
The Tian Shan reaches the borders of China and Kazakhstan, so hikers and mountaineers will never run out of locations to conquer. However, the Tian Shan, especially its Central area, is very treacherous for amateurs – only experts have the skill and confidence to conquer these mountains.
Located in the Tian Shan are Peak Pobedy (the second-highest peak in the whole former USSR at 7,439 meters; located at the Kyrgyzstan-China border), Khan Tengri (also known as the Prince of Spirits or the Ruler of the Sky at 7,010 meters; located at the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border), and the Inylchek Glacier (the range’s grandest glacier, with a length of 60 kilometers).
Tash Rabat is a former fortress and an aged caravansary – an inn that has large grounds to accommodate caravans of passing-by travelers. It has roughly 30 rooms, and its wide space and stone walls are being compared to those of a cloister, castle, and fortress. Used by travelers traversing the Silk Route, it once provided them with both a place of worship and of rest.
Tash Rabat has a very strategic location along the foothills of the Tien Shan mountain range, embedded in the hillside. Because of its location, tourists sometimes just pass by in their vehicles without realizing that they have missed such an incredible place.
To reach Tash Rabat, take a vehicle from Naryn, Bishkek, or Torugart. Once here, you can spend half a day exploring Tash Rabat, as it is a critical piece of history in Kyrgyzstan’s role in the Silk Route.
Irkeshtam Pass is a path that connects Kyrgyzstan to China, one of its allies. Technically, there are no documents or clearances required for people to enter through to either side. The Irkeshtam Pass is also important to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan because this is similarly their shortest route to China.
However, tourists are drawn to this pass not because of where it leads, but of what are seen while traveling on it. Travelers are treated to a wonderful picture of mountains and meadows, all filled with various greeneries. The route, though short compared to other roads, is made unforgettable by the view.
Before, travel in the IrkeshtamPass was limited for commercial trade. In 2002, however, it was opened to passenger traffic to boost tourism. It has been a popular destination ever since. Intensive repairs have been made in this path for maintenance purposes.
Arslanbob is the King of Forests in Kyrgyzstan. Spanning 600,000 hectares in the valley of the River Arslanbob, this area is known for its bountiful walnut harvests, with a yield of around 1,500 tons annually.
A story goes that Alexander the Great, upon his conquest of the region, brought an ample amount of nuts and fruits from Arslanbob to Greece. Since then, the walnuts of Kyrgyzstan have become Greek favorites, even earning them the name “Greek nuts.”
The Arslanbob forests are under government protection because of their importance to the Kyrgyz economy. Locals, likewise, do their best in the preservation of the forest products. Aside from walnuts, Arslanbob also produces bountiful harvests of cherry plums, pistachio nuts, and apples.
Tourist offices have been set up in the area and lodges have been put up, which allow you to enjoy the view of the forest through your room’s windows. You can even ride through the beautiful and captivating Arslanbob forest on horseback.