Issyk-Kul (Kyrgyzstan). A guide for independent travelers
Русская версия To begin with, the main thing to know about Issyk-Kul is that it is divided into two sides: the northern, which is also more touristic, and the southern, wilder part.
We went around the whole lake, starting from the northern part. Its infrastructure is certainly better, but it also attracts crowds. Our first stop was at Karakol in the eastern part of the lake. We rented a room in a guest house there which seemed a heaven after the Pamir and Osh accommodations. It had private bathrooms, hot showers, and breakfast, and we paid 500 soms per person in 2015 (the address is Murmanskaya 114).
Nikolay Przhevalsky Museum.
After having a good sleep, we started the day with Nikolay Przhevalsky Museum, dedicated to the famous traveler and explorer. To get there, you have to take the old bus with the direction of «Дачи», it departs almost every hour and the trip does no take long.
In the morning, the museum was very quiet, but then the crowds of tourists started to appear. The museum is quite large and interesting, the guides tell interesting stories, and the exhibition is in English too.
The museum and its guides tell a lot of legends. For instance, it is said, the Przhevalsky won the money for his first expedition in the card game. Another story is about Przhevalsky and his expedition team being very cruel with the Kyrgyz: the travelers as if cut the locals’ heads and played football with them. There is even a version of a legend saying that the Kyrgyz poisoned Przhevalsky after all, which is why he actually died. Yet, there is also a fact: the Kyrgyz unhappy with the image of Przhevalsky indeed wanted to demolish the monument to him much later.
Whether the legends are true or not, dying in Karakol, Przhevalsky asked to be buried in his expedition outfit at his beloved lake Issyk-Kul.
The museum contains a lot of interesting information about the traveler’s expeditions and discoveries, and we really recommend to visit it!
We went back to Karakol hitchhiking, and took another lift (for 35 soms though) to Dzhety-Oguz or “7 bulls” as it may be translated. Even though the place is interesting, it is hard to say that it is outstanding.
People around also advised to visit a waterfall nearby (about half an hour hiking), but we decided not to go. Instead, we went around to see another sight – the so-called Broken Heart.
Then, we took a minibus to Barskoon to settle down at the beach. We were choosing between two places – Tamga and Kadzhi-Sai and chose the latter, since it is a bit larger. The cheapest rooms there are available in former Soviet sanatoriums, they are quite old, but quiet and have a nice view to the lake (250 soms). The next option was 350 soms per person for the room with private bathroom, but there were also more people around. Moreover, they demand to leave your passport as a security deposit, and not everyone would want to do it. The bed in the yurt costs 200 soms and more. Finally, we decided to take the private accommodation from the locals, offering a lot of options. We stayed at Tuleberdieva, 31 which was quite clean, had TVsets in the rooms and a common veranda kitchen.
The beach is not very clean, but the water is really transparent. There are unusual visitors too.
There are not too many people at the beach too. The infrastructure is almost non-existent: there are several old Soviet catamarans, kiosks and cafes with very little choice.
Yet, the accommodation in the south provides an opportunity to watch the sunset. The sunsets behind the mountains, and they can be seen only during the sunset. The water is quite cool, but not too cold.
In the morning we said goodbye to Issyk-Kul and took a minibus to Bishkek.
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