Key Places - Karakoram Highway
Known in Kyrgyzstan as the 'pearl of the Tien Shan' Lake Issyk-Kul is classified as one of fewer than 20 ancient lakes in the world and estimated to have been in existence for 25 million years. 180km long and 60km wide it covers an area of 6,236 square km and is the world's second largest alpine lake. As it has mild salinity it never freezes.
The Teskey Ala-Too Range of the Tien Shan Mountains runs along the Southern shore and the Kyungey Ala-Too of the Tian Shan runs parallel to the north shore. The Lake was a stopping point for traders following the ancient Silk Road from the Far East to Europe and, it is thought that Issyk Kul may have been the source of the Black Death when travelling merchants unknowingly transported infected vermin amongst their wares. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a 2500-year-old advanced civilization at the bottom of the Lake
The lake is a popular tourist spot in summer and there are many warm, sandy beaches, and thermal mineral radon springs around the lake. The surrounding area is alpine meadow, coniferous forest with an imposing backdrop of peaks and glaciers.
"This was an excellent tour with many great memories. I particularly liked the rides to/from Chirah and Shimshal. Ideally we would have ridden up to Shimshal instead of just down..."