Exploring the Area
At the place of the Karakol town, there was a settlement from the ancient time. What to explore Karakol? That would be an interesting journey. The town situated at the cozy valley on the eastern part of the Terskei Ala-Too, at the bank of the Karakol river. Karakol is just 10 km from the Issyk-Kul Lakeshore. In 1869 Karakol was founded as a Russian garrison as a military-administrative center. In 1889 by Alexander III Karakol was renamed to Przhevalsk on the behalf of Nikolay Przhevalsky died of typhoid in 1888, making preparation for his Tibet expedition. Before the earthquake in 1887, mostly clay homes and buildings were in Karakol. After that, there were built mostly wooden carved carcass homes. Till these days these old wooden buildings give a sense of old Russian appearance. In 1872 there were 132 homes. In 1897 there were 8108 inhabitants. Karakol was the first location where it was a weather station, first library, and stud farm.
Where to Stay
Karakol is popular among tourists and guests year-round. Cozy guesthouses and homestays with family surrounding. Different levels of hotels of 2-3 stars level are popular in town. Nearby gorges are full of yurt stays for an overnight stay and eat out.
What to See and Do
From the Soviet time, Karakol was the tourist place. The city tour in Karakol by itself is a wide historical reportage.
Dungan Mosque – Central Mosque of the City built by Chinese architect Chou Seu with carvers. They built a Chinese style wooden building without any nail or iron item. During the Soviet time, the Mosque used as a storehouse. Dungans are local national minorities, Muslim Chinese, moved to the territories of present Kyrgyzstan.
Russian Orthodox Cathedral was a stone building dated 1872. After the earthquake rebuilt on the basement of the brick by the wooden carcass. These days every Sunday they have services.
Przhevalsky Museum opened in 1957. Nikolay Przhevalsky was one of the first Russian researchers for the territory of Central Asia and Kyrgyzstan. He arranges investigational expeditions to Mongolia, China, and Tibet. Thus he collected several thousand species of plants, animals, insects, birds. In addition, he also made writing descriptions of the geography, climate, flora, and fauna. His last task was to stay buried at the shore of the Issyk-Kul lake.
Karakol town is popular with Sunday Animal Market. It is the favorite place to visit both locals and tourists. Early morning from 5 a.m people go to the bazaar to buy or sell stocks.
The nearest gorges – Ak-Suu, Jety-Oguz, Barskoon are the best one-day tour destinations for trekkings or horseback ridings. There also possible to have a hot spring mineral bath at Soviet styled resorts.
One- two-day tour to Altyn-Arashan ( Golden Springs) Hot Springs possible do by 4WD-cars, trekking or horseback.
Ala-Kol Lake is another highlight of the trekking tours in Issyk-Kul area. You can see the program here.
How to Get Around
Karakol reached by Southern and Northern shore of the Issyk-Kul Lake. From Bishkek minibusses, shared taxies, night busses goes from the Western Bus Station. Karakol is an administrative center for Issyk-Kul Oblast so that nearly from every village possible to reach Karakol. If you are coming from Chui or Naryn region you can change cars at Balykchy town. From Bishkek, during the summer season, there is train Bishkek-Balykchy-Bishkek. The international airport in the Issyk-Kul region is at Tamchy village on the Northern shore of the lake, near Cholpon-Ata town.