Lake Issyk Kul, the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan, is located at an altitude of 1,600 m in the high mountains of the Tien Shan (Heavenly Mountains) in northern Kyrgyzstan. After Lake Titicaca in South America, it is the second largest high mountain lake in the world with an area of 6,236 km². Its length is 180 km and its width is 60 km.
The lake has an average depth of 270 m (maximum depth 668 m). Since the salt content of the lake water is low (approx. 58 mg / l) and due to the numerous warm springs on the lake bed, it does not freeze despite the low temperatures. Issyk-Kul means hot sea in Kyrgyzstan. The abundance of fish - over 20 species live in the lake - make the lake not only one of the most important sources of food in the region, but also an important resting place.
The extraordinary variety of landscape types around the Issyk-Kul lake offers ideal living conditions for a multitude of plant and animal species. In the arid lower regions around Lake Issyk-Kul there are deserts and semi-deserts. On the south bank lies the Tien Shan Mountains with high peaks of over 7,000 m and the longest glaciers in the world outside the polar region.
Issyk-Kul is known for its many resorts, spas, and attractions that make the region one of the most popular in Kyrgyzstan.
In the north of the lake are the Kungey ("sunny") Ala-Too Mountains and in the south the Terskey ("shady") Ala-Too Mountains. There are several famous gorges around the lake, including Boom Gorge, which the Bishkek Highway winds through. To the north of the lake are the Grigorevka Gorge and the Kyrchyn Gorge, and to the south are Barskoon and the Fairytale Gorge (Skazka). Near Karakol, at the eastern end of the lake, is Jeti Oguz, a famous red sandstone formation. Altyn Arashan is a perfect combination of trekking and a visit to hot springs to relax your tired muscles. Many treks lead from Karakol into the surrounding mountains, some reach to Khan Tengri and Pobeda Peak, the two highest mountains in Kyrgyzstan.