Issyk-Kul lake: beach life in Kyrgyzstan

11, 12 August 2019 

Lake Issyk-Kul is located in north-eastern Kyrgyzstan at an altitude of 5272ft and is the second largest mountain lake in the world after Titicaca in South America. Its beaches and slightly salty waters, but not too cold, offer an interesting diversion during journeys in the country.


Lake Issyk-Kul is a salty water basin located in north-eastern Kyrgyzstan at an altitude of 5272ft. With its length of 111mi for an average width of 30 and a maximum depth of 2192ft, lake Issyk-Kul is the second largest mountain lake in the world, after Lake Titicaca in South America.

Around the shores of Issyk-Kul lake there are several cities, or smaller villages, and there are numerous sandy beaches frequented by tourists coming from many locations in Russia and Central Asia. Depending on your sensitivity to the water temperature, during a beautiful and windless summer day, it is really possible to take a relaxing swim, without forgetting that on the beach the UV radiation is higher than normal due to the altitude (it is therefore essential to protect your body with a suitable sunscreen).

Due to increasing tourism, it is possible to stay overnight in numerous facilities (we stayed at Yurt Camp Sonun in Bokonbayevo). Not far from the lake there are plenty of opportunities for excursions among steppe, mountain, canyons and deserts.

But now let's see some photos of Lake Issyk-Kul taken during our trip...

Issyk-Kul (beach) Bottom of Issyk-Kul lake
The southern shores of Lake Issyk-Kul near the village of Bokonbayevo where visitors may get to by taxi from Bishkek in about 4 hours (taxis in Kyrgyzstan are very cheap). The water looks very clear and transparent.
Issyk-Kul beaches Lake Issyk-Kul
Issyk-Kul lake Bokonbayevo
Other photos of Lake Issyk-Kul, where sandy beaches alternate with expanses of larger stones.
Lake in Kyrgyzstan
Looking at the opposite shore of the lake, we can see mountains with peaks over 12,000ft covered by glaciers.
Canyon in Kyrgyzstan Canyon in Central Asia
A few kilometers from Lake Issyk-Kul the landscape changes completely. From the village of Bokonbayevo you can make day trips to nearby canyons with picturesque red rocks.
Among mountains and desert
It is enough to go a little bit further and the landscape changes again, from desert to alpine. With the red rocks of the canyon still visible in the distance, the landscape begins to fill with fir trees that grow along the banks of a stream.
Alpine landscape in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan

The alpine landscape of Kyrgyzstan, not far from the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, dominated by lush forests, thundering streams and high mountains.

Red rocks canyon
Horseback ride in the canyon

The journey continues towards Karakol, crossing again a narrow canyon with red rocks shaped by wind and water.

Sonun Yurt Camp Inside the yurt
In Bokonbayevo we stayed at Sonun, a yurt camp not far from Issyk-Kul lake and its beaches.

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Kyrgyzstan travel guide

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