Kyrgyzstan. Four Places To Visit In Issyk-Kul Neighbourhood

Fairy-tale in reality, cosmonaut’s waterfalls, Buddhistic stones and underground religion

Kyrgyzs are proud of their Issyk-Kul lake, they love it and normally come here every year.
The name of the Pearl of Kyrgyzstan means “hot water”, cause its water doesn’t froze even in winter. It is salty (we used it for cooking) and considered to be curave: they recommend to gargle throat to prevent catching cold.

There are many tales and stories about Issyk-Kul. For example, Thamerlan with his army passed it by. And at the bottom of the lake a lot of wrecks, such as drawn buildings, including Armenian temple, were found.

On the North coast there is an interminable vacation celebration: here is an area with endless row of hotels, cafes, shops (many of them are closed while low season). South coast is more “wild”, it is more easy to put a tent there.

We recommend you to visit some of the places we’ve been to. It would be comfortable to travel with a local guide, but if you ask aboriginals, you’ll discover many interesting things, too.
Though once we were not lucky: when we were searching for an underground monastery, one local inhabitant suggested to take us by his car accurately to the temple for 50 som, but then he left us in absolutely wrong place, near a simple church in an out-of-the-way village. We were getting out of it by feet about 1,5 hours with our heavy backpacks. So ask at least several people about your way, especially if you’re going to pay them.


Barscoon waterfall

It is a moderately popular place among tourists and photoset-lovers. You can get here by car, by taxi or using hitchhiking. At the foot of the mountain there are horsemen (you can buy a horse ride, too), grazing calfs, yurt cafes, some shops and… the Yury Gagarin monuments. Once the famous Russian cosmonaut had been here.

It is easy to hike to the waterfall “Chasha Manasa” (“The cup of Manas”) by feet in 10-20 minutes without special preparations. But you should use comfortable shoes (not slaps!), the way down is slippery because of sand.

20 minutes later (only wearing track-shoes) you can hike to a next review site near the second waterfall – “Sluozy Barsa” (“Tears of the panther”).
We hiked, then had dinner in a yurt cafe. We took lagman. The price was 150 som per person, and in towns lagman costs 30-60 som.

Tour time: 2 hours.

Tamga-Tash stones

Buddhistiс stones are arranged in 6 km father South from Tamga village: 4 km can be crossed by car or taxi, further way – on foot only. Ask local inhabitants about the direction (or check our map).
First of the stones is splitted in half almost ideally.

There are different versions about the split origion: according to one of them, Kirghiz epic hero Manas checked the strength of his arms here.
There is also a legend about spaceship crash. Only alien children survived, and while waiting for help they left a sign to a future saving expedition: they splitted the stone by laser beam.
Mantra “Om mani padme hum” is carved on every stone: later than aliens there used to live buddhists.

There are also other stones with characters, but we visited only one of them: the track is not short, and it’s difficult to find correct place without a guide.

On the way back local hospitable old man Rakhat invited us to his house. He ownes private garden plot: a house, cattle, apple- and apricot-trees garden.

Guess what is it in his yard:

That’s right, it’s manure, which is being dryed for heating stove in winter.
Rakhat entertained us to lunch: fresh boiled milk and bread. “Show your photos to other tourists”, he said. “Let them come to see Old Rakhat”.

Tour time: 5 hours (if going on foot from Tamga).

“Fairy-tale” Canyon: Mars Column

The not-made canyon-gorge of red and yellow rocks near the Tosor village  (check our map)resembles extraterrestrial landscapes. Here you can shoot films about Mars.

The terrain is gradually changing – the sands are crumbling.

Local “Great Wall of China”:

Museum – souvenir shop (you should pay for an entrance):

Ticket price for the “Faity-tale” is 50 som per person. We left our backpacks on the checkpoint and bargained for 25 som (total). Actually there was our last cash, and for some reason security refused of an extra pair of slippers from Yerevan hostel. There are 2 km from the maid road to the canyon, we drove them by hitchhiking in the trunk of Nissan and the same way back.

Tour time: 1-2 hours for walking and taking photos.


Underground medieval monastery

Christian monastery of “Armenian brothers” was pointed on a map of Venetian merchants, who were going through the Great Silk road in the middle ages.
The monastery was placed inside of the hill on the Issyk-Kul island.Three-story (presumably) catacombs had narrow entrances-manholes and extended to a wide corridor, from which there were going about 30 monastic cells.
Now the island became a demi-island. Sometimes pilgrims are coming here. People from the fish farm will show you the path to the temple (check the map):

Nowadays there are only 2 entrances and one cell remained, the descent is blocked with sand.

It is freshly inside.

Fragile sandy walls are evidently destroying gradually.

Tour time: 3 hours (if going on foot from Kurmenty village). 

You can spend a couple of weeks discovering Issyk-Kul and its neighbourhood: it has lovely landscapes, mountain-sea climate, warm water and friendly locals.

We wish you to have a good time and not to get lost. Though if you lost, take this Kyrgyzstan guys’ kidding advice:

If you got lost in a forest, yell “BELORUSSIA!” A Belarusian will immediately appear to tell you that you should say “Belarus”.


7 Replies to “Kyrgyzstan. Four Places To Visit In Issyk-Kul Neighbourhood”

  1. Оказывается про Киргизию я ничего и не знал. Очень круто, пейзажи вообще огонь!))

    1. Спасибо! Мы и сами не ожидали, что здесь окажется так здорово ))

  2. Моя мама была на сборах на Иссык-уле, когда горными лыжами занималась. Очень хочу туда поехать. Спасибо за обзор, ребята

    1. Большое спасибо! Страна и правда прекрасная, да еще и безвизовая. Обязательно съезди 😉

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