"First tourists in Kara-Kol" Kara-Kol by budapest8

Kara-Kol Travel Guide: 14 reviews and 16 photos

Dr.Tim I presume?

This Kara-Kol is the real one...The others were built after
the town of Preshevalsk renamed itself just to confuse tourists.

Well it wasn't Stanley and Livingstone in Africa,
but Nino from Argentina, (Swedish passport holder),
my Russian girlfriend Lada from Leningrad and myself
who met up with 2 British girls a week into our stay.
They had escaped from a school trip to Uzbekistan,
Samarkand and headed off to this destination called
Preshevalsk (Renamed to Kara-Kol).
We had just 'escaped' from a small all
Krygyz town/village on the lake of Issik Kul
because our host.Dr.Bek,former KGB guy
kept spouting that as capatalists we might
be attacked in the night and have our throats
slit. We stayed at his house when he was in
KaraKol 3 nights. We were invited by a childhood
friend to the family we met in St.Pete. But Dr.Bek
was still thinking of the old ways, they didn't even
meet Russian tourists in this village! I took his
warnings with a pinch of salt. More the thought of
a staunch commy having Westerners in his house
being the reason for his paranoia. I planned a trip
across the border to China, and asking about
border crossings, didn't help his paranoia at all.
So we packed our things and left on the bus for
KaraKol, the 2 hr ride with sheep and goats and
Kryrgyz working in the town, made an interesting
bus ride.

The 6 week stay proved to be a different adventure
everyday! Many many stories to tell from this place.

The Altai Mountains


The air is so fresh and the sun gives warmth even on winter days
with snow on the ground as long as it's a clear sky.
The Altai Mountains lie in the center of the largest landmass on Earth,
the area most distant from any ocean . The Altai Mountains straddle the common borders of Russia, Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia. The north slopes of this range in southern Siberia are drained by the
headwaters of the Ob River, which flows north to the Arctic Ocean.
Ob is such a nice name for a river don't you think?
The borders don't have any fences what I could see, but plenty of
Chinese border guards and military look out posts dotted all along
the border, but under cover of night fall I'm sure there passes
smugglers and other sorts of undesirables across the border.

Toward the end of the last glacial period, about
11,000 to 13,000 years ago,
surging alpine and outlet glaciers in the Altai dammed montane rivers,
creating large glacial lakes. These ice dams subsequently failed,
causing catastrophic floods. The largest of these floods resulted
from emptying two interconnected lakes on the Chuya River;
this flood is referred to here as the Altai Flood.

Weather Overview-----
We Brits just love our weather raports...

Altitude gives this country particularly dry weather,
with harsh winters and punchy summers.
A July summer's day typically begins at 30°C (89°F)
and halves by nightfall. While in the midst of winter
the mercury teeters and totters around 0°C (32°F)
though a deft spring soon warms things up.
I remember we wanted to travel to a house up
in the mountains that was unacessable because
of snow. So we rented an army chopper to take
us. The house had thermal pools outside and a sauna.
I remember while lying in the pool in my birthday suit,
hearing this incredible noise, thought the chopper
was landing on top of the shack with the pool, I rushed
out naked into the snow and saw the chopper, a big
one at that, hovering above..I was looking straight into
the cockpit with it's nose down....blimey...I dashed back into
the shack and rapped a towel around my middle.
The 5 of us where dressed and ready to leave 20 mins
later.The chopper had landed not far from the house..
The pilot was grinning like a cheshire cat.. because my
Russian girlfriend was with me and she didn't have a
stitch on her either....

Highlights of my KaraKol visit

travelling by army jeep up into the mountains
to see a herd of 400 yak, being invited to
a sheeps head dinner by the herdsmen.

visiting the market at 5am seeing the livestock.

Eating ploff with a Krygyz for breakfast.

Horseback ride up into the mountains
and forest reserve.

Renting a helicopter and flying over the glaciers
to a smal lsettlement with a thermal spring bath house.

eating caviar from a bucket

eating a typical 'Dungan' meal at at a Dungan
family. Chinese muslims who fled from China and settled

visiting small ethnic german villages.

Meeting a Russian hunter and his family,
he used to be dropped by helicopter in the
mountains. He would hunt mountain goat and
other animals. On the 3rd day he would light a fire at
a set time and the chopper would pick him up.

Meeting a proffesional Krygyz eagle trainer. He would
climb into the mountains and trap an eagle, then bring
it back and train it to hunt.

Being stuck at KaraKol airport because the Russians
stopped the fuel and wanted hard currency.
Then a Russian Army brass chap, needed to
get to Moscow in a hurry so the plane was fueled.
Watching the fantastic view below of the lake, then
after circling Bishkek Airport for 20 mins
we had to fly back to KaraKol because of bad
snow at the airport.
We landed and I was happy to be on the ground.
I was very jumpy just being stuck in the air.
Finally 2 hrs later we got the green light and
returned and landed in Bishkek.
We then boarded a flight to St.Petersburg
and 8 hours later we were home again!
They didn't accept hard currency in Kyrgyzstan
back then and my whole 2 flights cost me about 15 USD.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:If your active, never a dull moment, different activities everyday
  • Cons:If you don't speak Russian or Kyrgyz...then u loose half the fun!
  • In a nutshell:No whistles and bells, but heck! Here you make friends for life.
  • Last visit to Kara-Kol: Jan 1991
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (13)

Comments (14)

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Feb 14, 2008 at 2:04 PM

    Ploff Ploff Ploff is great! I would like to try it but that seems to be an off the beaten path destination! Excellent history tips!

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Nov 18, 2007 at 1:43 AM

    I have never yet made it to Kyrgyzstan.

  • themajor's Profile Photo
    Sep 12, 2007 at 5:26 AM

    My goodness! the local customs seem almost entirely to consist of writing political precis. Most unusual. To be honest it's probably worth visiting the region just so you can say you've pigged out on ploff!

  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo
    Jun 1, 2007 at 8:47 AM

    Putting politics aside, it looks like there were some lovely vistas in Kara-Kol. Quite an experience and destination, Tim! Regards...

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Mar 7, 2007 at 12:02 AM

    Wow, wonderful landscape :-) Haha, OVIR offices are not open on weekends - and I amanged to stay in Kyrgyzstan without that stamp :-)

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Feb 27, 2007 at 11:25 AM

    Thanks for very interesting and unusual page. I would like to visit this "Switzerland of Central Asia" and Tien Shan peaks but don't dare to make it in close future... A very dangerous area in my opinion still.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2007 at 6:12 AM

    Good rundown on the effects of power, 'stans of course. Did't get across the border whenI was in Kazakhstan ... one day maybe. leyle

  • Jan 4, 2007 at 3:11 PM

    im playing with the idea of this region for 2007/08. loved your tips and photos!

  • iris2002's Profile Photo
    Aug 31, 2006 at 11:11 AM

    This part of the world is on my 2007 travel map - i am sooo curious to see it with my own eyes... thank you for the fab insight!!! :)

  • easyoar's Profile Photo
    Jul 2, 2006 at 2:00 PM

    Sounds like an interesting place to visit!


“Travelling is a passion beyond reason ·~ My§ticÄl~·:*.隐形的 ღ (~_~)♫♫”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 3 1 1
Forum Rank:
0 4 2 1 4

Badges & Stats in Kara-Kol

  • 13 Reviews
  • 16 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 2,011PageViews

Have you been to Kara-Kol?

  Share Your Travels  

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (4)