Karakol, our homebase in Kyrgyzstan
Located on the eastern shores of Lake Issyk Kul, Karakol (Каракол) is surrounded by mountains so high that they almost seem to touch the sky. A city along the Silk Road, where the kumis flows freely and life is good. Also base of Ryce Travel Hub Karakol: the place where it all started. With this said, you understand that this city has a special place in our hearts.
Karakol is the fourth largest city in Kyrgyzstan, after Bishkek, Osh and Jalal-Abad. The city is only 150 km away from the Chinese border, formed naturally by the Tian Shan mountain range (heavenly mountains in most Chinese languages). Issyk Kul (or Yssykköl) is the second largest mountain lake in the world. In Kyrgyz it litteraly means warm lake, because it never freezes, even during the harshest winters.
Karakol is a buzzing, yet calming city. And that is why this city is the perfect starting and ending point for hikes in the summer and ski tours in the winter. Karakol Gorge, Jeti Oguz, Ak Suu valley, and many more beautiful things are easily accessible by using the taxi or marshrutka.
The Russian Orthodox Church
Karakol was long time ago a garrison town on the edge of the Russian tsardom. A church was of course an necessity and was originally built in stone in 1872. Sadly, the building was largely destroyed by an earthquake and later rebuilt by using wood.
Fun fact: during the reconstruction, the church services were held in a original Kyrgyz yurt. Very original.
In short, Dungan are Muslims of Chinese origin. Many Dungan people live in Kyrgyzstan, will as a result that there are now more than 65,000 Dungan people. Especially in Karakol the number is very high. The mosque was built at the beginning of the last century. The well-known architect Chou Seu was asked for the design.
Fun fact: The entire mosque was built without the use of a single nail. What a strong piece of architecture!
Animal market, every Sunday in Karakol
The Sunday cattle market is a true tragicomic spectacle. The loading and unloading of all kinds of goods, bleating animals, sheep that are crammed into the back seats and in the trunks of old ladas, and loudly negotiating Kyrgyz people that leave you deeply impressed. With all these developments around you, you would almost say that you need another pair of eyes.
Golden Tip: Be there early; the first sheep and horses arrive at dawn. After 10:00 there is no more chicken to be seen.
Fun fact: In addition to the livestock market, there is also a second-hand car market. So are you looking for a nice lada or an older UAZ? Then grab your chance here!