Karakol is the administrative centre of Issyk-Köl province, and the best base for exploring the lakeshore, the Terskey Alatau and the central Tian Shan.
Karakol is a peaceful, low-rise town with back- streets full of Russian gingerbread cottages, shaded by rows of huge white poplars. Around the town are apple orchards, for which the area is famous.
It’s not quite paradise for those who live here – the economic stresses since independence and the decline in spa tourism have led to considerable hardship, thinned out available goods and services, and returned a kind of frontier atmosphere to this old boundary post.
We will spent the night in a guesthouse a few blocks from this street. On our way, we were silent in the car, wondering where the driver was about to drop us. From the outside, the house was grey, almost creepy. But then, once the front door opened, we were welcomed by a wonderful house and a wonderful host.
We slept in cosy bedrooms, had hot water in the tubes, and wonderful diner.
She prepared porridge for our breakfast, knowing we would be walking six hours in the mountains over the day…