Photo Friday: A Journey to Lake Issyk-Kul

Issyk-Kul is the world’s second largest salt lake and one of the world’s largest alpine lakes. The lake is commonly called “hot lake” because it never freezes, even though it is surrounded by mountains. The mountains encompass the lake and protect the Issyk Kul hollow from extreme cold or hot winds. The lake valley is a combination of sea, steppe, mountain climate and eternal ice zone.

Ryskeldi Satke, a contributor to GlacierHub and journalist with research institutions in Central Asia, Turkey and the United States, recently visited Issyk-Kul. Satke told GlacierHub, “The most fascinating part of the South shore was the view of the Tien Shan from the beach. Glaciers were so close to the lake that it was a very enjoyable experience to observe the lake and snow peaks at the same time. It’s also realistic to hike near glaciers and come down to the beach and take a dip in the water the same day.” Check out his photos and video of the “pearl of the Tien Shan” here.


Lake Issyk Kul during midday (Ryskeldi Satke/Twitter).


15 miles up eastern Tien Shan (Ryskeldi Satke/Twitter).


The journey to Issyk-Kul (Source: Ryskeldi Satke).


A view of the lake (Source: Ryskeldi Satke).



Photo Friday: Lake Issyk Kul

Located high in Central Asia’s Tian Shan Mountains, Issyk Kul is one of the world’s largest alpine lakes. Though Issyk Kul literally means “warm lake” in the Kyrgyz language, the crystalline waters vary in surface temperature from as high as 73 degrees Fahrenheit in July to as low as 36 degrees Fahrenheit in January. Still, warmth is relative, and at 1,607 meters (5,272 ft) above sea level, summer surface temperatures seem practically balmy.

The lake is picturesque, with glaciated Tian Shan peaks flanking its northern and southern shores, and is a popular tourist destination for both Kyrgyz nationals and foreign visitors. Don’t have time to trek to Kyrgyzstan just yet? Photo Friday has you covered!


The color contrasts of the foothills, water and glaciated peaks are mesmerizing (Source: Ronan Shenhav/Creative Commons).


Horses are integral to the semi-nomadic lifestyles found across the region (Source: Ronan Shenhav/Creative Commons).


The Kyrgyz practice a form of Sufi Islam, which has deep historical roots in the region (Source: Ronan Shenhav/Creative Commons).


A lonely tree, quiet and austere with the enormous Tian Shan in the background (Source: Ronan Shenhav/Creative Commons).