Issik Kôl (or Ysyk Kôl) is the second largest alpine lake in the World, after Lake Titicaca in South America. Its thermal activity ensures that it never freezes over in the winter and is also the reason why Cholpon Ata grew as a big beach and spa destination during the time of the USSR.
Cholpon Ata is like the Cancun of Central Asia, but also with beautiful mountains in the background
I had been invited to join a commitee who were going there to plan the upcoming World Nomad Games, and felt very lucky to explore the beach town in the day and eat, drink and dance with these fantastic people at night. It was like an all in one package for local culture, relaxation and adventures.
Although the city is famous for its beaches, fun parks and spas, there are also lots of history and cultural sites that can be explored. The nearby village of Gregoryevka offers paths for trekking and horse riding up the Chong Ak-Suu Valley, have falconers and reasonable yurt stays.
See how long you can hold the 5kg bird on an outstreched arm outside of Ruh Ordo Cultural Center
Above Cholpon Ata town you will find a huge field of hundreds of boulders all brought there by the glaciers. Some of the rocks have petroglyophs of ibexes, wolves, deers and hunters dating back to the bronze age (about 1500BC) and it is good fun just walking around in the beautiful landscape trying to spot them.
Cholpon Ata is also where the World Nomad Games will be hosted from September 2nd to September 8th this year. There is a gigantic hippodrome that has been built for the occasion and 2018 might be the last year where Kyrgizstan will host the games before it is passed on to another country. Its like the olympics for nomads where nomadic sports, displays of strength, intelligence games and nomadic culture is displayed for thousands of visitors from all over the World.
The brand new hippodrome for the World Nomad Games
So, if you ever consider going on a beach holiday, forget about Spain, Mexico or Thailand. Kyrgizstan and Issyk Kul can offer a unique, more genuine cultural and natural experience and the people are more welcoming than anywhere else in the World. Im sure I will be back soon.