The beauty of Kyrgyzstan lies within the variety of landscapes it is composed of. Although you may often find big mountains and green areas, this region is very different from the others. On the road towards Kara Talaa, you will already be amazed by the contrast between the largest lake in the country, the Issyk-Kul, and the red, dry soil which lies a few meters away from it. This variation in colors and vegetation make this region well worth visiting.
You will feel welcomed by Ermek and his family who are active members of the village and work thoroughly to maintain the nature and beauty of the village.
As you may know, yurts are one of the symbols of Kyrgyzstan. It is therefore a must, during your travel, to spend at least one night in this unusual habitat.
In Kara Talaa you will find a nice yurt camp, with a beautiful view on the lake and the mountains. Slightly off the main road, this quiet location will allow you to contemplate the view whilst hearing the birds sing and the wind blow.
It is impossible to come to Kara Talaa without visiting its micro reserve. In this protected peninsula, you will be able to observe its wildlife. The first thing which may surprise you is the color of the ground: white as snow. This is due to the fact that the Issyk Kul lake, which surrounds it, is particularly salty. It adds to the surprise of seeing fully black sand on the beaches of the reserve.
Throughout your walk, keep a careful eye for all the birds which surround you. Indeed, this place is an ideal location for bird watching throughout the year, especially swans. You may be tempted to keep your eyes up, but do have a look at the traces in the sand as they may give you a hint on which animal walked there before you. With a bit of luck, you may spot a fox or rabbit wandering around.
Going around the peninsula on foot is around 6 kilometers and should take 2 hours, by taking your time to carefully observe the surroundings.
Kara Talaa is a good location to go on hikes of all lengths. After having explored the shores of the lake, it is now time to go explore more inland.
A perfect place to do so is in the valley of the Tarasu river, which links Kara Talaa to the village of Tuura Suu. The water which comes from the mountains down to the lake leaves behind it an impressive piece of green nature. Whilst the mountains themselves are composed of rocks of many colors, the banks of the river are home to many nice green trees.
The total distance between the two villages is of 27 kilometers on foot, with a cumulated elevation of 530 meters. Such a hike takes around 6h30, for an average walking pace, without counting the breaks.
It is however possible to hike for a shorter distance for those who simply want to enjoy the landscape, without too much effort. In this case, the length can be varied according to personal preferences. For example, a 9 kilometer section should take 2 hours on foot, with a cumulated elevation of around 200 meters. You can count three hours to be sure to be able to take a few rests and photos on the way. This is an easy hike, accessible to all, including children. Take a break along the river to have a nice picnic and enjoy the calm.
Do not hesitate to arrange, with Ermek, a ride from the village to the start of the hike. The same applies to coming back to the yurt camp, to avoid additional walking.
During your walk, you will, without a doubt, see herds of cows, horses and sheep, which take advantage of the green grass and abundant water. You may also see wild animals such as numerous birds or marmots. At each turn, you will discover a new landscape and various viewpoints.
It is also possible to arrange horse riding tours in the valley, which bring a unique perspective.
Kara Talaa is located on the main road which connects Bishkek to Karakol through the south of the Issyk Kul lake. This makes it a perfect stop on the road in between the two. It is easily accessible by local transport (mashrutka) which run frequently.
In the village, you will find several small shops where you can buy the essentials.
On the way between Kara Talaa and Karakol, you will find many villages and towns such as Bokonbayevo, as well as the Skazka Canyon, famous for its red rock, and definitely worth a visit.