The region is situated around Lake Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest alpine lake, after Titicaca, 1600 m above sea level, 170 km long, 70 km wide and 695 m deep. "Issyk-Kul" means "hot lake" in Kyrgyz, as it never freezes. The mountains and the marine microclimate produce a wild, unique environment. The mountains surrounding the lake are a shelter for very rare animal species (snow leopard, cutter-loader, wild boar) and plants, such as the Tyan-Shan fir. Impetuous, violent rivers, starting from snow-white glaciers, carry their waters to the lake. In 2001 Issyk-Kul was designated by UNESCO as a Man and Biosphere reserve.
Issyk-Kul offers the highest, snow-capped peaks in the country; and the opportunity to trek, cycle, climb, ski, raft, windsurf, tour on horseback or just relax at one of the famous coastal resorts.
Lake Issyk-Kul ("Ozero Issyk-Kyl" in Russian), is a drain less lake in the northern Tien Shan (mountains) of Kyrgyzstan, and one of the largest mountain lakes in the world, and is famous for its magnificent scenery and unique scientific interest. It has length of 113 miles (182 kilometers), a width of up to 38 miles, and a surface area of 2,445 square miles (6,332 square kilometers). It reaches 2,303 feet (800 m) and its name, which derives from a word for "hot lake", alludes to the fact that it does not freeze over during the winter, even though the lake is situated at an altitude of 5,278 feet (1700 m). More than 50 rivers can be counted in the basin. The Issyk-Kul shores open out gently, with coves on the eastern and southeastern sides. Sandy, silt-phytogene soils predominate.