Kyrgyzstan... best photo opportunities


| January 28, 2015

Are you a keen photographer? Find out what Kyrgyzstan has to offer you with our guide.

Lake Issyk Kol. (Photo credit: Thinkstock/ iStock)

Laced with splendid scenery, Kyrgyzstan is one of Central Asia's most beautiful destinations. Its mix of majestic mountains, sweeping valleys, tranquil lakes and dramatic gorges provides a real feast for the eyes. As such, it is something of a photographer's paradise. What's more, the shots you can get here aren't just attractive owing to their aesthetic appeal, but their variety too.

Today, we will introduce you to some of the nation's finest photo opportunities. The only thing you need to do is remember to pack your camera!

Lake Issyk Kul

Perhaps the finest photo opportunity in Kyrgyzstan, Lake Issyk Kul is immensely scenic – but it holds more of interest than its fine contours alone. Indeed, this is not only the world's second largest alpine lake (losing out on the top spot to South America's Lake Titicaca), but also has the remarkable quality of never freezing, despite its altitude of over 1,600 metres.

Spanning more than 170 km in length and 70 km in width, this lake looks like an almost endless pool of blue – but the snow-capped mountains which form its backdrop assure you that it doesn't go on perpetually. And of course, these mountains have their own scenic value that help to create some truly breathtaking photos. It is also worth keeping your lens at the ready in case you spot any of the many migratory birds for whom the lake acts as a lifeline.

Lake-Issyk-Kul

Tian-Shen range

The natural drama and majesty of mountain scenery makes it a popular subject among keen photographers. In Kyrgyzstan, the Tian-Shen range provides plenty of opportunities for sharpening your skills and achieving some utterly sublime shots.

Situated in the east of Kyrgyzstan, Tian-Shen is home to a series of immense peaks. The tallest is Pik Pobedy at 7,439 metres, but perhaps the best photographic subject is Khan Tengri. Translating at Sky Ruler, Khan Tengri forms a beautiful pyramid-like shape and, at sunset, it often becomes a gorgeous red colour – something that has led to the locals nicknaming it Blood Mountain.

Jeti-Oghuz

Also known as the Seven Bulls, Jeti-Oghuz is an absolute must-visit for keen photographers. This serrated ridge of red sandstone cliffs, which have been divided vertically, are immensely striking. While the formation itself is remarkable, what makes this spot particularly appealing in both aesthetic and photographic terms is the contrast with the lush green of the surrounding landscape – a contrast that's most pronounced in the spring.

Another interesting fact worth bearing in mind is that the Seven Bulls looks very different if viewed from the north side. From this angle, its dusky hues are largely hidden by tree cover. So different does it look that it actually possesses another name, Broken Heart, when seen from here, owing to its ties to local romantic legends.

Kok Jaiyk

Moving from mountains to valleys, Kok Jaiyk is our next recommendation. Translating as Valley of Flowers, Kok Jaiyk is a sweeping series of grassy, sloping mountainsides with peaks scattered across the horizon. This is a wonderful place to come if you're hoping to capture shots with a real essence of tranquility.

Ala-Archa Gorge

Perfect for walking and, of course, photographing, Ala-Archa Gorge can be found in Ala-Archa National Park. Visiting this grand gorge gives you the chance not only to admire a beautiful waterfall and the sheer majesty of the canyon, but also to explore the wider park for additional shots. Expect to come across pretty streams, verdant meadows, pine forests and towering peaks.

Remarkably, all of this lies just to the south of the nation's capital city, Bishkek. Its accessibility makes it easy to slip into virtually any kind of itinerary around the country.

Karakol Valley

Completing our list is Karakol Valley, which runs along the Karakol River. This spectacular valley is immensely popular with travellers year-round – though exactly why depends on the season. Indeed, during the summer months it is filled with trekkers, while the winter period sees skiers gleefully take to the slopes.

There are few tourist facilities here, but its very isolation in that respect makes it all the more interesting to photograph. And, of course, you can come away with very different shots depending on the time of year you choose to visit.

If you are interested in visiting Kyrgyzstan, please call 020 7873 5000 for more information or visit the Cox & King website >

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