At the eastern end of Issyk Kul, Karakol was created at the end of the 19th century as a Russian military garrison town, and is today the region’s main hub. A sleepy grid of down-at-heel wooden houses, the place springs to life on Sundays when nomads from the surrounding valleys descend to buy and sell animals at the weekly livestock market – a great photo opportunity. While in the area, be sure to seek out the delightful gingerbread-style Russian Orthodox church, rebuilt in the 1980s.

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