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Scuba Dive in Kyrgyzstan… are you for real????

Posted by Scuba Herald on Jan 4th, 2008 and filed under Scuba Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Many westerners have not even heard of the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, let alone considered it as a holiday destination. The Republic, which shook off its Soviet shackles in the 1990s, is keen to welcome visitors to the “Switzerland of Central Asia”. In Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia lies one of the largest navigable lakes on the planet, Lake Issyk-Kul. Issyk-Kul means “warm lake” in the language of the region’s natives. Although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes hence its name.

Legendary Lake
It is a vast body of water and one of the largest mountain lakes in the world. There are many legends about it and tribes inhabiting the shores of the lake used to pray to its patron spirits. Nineteenth-century explorers were entranced with it, one calling it “a blue emerald set in a frame of silvery mountains”.

700 Meters Deep
The second deepest lake on Earth, at it’s deepest point the lake is around 700 meters deep. It lies in the mountains at the altitude of over 5,200 feet above sea level. Scuba diving in search of mysterious ancient settlements has become a popular recreational sport in the area since evidence of its history can be seen at shallow depths of the lake…

Diving the Lake
For scuba-diving enthusiasts, there is spectacularly clear water and a 12th-century town that lies 2 to 3m (6 to 10ft) below the surface of the lake near Ulan, 18km (11 miles) from Balikchi. The water of the Issyk-Kul is sky blue in color, very clear (visibility up to 65 feet), and salty (5.8 parts per thousand). The water temperature does not fall below 5 degrees even during the coldest months.

Clear Temperate Water
In summer the water averages 25-28 degrees. The lake is fed by many rivers and springs, including many hot springs, and snow melt-off. The waters are thought to have medicinal purposes. The resort of Issyk-Kul is now open to anyone, and is very busy during the summer season. The best time for recreation is from June to mid-September.

Exotic Non Diving Activities
While not known as a dive trip alone, a trek to Kyrgystan offers other great outdoor recreational opportunities for those who seek the exotic and the pristine. You can sail, surf, row, scuba dive, fish and for the more adventurous the area offers helicopter skiing.

Pristine Biodiversity
Part of the ancient silk road, the area holds many unusual attractions. Ala-Archa canyon is the center of the Ala-Archa National Park, one of the main tourist attractions in Kyrgyzstan. There are 160 species of birds in Ala-Archa. Local fauna includes the snow leopard, a butterfly called the Night Peacock Eye, wolves, snakes, owls, and many others.

The Ala-Archa canyon has about 1,100 species of plants: wormwood in the steppe zone at the mountain foot, different grasses, bushes, and juniper forests on mountain slopes that are replaced with alpine meadows. This grand, rugged but very accessible gorge offers dozens of walking and trekking possibilities, including hikes to glaciers and, for the serious mountaineer, treks to the region’s highest peak.

Want to learn more about this exotic tourism destination that offers a chance to dive into history? Visit: Dive Kazakhstan and Silk Tour

Sources: Kyrgyzstan Tourism; Wikipedia; Dive Kazakhstan

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