To the east of Bishkek is the deep and imposing Lake Issyk-Kul. Mountains rise almost sheer from the water on all sides, their jagged peaks capped with snow for most of the year.
On the southeastern shore is Karakol, a pretty old Russian settlement with gingerbread houses and a photogenic bazaar.
Lake Issyk-Kul is the second largest alpine lake in the world, measuring over 170km in length and 70km at its widest point. The name meaning "warm lake" is a reference to the fact that it has never frozen - a reflection of its extreme depth, mineral content and geothermal activity in the area.
To the north and east of Issyk-Kul are the highest peaks of the Tien Shan Mountains, including 7,010 meter Khan Tengri and 7,439 meter Pik Pobedy, either side of the massive Inylchek Glacier. Further west, set in a high alpine valley is Lake Song Kol.