||Kyrgyzstan is mostly unspoilt mountain country and high grassy meadows (NoviNomad)
Located 1600m above sea level among the mountain peaks of the Tien Shen Mountain range, Lake Issy Kul is some 170km long and 70km wide, making it the second-largest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca in South America.
Nearly 95% of Kyrgyzstan is unspoilt mountain country, the setting for high, grassy meadows boasting antelope, ibex, rare snow leopards and brown bears, as well as for dramatic glaciers and snow-bound peaks. Lake Issy Kul, surrounded by hotels and health spas, is an ideal base for ecotourism activities in Kyrgyzstan, including swimming, hiking and mountain climbing.
The UNESCO project in Kyrgyzstan, set up in partnership with the Novinomad Ecotourism Development Company, is setting up an association of ecotourism service providers, the country having a growing tourism industry and a wealth of natural and cultural resources, but little experience in managing the growth of tourism in a sustainable way.
Among the activities organized as part of the project are yurta building (a traditional Kyrgyz and Central Asian felt dwelling), felt-carpet making, visits to petroglyph and other sites, horse-riding, hunting with birds of prey and sharing local Kyrgyz hospitality in nomads’ houses. The UNESCO / Novinomad project has a significant public-information role, marketing the region to tourists both nationally and internationally and ensuring quality-control of the services provided.
A Web site is furthering this role, as is a network of quality tour operators interested in promoting both Kyrgyzstan and the Issy Kul region as cultural and ecotourism destinations.