A Top Destination

May 3rd, 2015 Sections: Issyk Kul, Organizations, Tourism, Tours
National Geographic Traveler : Russian Edition : April-May 2015 issue

National Geographic Traveler : Russian Edition : April-May 2015 issue

We got a pleasant surprise during the week, when it was reported that National Geographic Traveler Magazine had named Issyk Kul as one of the “top ten destinations” in the CIS: “From Peter to Kamchatka“.

For the record: “Peter” is the affectionate nickname given by Russians to St. Petersburg – in the same way as the Brits might refer to Birmingham as Brum.

 National Geographic Traveler, (with the iconic golden rectangle trade mark) is a subject specific magazine of the National Geographic Society – the world’s largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world.

Although it is an American based organization, founded in 1888 and with its headquarters in Washington, it is recognized worldwide and shouldn’t be confused with the American Geographical Society – which actually predates it.

Its journal (also known as National Geographic) is published in English and 40 local language editions – with a global circulation of almost seven million copies a month.

The Society sponsors and funds scientific research and exploration and the magazines are known for their high quality content, (text, photographs, maps etc. – the maps were used as a definitive source during the First World War when detailed maps of the conflict zones were lacking).  They also have a television channel and an extensive internet presence … as well as maintaining a museum in Washington … oh, yes … and a small chain of shops.

It claims to be “the world’s most widely read travel magazine” and is published eight times a year, featuring destinations that offer a distinctive sense of place, experience, culture, authenticity, “living like the locals”, and “great photography”, and aims to offer fellow travelers inspiration and information for planning their own trips.


Well, the current edition of the Russian language edition, (with a circulation of 110,000 copies – distributed throughout Russia and the CIS), features this article on the top ten destinations in the countries of the former Soviet Union.  To be fair, as well as Issyk Kul, St. Petersburg and Viborg, the southern coast of the Crimean Peninsula, the Caucasus and Pamir Mountains, The Mineral Waters of Pyatigorsk, the Subarctic regions, Samarkand, the Kamchatka Peninsula, Altai and Tuva and Lake Sevan in Armenia are included in the list.

Although credit is given to Lake Issyk Kul, “one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in the whole of Central Asia,” the article also says that “Kyrgyzstan is a real treasure of natural resources” and refers to fir lined mountain slopes.  Although these are to be found in the Issyk Kul region, they are at a little distance and require an excursion from the beaches which most tourists will see amd experience on their visit.

However, it is true … Kyrgyzstan, and Lake Issyk Kul – the Pearl of the Tien Shan – does have a lot to offer … something for everyone.  Relaxation and recreation on the shores of the lake, activity whether hiking or horse riding, rafting, sailing or diving.  There is also plenty of history and culture, eildlife and entertainment – even if it is not as developed or “built up” as, say, Las Vegas or Acapulco, the Costa Bravo or the Costa del sol.

National Geographic actually has quite a long standing connection with Lake Issyk Kul.  For several years, for example, the Society has funded an expedition to explore the sunken cities that lie on the floor of the lake … and they ran a number of live webcasts during the dives last summer.

The magazine has run similar articles in the past – last year, for example, Issyk Kul was also featured in an article on Wellness tourism – Health Tourism – for its Sanatoria, offering medical treatments as well as relaxation and recreational opportunities, that ring the lake in addition  to all the more regular holiday resorts.





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