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A shady grid of tree-lined streets, Karakol (Каракол) has limited sights but lots of activities, and is a good base from which to access some of Central Asia's best skiing and most gloriously accessible alpine trekking. The town offers clear-day backdrops of snowy peaks contrasted against the old blue shutters and whitewashed walls of some remnant antique colonial-period houses. These recall the town's Russian-era heyday: founded in 1869 as a support town for the then-new garrison of Teploklyuchenka (Ak-Suu), it housed many merchants, officers and explorers, most famously Nikolai Przhevalsky (in whose honor Karakol was renamed Przhevalsk between 1939 and 1991).

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Karakol.