Karakol Animal Market


Early on Sunday mornings one of Kyrgyzstan's biggest animal markets takes place around 2km north of central Karakol. Typical of such markets, you'll observe locals bargaining over thoroughbred horses or improbably bundling voluptuous fat-tailed sheep into the back seats of Lada cars. The setting amid semiderelict flour mills might seem unprepossessing, but on clear days the backdrop of white-topped mountains is more striking from here than from the town centre. Across the street, a car market keeps similar hours.

Marshrutka 102 drops you amid a melee of vehicles and hay-trucks on Udilova. A series of earthen unloading platforms lead north. Jostle through the chaos to reach a bigger main compound one block north, where you'll find horse sales and vendors of beautiful embossed leather saddlery.

On foot the bazaar is about 25 minutes' walk from Makish Bazaar. Head straight down bumpy Lenina (the clearly signed Bereke Mill is about half way) then cut diagonally across some scrubby wasteland approximately opposite Lenina 279. Alternatively, walk up Kydyr Ake, take the second left (beside a cement dealers' store) and follow the traffic. For an early start a taxi is a better bet, around 70som from the centre.