Beautiful mountains, the lake as a backdrop and 4000 year olds petroglyphs: Cholpon-Ata is definitively a place to stop while touring the large Issyk-Kul lake, Kyrgzystan.
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INFO & PLANNING TIPS - the pretoglyphs of Cholpon Ata
Kyrgyzstan has several sites with ancient petroglyphs. Cholpon-Ata is the most accessible one which also makes it the most degraded. Although called Museum, don't be surprised it is an open air field.
The site is kind of enclosed on the hills north of the Issyk-kul lake and the petroglyps depict the hunting of deer, snow leopard and ibexes. Most date from 2000 BC to 400 AD. And many stories surround the site about why it is there and what its function was. Sadly, as of June 2015, there are no explanations at the site. Kyrgyz are still new at Tourism, so hopefully it will be added in the coming years.
TIPS FOR TRAVEL PLANNING ADDICTS - Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs
Getting to the Cholpon-Ata Petroglyph site
- Close to Cholpon-Ata the resort town on the Northern shore of Issyk-Kul
- Located at the top of the airport strip (some cars even drive on it to get there faster)
- There are absolutely no signs indicated directions so ask directions or take a cab. Walking should take less than an hour from the center of Cholpon-Ata
Visiting the Cholpon-Ata Petroglyph site
- Sometimes there is someone taking a small fee for the entrance (40 to 50 SOM as of 2015) - other times it is just opened
- You can just spend 10 minutes and look at a few near the entrance including the most spectacular one or 2 hours walking around the whole fields searching for them like in a treasure hunt
- No facilities
- No shade at all
The main rock
Right next to the entrance, is the main rock of the site with many drawings including snow leopard! It was fascinating to look at and reminded me of my visit to the Namibian rock engravings at Twyfelfontein.
Sadly, visitors are not very respectful of the place and as we walked in a group of tourist was taking a picture with it on some where standing on it… So I am not sure how long they are going to remain.
As you can see this is a big site with thousands of rocks. It is fun to go for a walk and search for them. Some are indicated with little signs but others are not. It really feels like a treasure hunt, although sometimes you really wander what they were drawing.
Have a look at this hunting scene!
You can also check out the pictures from Megan that she took of Cholpon-Ata in January
This petroglyph was my favorite. I like how sharp the ibex is.
Bonus view of Issyk-Kul
The other things I really liked about the site was to be able to get a good view of the lake. For most of the northern shore road you don't see it that much so I was very excited when we arrived at the location which is a bit higher than the lake.
Notice the different shades of blue!!!
Want to see more of Kyrgyzstan's beauty?
Discover more planning information, things to do and places to see in my online Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide.
Have you ever seen petroglyphs? Where?
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