During Soviet times, the 3-day hike from Almaty to Issyk-Kul was a rite of passage for many hiking enthusiasts from across the Soviet Union. After independence, the routes were closed by the Kazakh border guard, and they remain so until this day.
Work is in progress to open up these cross-border routes again, and we estimate that before 2020, it will become possible once again to do these marvelous treks. When that happens, you will read it here first.
For now, hikers will have to content themselves with loops in either the Ili-Alatau National Park on the Kazakh side, or with the wide range of possibilities around Issyk-Kul.