My hike to the beautiful lake Ala Kul

My hike to the beautiful lake Ala Kul

Lake Alakul. One of the main draws in Kyrgyzstan and a must-see place for me. I hiked to the lake in early September while I was staying in the town of Karakol.

On the first day I took a marshrutka (the local name for a minibus) to the national park gate. It’s possible to take a taxi to a bridge which is 7 km further up the valley but I didn’t want to do that. I had all day to hike to the Karakol base camp, about 19km, where I was planning to spend the night because I knew I could rent a tent there. I was travelling without one and even without a sleeping bag.

I hiked up through the beautiful Karakol valley and reached the base camp in less than four hours. It was around noon when I came there and wanted to have a rest and explore the area. When I talked to a girl who worked in the camp I found out it was possible to rent a tent even further up in the mountains, in the Sirota camp, which I was not sure about before. She even said it was possible by the lake. She said she was 100% sure. So I had a cup tea and decided to continue hiking towards the lake. I would get closer because the hike was supposed to be around four hours and the altitude difference was around 1000m. It would be easier the following day.

Karakol Valley – Hiking up
Karakol Valley – Hiking up

Hiking from the camp was harder as it was a steep climb. I made it in an hour and a half, a bit less than I had expected. The woman running the Sirota camp told me it wasn’t possible to rent a tent at the lake. But she encouraged me to hike to the lake which was supposed to be three or four hours and come back to spend the night. I told her that I would probably come back. I had a rest and decided to hike up to the lake. A crazy idea. I had already hiked more than I wanted and I wasn’t going to stop. This is me. I have a bad habit of wanting to sea everything on the first day. And when people encourage me I cannot do otherwise.

This part was even harder than the previous one. I guess it was also because I had already hiked a long way. I often had to take a rest. But I made it!! I was so happy. And so tired. It was amazing. The lake was amazing. There was a foursome of German guys, we kind of hiked the last part together. They shared some vodka with me and even would have provided space for me in one of their tents but without a sleeping bag I would have been freezing. I had to go down to the camp. I was planning to hike up to the lake the following day again and go up to the pass and down to the valley on the other side. But when I reached the camp I was really exhausted and didn’t know I would be able to stand up in the morning.

Hiking down from the lake on the first day
My tent at Sirota camp – early morning

The morning came and I felt well. So I hiked up again. It was so much easier and I made it in less time. Inredible. The lake was different in the morning. Even more beautiful than the previous evening. The German guys were still there and were surprised to see me. I was really excited I made it to the lake again. I spent there almost two hours taking in the beauty, enjoying the day.

The view from the lake – the way up
I reached the lake for the second time
Alakul Lake

Afterwards I hiked up to the pass. It was again harder than hiking to the lake. Also because of the altitude. The lake is situated at 3500m while the pass is at 3900m. I was relieved when I finally reached the pass, I didn’t want to go further up. Enough. But it was really worth going there. The views from the pass were spectacular. The weather was fantastic, it was actually great all throughout my 2,5 day hike. The pass is one of the most beauiful places I have ever been to. I spent there more than two hours. I really wanted to have a moment alone there. And it happened. I love being at the top of mountains with no people around. Just me. The best feeling ever.

The trail up to the pass
The view of Alakul from the pass
Me at one of the most beautiful places I have ever been
The ridge close to the pass

In the afternoon I hiked down to the Altyn Arashan valley where I wanted to spend the second night. This was easy. Just going down. I realized I wouldn’t want to hike from this valley up to the pass because it seemed to have no end and it was difficult to follow the trail at times. The best thing at the end of that day was the hot bath I had. The valley is famous for its hot springs and some guesthouses built small baths there and you can use them when you stay at the guesthouses. The best thing after hiking so much. The next best thing was the dinner I had. And the people in the guesthouse were super nice. It was the first time I had ever stayed in a yurt.

Yurts on the way to Altyn Arashan Valley
Altyn Arashan Valley
The yurt I stayed in from the inside
The yurt I stayed in

The following day I just hiked down to the nearest village to take a marshrutka to Karakol. When I reached the main road there were two girls waiting for a bus, too. One was from Slovakia and the other one from the Czech Republic. What a coincidence! We didn’t know how long we would wait but to my surprise a marshrutka appeared in less than 10 minutes. Nice.

Altyn Arashan Valley
Altyn Arashan Valley – hiking down
Altyn Arashan – hiking down

4 Replies to “My hike to the beautiful lake Ala Kul”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! Iā€™m planning to do this hike in September this year so this is a helpful article and a joy to read šŸ™‚

    1. I’m so glad you find my article useful. I hope you will have a fantastic time doing this hike. It’s simply amazing. Enjoy šŸ™‚

  2. Yes, a very good article with great photos! In 2014 we did a fortnight mountain hiking in the area including your route. We enjoyed the beautiful sceneries ā€“ and while crossing some floodwater rivers – challenges too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.