One of the best short treks I have ever done, a great intro to Kyrgyzstan around the infinite trekking opportunities of the Karakol’s mountains.
My first Kyrgyz adventure took place on the mountains just behind Karakol town, in the Eastern part of the country, and it did not disappoint. If this is the introduction to Kyrgyzstan, then my expectations bar has just moved a couple of measures higher.
The three-days trek to Ala-Kul Lake is short but demanding as it goes from about 2,000 m. of elevation to 3,900 m. at the pass (featured image) in only two days. It is also incredibly beautiful, and for this reason the best known and most frequented trek in the area, which, this must be said, offers quite a big choice of trekking routes for all type of nature and mountains lovers.
Nothing to be feared though. Even in high season, the most known trek in Karakol is still enjoyable without any traffic at all, just a few other trekkers, a nice company if you are going on your own. For once, I was not doing this alone as one of my best buddies joined me to travel Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over summer.
There’s absolutely no need for a guide for this trek as the route can easily be followed on apps like Maps.me or google maps.
I hope the photos speak for themselves regarding the beauty of this trek. Here is how to do it independently:
In order to have an easier climb to the pass, I would recommend to do it anticlockwise. From Karakol, you can take the Marshrukta (a minivan – public transport) n. 101 to the last stop. From here you quickly walk to the entrance of the park where you’ll have to pay a fee.
On the first day, you go from the entrance to Sirota Camp at about 2,700 m. There’s a lot of nice spots and water in abundance, but if you are not equipped you can also sleep in a traditional Yurt (do not expect a cheerful welcome from the lady and her daughters managing the Yurt camp, but they provide shelter and food if needed) or in fixed tents that can be rented out at the campsite. You can buy dinners and breakfasts for this trek, but you should bring along lunches and snacks.
Another option is to continue to Ala-Kul lake and camp there. But it is already 3,400 m., too high in my opinion without acclimatization. And much colder of course 😉
The second day is tough, from Sirota Camp to the pass and then a long way down to Altyn-Arashan at 2,500 m. Luckily, once there you get to choose from a wide variety of Campgrounds or Yurt accommodations, it is a really nice place, and you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing and revitalizing bath in the hot springs of the area.
On the third day, you just have an easy walk down the valley until the bus stop of Marshrukta 350 (indicated on the maps) which will bring you back to Karakol.
And that’s 500 words, let’s go!