Ala Kul Lake trekking and ascent
Duration: 4 days, 3 nights
Season: June – August
Route: Karakol – Karakol Gorge – Ascent – Altyn Arashan Gorge – Karakol
Level of difficulty: moderate trekking, difficulty of ascent depends on choice
This area is one of the most popular for trekking in Kyrgyzstan. Many tourists choose it because of the beautiful nature and easy access. Deep Karakol mountain valley is a location of Karakol National Nature Park. The reason for it obvious, because not many places in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia can show off such reach flora and fauna and its diversity. During approach to the lake you will pass through deep fir forest, get over turbulent mountain rivers, follow narrow mountain paths on alpine terrain, see 50m waterfall and of course enjoy beautiful landscapes all the way up and down. In the end of the trek, in case you follow from West to East direction, hot springs of Altyn Arashan awaits you. Here you also can rent a horse for riding, have a night in a yurt or comfortable mountain lodge.
As Ala Kul Lake is located in high altitude area (3520m), many peaks around it becomes easy accessible. There are many different summits which you can climb. Some are often climbed and some are just nameless rarely visited peaks. Difficulty of routes may vary from F to AD+ grades. From these peaks you can see panorama of the main Terskey Range and its highest summits: Karakolsky peak (5216m), Oguz Bashi peak (5020m), Djigit peak (5020m).
One of the easiest and most popular accessible peak from Ala Kul Lake is “30 years of VLKSM” (VLKSM means Soviet Lenin’s Communist Youth Union). The route starts from the South side of the lake and follow to Panoramic pass along scree slope and then along rocky ridge to the summit. Minimum technical mountaineering skills required for this route. Difficulty of the route is F.
Other peaks that attracts attention of many tourist and climbers are located in the upper part of the lake. There are no established routes there so if go climbing there you should be ready for first ascent plan.
Karakol town – Karakol valley
There are two options: to take special car and drive until confluence Karakol river with Kurgaktor (Alakul) river. Cross the bridge and start ascent towards Ala Kul Lake. Second option is to start hiking from the beginning of the gorge. It will take one extra day.
Karakol gorge – Ala Kul Lake. Establishing camp on a lakeside or lower on a flat spot below waterfall. Overnight in tent camp. (LD)
Altitudes (above sea level): highest point & overnight point – 3450-3550 m.
Distance and travel time: 5-8km hiking, around 5-6 h.
Whole day of ascent.
Ala kul Lake – Altyn Arashan gorge
Ascent to Ala Kul pass. From the highest point there will be great view to the lake and mountains. Descent along Keldike river towards hot mineral springs in Altyn Arashan gorge (‘Altyn” means “Golden”, “Arashan” – spring). Dive into forest zone. Reach destination. Take hot bathes.
Overnight in guest house.(BLD)
Altitudes (above sea level): highest point at Ala Kul pass – 3900m; overnight point – 2550m.
Elevation: +450m, -1350m.
Distance and travel time: around 12km, around 8-9 hours.
Altyn Arashan – Karakol town (40km)
Transfer to Karakol by car or by foot. (BLD)
Altitudes (above sea level): Finish point in Karakol town – 1800m.
Sunscreen (at least 20SPF);
Sunglasses with UV protection;
At least 35 Liter backpack for climbing;
Head lamp & batteries;
If required, possible to rent alpine equipment.