How to get to Kel-Suu Lake
One of the things I really wanted to do in Kyrgyzstan was to hike and see beautiful landscapes. I had heard that Ala-Kul lake was one of the most beautiful places you could go to so I was determined to visit it. I also found out that it’s one of the most popular lakes to hike to in Kyrgyzstan. So when I came to the CBT (community based tourism) office in Karakol, I was surprised that they told me I could hike it from a completely different route than most other hikers do. But why on earth wouldn’t you trust the local people who works with this? Well, that might’ve been my first mistake. Because that path led us nowhere and then it was too late to turn back. I was incredibly disappointed about this fact and I couldn’t do the lake anymore because of time pressure, so I just had to accept the fact that maybe I wouldn’t be able to see any beautiful lakes in Kyrgyzstan. That is, until I met some other experienced travelers who told me about a hidden gem – Kel-Suu Lake.
Quickly, I switched my plans and decided to try my luck with this other lake. There’s barely any information from other travelers about it online and I knew this had to be special. So I quickly gathered some information from the travelers and started heading back on the road.
How to get there
First, you need to take a mashrutka to Naryn. If you go from Bishkek, you can take a mashrutka straight to Naryn. The ride takes approximately 4 ½ hours. From there, you need to book a driver that will take you to Kel-Suu Lake. From Naryn, it takes another 4 hours. The roads are really bumpy so bring some pills if you often get car sick.
What to think of
It’s not possible to get to the lake with public transportation so the best thing to do is to go to the CBT office in Naryn and ask them if there’s a group going there that you can join. The cost of a car costs 10,000 som and can be divided by 4 people. If you want to stay more than 1 night by the yurt camp, it’ll cost you 500 som more per night (basically it’s for the driver). You also need a permit to get there and this’ll cost you 1,500 som. It has to be arranged at least one day before you want to go hike, but it’s better to do it a few days before so you’re guaranteed to have the permit. Remember; you cannot enter this area without this permit so don’t try.
It takes about 4 hours to hike to the lake from the yurt camp. It’s 7 kilometers there and another 7 back. Try to do it early in the morning so you have a lot of time to spend at the lake. Always bring your rain jacket and warmer clothes, even if you’re going during summer. The weather changes fast in the mountains so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Other than that, it’s quite easy to get there, it just sounds more complicated and that’s probably why a lot of people don’t go there. It also costs a bit more than Ala-Kul for example and is a bit less accessible. But wow, that lake was truly incredible and all the hassle was so worth it. The entire experience was worth it – staying in a yurt camp, watching the stars at nigh, eating dinner at the camp together with other travelers (the very few that made it there), do a day hike and see one of Kyrgyzstan’s most stunning lakes. Life is, indeed, very good when you’re in Kyrgyzstan.
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