Once you look up toward the pass right in front of your eyes, it can be hard to tell your feeling. 50% is because the views amaze you. Meanwhile, the remaining 50% makes you feel fear due to the steep climb. Once you go on your way up, you should reach each step carefully since your feet can slide back down on the rock. In fact, it is one of the most popular hikes in Kyrgyzstan. Probably, this is the best place to find a beautiful turquoise lake on earth. It brings your mind to the glacial lakes, located in the Pacific Northwest, but it is in a more vibrant look. The location of the lake is among the jagged peaks of the Ala-Too Mountain Range. In another world, you are finding the secret spot.
At first, you may find that Alakol is the right spelling for the lake. Nevertheless, when you go there and check the maps, the written name is Ala-Kul. Locals even use and spell it with spaces, dashes, or no spaces. Well, it is something common in this area. It is the reason why traveling in this country is confusing. The spellings are the real matters that are not always consistent. Eventually, places have the same or similar names. For example, you may end up at Jyrgalan when you want to visit Jergalan. It is because these locations have pretty much the same pronunciation.
So, why does Alakol Lake is one of the most popular locations to hike in this country?
How to Get to Lake Alakol
There are some ways to head to Lake Alakol and these ways need a big effort.
The most popular trail is the 3-4 day trek. The starting point is in Karakol and you can end it in Aksu. There, you will get a cab so you can go back to Karakol.
The alternative is Aksu as the starting point and then head to the Altyn Arashan first. After that, you have to hike to the Lake Alakol for two days and go on the horseback for your day trip.
You can come in from the other side if you have hiked to Boz-Uchuk Lakes. Once you arrived in Altyn Arashan, you can ride to the bottom of the Alakol pass on horseback. After that, finish by hiking.
It is great if you have the chance to hike the undiscovered area to Boz-Uchuk Lakes and head to Altyn Arashan. From there, you can add a day trip to the Alakol on horseback. After that, add a couple days so you can hike to Alakol. If you can go quite quickly, it is possible to hike it in a day by waking up in really early. It is good to go there in summer because that season makes the days go longer.
If you want to do a minimal effort to head to Alakol, hiring an off-road vehicle is the interesting choice. Start from Aksu to Altyn Arashan. The price is between 10,000 to 13,000 som for the car to drop you off and then pick you up once you are done.
So, the total distance is 10.4 km by horse and 2 km by foot. Once you arrived in Altyn Arashan, ride a horse to go to the base of the Alakol North Pass. You will cross the river and then hop over to the perpendicular valley. After reaching the base of the pass, leave your house at the bottom. Then, take another 1 km to the top by foot. The last kilometer is so steep that you must watch your steps. The path is from the loose shale so that it is so slippery. Each step you want to take makes the rocks start sliding down. Therefore, if you have problems with heights, of course, it can make you get scary jaunt. Make sure that you have a guide so he is able to run and hop when you sit down paralyzed with fear.
Once you have on the top of the pass, take a break. You can take some photos and enjoy your lunch. You can also go down to the lake anytime you want, but you should talk to your guide to confirm.
Spending Your Days To The Most Popular Routes
Day 1 – Karakol to Sirota Campsite (22km of distance and 5-6 hours of estimated time)
As usual, the first day is easy that you only walk along a river. Make sure that you do not get lost and don’t veer off. You will find a bridge over the river to the left with the huge pine trees on either side. At this point, cross the bridge to head straight up.
You will see more paths and be sure that you can continue head east into the valley. Some trail markers are the red points on the rocks. Nevertheless, if you concern on staying the obvious trail, you can go to the campsite with no issues at all. It takes time about an hour and a half and after that, you will come across the small river. Continue by following it up to the wooden cabin, located on the left side of a valley.
Day 2 – Sirota Campsite to Alakol Lake (4 km of distance and 2-3 hours of estimated time)
Go to the trail with the river that should be on your right. There are some markers. If you see the markers and you come across the waterfall at the top of a valley, you are on the right track.
What you must do is to follow the cairns until the peak. There, you can enjoy the view of the beautiful lake. Spend a night close to the lake and you have plenty of time to hike to the summit one of the peaks.
Staying at Lake Alakol is great that we recommend you to camp there. It is so beautiful with sunset and sunrise views at the lake. It does not a big deal if you do not want to camp there. You should go early and combine day 2 and day 3. At the distance, you can even see the Heart Lake from a distance.
Day 3: Ala-Kul Lake To Altyn Arashan (15 km of distance and 4-5 hours of estimated time)
Follow the trail that will lead up to the pass on the northeast side of the lake. Climbing is tough and you must have good preparation, mentally. At the top, turn around so you will enjoy the last looks at the lake.
Continue by following the valley with the most obvious path. You need to run into the larger river, follow the river down and do not veer off, and you are at Altyn Arashan with the bridge to bring you to the other side.
Day 4: Altyn Arashan To Aksu (16 km of distance and 4-5 hours of estimated time)
You will need a driver to bring you out to Aksu. It saves you a lot of time because walking means you are dealing with the obvious road. Feeling lost means you should say “Aksu” so locals can show you the right direction. Arriving in Aksu means you should grab a taxi to Karakol for 400 soum within 25-30 minutes.
Best Time To Hike
July and September are the best time to hike with nicer weather, long day, and wildflower shows. May and June or September to mid-October can be the best time to avoid the crowd.
Backpack, down jacket, hiking pants, waterproof jacket, hat, buff or balaclava, waterproof hiking boots, down booties, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, water bladder, water filter, headlamp, quick-dry towel, personal toiletries and meds, ziplock bags, toilet paper, trekking poles, phone charger, and map.