Trek from Karakol to Ala-Kul to Altyn-Arashan
The classic trekking route in Karakol. I lived in Karakol for a year and a half and I love doing this trek. The contrasts between the different valleys and the views are really breathtaking.
Ala Kul is a beautiful, glacier-fed lake high in the mountains above Karakol. It is a challenging hike, with lots of climbing, but well worth the trouble of getting there. You must cross several boulder fields on the way up to the lake, so wear sturdy boots. And the lake is at an elevation of about 3,900 meters, so it can snow at any time of year. The hike can be done in as little as three very long, challenging days, but four days is the standard time for this hike. At Altyn Arashan there are hot springs and several guesthouses where you can soak in them. It's a great way to spend the last evening on the trail.
D1 – Karakol – Sirota Campsite: In the morning, we will go by local-bus to the Karakol Leskhoz (Karakol National Park) ~15min (20km). The hike to Sirota campsite ~5-6 hours (22km). You will be walking alongside the river for ~3 hours (11km) and then cross a bridge with a cable and trek up the valley to the campsite. You will be able to see Tien-Shan pine trees and the Karakol river flowing with glacier water. Overnight in the tent (Elevation: 2700m).
D2 Sirota Campsite – Ala-Kul Lake: Leaving the campsite, you will summit Ala-Kul Lake (3600m) in ~2-3 hours (4km). Enjoy a short hike around the lake and it’s also possible to make a summit at one of the nearby peaks. During winter Ala-Kul freezes solid and it’s still a mystery how deep the lake is. Beware at night the temperatures fall below 0 C. Overnight in the tent (Elevation: 3500m).
D3 Ala-Kul lake – Altyn Arashan: Leaving the campsite, you will summit Alakul pass (3860m) ~2 hours. Then you will descend to Keldiki gorge where you will find the Altyn Arashan Yurt camp/Accommodation ~4-5 hours (15km). Be aware that the Ala-Kul pass is very steep with many loose rocks and can be dangerous without a guide. Overnight in the Altyn-Arashan guesthouse. (Elevation: 2500m).
D4 Altyn Arashan – Karakol: Leaving the campsite Altyn –Arashan you hike down to Aksu Village ~3-4 hours (16km). The trek down is very enjoyable after the last three days of uphill trekking. Once you’re in Aksu you will take a local-bus to Karakol ~30min (18km). We hope you enjoyed the tour and come back to Kyrgyzstan in the future.
Distance: 54.23 kilometers
Start: 42º22.955'47.3”N, 78º27.648'37.5”E; elevation: 3,753.6 meters
End: 42º29.79'10.5”N,78º31.424'9.44” E; elevation 3,562 meters
Pass: 42º19.587'23.6”N, 78º32.706'26.9” E; elevation 4,212.6 meters
Total elevation gain (one way): 4,352 meters
Total elevation loss (one way): 4,706 meters
Difficulty: 4 (long and steep all the way up to the pass, with several boulder fields to cross).
Price per person:
2 pax: 380$/pp with 1 English / French speaking guide and 1 porter
3 pax: 275$/pp with 1 English / French speaking guide and 1 porter
4 pax: 315$/pp with 1 English / French speaking guide and 2 porters
5 pax: 275$/pp with 1 English / French speaking guide and 2 porters
6 pax: 280$/pp with 1 English / French speaking guide and 3 porters
It's possible to extend this day tour with other tours in the Karakol area or a small part of a bigger tour throughout Kyrgyzstan. If you were to add horseback riding in SonKul that would be amazing or a jeep tour to Kol Suu you would be blown away from the realness of Naryn!
• Transportation to and from planned trek
• Guide during the trek
• Mountain cook during the trek
• 3 fresh meals per day throughout the trek
• This included the National Park Fee and Tent Setting Fee
• Any guesthouse
• Alcoholic drinks
• Bottled water during the trek
• Hot Springs at Altyn Arshan
• Porters are not included in this tour, but for 120 dollars which only carry 15 kg of you're stuff for the 3 days
If you need to rent equipment you have to let me know 2 weeks before the tour starts.
Testimonials from my guests:
We went on two absolutely stunning treks into the Kyrgyz Mountains. These took us to breath taking alpine lakes and saw us walking on powerful mountain glaciers. I will never forget opening my tent to the sun rising over lake Ala-kul.
Charlie 23, England