There are so many beautiful lakes in Kyrgyzstan that will make you fall in love with the country and want to come and discover this place again and again. We’ve made a list of Top lakes for you to start with but encourage you to go beyond and explore everything from A to Z.
Start with Issyk-Kul, a traditional place for tourists, well know to many people around the globe as it is the second largest saline lake in the world after the Caspian Sea. The hot Lake (Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyz means “Hot Lake”) is located at an altitude of 1609 meters between the ridges of the Northern Tien Shan. 80 relatively small inflows fall into the lake but the lake itself is a closed lake. This place will enchant you with the beautiful match of mountains and lake. The lake’s surroundings such as waterfalls, canyons, forests have so much to offer that it would take a lifetime to see every piece of this pure beauty.
Another mountainous lake squeezed into a valley between the internal ridges of the Tien Shan. Son-Kul’ (Kul’ in Kyrgyz means “Lake”) is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and located at an altitude of 3016 metres. The lake is covered by snow for 200 days a year and during the winter (December-February) it’s almost impossible to reach it, so plan your trip accordingly. The lake freezes from September till June, while Issyk-Kul’ never does. Son-Kul’ lies on a mountain plain surrounded by meadows (jailoo) which have been used as pastures for animals since ancient times according to the evidence of rock paintings found on the shore of the lake. These days shepherds bring their cattle to the lake during the summer and live with their families in yurts (traditional Kyrgyz dwellings made of felt). The nature of the lake is very rich in vegetation with rare species of animals and birds although there are almost no trees around. The water is so clean that people can use it for daily cooking and for that reason no human or animal is allowed in the water.
The lake is located at an altitude of 1873 meters above sea level and stretches for 7.5 kilometers in length and 350-1500 meters wide in Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve, 500km away from the capital. For your information, you can find more than 1000 types of plants, 10 kinds of birds and 34 species of mammals (such as deer, lynx, wolves, foxes, bears, badgers, porcupines and even snow leopards), though to see bears, wolves and foxes you will have to walk a very long way. The coastline is heavily covered by forest which grows to the very edge of the lake creating a magical and peaceful atmosphere for every traveller.
The next lake you don’t want to miss visiting is Kel-Tor, dead lake or glacial lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in Kyrgyzstan, located at an altitude of 2725 meters above sea level, in Kel-Tor valley, 90 km away from Bishkek. The lake can be accessed from the Kegety gorge and might take you around 3 hours hiking through beautiful mountains, forests, meadows. It’s hard to say what is more beautiful, the hike to the lake or the lake itself, so make sure your camera has enough battery to capture all the beauty. Kea-Tor has an unusual apex called “Sugar loaf” with a hanging glacier. The height of this peak is 4253 metres. If you are interested in medicinal herbs then bring a bag to fill it with various herbs you’ll find on the riverbank. Among the bushes on the mountains slopes you will also find strawberries and blueberries.
Ala-Kul’ is the pearl that is hidden high in the mountains of Ala-too, a glacial lake located at 3532 meters. The lake is quite small, and there are only two options to get there: walk or ride a horse as there are no roads. The name of the lake means “Motley lake” in Kyrgyz because of the colours of the rocky ridges with snow-white peaks. The bracing cold, bright shining sun and rocky shores of lake Ala-Kul’ will transfer the traveler to the edge of the world, to a realm of peace and pureness.