Kyrgyzstan, a country which is incomplete without its hikes! If you are planning to visit Kyrgyzstan, make sure you are fit and adventurous because Kyrgyzstan can only be experienced truly on foot. Why? Because the mountain ranges cover more than 70% of the country’s geographic territory.
Below, I have listed the top five hikes in Kyrgyzstan that you should definitely take up. Each of them is distinct from the other and are all equally beautiful.
Ala Kul Hike
The most popular trek of Kyrgyzstan, which is also challenging if you are not going here during the right season. But the hike is definitely worth it. You will see miles of rolling hills with turquoise shaded lake towards the end of the trek.
Usually, trekkers take a guide along with them, but this one can be done on your own if you have the right level of fitness. All you need is to carry your camping gear if you are hiking during the off-season; or stay in yurts which are present during the peak season time.
Ala Kul lake is located at 4,000 meters, lying amidst the Tien Shan mountains and it takes about 2 days to reach the lake. From here you can trek further to Altyn Arashan (covered below), or come all the way back to Karakol – the main town of the Issyk Kul region.
Altyn Arashan is also known as the Golden Spa. It is a hub of hot springs – both natural and man-made. You have to trek for about 3-4 hours from the Karakol region or extend your plans from Ala Kul and cross the pass to reach here. Once you will reach here, you will find yourself surrounded by a valley retreat, high up in the mountains at 2,400 metres.
I would suggest you spend one night here and soak in the hot springs at the guest house. To sit inside a pool of 30 to 40°C when the night is cold is amazing. Further, hike a little downwards in the valley and you would find natural pools with river stream running right next to it.
Song Kol is an alpine lake which lies at an altitude of 3016 metres. It is the second largest lake and is the and the largest freshwater lake of Kyrgyzstan. Over here you will find locals living in yurts and during the summer season, Kyrgyz herdsmen graze their livestock while being surrounded by pastures called jailoos.
Usually tourists opt for horse riding to reach here and the trek is very long, however, we took our camps and enjoyed every viewpoint on foot. However, taking camps is not necessary since you will also find yurts right next to the lake and during the summertime, a dip inside the Song Kol lake is the best experience ever.
Ala Archa National Park
Ala Archa National Park in the Tian Shan mountains is how our travel in Kyrgyzstan started. It is located near the capital, Bishkek, and can be easily reached to the entry point of the Park with the help of a marshrutka. The entire hike is divided into several parts. The first point on the hike is called “Broken Heart”, followed by Ak Sai Glacier as the last point.
Families come at the starting of the Park for a picnic and several games. So you will mostly find the Park during the holiday time too crowded, however, if you are a trekker you can do away with the crowd and hike to the glacier point which is a sight to behold.
You can also trek the other side of the park to see an abandoned ski resort. Further, to tell you a little about the Ala Archa National Park, it is an alpine national park. Archa means bright or many-coloured juniper that can be found in the park.
Kol Tor Lake
A perfect one day trek, close to the capital city of Kyrgyzstan – Bishkek. If you are short on time and still want to see the rolling hills and beautiful lake that Kyrgyzstan offers, then this trek is for you. The lake lies in the Kegety Gorge and the lake is also known as the turquoise lake. This calm place is a great spot for lunch, and locals often come here for a picnic.
Kyrgyzstan is incomplete without its hikes. If you want to explore and get the true essence of the country without a doubt opt for these treks. Of course, there are many more hikes that one can do in Kyrgyzstan, but these five treks should not be missed without a doubt.