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Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan
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Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan

amazing nature pearl in mountains

Country: Kyrgyzstan, Western Tien-Shan mountains
Tour duration: 10 days / 9 nights
Best time to travel: July — September
Itinerary: Osh — Aflatun settlement — Lake Sary-Chelek — Arkyt-Sai river — Osh

GUARANTEE DATES OF GROUP TOUR IN 2018:

The Western Tien-Shan mountains is a real treasure of spectacular lakes including the grandiose lake Sary-Chelek. It is to this lake that the route of the trekking takes you through picturesque mountain passes, deep gorges, along the torrents of mountain rivers. In addition to Lake Sary-Chelek, you will encounter a number of other smaller lakes which look like a chain of crystal-clear diamonds scattered among the rocky mountain peaks.

trekking to sary-chelek lake

Lake Sary-Chelek and its surroundings are full of enchantment. Located at the altitude of 1873m the lake is cupped in the basin among mountain ridges. With the length of 7,500m and the width of 2280m, the lake is 234m deep. It was formed as a result of tectonism of the area about 2000 years ago.

On a fair day the extreme transparency of the water makes underwater inhabitants as well as deep water landscapes clearly visible. The lake is located on the territory of Sary-Chelek biosphere reserve. Surrounding the lake and reflecting in its water surface are rocky cliffs and thick juniper, fir and spruce forests.

Don’t miss the unforgettable trip to Sary-Chelek.

The Western Tien-Shan mountains is a real treasure of spectacular lakes including the grandiose lake Sary-Chelek. It is to this lake that the route of the trekking takes you through picturesque mountain passes, deep gorges, along the torrents of mountain rivers. In addition to Lake Sary-Chelek, you will encounter a number of other smaller lakes which look like a chain of crystal-clear diamonds scattered among the rocky mountain peaks.

Lake Sary-Chelek and its surroundings are full of enchantment. Located at the altitude of 1873m the lake is cupped in the basin among mountain ridges. With the length of 7,500m and the width of 2280m, the lake is 234m deep. It was formed as a result of tectonism of the area about 2000 years ago. On a fair day the extreme transparency of the water makes underwater inhabitants as well as deep water landscapes clearly visible. The lake is located on the territory of Sary-Chelek biosphere reserve. Surrounding the lake and reflecting in its water surface are rocky cliffs and thick juniper, fir and spruce forests.
Don’t miss the unforgettable trip to Lake Sary-Chelek.

Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Day 1. Early arrival to Osh. Meet and greet in the airport. Transfer from Osh to Aflatun settlement — at the confluence of the Aflatun and Utur rivers . Camp 1 (1300m). Distance: 350km; approx. 6hrs. Altitude difference: +300m.

Sulaiman Mountain. Osh, KyrgyzstanOsh, famous for the warmth and hospitality of its townsfolk, is the biggest city in southern Kyrgyzstan.

It welcomes the visitors with streets lined by green trees, numerous open-air cozy cafes, bright boisterous bazaar and the main point of interest — Suleiman Mountain that rises in the middle of the city. You will have the opportunity to sightsee the city on your last day of the tour, whereas today, without losing time, we head for Aftalun settlement and further to the confluence of Aflatun and Utur rivers where we set up Camp 1 (1300m).

Day 2. The beginning of active part of the tour. Trekking up along the Yushniy Aflatun river. Camp 2 (1700m). Distance: 18km; approx. 6hrs. Altitude difference: +400m. In South Aflatun river canyonToday our trekking starts and we move up along the Yushniy Aftalun river. The first day always overwhelms with new sensations, fascinating landscaped vistas. Lush multicoloured alpine vegetation contrasts the austere grandeur of mountains. A rather good earth road runs along the canyon of Yushniy Aftalun river among the picturesque spruce forests. After 18-km ascent we set up Camp 2 (1700m).

Day 3. Continue trekking up along the Yushniy Aflatun river and then further along Uyalma river. Camp 3 (2100m). Distance: 12km; approx. 5hrs. Altitude difference: +400m.

Camp on the lake Sary-Chelek. Tien Shan, KyrgyzstanAfter breakfast we continue the trekking up along the gorge to the confluence of Aflatun and Uyalma river. In the Aflatun gorge as well as Uyalma hollow the bottom and northern slopes are hosts to spruce forests, whereas the southern slopes are abundant in desert-candle. The steep slopes of the gorge are formed of limestone. The upper part of the gorge is rocky with overhanging ledges.

At the confluence of Aflatun and Uyalma rivers the wide valley is covered with grassy plots and spruce forests; further up the two gorges get narrower. The left side of Uyalma gorge is gently sloping, there are traces of landslip and mudslide, while the right slope is rather steep and is covered with spruce forests.

Trekking further upstream, we reach the place where Camp 4 is to be set on the bank of Uyalma river (2100m)

Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Day 4. Trekking over Kuldambes pass (2750m) and then descent to Lake Sary-Chelek over Ashuu pass (2551m). Camp 4 (1900m). Distance: 10km; approx. 5hrs. Altitude difference: +650m / -850m.

Sary Chelek lake. Tien Shan, KyrgyzstanToday we cross two easy passes — Kuldambes (2750m) and Ashuu(2551m). The path first runs along the turbulent Uyalma river, then,near Kuldambes pass, it serpentines through grassy area. At the approach to the pass the slopes acquire more flattened forms. The path starts to zigzag among the alpine verdure and gradually reaches the stony section.
Easy trekking over Kuldambes pass is done at the background of various mountain scenery and picturesque landscapes. After crossing Kuldambes pass we start slow descent to Ashuu pass — the viewpoint which affords stunning views of the northern part of lake Sary-Chelek. Short trekking to the banks of the lake where we set up our Camp 4 (1900m) for the overnight.

Day 5. Day’s rest on Lake Sary-Chelek. Walks along the lake banks. Retrace to Camp 4.
Sary Chelek lake. Tien Shan, KyrgyzstanToday is our rest day when you can have a walk along the lake banks, take photos of the lake from different angles and by different light.

Lake Sary-Chelek, the third deepest and one of the most beautiful alpine lakes of Central Asia, is an impressive attraction in Chatkal ridge (a spur of Western Tien-Shan). In summertime the temperature of the water in the lake is +19°С. Dozens of brooks make their way along the neighbouring small canyons and feed this fresh lake. The bluff banks submerge into the impenetrable depth of 234m. The northern banks of lake Sary-Chelek are covered with forests of spruce and silver fir-trees mirrored in the lake water.
In Kyrgyz “Sary-Chelek” means “yellow vessel”, “yellow bucket” or “yellow scoop”. However, this name can be justified only in autumn, when leaves of the trees turn yellow and the lake looks like a scoop full of honey. In summertime the water of the lake is blue with emerald hues. Old-timers say that once the lake contours reminded a bucket and it got its attribute “yellow” because of buttercups that carpet the slopes and reflect in the lake water.

Day 6. Trekking. Ascent along Lake Sary-Chelek over Makmal pass (2654m). Descent to the Kyzyl-Suu river. Camp 5 (2000m) at the confluence of the Kyzyl-Suu and Kurumdu rivers.

Distance: 13km; approx. 6hrs. Altitude difference: +750m / -650m.

Ascent along the river Sary-ChelekToday we leave the lake banks and trek upstream the Sary-Chelek river. After 1 km the river narrows and turns north. The slopes become steeper, at times broken by grassy areas with cones of spruce trees. Everywhere from the cliffs there run streams. By the riverbed there stand lonely birth trees. The gorge narrows and it seems that the cliffs reach for each other. But the path is well within view and soon we ascend to easy Makmal pass. From here we can glance again at the grandiose water basin of lake Sary-Chelek surrounded by rocky cliffs and woody slopes where pointed tops of pyramid-like Tien-Shan spruces reach for the blue sky, and floating clouds reflect in the quiet waters of the lake.

Feast your eyes on the scenery and start the descent to Kyzyl-Suu river. Soon we reach the Kurumdu river — tributary of Kyzyl-Suu river, and set up Camp 5 (2000m) on a cozy forest clearing.

Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Day 7. Trekking downstream the Kara-Suu river to lake Karakamysh (Kara-Suu). Camp 6 (1800m) on the lake bank.
Distance: 12km; approx. 3hrs. Altitude difference: -200m.

Sary Chelek lake. Tien Shan, KyrgyzstanContinue the descent along the Kara-Suu river to the banks of the scenic lake Karakamysh (Kara-Suu). To south-east there opens a splendid view of compact Min-Teke mountains, whereas on the west there rises mountain ridge separating the area from a chain of lakes (Kyle-kol, Iri-Kol, Chacha-Kol,Bokaly, etc.) neighbouring lake Sary-Chelek.

Lake Karakamysh (Kara-Suu) is fed by Kara-Suu river. About 6.5km long and 1.5-2km wide, the lake has the average depth of 90m. In summertime the water warms up to 17-19 degrees. The banks of the lake are overgrown with Tien-Shan spruce, juniper, mountain ash, barberry and other bushes. The rocky banks go deep into the water where shoals of fish are clearly visible.

We set up our Camp 6 (1800m) on the picturesque Kara-Suu bank.

Day 8. Trekking up to and over Kuturma pass (2446m) and then descent to lake Iri-Kol. Camp 7 (1300m) on the lake bank near Arkyt settlement. Distance: 12km; approx. 6hrs. Altitude difference: -500m.

Sary Chelek lake. Tien Shan, KyrgyzstanAfter trekking along the eastern bank of lake Kara-Suu we start an easy ascent to Kuturma pass (2446m). Here the landscape is really amazing: grey cliffs covered with clefts and dints are reflected in still green-bluish surface of the lake water. The road bends along the pinkish rocks and leads to the southern part of the lake that turns into the riverbed of the Kara-Suu river. Soon the current becomes turbulent. This can be clearly seen from the path that runs up to Kuturma pass. The ascent is relatively easy and rather rewarding: from the pass there opens the wide panorama of huge southern part of Sary-Chelek hollow with Lake Sary-Chelek itself. To the left there are the oblong contours of another lake — Iri-Kol whose banks will accommodate our camp for the night.

Descent from the pass does not take much time and soon we reach the banks of lake Iri-Kol located at the altitude of 1800-2040m. Here we set up our Camp 7 (1800m).

Lake Iri-Kol is formed by rock obstruction and is fed by springs. Bathing in its cool water brings relaxation and takes away the fatigue after day’s trekking.

Day 9. Trekking from lake Iri-Kol to the southern part of lake Sary-Chelek in Upaly ravine. Continue trekking round lake Kely-Kol and further to the Arkyt-Sai river where the vehicle will be waiting to pick you up (1400m).

Distance: 10km; approx. 2hrs. Altitude difference: -400m.
Transfer to Osh. Accommodation in the hotel (320km; approx. 5-6hrs).

Our destination today is again Lake Sary-Chelek. Following the path that runs from lake Iri-Kol, we skirt lake Kely-Kol (“round lake”) that is 700m in length and 200-400m in width.

Now we head towards main riverbed of the Arkyt-Sai river, to the point from which we will be transferred to Osh.
Our spectacular trekking is completed. Today we leave the enchanting mountainous area. Some are looking forward to comforts of civilization, while others regret that encounter with nature was so short.

We trekked an unforgettable route, one of many that the Tien-Shan offers.

Today we return to the city warmth of Osh with its numerous cafes and restaurants, and free Internet access. We spend overnight in a comfortable hotel.

Day 10. Osh. Departure. Subject to departure time there is leisure time in Osh when you can visit the Osh bazaar. Transfer to airport. Departure home.

If you have some spare time before your departure flight, visit the local bazaar — the real oriental bazaar where one can find something to his liking: from garments imported from China to fresh delicious fruits and original articles of the local craftsmen.

Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Itinerary brief description

This trekking is rather easy and is suitable for anyone with good physical condition. Tourist above 16 and under 65 years of age can join this tour provided they have no serious health problems and their doctor does not object to participation in such kind of tourist activities. Children above 14 can also join this trekking tour provided they are accompanied by their parents.

Trekking on foot covers from 10km to 18km a day with altitude difference up to 850m. The route runs at the maximum altitude of 2750m above sea level (Kuldambes pass).

Each participant carries his own rucksack with personal belongings, supply of drinking water and first-aid kit. The rest of the gear (the weight of the gear should not exceed 15kg per person), as well as group camping equipment and supply of provisions is transported by pack-horses. Typically the region enjoys rather stable weather: it’s warm and sunny, though some rain is possible, which relieves the monotony of the trip. The daytime temperatures range between +15° to +30°С, whereas at night the temperature can drop as low as +8 or +10°С.

Trekking to Sary-Chelek Lake in Kyrgyzstan

Equipment on route

— Tents are used for accommodation of two persons. The tents are wind-resisting and water-proof and are suitable for any weather conditions. For your comfort the tents are equipped with firm air-beds as well as comfortable sleeping bags with individual lining.
— Tent camp also has a big hangar-like mess tent with tables and camp chairs.
— Throughout the trek we provide quality tableware.
— To cook dishes during the trek we provide gas burner with gas cylinders or a supply of firewood.
— The tent camp is equipped with portable WC.
Any trekking group is provided with portable radio transmitters and GPS navigator.

We also offer the travelers small a flashlight for forehead with extra batteries.

List of personal gear

• rucksack
• sleeping bag
• trekking sticks
• trekking boots with proper protectors
• track shoes or trainers
• warm and windproof clothes
• a rain cloak
• stock of clothes
• headwear (a warm hat and a cap to protect from sun)
• sunglasses
• sun protection cream
• personal first aid kit
• electric flashlight with spare supply of batteries
• other personal belongings you may find necessary during the trekking trip

Service staff

Throughout the trekking travel you will be escorted by high altitude guide, who is the tour manager and our authorized representative. He is responsible for the safety and security of the group as well as decision making, including any changes in the route due to unforeseen circumstances that could threaten the health and well-being of the participants.

The tour is serviced by a team whose responsibility is to pitch and take down tents, lay the table for meals, wash up, pack the loads on horses, make fire and the like.

The team also includes a dedicated professional cook and a horse handler who is responsible for proper packing of the loads on horses and porterage.

Meals

Throughout the trek programme you will be served hot meals three times a day. (Please note that in cities we provide only breakfast, whereas lunch and dinner, or any additional food extravagance and alcoholic beverages can be arranged extra.) Below you can find the menu of one of the trekking days:

Breakfast:

First dish: cereal porridge (semolina, oats, rice).
Second dish: cooked eggs with sausages, omelette, pancakes, thick pancakes, toasted bread, cottage cheese pancake, etc.
Buffet table: cheese, sausage, assorted bread, butter, ketchup, marmalade, chocolate paste, sweets, cookies, wafers, dried cream, honey, sugar, halavah.
Drinks: selection of hot drinks, such as tea (black and green), coffee, cocoa.

Lunch:

Buffet lunch: assorted bread, fresh salads, canned fish, cheese, sheep cheese, assorted meat appetizers, tea (black and green) sweets, cookies, wafers, fruits (apples, pears), dried fruits (apricot, raisin, figs, etc.), assorted nuts.
*In case of camp lunch first course is added.

Dinner:

First course — soup (European or local cuisine).
Second course — various dishes of European cuisine with assorted garnish, as well as a choice of local dishes.
Buffet table: assorted bread, cheese, sausage, ketchup, spices (mustard, various dressings), sweets, cookies, wafers, sugar.
Drinks: selection of hot drinks, such as tea (black and green), coffee, cocoa, thin jelly.
Dessert: watermelon, melon, fruits.

Starting point

Tourists should arrive to Osh — the starting point of the tour on the date the tour begins. All expenses connected with early arrival or late departure on completion of the tour should be covered by tourists themselves. In this case our company can arrange transfers to and from the airport as well as book the hotel.

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