Trekking to Lake Ala-Kol, Kyrgyzstan: A Photo Journey

As my guide and porter prepared lunch I sat and watched the sunlight dance and sparkle across the surface of the brilliant turquoise that is Lake Ala-Kol. It made me think of an extraordinary turquoise gem. The colour was stunning and the lake itself was huge with massive mountains surrounding it. At the far end a glacier sprawled down the sides of a mountain.

My four day trek to Lake Ala-Kol was the highlight of all my travels in Kyrgyzstan. Trekking doesn’t come naturally to me but despite this I love it. I love the sense of achievement I get after finishing a trek. More importantly I love how trekking takes you to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Trekking to Ala-Kol took me through forests, past rushing streams and wild horses, over rocks and boulders and up to a high pass of 3,860m. The trek was challenging and stunning, and left me with a huge sense of achievement.

Join me on a photo journey to Ala-Kol, Kyrgyzstan.

Trekking to Ala-Kol

The trek begins!

Trekking to Ala-Kol

Following the river we climbed higher and higher

Magical Kyrgyzstan

Until we reached a wide open valley with horses grazing by the river. Absolutely magical.

Beautiful Kyrgyzstan

Reaching this beautiful place was one of my all-time favourite moments in my travels in Kyrgyzstan.

Trekking to Ala-Kol

After crossing the river we continued to climb

Trekking to Ala-Kol

Our first night we camped beside this gorgeous stream

Day two trekking to Ala-Kol

Day two! Looking back towards camp (roughly in the middle of the photo)

Climbing to Lake Ala-Kol

Looking towards the climb ahead

Trekking to Lake Ala-Kol

Looking back at how far we’ve come so far, and it’s not even lunchtime!

Stunning Lake Ala-Kol

Finally! The stunning Lake Ala-Kol

Me and Lake Ala-Kol

Me and Ala-Kol

Lake Ala-Kol


Trekking Lake Ala-Kol

Yep, that’s the path ahead of us!

Trekking Ala-Kol

…..and this is how far we’ve come

First glimpse of the glacier above Ala-Kol

First glimpse of the glacier above Ala-Kol

Trekking Ala-Kol

A lot more climbing ahead

Lake Ala-Kol Lyrgyzstan

Ala-Kol – so beautiful

Trekking Lake Ala-Kol

Another look back at our progress over the rocks and scree

Trekking Ala-Kol

The climbing just doesn’t stop!

Stunning Lake Ala-Kol

But these views are absolutely worth it

Lake Ala-Kol

And I couldn’t have wished for better weathder

On top of the world at 3,860m in Kyrgyzstan

On top of the world at 3,860m

Trekking Ala-Kol

The way down!

Trekking Ala-Kol

The way down is a near vertical drop which means it’s easiest to slide through the rock and dirt. A bit like skiing!

Trekking Ala-Kol

Looking back at the path we’ve just come down. Can you spot other trekkers making their way down?

Trekking Ala-Kol

After walking through barren rocks and dirt we finally reach some grass

Trekking Ala-Kol

Way down there is camp for night two

My tent on morning # 3, trekking Ala-Kol

My tent on morning # 3

Day three, trekking Ala-Kol

Morning number three we descended through grassy slopes

Down through forests until we caught our first sight of the mountain, Pik Lenin

Down through forests until we caught our first sight of the mountain, Pik Lenin

Trekking Kyrgyzstan

After a long walk down we finally spot the village of Altyn Arashan where hot springs and our camp spot for the night await

Altyn Arashan

Altyn Arashan

Altyn Arashan and Pik Lenin

Altyn Arashan and Pik Lenin

Day four - trekking Ala-Kol

Day four – trekking out

Practical Information

The small town of Karakol near Lake Issy-Kol is the perfect base to plan your trek to Ala-Kol.

CBT (Community Based Tourism) in Karakol are an excellent source of information and can also assist with hiring guides, porters, sleeping bags, tents, etc for your trek. CBT Karakol can be found at Abdrakhmanov St 123/20, telephone: +996 (3922) 55000, email:

CBT can also help organise home stays in Karakol. I stayed at Gulnara’s B&B which I highly recommend (for more info see my post ‘Homestays and Hospitality on the Shores of Lake Issyk-Kol’).

When organising your trek keep in mind it is high-altitude and the highest pass is 3,860m. Some people may suffer from altitude sickness and you should ensure you’re fully informed on how to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness and what you should do if you suffer from altitude sickness while trekking.

The high-altitude also means it’s very cold at night, even in summer, so be prepared with sufficiently warm clothes and sleeping bag, etc.

Travel to Karakol by minibus or shared taxi.

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11 comments on “Trekking to Lake Ala-Kol, Kyrgyzstan: A Photo Journey”

  1. Bronwyn Williams Reply

    Wow, wow, wow!!!!! Absolutely amazing and stunning!!!! What awesome experiences you are having. Keep safe xxx

    • Carly Reply

      Thanks Caroline!!
      Yes, it was the end of August when I did the trek but it was still really cold at night. I can’t imagine how much colder it would be now.

  2. Pingback: Homestays and Hospitality at Lake Issyk-Kol, Kyrgyzstan - Carlys Adventures Afar

  3. tricia Reply

    hey carly, fantastic photos and all sounds like you are havig an amazing adventure. look forward to more. travel safe t x

  4. Pingback: Kyrgyzstan!! Kyrgy where?? - A Little About the Little Central Asian Country with the Big Impact

  5. Kalebe Reply

    Hi Carly, your photos are awesome! I’m planning to go trekking around Ala Kol at beginning of October.
    Unfortunately I have only 8 days in Kyrgyzstan, otherwise I’d love to spend more time there.
    How many days in total did you spend from Karakol city to Ala Kol lake?
    Thank you!

    • Carly Reply

      Thank you so much!!
      My trek to Ala Kol was four days in total. You might want to check the weather and if the trek is actually open in early October as I suspect winter comes early given how high these mountains are. CBT Kyrgyzstan might be your best bet in checking this. Good luck and have an maxing trip!

  6. Kalebe Reply

    Thank you for your reply Carly. I have another question, did you enjoy CBT’s service? I have heard some negative reviews. Did you take your own sleeping bag with you before travelling there or rented it in Karakol? Thank you!

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