Song Kol Lake

A 3000m high alpine lake, the shores of which are ringed by 3500m peaks and dotted with yurts belonging to herders from nearby villages. Numerous tracks and trails leading over the mountains to the lake make this an excellent trekking area.

A woman entering her yurt on the shore of the alpine Lake Song Kol, Kyrgyzstan

A yurt on the shore of Lake Song Kol

The two biggest towns near Song Kol are Naryn and Kochkor, both easily accessible by daily shared taxis, minivans and buses from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan‘s capital.

Of the many possible approaches to Song Kol, I would particularly recommend the one from the village of Ak Tala near Naryn. It is the most beautiful place I have seen anywhere in Kyrgyzstan. You could trek it, camping on the way, hitch hike, or try to hire a vehicle in Ak Tala. I would recommend trekking. It would take 2 days but driving would not allow you time to take in the incredible scenery.

Another good approach is on a trail, passable only on foot or on horseback, from the village of Kyzart near Jumgal on the road from Kochkor – Kyzyl OiSuusamyr. This is on the opposite shore to the approach mentioned above, so a nice route is to trek up and in from Ak Tala, around the edge of Lake Song Kol, over the mountains on the other side and down to Kyzart before heading on by road to Kyzyl Oi, Suusamyr, and perhaps Osh, Sary Moghul and Tajikistan.

No public transport runs to the lake but you can get there by road from Naryn and Kochkor by hitching lifts or organising a vehicle through CBT.

CBT (see main Kyrgyzstan page) has a couple of yurt camps on the shores of Song Kol but locals in genuine yurts are also very hospitable. I could never trek for more than a couple of hours in this area before being invited in to eat and stay the night somewhere!

The herders on the southern shore of the lake are from Ak Tala and regularly organise games of ulak among themselves. The CBT yurt camps on the northern shore also organise games for tourists but they are pretty tame compared to the real thing, with only 5 or so riders involved.

Click here for my blong about Lake Song Kol with 7277 words and 27 photos.

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