Explore Köl-Ükök and Song-Köl Lakes 7 days
Lake Köl-Ükök and Song-Köl
- Itinerary: Bishkek – Burana Tower – Köl-Ükök Lake — Kochkor Village — Song-Köl Lake – Bishkek
- Best Season: mid June — mid September
- Duration: 7 days
- Category: combined – 3 days auto / 4 days medium-level trekking or horseback riding
- Level of Difficulty: Medium
- Group size: Any
- Transport: Jeep or Minivan (2-6 pax); Minibus (6-12pax).
- Requirements: weatherproof warm clothes, trekking boots, hat, sleeping bag with mat, sunglasses and sunscreen
Day 1: Arrival at Manas airport. Pick-up and transfer to Bishkek. Hotel accommodation. Free time in Bishkek.
Day 2: Morning departure to Kochkor Village (Naryn region, about a 3-hour drive). On the way, visit the Burana Tower architectural complex (10-11th century, an important point on the Great Silk Road), 15km from the main road. Lunch upon arrival in Kochkor. Afternoon — learn how “ala kiiz” – a Kyrgyz felt carpet — is made. Dinner, bed and breakfast at a home stay.
Day 3: In the morning, start the trekking or horseback riding to the Ters-Tör or Köl-Ükök jailoo, about 30km southeast of Kochkor. Köl-Ükök Lake is nestled between two steep slopes in the Terskei Ala-Too Mountains. The steep surrounding slopes give Köl-Ükök its name, which means “lake in a chest”. The water is sweet and cold and reaches a maximum depth of 17m. Around the lake, the diversity and uniqueness of the flowers – from forgot-me-nots to the legendary edelweiss – will enchant you. From the surrounding mountains, one can get a panoramic view of 9 lakes, including the renowned Yssyk-Köl and Son-Köl Lakes as well as smaller ones (Ara-Köl, Köl-Ükök and others). Meals and overnight stay in a yurt.
Day 4: Visit Köl-Ükök and Köl-Tör Lakes. Lunch in a yurt camp. Afternoon trek back to Kochkor Village. Dinner, bed and breakfast at a local home-stay.
Day 5: Morning departure to Kyzart Pass or Village (1.5 hours). Start the 2-day trek (or horseback ride) to the Song-Köl Lake (“The Final Lake”). Song-Köl is a mountain lake located in the Tian-Shan Mountain Range at an altitude of 3016m used by the shepherds from the Kochkor, Jumgal, Naryn and At-Bashy regions as a jailoo – a pasture during the summer months. It is considered to be the pearl of Kyrgyz jailoos. The road to Song-Köl winds through mountainous terrain until it seems to disappear into the very sky itself. This is probably why Song- Köl is translated from Kyrgyz as “the final lake”. Today we head to the Kilemche Jailoo. The name means “like a carpet” and this swathe of grass covers whole mountain ranges, with shadings as subtle as any shyrdak (a shyrdak is a Kyrgyz felt carpet). Lunch en-route. Dine and sleep in a yurt or tent. Trekking time: 5-6 hours (By horse: 4-5 hours)
Day 6: After breakfast at Kilemche, spend the morning climbing to the Jalgyz Karagai pass (3400m), over the Song-Köl Mountains and into the lake’s basin. The morning climb affords wonderful views of Kilemche jailoo, and the pass itself is rocky and exciting. From the pass, Song- Köl is still distant, but as you trek down the slopes, it gets larger and larger; the mountains on the other side get higher and higher until finally, the lake fills most of your field of view and the southern mountains tower above it. After lunch at Jaman Echki, follow the lakeshore east to the yurt at Batai Aral. Upon arrival meet your host family of Kyrgyz shepherds. Dine and sleep in a shepherd’s yurt. Trekking time: 5-6 hours. (By horse: 4-5 hours)
Day 7: Spend the day enjoying a refreshing and well-earned rest at the lake-side. Watch and/or participate in the everyday life of the shepherds: milking mares; making traditional Kyrgyz milk products like kymyz (fermented mare’s milk) or airan (a sour, dense milk product); tending cattle. Eat a delicious lunch here, stroll along the lakeshore, and hope the legendary Song- Köl weather is kind. Dine and sleep in your host family’s yurt.
Day 8: Morning departure to Bishkek (6 hours). Stop for lunch in Kochkor. Arrival in Bishkek, hotel accommodation.
Day 9: Departure.
— Burana Tower (10-11th centuries, an important point on the Great Silk Road);
— Kol-Ukok lake;
— Song-Köl (Son-Kol) lake, mountain lake on 3016 m.
2 nights CBT home stays
4 nights CBT yurt stays
Hotel accommodation in Bishkek is NOT included