The idea to travel to remote places always haunted me. This year I realised one of my dreams and went to Kyrgyzstan together with two friends. We travelled to Song Kul, literally meaning the following lake. The wide open landscape create a giant stage for constant performances of symphonic cloudscapes. As the sun flashes or the storms scud by, the colour of the water changes from a brooding indigo to a Caribbean turquoise. This place is mind-blowing, read more to find out why and how you get there?
Why travelling to this place?
Apart from the fact, that you can visit a place your friends probably haven’t heard before, there are plenty of reasons why you should pack your bag and head to Kyrgyzstan. Alone Song Kul is well worth a trip to the Central Asian country. The semi-nomadic shepherd culture alone will tear you from everyday life. Furthermore, the quietness one can experience can be scary and super relaxing at the same time. Around Song Kul you will mostly only hear the gentle waves of the lake and the wind rushing through the barren mountainous lands. In the distance you can view the saw-toothed peaks. It appears to be the only limit of your sight in this endlessly wide landscape.
Where to stay?
At 3016m above the sea level, the meadows around the lake are not permanently habituated. From June to September herders yurts can be spotted on the shores of the lake. Life is basic here, don’t expect any fancy accommodation, don’t even expect toilets. But as Leonardo da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. But why would you need this, if you could gaze into a cold and crystal clear night sky with countless stars. Or watch the clouds moving by while riding a horse on the shores of the lake. At every corner you will be greeted and offered a place to stay for the night (approx. 10 € per night). Most yurts have enough place to stay, so a previous booking is not completely necessary, however recommend. You can book it through community based tourism agencies in Kochkor. We booked with Ainura from Sheppards Life and everything worked out very well.
How to get there and what to do?
First of all you need to get to Kyrgyzstan. You can either immigrate through the land borders or arrive in Bishkek, the country’s capital city. Direct flights are available form different countries while the cheapest options can be found from Russia and Turkey. Since there is no public transport to and from Song Kul, you probably have to arrange a taxi, which won’t be expensive anyway. The area is great for some multi-day hiking trips. Literally the steep mountains just wait for conquistador.
Instead of hiking, we did a 2,5 day horseback trip starting from Kochkor. By the help of our horses and our guide we climbed up to 3650 meters above sea level and enjoyed breathtaking views. We also stayed in two different yurts and savoured the local cuisines which mostly consisted out of soups and bread. Don’t expect any culinary exotic experiences here, but I think I don’t have to quote Leonardo da Vinci again. And to make you aware, the idea of riding a horse for 2,5 days may sound fairly romantic, and don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed it a lot, but it can be quite a painful matter after two days. Still I strongly advice you to go on a horseback riding trip for a couple of days. From my point of few – the best way to delve into the area.
Since the weather is highly unpredictable, the right gear is extremely important. Fortunately, when we visited the area, in the middle of August 2017, we did not experience any rain, but better safe than sorry.
Consider taking this with you to Song Kul:
- Rain jacket
- Rain trousers
- Jogging pants for riding
- Fleece pullover
- Long underwear
- Sun lotion due to the altitude
- Toilet paper
- Bandage & emergency drugs (especially medicine for diarrheas)
- Water purifier
If in doubt or in need of any information regarding a trip to Song Kul – let me know and contact us. 🙂