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Song Kul

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Song Kul is a high alpine lake in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan.


View of Song Kol and the surrounding plains at dusk

It is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan (18x29km wide, 13 meters deep) after Issyk kul, Song Kul lies at 3016 m (9895 ft) above sea level. It is surrounded by a broad summer pasture and then mountains. The area is inhabited and safely accessible only from June to September.

Get in[edit]

Clean waters high in the Tian Shan (Song Kol)

Reaching Song Kol is easily arranged but requires some effort. You need to access on horse, on foot or through a few bumpy hour's car-ride from Kochkor or Naryn. The road from the A365 up to the lake is paved about half of the way. Without a 4x4s this route is challenging but possible. CBT and other agencies, of which there are several alternatives in Kochkor, can arrange return transport for $80-$100 per car. The various agencies in Kochkor also arrange for tracking or horses (with guide) for trips of various lengths to and from Song Kul including yurt-stays on the shore of the lake. Such tours start and end in Kochkor, but can be combined to include hiking up and taking a car down from the lake.

Sampling the agencies on the spot in Naryn or Kochkor is easy enough, but trips to Song Kul are also available from the CBT office in Bishkek, though at a higher price. Some companies like Kyrgyz-Travel can arrange one day or multiple day tours up to and around the lake for as low as $50 per person per day (based off the number of people) or Iron Horse Nomads can bundle the transportation from Bishkek with CBT housing and an English speaking driver who stays with you with prices starting around $350.

Get around[edit]

If you have horses, riding the shores of the lake (while approaching the yurt-camp, or on an excursion to circle the lake) is a good alternative to walking. By the lake there are no roads even though cars can be driven on the plain between the yurts of the summer-time encampments by the lake.

See[edit][add listing]

Do[edit][add listing]

Climb the mountain behind the yurts for a great view over the lake. It takes several hours to get to the top.

Arrange a guided trek around the lake, horseback riding expedition, an overnight yurt camp stay, a journey to other sites in the oblast like Tash Rabat, or a drive to Naryn/Kochkor/Bishkek.

Buy[edit][add listing]

One of the yurts of the main yurt-camp has a primitive shop in summer. Chocolate, beer and vodka is for sale. Arranged trips to the lake usually include food at your yurt-stays.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Mutton from one of the shepherds' flocks; especially the Kyrgyz-specialty of Besh-Barmak ("Five Fingered Food") which is greasy noodles and boiled mutton. Or try fried fish caught fresh that morning from the lake at a local yurt camp.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Kumys- fermented mare's milk, which is nutritious and famous all over Kyrgyzstan from Song Kul's alpine meadow-fed horses.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are no facilities on the lake, but local herders will provide supplies and rent yurts for about $14 per night including meals. They also collaborate with the various agencies, including the CBT, through which you can arrange them in advance, but it is also possible to just show up.

Get out[edit]

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This article contains content from Wikipedia's Song Kul article. View that page's revision history for the list of authors.