The Kel-Suu Lake (or Kol Suu) is located in the Naryn region, at 3,514 m (11,529 ft) altitude in the Kok-Kiya Valley, next to the Chinese border. This beautiful pure lake is nestled in a landscape of canyons, in between sharp cliffs and snow-capped mountains. You’ll have to walk one hour to reach this universe of untouched wilderness, often considered as Kyrgyzstan’s most beautiful alpine lake.
Kel-Suu is a dream destination for a one-day hike, but also for camping near the lake to observe the Milky Way and thousands of stars in this very isolated region of the country.
Hiking to Kel Suu Lake
Getting to Kel Suu is an adventure in itself. You’ll have to cross aging wooden bridges and large rivers, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes made of vast green pastures, snowy peaks, roaming yaks, galloping horses and yurts, where you can stop for a warm cup of tea. You might even be lucky enough to see the rare Marco Polo wild sheep.
The lake appears in a stunning turquoise color, encircled by steep and jagged cliffs where there are many caves, and protected at the East by the majestic Sary Beles Peak, culminating at 4,726 m (15,505 ft). The Kel Suu Lake was formed after a terrible earthquake, due to which a large part of the mountain range collapsed. The lake spreads over more than 10 km (6.2 miles) and has a depth between 0.5 and 2 km (0.3 - 1.2 miles).
You’ll be overwhelmed by the calm water of various greens, depending on the clouds and lighting. You may want to try swimming in the lake if you’re brave enough – the water is around 5C (41F), or explore it on a boat ride. You can also take a look at the caves near the lake.
You’ll probably be shocked by the calm of this environment. Kel Suu Lake is isolated and far from any kind of civilization: it’s the ideal place for meditation. The only thing that could disturb you is the sound of a marmot taking a look outside.
To access Kel Suu Lake and its magic, you’ll have to obtain a border permit. The lake is situated only three summits away from the Chinese border; hence there are several military posts that you’ll have to pass before accessing this little piece of heaven. You’ll have to show your passport and a border permit. The latter needs to be obtained in advance; it takes a few days, so make sure you plan your trip.
Good to know
- There is no public transportation to this very isolated region of Kyrgyzstan
- Make sure to take enough food and water with you; you won’t find any shops on the road
- Check the weather forecast and the condition of the road before adventuring yourself to Kel Suu Lake.
How to get there
From Naryn or Tash Rabat, you’ll need a good 4x4 car with an experienced driver who knows the road to Kel Suu. Otherwise, why not make your Kyrgyz experience even more authentic with a multiday horse trek to the lake.