Ala Kul Lake, also called Ala Köl, is a lovely glacial mountain lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is located at an altitude of 3560 m (11,680 ft) between the Karakol and Altyn Arashan valleys, in the Terskey Alatoo mountain range. This natural lake is a place regularly sought-after by hikers who come to explore the region.
Back in history
The name Ala Kul means "Colorful Lake". A Russian explorer named Putimtsoff was the first to visit the lake in 1811. He then described his discovery by indicating all of the different colors he spotted in the lake’s waters, and talked of the winds blowing around the lake. 30 years later, the famous German biologist Alexander Schrenk travelled to the site and confirmed the explorer's stories.
Since then, the lake has become a popular hiking site.
Reaching the Ala Kul Lake
Nestled in the mountains, the glacial Ala - Kul lake is magnificent but can only reached by hike. Its beauty is renown to travelers and has become a popular destination for tourists.
The lake is relatively small with an area of about 1.5km² but is deep, with around 70 meters (230 ft) depth. It is surrounded by a glacier, from which comes the enchanting color of the lake.
Nevertheless, it takes some efforts to reach this charming lake. Perched at 3560 m of altitude, Ala Kol can only be accessed by a long ascent which presents some difficulties. The picturesque hike offers the opportunity to meet some wild animals, herds of yaks or sheep and cross some shepherd’s yurts. From the Ala Kul Pass, you will have a breathtaking view of the Karakol, Djiguit and Oguz Bashi peaks. The unspoiled nature that surrounds the lake will leave you speechless and give you the opportunity to meditate and relax.
Do not forget that the trek to the lake reaches practically 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) of altitude and that it is not uncommon to feel mountain sickness from 3,000 meters (9,843 ft). Get used to the altitude before leaving to conquer the lake. Note that some portions are quite steep and difficult.
On the way back from the lake, don’t forget to stop at the hot mineral sources of Altyn Arashan.
How to get there?
Ala Kul lake can be reached from the Karakol base camp in the valley. The path is well traced and will be easy to find.
The hike towards the lake Ala Kul can last between 2 and 3 days depending on the route you choose and on your walking pace.