Lake Chatyr-Köl is situated between the crests of At-Bashi and Torugart-Too. It is the third largest lake of Kyrgyzstan with a surface of 180 km2. In Kirghiz, its name means “celestial lake” due to its high-altitude location: 3,350 m above sea level. The lake’s biodiversity makes it one of the three Wetlands deemed of International Importance by Ramsar. It is known as a resting place for several races of wild birds, despite there being no fish in the lake, only freshwater shrimps.
A bit of history
The lake was discovered by the famous traveler and researcher of Central Asia, Chokan Valikhanov on March 11, 1859.
Lake Chatyr- Kul
Chatyr-Köl is an alpine, endorheic and relatively shallow lake (up to 20-meter deep) which extends over 23 km in length and 10 km in width. It is mainly fed by the glaciers. The pond occupies the lowest part of the tectonic cavity located between the beaches of At-Bashi and Torugart-Too 3,350 meters above sea level. In the summer, the lake region records relatively cool temperatures yet still pleasant nearing 10°C whereas in winter, temperatures can sometimes drop below -20°C, freezing the lake from October to April.
The astounding landscape surrounding the lake will be with you throughout your tour. On foot or on horseback, you can scout the area and enjoy the view of the lake’s blue water with fantastic reflections of the snow-capped mountains. A hike on foot from Tash Rabat gives visitors access to captivating landscapes. The climb is doable in 4-5 hours, or count a 7-8-hour round trip without sloping to the lake. Be warned that the ascent is rather difficult due to its height, and sometimes unstable climate can make the walk more painful than it should. Thus, it is preferable to make this hike at your own pace over two days to fully enjoy the place. Please be aware that the lake is located at the border with China, so you will need to provide a border permit (border licence) to be able to reach it with no problem.
The surroundings of the lake are very swampy and can be dangerous for those who would come to sink there , thus do not neglect the presence of a guide. Housing environment of numerous animal species, you may hope to pinpoint far one leopards of snows or to cross on your path some marmots, goats of mountains and gooses of mountain. A few kilometers south of the mountain range Torugart-Too, you can discover the Small Chatyr Köl, connected with the main lake by a channel. Not far from there, some thermal springs, a nature reserve and a mausoleum allow you to take a pleasant break.
How to get there?
Before the passage of the Dolon's col, a road forks westward in the direction of lake Chatyr-Köl. We reach the lake after about fifty kilometers of dented road.
You can also get there via the caravanserai of Tash Rabat on foot or on horseback. Driving can take 2-3 hours to reach the collar then observe the lake. It takes about 5-6 hours to get to the lake.