Sary-Chelek is one of the most beautiful sites in Kyrgyzstan. It is located 500 km (311 miles) from Bishkek and 300 km (186 miles) from Osh. Sary-Chelek is an ideal place for hiking at the heart of the nature, or simply for escaping daily routine.
Back in history
The Sary Chelek Lake appeared around 10,000 years ago as a result of a landslide. In 1959, the site was closed and controlled for research, and to protect the fauna and flora. It only recently became accessible to the public.
A legend says the lake got its name, which means “the yellow bucket”, from a bee keeper. One day, a bucket of his honey fell into the lake, which gave it a golden color. According to another story, the name comes from the surrounding forest and trees, which take a beautiful yellow and orange tone in the fall.
The Sary-Chelek Lake nowadays
The main lake is located at around 1,873 meters (6,145 ft) altitude. It stretches on a length of 7.5 km (4.3 miles) and is between 150 m (492 ft) and 350 m (1,148 ft) wide. Its deepest point reaches 234 m, which makes it the second deepest lake in Kyrgyzstan.
You can access the lake only from the North or the South. At the North, there is a perfect route for hiking in the Talas mountains. You will pass through high mountain passages and deep canyons.
From the South, you’ll have to reach the lake via the Arky village, 20 km away (12.4 miles).
Sary-Chelek is an ideal destination for amateurs of wilderness. It hosts more than 1000 species of plants, 160 species of birds and 34 species of mammals, including deer, bears, lynx and wolves. You can go on a multi-day hike in the reserve to visit its five lakes, or take a tour on a horse.
How to get there?
You can reach the Sary-Chelek Lake by public transport. Take the bus to Tash-Komur and stop at Arkyt. From there, you can get into another bus at Kara-Jigat to Sary-Chelek. The journey lasts approximately 2 hours. You can also do hitchhiking on the way, or get a taxi.