Hiking to Ala Kul lake, Altyn Arashan hot springs.
Full guide of independent hiking to Ala Kul Lake
Tour length: 3 days 2 nights
Distance: 36 km
Level of difficulty: Medium
Elevation: Highest point 3900 m, the lowest point 1700 m
Period: June – September
Ala Kul lake is located at an altitude of 3500 m, 20 kilometers south of the city of Karakol. The best time to visit Ala Kul lake is between early July and the end of September. The trail to Ala Kul is well-marked, and you will find other hikers along during the hiking season, so you can hike to Ala Kul alone too.
- Good, waterproof hiking boots,
- warm clothes, in warm summer days the temperature is up to +15 C during the day and +5 at night,
- raincoats, even in summer there can be snow, and sometimes it rains for days,
- hiking poles.
Day 1. Karakol - Ala Kul lake/Sirota Camp
Elevation: +1000 m
Distance: 12-14 km.
Overnight: tent or yurt
The trek starts from Karakol town. First, you need to get to the entrance of Karakol National Park. You can do it either by taking a marshrutka (mini bus) # 101 or taking a taxi. We would advise you to take a taxi as it can take you to the first bridge. It costs between 6 — 10 euros. The road to the first bridge is good and well paved and plus you will save 1 hour of walking on the road if you take a taxi.
Once you arrive to the first bridge, you go along the road inside the gorge for about 3 hours (10 km).
Then you need to walk along the old road toward the Sirota bridge for about 3 hours or 10 km. Here the difficult part of the trail begins. You need to walk through the forest up towards Ala Kul. The trail is clearly visible, you just need to follow the trail. After climbing for about + 500 m, you will arrive at the Sirota Camp. There is usually a tent camp in Sirota. You can overnight at the campsite if you don’t have a tent.
Because there is no connection at the site camp, there may not be anyways to book a place beforehand, so you may be lucky to have free space or not. In any case, you can spend the night at Sirota using your own tent or the campsite lodge.
If you are not tired and still full of energy to continue hiking, you can climb even higher. After an hour walk, there is a beautiful waterfall where you can spend the night.
If you are not tired and still full of energy to continue hiking, you can reach Ala Kul lake. You are lucky if you reach Ala Kul on the first day. You can spend the night there. However, at night by the shore of the lake, it can be wet.
We strongly recommend you download Maps.me App. It works offline, and you can use it during hikes.
Day 2. Ala kul lake - Alakul Pass - Altyn Arashan
Elevation: +400 m, -1400 m
Distance: 12 km
Overnight: tent or yurt
There is a clear path from Ala Kul lake to the top of the pass. The ascent to the top takes about 1-1.5 hours. Once you reach the top, you’ll have a great view. You will be lucky if the weather is good. After reaching the top you will face a minor dangerous downhill. The easiest path is the farthest away. You need to be careful during walking down as there are slippery rocks. It usually takes 4 hours (…km) from the top of the pass of Ala kul to Altyn Arashan. The second day is the longest and hardest one.
We advise you to get up early in the morning and be on the road until 8 pm. When you arrive to Altyn Arashan, you will see many guesthouses, but I would recommend spending the night in a Yurt. As it is a cultural experience after all. Dinner and Breakfast can be served at the Yurt. The total price for a Yurt with dinner and breakfast will be about 15 euros. There are private hot springs that you can enjoy after a long day of hikes The perfect treat after a hard day. There is also a wild hot spring pool «bird’s nest». It is 20 minutes below the camp.
Day 3. Altyn Arashan - Aksuu - Karakol town
On the third day, you can travel to Karakol by car on a Soviet UAZ. They are expensive though about 70 euros. That is why we would recommend continuing walking down to the village of Ak Suu. From Altyn Arashan to Ak Suu village it is about 15 km or 3-4 hours of walk down. Once you start seeing houses you are at the village, and you need to continue until the intersection of two big paved streets. There you can take the marshrutka (minibus) #350 to get to Karakol. Besides marshrutka, you can always catch a car to Karakol by hitchhiking.
If you are interested in a guided tour, we offer the full package tour to Ala Kul lake.
Map of the hiking to Alakul lake. 3 days.
Full package, 3 days guided tour to Alakul lake.
Price for 3 days. In Euro - €
1 person — €548
2 persons — €490 per person
3 persons — €383 per person
4 persons — €375 per person
5 persons — €370 per person
6-14 person — €370 per person