NARYN, KYRGYZ REPUBLIC – Travel to the Kyrgyz Republic offers the ultimate in outdoor freedom, and Lake Kel-Suu in the south of the country is among the most serene and picturesque destinations imaginable.
Whether a traveler is interested in backpacking with a tent or prefers to rent a car, the following tips and guidance will ensure unforgettable nights under the stars in the mountains of the Kyrgyz Republic, a country rich in vacation opportunities. camps of any duration.
Kel Suu Lake
As one ventures into the Kakshaal Too mountain range through the Kok Kiya valley, the sight of dazzling granite mountains plunging into turquoise waters greets the traveler. This is Lake Kel-Suu, also known as Kol-tetiri, a quiet oasis in southern Kyrgyzstan, near the border with China. Located at an altitude of over 3,500 meters, the place lacks cities, roads and mobile phone service.
The lake was formed quite miraculously after an earthquake in the 1980s that caused a landslide. Within moments, a natural dam was created over the Kurumduk River from falling rocks. Since then, melted snow has filled this space, forming a vast expanse of emerald water. The name Kel-Suu translates from Kyrgyz as “coming water.”
The depth of the lake varies from year to year, and the deepest points do not exceed 10 meters.
What is it like to visit the lake?
When the turquoise lake appears at the foot of the Kakshaal Too glacier, the sight of melting snow-capped peaks and the realization of having ventured deep into the wilderness can be overwhelming. The serenity of the lake transports the mind to simpler times, free from the noise and commotion of everyday life.
The water is cold and the sky and weather are constantly changing. Kel-Suu is a place where all four seasons can manifest in the course of a single day.
As an example, on the first full day in Kel-Suu, the weather changed from a windy and rainy night to warm conditions suitable for a comfortable 6am hike. However, at noon, a group of tourists—among them a correspondent from The Astana Times—approached the lake, wintry conditions descended, with howling winds and hail. As night falls, the clouds usually dissipate, revealing a starlit sky free of light pollution.
During the summer months, daytime temperatures range between 14 and 16 degrees Celsius and can drop below freezing at night. Therefore, warm clothing and sleeping bags are highly recommended for the trip.
How to get there?
The trip from Bishkek, the capital of the kyrgyz republic, Lake Kel-Suu takes approximately 10 hours by car. The picturesque variety of mountains, lakes and rivers that dot the landscape make this tour one of the most photogenic in the country. A comfortable road stretches the kyrgyz republic end to end.
Naryn serves as a convenient halfway point for the journey south. Located on the banks of the Naryn River, at the foot of the Naryn-Too ridge, this city is a strategic stopover. Bus companies operate services along the route to Naryn, but from that point, it is advisable that travelers have a personal vehicle or hire local services to reach the Kok Kiya Valley, where a yurt camp is located. Although its services are basic, the camp’s appeal lies in its tranquil atmosphere and its proximity to Lake Kel-Suu.
As you ascend from Naryn to Kok Kiya, the mountains eventually offer stunning views of the peaks along the valley, a welcome distraction from the bumpy road conditions that require an experienced driver.
From the Kok Kiya Valley to Lake Kel-Suu, the distance is about nine kilometers. Options include hiking among picturesque views or arranging a horseback ride for approximately 1,300 som ($15) per person. Driving to Lake Kel-Suu is generally not recommended, especially for those unfamiliar with the terrain, as roads are often flooded and lack of cell service can lead to precarious situations.
It should be noted that the lake is located 20 kilometers from the border with China; Therefore, a border zone permit is required to visit. Requests for this permit must be made at least one week in advance through the CBT (Community Tourism) Naryn’s website.