Kyrgyzstan – Tien Shan Ala-Kul Volcanic Lake Trek
The Tien Shan, Chinese for “Celestial Mountains”, is a Central Asian mountain range spreading across several countries like China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but mostly found in Kyrgyzstan. The mountain system is one of the largest in Asia, bigger than Himalaya, with 40 peaks over 6000m. It also contains some of the largest glaciers outside the Arctic poles. Relatively unexplored, the Tienshan hold glorious pockets of raw natural beauty. Her peaks roll on endlessly through the entire country topped with snow and the mountainsides are clothed in green grass, all against a bright blue backdrop. Herds of sheep, horses, goats, cows, and yaks wander over the high mountain pastures, randomly dotting the rich landscape.
About The Trek
Trekking through the Terskei Ala Too Mountain Range is an experience full of breathtaking landscapes and the thrill of exploring remote places. On this trek, you will sleep under the starlit sky of Kyrgyzstan, relax next to a campfire at night, and uncover amazing beauty hidden away in secluded corners of the country. You will see both the Oguz Bashi (5165 m) and Karakol (5216 m) Peaks and the famous moraine-glacial lake, Ala Kul (3532 m). The trek will go over two mountain passes – Telety (3800 m) and Ala Kul (3800 m), and for the cherry on top, take a dip in natural hot springs with curative mineral water in the Altyn Arashan Valley!
The trek starts with an easy warm up walk along the riverbank of a wooded gorge to alpine meadows to the base of Telety pass where you camp for the night. On Day 2 of the trek, zig-zag your way gradually up the pass for some magnificient views and descend through meadows, cross some streams before hiking down a steep trail through a forest to arrive at your camp for 2 nights in Karakol gorge (2500m). Day 3 go for a casual hike to see Oguz Bashi peak and Karakol Peak as well as the glacier at its base. On Day 4, trek along the gorge, crossing the river and ascend to the quaint little “Sirota” hut. After lunch, trudge up the steep slope of gravel and loose rocks towards a gorgeous waterfall that is the lower edge of the Ala Kul Lake. Camp just above the lake and enjoy the sunset. Last day of the trek starts with another hard climb along the lake on a talus slope to the Ala Kul pass. Take in the best view on the trek at the top of the pass and slide down the scree on the other side. The rest of the descent is long but easy through a wide valley of wandering herds of grazing cattle, sheep & horses. End the trek with a chance to relax in the hot springs or thermal baths in the Altyn-Arashan valley.
Throughout the whole route, you will be staying in tents at permanent camp sites managed by friendly locals who will introduce you to simple local cuisines and cater to your comfort.
The trekking season is during the summer months of July to end August when the mountain passes are clear of snow. The slopes are lush with greenery and it is the time when the Kyrgyz shepherds are out herding their sheep, cow and horses. Opportunity to catch a glimpse of their rugged nomadic life. Outside of these months, the passes may be uncrossable due to snow or the nights are too cold.
Good to have experience in multi-day treks & sleeping in tents though not necessary. You will be trekking at above 2500m for 5 days on a scenic and undulating mountain route crossing two mountain passes – Telety (3800 m) and Ala Kol (3800 m). Some sections of the terrain is steep and rocky.
Equipment and Gear
You can wear a a quick dry t-shirt and bermudas or long trekking pants for the trek. An outer shell is required as to protect from the weather changes. When at the camps and after sundown, a basic layer of thermal and/or fleece jacket are needed to keep warm. A down sleeping bag is needed and sleeping mat is provided.
A packing list will be provided to all our participants. Please refer to our Resource Centre page to learn about the layering system and choose the right gear/equipment for your trek.
- Open international group
- Group size: 6 - 10 people
- You can also form a private group for this trek. For enquiry, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Day||Itinerary||Meals||Altitude At Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive Bishkek||-/-/-||800m|
|Day 2||Drive from Bishkek to Karakol (7-8hrs)||B/L/D||1745m|
|Day 3||Karakol city tour. Drive from Karakol to Djety Oguz Gorge (4-5hrs)||B/L/D||2600m|
|Day 4-8||Start 5D/5N camping trek from Djety Oguz Gorge over Telety to Karakol Gorge and over Ala-Kul Lake to Altyn-Arashan where you end your trek.||B/L/D||Telety Camp - 3050m
Karakol Gorge - 2500m
Karakol Gorge - 2500m
Ala Kul Camp - 3600m
Arashan Camp - 2600m
|Day 9||Drive from Arashan Valley to Cholpon Ata (4-5hrs)||B/L/D||1600m|
|Day 10||Drive from Cholpon Ata to Bishkek (3-4hrs)||B/L/D||800m|
|Day 11||Depart Bishkek||B/-/-|
- Return airport transfer in Bishkek
- All land transfer as indicated in itinerary
- Meals as indicated in itinerary
- Bottled drinking water, coffee & tea at camps
- Twin/Triple sharing accommodation in Bishkek, Karakol and Cholpon Alta
- Camping service: sleeping tent(twin sharing) and sleeping mat
- Trek support: climbing guides (1 guide to 7 trekkers) and porters (1 porter to 2 trekkers)
- Permits and fees: Conservation and National Park fees
- International air tickets, airline taxes and fuel surcharge
- Visa fee (if any)
- Single supplement
- Meals not indicated in itinerary
- All tipping
- Personal travel insurance (mandatory to cover travel agent insolvency and trekking up to 4000m)
- Personal expenses like shopping, laundry etc
- Personal travel and trekking gear – warm clothing, shoes, backpacks etc
- Compensation for damaged or lost of personal items (eg: climbing/trekking gear and equipment, cameras and any valuable items etc)
- Emergency evacuation and medical expenses
- Any expenses including accommodation, meals & transfer outside the stipulated trek/climb itinerary – i.e. any person leaving the group for personal travel, illness/injury or any form of extension of stay
Support from Ace Adventure Expeditions
We provide pre-trip support to prepare you for the climb:
1. Trip briefing and information kit
2. Gear list and gear discount from selected Singapore outdoor outfitters
3. Training guideline kit
4. Rope skill workshop (For climbs that require rope up and/or fixed rope skill)
We carefully select and establish strong working relationship with our local operator to ensure safe participation by everyone. Our local partner is one of the biggest and most established adventure operators in Kyrgyzstan.
Training: Regardless of your level of fitness and physical conditions, it is advisable to train prior to embarking on a trekking or mountain climbing trip.
Pure cardiovascular fitness is NOT enough.
Focus your training effort in the following areas, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:
- Climbing conditioning – stairs and load training.
- Cardio training - Jogging/running and interval training like CrossFit or HIIT.
- Strength training for the lower body, shoulder, back and core
- Flexibility training - eg: Yoga and stretching exercises
A good three months of training would be a good preparation for this trek.
A recommended training guide specific to the trek or climb will be given to you upon signing up.
Refer to our Grading chart for an overview on the technical difficulty and fitness required for this trek.
Refer to our Training Guide for tips on trekking and mountain climbing training.