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The Long Way to Sary-Chelek – 
Excursion into the Chatkal Range

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Chatkal range mountain lake 
sary-chelek travel tours

Chatkal range

The Chatkal Range in Kyrgyzstan is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. This stunning mountain range offers a plethora of trekking tours that lead to breathtaking destinations such as high mountain lakes, glaciers, and awe-inspiring panoramic views.

  One of the highlights of trekking in the Chatkal Range is the opportunity to visit a pristine lake nestled high in the mountains. The crystal-clear waters of these lakes reflect the surrounding peaks, creating a picture-perfect scene that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

   As you trek through the high passes of the Chatkal Range, you will be treated to sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The rugged beauty of the mountains, combined with the tranquility of the lakes and rivers, creates a sense of peace and serenity that is hard to find elsewhere.

  While exploring the Chatkal Range, you may also encounter a variety of wild animals, such as ibex, bears, and eagles. These majestic creatures add an element of excitement to your trekking experience, reminding you of the untamed beauty of the natural world. Whether you are an experienced trekker or a nature enthusiast looking to explore the great outdoors, a trek through the Chatkal Range is sure to be a rewarding and memorable adventure.


Category: trekking and horseback riding 

Duration: 10-11 days trekking

Level of difficulty: moderate to difficult (passes over 3000 m – crossing on foot)

Highest points:  Kashka-Suu Pass – 3390m, Ashuu-Tör Pass – 3368m.

Best season: end of June to September 

Requirements: trekking boots, weatherproof warm clothes, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, torch, tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad

Itinerary: The trek begins from the north side of Tegerman-Sai along Aflatun Gorge – Aflatun River – Ashuu-Tör Pass – Aflatun Lake – Northern Aflatun River – Chatkal Valley – Goluboi Pass (Khamza) – Kara-Teke Lake – Western Kara-Kuldzha River – Kara-Kuldzha Pass – Eastern Kara-Kuldzha River –Kashka-Suu Pass – Kara-Suu River – Kara-Suu Lake – Kotormo Pass – Sary-Chelek Lake – Kyzyl-Köl Village

Day 1:  Transfer to Kara-Suu Village. Dinner and overnight here in a CBT Kara-Suu homestay. 

Day 2: After breakfast at your homestay, hop into the car and hold on tight.  A decent road goes northeast from Kara-Suu as far as Aflatun village, but from here, your route turns north along the Aflatun Gorge, and the road turns bad.  As far as the road is passable by car, but only that far.  Here, eat lunch meet your guide and continue trekking into the forest.  After the long walking day, as far as the last yurt at the top of the valley.  Set up camp at 2200 m by the headwaters of the Aflatun River and eat a delicious dinner prepared by the guides.   

Nomadic life

Day 3: After breakfast, head uphill to the Ashuu-Tör Pass (3368m).  The path is steep, but views from the top are spectacular, both back down the Aflatun Valley and forward over the afternoon’s route.  Descend into the Chatkal Gorge and eat lunch at the far end of the valley.  After lunch, follow the stream as it flows between spectacular granite walls and dives beneath a house-sized boulder, emerging into Kara-Teke Lake, a small, deep, and perfectly clear pool.  Continue onwards through a rocky valley and, after another delicious dinner, camp by the Terek-Sai River at 2400m. 

Sary-Chelek tours

Day 4: After breakfast, leave the giant granite jumble of Day 3 behind and turn eastward into a landscape of mostly-treeless rolling hills, broken by juniper bushes and small rocks but by little else.  Rivers plunge underground repeatedly, only to spring up again further downhill; the resulting isolated patches of bright green plant life stand out in odd relief against the hills.  Continue alongside Chatkal Gorge and into Chatkal Valley, then cross the Goluboi Pass (‘Blue’ in Russian, called the “Khamza” in Kyrgyz, 2940m).  Stop and camp on the banks of the Kara-Teke River at 2600m. 

Kojo-jash mountain Sary-Chelek tours
Horse riding tours

Day 5:  We will start our day with breakfast as usual in the morning. After breakfast, we have an exciting day ahead of us. Today, we will be heading to Lake Eshenkul, which is located at an altitude of 3400 meters above sea level. The glaciers at this lake have been present here for thousands of years. If possible, we will attempt to reach the summit of Muz-Tor, from where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Following some wonderful hiking adventures, we will make our way back to the camp. Our camp will be waiting for us in the same location with a delicious dinner prepared for us. In the evening, we can gather around a big fire and enjoy the night.

Sary-Chelek travel horse riding tours

Day 6: After breakfast by the Kara-Teke, head yet further into the Chatkal Valley.  The mountains towering to the left are the Talas Ala-Too, marking the southern border of Talas Oblast.  Other CBT treks from Sary-Chelek go north over these passes, but you’ll continue to the east over the Kokui-Bel Pass (3037m).  Then you’ll eat lunch.  This afternoon’s river is called the Ak-Suu.  Finally, camp at 2800m by the Kara-Kulja River and eat a sumptuous dinner.

horse-riding tours

Day 7: Breakfast. Continue trekking, cross Kara-Kulja Pass (3161m).  The far side of the pass drains eastward, into the Toktogul Reservoir, while the previous days have been in the Chatkal River’s watershed, which flows southwest to Tashkent.  Eat a trail lunch in a field.  Descend to the sizeable Muz-Tör River. Set up today’s camp at 2200m in a forest thick with underbrush and alive with the sound of the rushing Muz-Tör.  If you’ve timed your visit correctly, dinner includes wild raspberries and tea made from herbs picked during the day’s

sary-Chelek camping sunrise

Day 8: After having breakfast in the forest, the morning is spent crossing the Kashka-Suu Pass, the highest point of the tour at 3390m. This takes almost 3 hours, and the descent is quite dangerous and requires walking. Fortunately, the vistas from the summit are among the finest on the entire tour. Following another hour of trekking along the Kashka-Suu River, observing local gold-panning activities, have lunch with the shepherds of Kashka-Suu Jailoo (2300m). Camp at the shore of the river Kara-Suu. At night make a camp fire and enjoy


Day 9:  Today is a relaxed day with no rush in the morning. Breakfast will be served at 9 am, allowing us to take our time. After breakfast, we will enjoy the peaceful atmosphere before continuing our journey. Ahead of us lies a blue lake and a waterfall. Lunch and dinner will be served on the terrace, and we will spend the night at the yurt camp.

Kara-Kamysh lake Sary-Chelek travel tours

Day 10: After breakfast on the shores of Lake Kara-Suu, start the day by climbing 2446m Kotormo Pass.  From the top, five of the seven lakes in the Sary-Chelek area are visible, including Lake Sary-Chelek itself, your destination at present. Around noon, you’re on the shores of Lake Sary-Chelek, the biggest lake in the area at 7 km long

Horse riding tours

Day 11: Breakfast. Walking through Sary-Chelek orchards and forests. Arrive at Kara-Suu village. Acquaintance with local lifestyle and habits. Short picnic lunch during the day. Shower, supper and overnight in a local homestay. Trekking hours – 6/7 hours. 

Trekking tours sary-chelek travel

Day 12:Breakfast. Transfer to Bishkek or Osh.

Attention: The above description is given for a 10-day trekking tour! 

Tour map

Sary-Chelek travel tours
Waterfall Kara-Kamysh

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