Hiking in Kol'tor Lake, Kyrgyzstan

I wanted to do at least one hike in our 2-week trip in Central Asia, so when we reached Kyrgyzstan, our second stop,  I joined my friend, Gid (his blog here) on a day hike to Kol'tor (Link to Google map). 

In winter, its lake freezes which makes for an interesting sight, but I've always had a penchant for nature's vibrant colors. As we did the hike in mid-September, autumn time, we were able to witness  Kol'Tor's beautiful, turquoise lake! 

Considered a medium-level difficulty hike, this popular day hike from the Kyrgyz capital takes 3-4 hours going up and another 2 hours going down, which is doable for someone like me who is trying to getting back in shape. 

From Navat Hotel in Bishkek, we were picked up by a private car (booked thru email via Apple Hostel).  For a 2-hour ride to a remote countryside and back we were charged a reasonable rate of  4500 Som/2,866 PHP, gas included.  

We started hiking at around 10 AM. Though late in the morning, the weather was still too cold for us that we had our jackets on the entire time (I wore a windbreaker and a dri fit shirt). From here, Gid took charge of navigating. 

The hike started easy on a flat terrain with a scenic view of mountains and yurt camps. Despite the lack of signs, the trail was easy to spot. From where the car dropped us off, we followed the route to the river. Here, we met a local family having their morning picnic. As we did not have a common language, they used a translator app to converse with us in English. They were very friendly and even shared their bread and grilled chicken. As we parted ways, they gave us these beautiful, plump apples grown from their garden. 

We finally reached the forest where we faced several short, steep sections and loose rocks. As we walked further up up to our destination  at 2733 MASL, I stopped frequently to catch my breath. The trail was challenging for someone who hasn't exercised much  plus the altitude, I had a tough time carrying myself up, whereas my friend could have easily breezed through it in 2 hours. 

After 4 hours, including the half hour we spent by the river with the Kyrgyz family, we arrived at the lake. Breathlessly agonized and tired as I was, the moment I saw the milky blue hues of the water, I quickly dropped by backpack and wowed at the view. After snacks and a little rest, we headed down, a much easier task for me, though it can be grueling to the knees as most of the way is going downhill this time. 

We were back in Bishkek in time for dinner where we enjoyed a celebratory meal at Torro Grill & Bar, in the city center. 

Helpful blog to plan your hiking trip to Kol-Tor Lake : 

Zoe Goes Places | Kol-Tor Lake

Visa Info :

We are Philippine passport holders so we secured an e-visa prior to coming to Kyrgyzstan by going to evisa.e-gov.kg (Go to Services tab). If you're a passport holder from another country, you can check if you need a visa by going to the same website, then click on Information (visa application requirements can also be found here).  For a Single entry Tourist visa valid for one month, I paid around 51.50 USD. (Payment modes are also on the Information tab). I applied for a visa, one month before our trip and received it within 10 days, weekends included. 

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