Lake Ala-Kul

Ala-Kul (Ala-Kol, Alakul, Alakol) is a beautiful lake in the Terskey-Alatau region in the Central Tien Shan. The name “alakul” can be translated as “colorful” from Kyrgyz. The lake is known for changing its colors and position at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level. The color of the water changes from emerald green to violet. Color changes occur every hour depending on weather conditions.

The first person who visited the lake was a Russian traveler Putimstoff. It was in 1811 and he described it very well mentioning the different colors of the lake and the furious wind blowing around.

It is located in the upper parts of the Kurgaktor River- the right tributary of Karakol. The lake has a glacial origin: the glacier that remains now occupies the upper part of the valley. You can see it most of the time in the northern part of Ala-Kul. The lake is small and doesn’t have any islands. The coastline is 6.8 kilometers. It is possible to hike up the surrounding mountains, from where the peaks of Karakol (5273m), Dzhigit (5170) and Oguz-Bashi (5168m) are seen. All of them are part of the Terskey Ala-Too mountain range.

Ala-Kul is perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the Terskey Ala-Too area. You can get to it either from below or through one of the simple passes through the rocky ridges surrounding the lake, which is possible on foot or on horseback. The hike to Ala-Kul is quite challenging with a lot of climbing. But you should not only be physically prepared but also be ready for drastic weather changes and surprises in the form of thunderstorm or hail (even if it’s in the mid-summertime).

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