"Up to 3900m" Top 5 Page for this destination Karakol by RB_Oakes

Karakol Travel Guide: 35 reviews and 59 photos

No worries, though, as I went up to their camp at Altyn-Arashan. On a terrible jeep track, we bashed and banged up to 2900m, encountering nomads and following a wild, rushing river. Altyn-Arashan is a meadow with a hot spring, a couple of shacks and not much else. The weather had turned on the way up so there wasn?t much for me to do but head up a nearby hill to get my body used to the idea of exercising at that altitude. There is no electricity up there and I was the only guest so it was a cold, dark night.

The next morning was the big hike. The destination was the Ala-Kol Pass, at over 3900m. My guide decided to bring his girlfriend, a non-hiker. The hike up took about four hours. The terrain shifted from thick forest to open meadows, shrub forest and finally above the treeline altogether. The final push was up a steep scree slope, where I had some trouble finding proper footing. The top was amazing. At my feet was a brilliant aquamarine lake. To the south, nothing but high peaks, some over 5000m. Definitely worth the effort.

Coming down was less fun. The scree slope was a challenge. You basically skate down these things and even if you can get the technique figured out, I had sandals and rocks were caught inside, making it a wee bit uncomfortable.

Then the guide was rushing down the mountain. My knees were getting hammered by the walk down and I had to go slowly as they didn?t have the strength to brake hard if I got going fast. My guide did not wait. I lost them a couple of times, and would surely have found myself spending a night on the mountain if it wasn?t for his girlfriend?s bright red fleece.

The next day I chilled out, quite sore from the previous day?s expedition. I soaked in the hot springs to get clean and awaited downward transport. A couple came up with the jeep at noon, but decided not to stay the night which meant the jeep driver and I had to wait for them to do a day hike before we could head back down. Argh.

Eventually, though, I got back, and loaded up with supplies at the market for my long haul across the entire length of the country to Osh.

  • Last visit to Karakol: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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