Toktogul, named after Kyrgyzstan’s most famous akyn, Toktogul Satylganov, is an unassuming, pleasant place to wander. It’s a good place to break the journey between Osh and Bishkek, with a pretty location between lake and mountains. It can also be used as a hiking hub towards Suusamyr, Arslanbob and Sary-Chelek, all 3-4 days out, with more options for outdoor activities closer to the town.
What to do
- Swim: Toktogul lake is warm in summer and good for swimming. It is a long, unshaded walk to get to the shore from town, so a taxi is perhaps a good call.
- Hike: a lovely day hike runs across the Kyzyl-Too north of town and gives great panoramic views. Longer hikes can be arranged with guides or independently to surrounding destinations. In summer you will have the opportunity to meet shepherds in yurts on the jailoos on higher altitudes.
- Paragliding: We were told you can get up to 45 minutes of air time here. Travelers have to organize themselves.
- More: Pictures and inspiration at Undiscovered Toktogul
Where to stay
Guesthouse Kaghan (Israilov/Dzerzhinski 18) offers warm hospitality and hostel-style rooms with 4 beds per room, a hot shower and wifi outdoors or in the office. French and English is spoken by Guka and Azamat, who are very knowledgeable about the area. Extensions and a yurt were in the making when we visited last. 500 som/night, includes a large breakfast of eggs, bread, jam, honey and sweets. Dinner can be had for an extra 250 som, expect Kyrgyz staples. Organizes local tours.
Homestay Kuldanbaev (Nabereshnaya/Akimkan 86) also offers warm hospitality in a family atmosphere, French and English spoken. 3 dorms with traditional mattresses on the floor. Dinner can be ordered extra. Organizes local tours.
Ak-Jibek (Lenina, next to bus station) also offers rooms. No review yet.
Where to eat
Don’t expect to eat anything but Kyrgyz staples in Toktogul. The bazaar or your homestay is the best place as it has a few options to choose from, and eating ice cream here is a must. See the map for location.
Getting there and around
Inside the town, a taxi ride will cost 50 som. The bus station has a few buses daily, but these were rumoured to close down due to lack of passengers. Check in advance.
- Toktogul – Jalal-Abat: 6.10, 9.15 (310 som)
- Osh: 7.10 (420 som)
To Bishkek and Talas, there are no minibuses, only shared taxis. It’s easy to find fellow passengers to Bishkek, not to Talas, so start asking a day in advance. A seat in a shared taxi will be 500 som for Talas, 700 som for Bishkek.
Talas – Toktogul is a 3 hour scenic ride, crossing the Okmok and Akbel passes above 3000 m. Bishkek takes a bit longer, descending into the plain is less exciting than the journey from Osh. Honey and petrol are for sale along the roads, which is snow-cleared usually within a day of new snowfall.