Song Kol (also called Song Kul) is an alpine lake in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan. It is surrounded by high mountain pastures called jailoos, where Kyrgyz herdsmen graze their livestock during the summer months (June to August), living a semi-nomadic life in yurts. Come to Song Kol, and breathe in deeply.
Hiking around Song Kol
Song Kol’s location, 3000m above sea level and surrounded by grassy meadows, lends itself excellently for hikes of any duration. If you feel like striking out on your own, check out some of the following trails:
Horse riding in Song Kol
Horse riding is one of the things to do in Song Kol. In terms of scenery, available trails and price you will be hard pressed to find a better place for a horse trek of a few days. CBT in Naryn and Kochkor and Shepherd’s life offer horse rental plus guide for a reasonable price, as do many other tour operators. You can also rent horses straight from the local shepherds. They know the price, so don’t expect to make a hard bargain.
How and when to go
It can snow all year round at Song Kol, so come prepared. Having said that, the best time for a visit is July to September. The last weekend of July and August sees traditional Kyrgyz horse games organized by tour companies.
If you don’t have your own transport, you will probably want to rent a car to get to the lake independently, as there is little through-traffic and no public transport going there. Prices are quite high, so it’s nice if you can share it with others. Once again, CBT or Shepherd’s life in Kochkor are the easiest options. You can also try to speak to people on the bazaar in Kochkor to see what price they are offering.
You can also get to the lake on foot or on horseback from Kyzart or Chekildek in a few days, or by car from Naryn or Chayek.
There are about 15 yurt camps spread around the lake, operated by different travel organisers. Watching the sun go down over the lake and seeing the sky fill up with stars is one of the more memorable things you can do on the shores of Song Kol.