Trip to Lake Sary-Chelek

Family holidays in Kyrgyzstan

Trip to Lake Sary-Chelek

There are so many places in Kyrgyzstan that you should visit with kids. We would like to share our own experience and show you places that we have already visited with our kids.

I would like to tell you about our family trip to Lake Sary-Chelek with kids of 3-7 years old. The best period for this trip is a warm period from spring to autumn. We did our trip on May 9-12th. It is not so hot and not so many tourists around.

Spring is fantastic there and my dream was to get there when wild tulips are in bloom. Nature is awake after a cold winter and everything becomes green. You can see thousands of bright flowers around.

Trees in bloom

How to get to Lake Sary-Chelek

Day 1. It is better to start early in the morning 5-6 AM as it is the long way and it would be better to get to the place before darkness. The Lake Sary Chelek is a biosphere reserve and it is forbidden to put tents on the shore. You have to stop in Arkit village. The way takes 500 km from Bishkek and it is about 10 hours of driving. Most of the way will runs on a good asphalt. For children it was interesting to watch views from the window and they were not bored.

Road to Lake Sary-Chelek

Meals on the way

The road goes through the Chichkan gorge where you can stop for lunch. There are several very simple restaurants near the road where you can order dishes like lagman (noodles with meat and vegetables), shorpo (soup), kuurdak (meat with potatoes) and dumplings.

If you feel that you are not hungry in Chichkan gorge then continue driving to Toktogul lake (reservoir). There are also small simple restaurants near the main road. Dishes are the same but you can try also fried trout.

The main road to Arkit village is picturesque and interesting. You will drive several passes, tunnels and bridges. You will see snow white peaks, rivers, endless pastures, green valleys and rocks. You can stop and take a picture of the hydroelectric station, the huge Toktogul reservoir, the red poppies and many beautiful landscapes.

River Naryn

Accommodation in the village Arkit

There are many guest houses in the village. The cost of accommodation depends on the conditions offered by the host. Shower and toilet will be common to all residents of the house. The owner of the house will offer dinner and breakfast right in the guest house.

The road to the lake Sary-Chelek.

Day 2. It takes about 20 km to the lake from the village. It is better to take lunch boxes with you and some water. You can ride a motorboat accompanied by a boatman at the lake. Price is 1000 soms per person. The ride take 1,5 hours and you will get to the end of the lake (about 7 km one way). I recommend you to bring life jackets for kids with you. We bought in Bishkek 250 soms per one.

Lake Sary-Chelek

View from the boat

There are a couple of parking places with panoramic views on the way to the lake. Here you can have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views. If you move away from the road, you can see a lot of bright yellow tulips.

Place for picnic

We were lucky to meet a wild deer who came pretty close. Hunting is prohibited in the reserve, so animals can feel safe here.

Wild deer

Entertainment in the village Arkit

In the evening you will return back to the guest house. The infrastructure of the village is not very developed. There are no cafes or restaurants here. Local shops do not have many things for sale. It is better to bring with you water, sweets, snacks, drinks.

Children really enjoyed running along small streams in rubber boots. They made rods from wooden sticks and rope and were happy fishing in the water. I recommend to bring toys with you too. There are no playgrounds in the village.

Some guest house owners may offer a sauna in the evening at an additional cost.

In this journey you will rest from civilization, at night you can look at the starry sky and listen to the sound of the river. Children will quickly fall asleep after a busy day, and adults will have time for themselves.

In Arkit village

Internet and cellular. There's Wi-Fi in some guest houses. You can use a local sim card with internet if needed.

Money exchange. There is no bank or ATM in the village, so it is better to bring cash in local currency (soms).

Day 3. We leave the village Arkit and go to the Toktogul reservoir. Stopping for the night will dilute the long road and everyone will be able to relax in a picturesque place in the comfortable Kok-Bel hotel, which is located right on the shore of the reservoir. You will be offered small rooms with shower and toilet or cottages. The cost depends on the season. Here you can have a tasty lunch or go to a cafe by the road. The hotel has a swimming pool, but you can swim in the reservoir.

Day 4. Homecoming. On the way to Bishkek, you can try mountain honey, the national drink koumiss, kurut (sour-milk product). The road is not bored at all. Travel with your kids and open doors to the wild nature together.

Poppies in the Toktogul reservoir

What to take with you to Sary-Chelek:

  • Weather Warm Clothing
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Spray from ticks
  • Cap
  • Sun glasses
  • For children: ball, badminton, toys
  • Life jackets for boating
  • Water and drinks
  • Sweets for local kids
  • Pictures by V. Berezhnoi and E. Reis

    See a trip to Lake Sary Chelek with Asia Mountains
    Evgenia Reis

    Evgenia Reis

    The author of travel stories in Kyrgyzstan, fully or partially built on her personal travel experience. Manager of Asia Mountains Company.

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