Altyn-Arashan, which means ‘Golden Spa’ in Kyrgyz, is the most popular hike near Karakol in the north-east of the country. The hike is relatively strenuous but certainly not impossible, with some lovely gorge viewsafforded on the way and there are rich rewards once you have reached the snow glistening mountain valley.
Furthermore, the site is famous for its several hot-springs where natural sulphur infused water flows into concrete pools housed in wooden sheds. The water is hot, around 50oC and is the perfect antidote to weary bodies.
Altyn Arashan is located 20km south-east of Karakol and near Issyk-kul Lake, in an alpine valley dominated at its southern end by the 4260m tall Pik Palatka (‘Tent Peak’). The valley forms part of the Arashan State Nature Reserve which is famous for its unique wildlife, including snow leopards and a few wild bears. Don’t worry though, it’s very unlikely they will make an appearance and the only animals you are likely to see are the horses and sheep owned by local families.
Ala-Kol is on several popular trekking routes between Altyn-Arashan and the Karakol Gorge, and lies at an altitude of 3,532 m (11,588 feet) above sea level. Ala-Kol is set in a barren, rocky depression, and is surrounded by the peaks of the Terskey Ala Too range. Rocky paths and scree slopes are used to approach the lake.
3 day tour: Altyn Arashan – Alakol – Altyn Arashan
Day 1: Transfer by car from Karakol to Aksu village. Hike from Aksu to Altyn Arashan valley, 2600 m. Lunch. Dinner & overnight in a guesthouse;
Day 2: Breakfast. Hike to Alakol lake (3600 m) and back ( 26 km both ways). Lunchbox is provided. Dinner & overnight in a guesthouse;
Day 3: Breakfast. Hike back to Aksuu village. Transfer from Aksu to Karakol. Lunch on your own.
Price for 1 person: 17400 som / 2 ppl: 21300 som / 3 ppl: 25200 som/ 4 ppl: 29700 som
The cost includes a tour guide service, accommodation and meals as per itinerary, transfer by car from Karakol to Aksu and back, hot springs fee.