Son-Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan

Son-Kul is one of Kyrgyzstan’s most popular mountain lakes and meadows. Son-Kul is an awe-inspiringly blue lake at an altitude of 3016 meters above sea level, surrounded by large, fertile prairies which the nomadic shepherds have long used for their livestock. Son-Kul is open in summer only as snow and ice cover the route for the majority of the year (about June to early September). A variety of yurt camps want tourists to linger in order to taste the traditional nomadic lifestyle and the mountains around them are perfect for riding and trekking. The property is approximately 100 km from Kochkor (60 miles) and 300 km from Bishkek (190 miles).

Temperatures at Son-Kul in the winter can be as cold as -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F) and approximate 200 snow days a year. At this time there is more shielded room for herds to remain in neighboring towns like Kochkor, At-Bashi and Naryn in the wintertime. In the winter nobody lives near Son-Kul, and the lake is almost impossible to navigate. Since the ice melts in late spring on Son-Kul, the herds and their owners are moving into the prisons and the lake’s broad, rich pasturing. Around Son-Kul, only yurts do not exist permanently, but people live the same as they have for decades.

In the heat, due to high altitude and averages just 11°C (52°F) and a night freezing, Son-Kul is still comparatively chill. While the yurts also have small furnaces which can heat up during the night, the jailoo has no electricity and running water. So Son-Kul is a prime destination for a couple of days for people wishing to live like a nomad. Yurts have heavy (and not traditional Western beds) mattresses and blankets and outdoor toilets near the yurt camps. There are yurt camps, specially designed for tourists, and the yurts of local shepherds in Son-Kul are also arranged.

The Son-Kul region is also a rich landscape, with wetlands and mountains close by. There are no trees in the lake’s high lands, but there are many herbs and plants for their medicines. Many bowls exist around Son-Kul and in the mountains there are heroes, foxes, Marco Polo, leopards and wolves, plus fowls and golden aagles (though these animals tend to stay high in the mountains). The mountains around Son-Kul are popular for horse and walking tours, and long and short walks from yurt camps on the lake can be arranged.