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Bulak-Ashuu Lakes Trek – Jyrgalan Mountain climbing Information [2022]


It is a detailed information that includes every part you should know in regards to the new Bulak-Ashuu Lakes Trek from Jyrgalan Village in Kyrgyzstan.

Jyrgalan was as soon as a affluent coal-mining city throughout Soviet instances, dwelling to roughly 5000 individuals.

When the Soviet Union collapsed there was a decreased demand for coal and the native financial system crashed, main many to desert their houses and go away the city.

Whereas a former Soviet coal mining city might not sound like a great trekking base, don’t let this idiot you.

The valleys round Jyrgalan are very a lot a hidden gem, providing a few of the most scenic trekking in all of Central Asia.

Better of all, this trekking is accessible proper out of your guesthouse door.

The work of Emil Ibakov has remodeled this semi-abandoned city into an out of doors sports activities base.

It is a place you may be ok with visiting, understanding you might be supporting a area people that has come by way of laborious instances within the not so distant previous. 

Whereas tourism in Jyrgalan is slowly rising, it nonetheless has all of the attraction and friendliness of a sleepy village. There’s now a small store promoting necessities, however no cafe, restaurant, or ATM, and horses nonetheless appear to outnumber individuals. 

Jarryd and Alesha have visited this space quite a few instances serving to to advertise tourism within the city, and marking some mountaineering trails.

Right here’s an inventory of their present trekking guides for Jyrgalan:

They’ve made no secret that Jyrgalan is their favorite place in Kyrgyzstan, and lots of the visitors on the NOMADasaurus Kyrgyzstan pictures and journey excursions agreed with this opinion.

Emil and the crew at Vacation spot Jyrgalan are persevering with to develop new trekking routes and actions within the space.

The Bulak Ashuu Lakes Trekking Information

From the brand new trekking routes developed for the 2019 trekking season, the Bulak-Ashuu Lakes trek was the clear favorite with each visitors and guides. 

To date solely round 30 individuals have visited the lakes, so the trek is right for anybody trying to get means off the overwhelmed path and uncover a little-visited space.

Even throughout peak trekking season, you’ll almost definitely have the lakes all to your self.

Bulak Ashuu Lakes Trek Jyrgalan Kyrgyzstan
Bulak Ashuu Lake – One of many nicest treks you are able to do in Jyrgalan, Kyrgyzstan.

How Tough is the Bulak Ashuu Lakes Trek?

The trek isn’t straightforward, however you don’t should be a brilliant athlete both. The guides in Jyrgalan have discovered that for somebody with common health a 3-day itinerary gives a properly paced trek with loads of time to cease for pictures, rests, and snacks. A complete distance of 44km over 3 days might not sound like loads, however there’s a complete of practically 2km complete elevation achieve and descent, plus a big quantity of the trek is spent above 3000m altitude.

How Do I Get to Jyrgalan?

Marshrutka 331 leaves from the Ak-Tilek Bazaar in Karakol at: 08:30, 11:30, and 17:30. The journey to Jyrgalan takes round 1.5-2 hours.

The bus is often full, so arrive round 30mins early if you wish to be assured a seat, in any other case you could have to face.

The associated fee is 90-150som relying on how a lot baggage you’ve gotten.

Marshrutka 331 leaves from Jyrgalan to Karakol at: 07:30, 11:30, and 16:30. 

A taxi is round $20-30 every means relying in your negotiating abilities.

READ MORE: Try our final information to travelling in Kyrgyzstan!

Lodging in Jyrgalan

There’s a vary of lodging in Jyrgalan, which could be seen on the Reserving.com web site.

There isn’t a café or restaurant within the village, nevertheless your lodging will have the ability to offer you sizzling meals and lunchboxes. 

Bear in mind, there is no such thing as a ATM in Jyrgalan. It’s best to convey money with you (Kyrgyz Som, Euros, or USD). Vacation spot Jyrgalan can settle for card funds for bigger transactions.

Tips on how to Organise the Bulak-Ashuu Lakes Trek

If you already know what date you need to start the trek one of the best ways to arrange the trek is by contacting Vacation spot Jyrgalan prematurely through e mail ([email protected]).

This offers loads of time for them to arrange a menu appropriate for any dietary necessities, supply guides and horses, and reserve tenting gear. 

It’s often attainable to rearrange the trek as soon as in Jyrgalan. Nonetheless, this isn’t at all times the case, typically all of the guides and/or horses could also be booked out for different excursions.

Impartial vs Guided Trekking

The trek could be accomplished independently and not using a information. Nonetheless, the path isn’t marked and in some locations you may be strolling on animal tracks making your personal route, slightly than on an “official path”.

Discovering the route and not using a map and/or GPS system could be extraordinarily tough.

In case you plan to do the hike independently we advise shopping for all meals in Bishkek or Karakol, as there’s a restricted choice obtainable in Jyrgalan.

Vacation spot Jyrgalan can arrange a full package deal tour together with; information, porter, horse to hold baggage, all tenting gear, and all meals.

For these in search of another person to maintain all the main points it is a good answer, you merely can flip up the morning of your trek understanding every part is taken care of.

For those who don’t want a full package deal tour, however would really like some help Vacation spot Jyrgalan can present any mixture of the person issues included within the full package deal tour. This contains renting tenting gear.

How A lot Does it Value

For impartial trekkers with their very own tenting gear and meals there are not any additional prices (e.g. permits or entrance charges).

A full package deal tour for two individuals at present prices USD$462 ($231 per particular person).

This contains every part you want (information, packhorse to hold baggage, porter to take care of horse and arrange/take down tents, all meals cooked for you, and all tenting gear).

In case you don’t need your entire package deal and simply want sure components it’s best to contact Vacation spot Jyrgalan who can put collectively a customized package deal for you with the hottest prices.

Whereas it’s attainable to hold all your personal gear, a pack horse is often advised for maximizing consolation as it might probably carry all of the heavy gear leaving you free to hold only a small day bag.

Taking a horse additionally has the advantage of having the ability to carry you throughout the river crossings.

Don’t fear in case you don’t have expertise with horses, a porter at all times comes with the horse to take care of it.

Trekking and tenting gear could be rented in Jyrgalan. Present prices are roughly:

  • Trekking poles: $2 per day
  • Sleeping bag: $2.50 per day
  • Sleeping mat: $1 per day
  • 2 particular person tent: $3.50 per day
  • Tenting range: $2 per day
  • Gasoline canister: $3.50 for a small canister, $7 for an enormous canister
Terim-Tor Valley
Terim-Tor Valley.

What to Pack

There are just a few important objects you’ll must comfortably go trekking in Kyrgyzstan.

In case you’re coming from Australia or New Zealand, we advocate choosing up your gear out of your native Kathmandu retailer.

  • Comfy backpack that may match every part you should carry. (When you have a packhorse a day pack is ample).
  • Appropriate footwear. Historically, this is able to be a very good pair of mountaineering boots. Nonetheless, some individuals have additionally accomplished the trek in path trainers. Whichever your private selection of shoes or path trainers, waterproof and light-weight fashions are really helpful.
  • Two t-shirts – one for through the day and one at evening
  • One mild down jacket that packs down, or a light-weight fleece
  • One waterproof/windproof shell jacket
  • Thermal pants
  • A “buff” bandana
  • Some skinny gloves only for chilly mornings/evenings
  • Three pairs of socks. One for trekking, one for sporting at evening, and a spare pair in case the trekking socks get moist
  • Crocs/sandals for fording rivers and the boggy space round them. Additionally could be worn round camp
  • Trekking poles. Optionally available, however may help with stability throughout fording rivers.
  • A water bottle (not less than 1L)
  • Sunscreen and sun shades
  • Headlamp or torch
  • When you have electronics you have to to cost (e.g. digicam and/or telephone) a battery pack is important
  • Full tenting gear – tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat
  • Meals and cooking gear (fuel canister, tenting range, pot, cutlery and so on.)

When to Go

Trekking season in Jyrgalan is from June to September. Nonetheless, it’s not uncommon to have some snow nonetheless on the passes throughout early June, and not less than a part of the lakes could also be frozen. July and August present essentially the most constant good climate. By mid-September snow storms and really low temperatures at evening will not be unusual.

Issues to Know Earlier than You Go

There are some things to know to make sure you have a protected and pleasurable expertise of the Bulak-Ashuu Lakes Trek:

  • There are lots of good sources of fresh water alongside the path. Though, a filter or some form of water purification system is suggested to cut back the chance of illness as a result of presence of animals alongside your entire route.
  • The climate within the mountains could be unpredictable, even in summer time. It is suggested that anybody making an attempt this trek has clothes for all climate situations.
  • Convey any treatment you require and a few fundamental first assist gear (plasters, bandages, antiseptic cream).
  • Be sure your insurance coverage covers trekking as much as altitudes of 3521m (the very best level of the trek).
  • The campsites are above the treeline, so don’t anticipate finding any wooden to make campfires. If you should cook dinner meals or boil water you need to take a fuel canister and tenting range.

Bulak-Ashuu Lakes Trekking Itinerary

That will help you benefit from your time trekking to Bulak-Ashuu Lakes in Jyrgalan, right here is my mountaineering information and itinerary.

Day 1 – 16km – 6 hours

  • Min Elevation: 2258m
  • Max Elevation: 3100m
  • Whole Acquire: +901m

The trek begins straight out of your guesthouse door in Jyrgalan. Crossing a bridge over the Jyrgalan river on the South finish of the village, and ascending a steep filth observe as much as a plateau.

Right here you may be handled to a pleasant Panorama of the village, with a backdrop of Char Jon Peak and Kok-Bel go.

You’ll then be a part of a tough jeep street taking you additional South up the Jyrgalan Valley.

This street is never used, aside from to move the yurts to and from the Jailoos (excessive pasture areas) originally and finish of summer time.

Sometimes a milk truck will even use this street to go and purchase horse milk from the yurts.

Jyrgalan River
After crossing the bridge out of Jyrgalan observe these filth trails as much as the pylon.

To the best of the jeep street you will notice Tulpar Tash (Horse Rock). This large rock is featured within the well-known Kyrgyz epic Manas, famously recited by mouth, slightly than written down.

Manas reciters (Manasci) are extremely revered in Kyrgyz society and infrequently carry out at festivals and particular events. 

Within the epic, Manas is claimed to have united the Kyrgyz tribes within the native space to combat in opposition to the invading Chinese language military.

Because the battle started Manas leapt – on horseback – off the rock in the direction of the Chinese language troopers, scaring them away. Immediately you may nonetheless see the footprints of the horse on the rock.

Persevering with alongside the path you’ll get pleasure from views of the extremely inexperienced and vibrant Jyrgalan Valley, with snow-capped peaks within the distance.

Alongside the best way you’ll go just a few remoted yurts, and see shepherds transferring their animals.

In case you get near the sheep take a look at their “fats tails”. This tail fats is taken into account a culinary delicacy, and infrequently at animal markets you may see potential consumers inspecting the tails in search of the fattest one.

Round 6km from Jyrgalan there’s a fork within the valley. Right here you flip West earlier than the bridge, leaving Jyrgalan Valley and getting into Terim-Tor Valley.

Jeep Tracks Jyrgalan
On the plateau observe the jeep tracks to the left of the massive rock (Tulpar Tash).

After a few minutes strolling you’ll attain a pleasant spot to cease for a lunch break, with views overlooking a small jailoo space referred to as Eki Chat.

After lunch proceed following the path up Terim-Tor Valley. As you achieve altitude, the valley narrows, and you may be strolling subsequent to the river.

At this level it may be somewhat marshy and muddy, and little rock-hopping could also be required. Round this space you could find “Ishkun” an edible plant resembling celery, however with a pointy bitter style of inexperienced apples.

Because the valley opens up hold ascending on the West facet of the river. Quickly you’ll cross a small ridge and see a great place to pitch your tents, often reached round 2-2.5 hours after lunch. 

This campsite is especially scenic with the river meandering up the inexperienced valley in the direction of snow-capped peaks.

The valley is commonly filled with horses left there to graze. You too can see marmots, lesser whistling geese, and a spread of birds on this valley.

Be ready, this is without doubt one of the colder campsites within the space and waking as much as frost isn’t unusual even in summer time. 

Terim Tor Valley Campsite Bulak Ashuu Lakes Trek
First day campsite in Terim-Tor Valley.

Day 2 – 13km – 8 hours

  • Min Elevation: 3100m
  • Max Elevation: 3521m
  • Whole Acquire: +852m

From the campsite it’s 6km stroll up the valley to Bulak-Ashuu Lakes, following the West financial institution of the river.

From the valley flooring it’s not attainable to see the lakes as they’re perched on a rock outcropping beneath some sharp rocky peaks and a glacier.

You will notice waterfalls coming down from these rocks, the supply of this water is the lakes.

Climbing up some steep switchbacks subsequent to the waterfall brings you to the primary of the 2 Bulak-Ashuu Lakes at round 3500m altitude.

Each these glacial lakes have a putting blue color from above, however as you get nearer to the floor have a mirror-like high quality.

Splendid for panorama photographers in search of that good lake reflection shot.

Bulak-Ashuu Lake
Bulak-Ashuu Lake.

Even in peak trekking season, it’s uncommon for a couple of group to be on the lakes on any day, so you’ll in all probability have all of them to your self.

After having fun with the lakes it’s time to move again down the best way you simply got here up.

As you descend be sure that to search for throughout the other facet of the valley, the place you will notice one other waterfall.

Additionally, use this vantage level to attempt to spot one of many many good locations to ford the river.

The bottom across the river generally is a little boggy. A change of footwear to cross this boggy floor and the river is good to have (Crocs or sandals work properly). 

Often the river crossing presents little threat with comparatively slow-moving water under knee peak.

Nonetheless, early season (June) or after an enormous storm, the crossing generally is a little more difficult.

In case you are fearful about this, the most suitable choice is to take a pack-horse which might carry you throughout the river safely.

After crossing the river, it’s time to deal with the excessive go of the route. The route climbs West of Terim-Tor Valley, as much as a peak of 3521m.

This go continues to be unnamed, an indication of simply how new this trek is!

There are just a few animal trails going as much as the go, however they commonly disappear and you may be compelled to discover a new animal path to observe.

Simply hold heading up following the trail of least resistance and after round 1.5 hours you’ll attain the go. 

If the climate is obvious the go gives unbelievable views of a few of the larger snow-capped peaks to the South East, and mountains forming the Kazakhstan border to the West.

Following the go, you’ll descend East into Cholok-Tor Valley.

This valley doesn’t have any yurts in, so it’ll possible simply be you and any horses left within the valley to graze.

Descend all the way down to the river, which is the very best water supply on this valley and arrange camp.

Bulak-Ashuu Lake
Bulak-Ashuu Lake.

Day 3 – 15km – 4.5 hours

  • Min Elevation: 2258m
  • Max Elevation: 3100m
  • Whole Loss: 842m

Cholok Valley has an hourglass form, funnelling all the way down to a slim gulley earlier than opening again up right into a a lot wider valley excessive above the Jyrgalan River. 

From the campsite you’ll start strolling on animal trails down the valley on the West facet of the river.

The paths nearer to the river could be very moist, significantly early within the season. If that is so, attempt to discover a route somewhat larger up farther from the river.

When you attain the slim part of the valley you will see that a very good path.

This path will take you down the valley, crossing backwards and forwards over the river 3 instances.

The primary two crossings can often be accomplished with stepping stones. The final one requires a brief straightforward ford of shin-deep water.

After the threerd river crossing hold your eyes peeled for golden eagles. They nest within the rocky cliffs to the East of the path, they usually can typically be seen flying across the space in search of prey. 

The Cholok-Tor river you might be following ultimately joins the Jyrgalan River round 6km downstream from the campsite.

It’s best to cross to the West facet of Cholok-Tor river earlier than it joins the Jyrgalan River.

There are just a few locations this may be accomplished with stepping stones however they aren’t clearly marked so you should hold a lookout for them.

In case you can’t discover one in every of these crossings it’s also attainable to ford the river.

When you cross to the West facet of Cholok-Tor hold following the river all the way down to the convergence with Jyrgalan River. From this level you’ve gotten good trails to observe North all the best way to Eki Chat Jailoo.

Hold following these trails, with the Jyrgalan river in your proper. You will notice many yurts, with pleasant youngsters shouting howdy.

In case you are fortunate you might be invited in to see the standard yurt and have tea and drink Kumys (a conventional Kyrgyz drink made with fermented horse milk) with the household. 

After round 1 hour strolling from the convergence of the rivers you’ll come to Eki Chat Jailoo, which you considered from the other facet through the first day’s lunch break. As soon as once more, this space makes a pleasant lunch cease.

From Eki Chat you decide up the tough jeep street from day 1. Simply hold following this street north alongside the Jyrgalan River and you’ll slowly descend again to the plateau with Tulpar Tash (Horse Rock) above Jyrgalan village.

After passing Tulpar Tash lookout for the electrical energy pylon. As quickly as you see the pylon goal straight in the direction of it.

Subsequent to the pylon are the steep filth tracks taking you on to the village.

If it has been raining loads and these steep filth tracks are too slippery, proceed alongside the jeep street, that can return you to Jyrgalan alongside barely longer however a lot flatter route.

Congratulations on finishing the Bulak-Ashuu Lakes Trek, Jyrgalan’s latest path.

Now it’s time to chill out, having fun with a sizzling bathe, an enormous home-cooked meal, and the consolation of a comfy guesthouse with heat beds.

Jyrgalan Valley
Jyrgalan Valley

BONUS – Ailampa Lake Extension

For these in search of an extended, more difficult hike, visiting Ailampa Lake is an ideal extension.

For this route, observe the usual Bulak-Ashuu Lakes route as much as the top of day 2.

On day 3 as an alternative of descending down down Cholok-Tor valley you’ll ford the river and cross a go immediately East of the unnamed go you crossed on day 2.

This go can be unnamed and has an elevation of 3581m. The go affords lovely panorama views alongside the Jyrgalan Valley.

Descend the go and head South up the Jyrgalan Valley. You will notice a pointy peak resembling a chair or throne form.

This peak is affectionately recognized by native individuals as “Throne of the Buddha” as a result of this form. Ailampa Lake is immediately under the height.

For the really adventurous a steep hike/scramble up previous the lake brings you to the foot of Ailampa Glacier and two smaller lakes.

It is a lovely facet journey, however to not be underestimated.

Ailampa Lake makes for a fantastic tenting spot, significantly for photographers in search of dawn/sundown pictures.

The lake can be a well-liked fishing spot for a few of the native males from Jyrgalan. 

To return to Jyrgalan from the lake, head North down-stream of the Jyrgalan River.

You will want to cross this river and get onto the East financial institution in some unspecified time in the future.

There are a variety of attainable locations the place crossing on foot is feasible, or alternatively you could find a yurt and ask for a horse experience throughout. 

From Ailampa Lake to Jyrgalan Village is 19km, however all down-hill on good trails.

It may be accomplished as an pleasurable day hike of round 6 hours.

For these in search of a better final day, or making an attempt to get again in time for the final Marshrutka to Karakol, it’s endorsed to not camp on the lake, however as an alternative somewhat decrease down Jyrgalan Valley.

This larger part of Jyrgalan valley, which isn’t seen on the usual Bulak-Ashuu trek, options a number of yurts and is a good place to watch conventional Kyrgyz life. 

Including in Ailampa Lake provides an additional day to the usual Bulak-Ashuu trek. Pushing the trek to 4days/3nights, with a complete distance of 50km and a further excessive go.

Ailampa Lake
Ailampa Lake

Additional Questions?

For any questions on trekking within the space, together with Bulak-Ashuu Lakes, Vacation spot Jyrgalan is the organisation to contact.

This may be accomplished by e mail ([email protected]), or in case you are already in Jyrgalan you may drop by their workplace inside Ala Kol Guesthouse.

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