We decided to do our trek to Ala-kul and Altyn Arashan without a guide and it was one of the most stunning and exhausting treks we’ve ever done. We trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal which brought us up to 5,416 meters, but that was a gradual incline and by the time we hit the pass, we were in shape. Not this time! For the Ala-kul – Altyn Arashan trek we had only 1 day to acclimatize and get into shape and we were feeling it on the steady incline up to the Ala-kul pass.
We started out from Karakol, taking a marshrutka up to the entrance to Ala-kul nature reserve. We paid our entrance fee and started the gradual hike along the Karakol river. The first 4 hours of the hike were relatively easy. We meandered our way through the valley, passing by small villages and yurts along the way.
After 4 hours we reached a bridge that led to the east side of the river. From here, the real hike began. It was a solid 2 hour pull, straight up, to reach a small wooded cabin nestled in the high alpine forest at about 3000 meters. Here is where we would set up camp for the night.