Kel Suu lake

Kel-Suu lake

Lake Kel-Suu is considered one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Kyrgyzstan. It was not well known only a few years ago, but it now attracts tourists from all over the world.

Kel-Suu Lake is rapidly becoming one of Kyrgyzstan’s best-known sites. At 3,514 m (11,529 feet) above sea level, Kel-Suu was only recently formed by a landslide in the 1980s. One side is formed by sheer cliffs, and the other by the Sary-Beles Mountain. Located on the Kurumduk River, the water has a greenish tint, but sometimes in the spring, the whole lake drains, and all that is left is the dry lake bed.

kel Suu lake

Because Kel-Suu is located in the At-Bashi District of Naryn Region, a border pass is needed to reach the lake. Most of the journey can be covered by car, but the last couple hours up to the lake are best covered on horseback. At this high of elevations, the weather can be unpredictable, which means that sometimes the lake is inaccessible. But the stunning steep sides of the lake and the beautiful turquoise color make Kel-Suu an ideal place for kayaking or diving, and one of the most unique and stunning places in Kyrgyzstan.

Climatic conditions: Lake Kel-Suu sits on a cold mountain. The air temperature in the summer (mid-July to mid-August) is between 14-16 degrees Celsius in the daytime and sometimes below zero at night. Even in summer, snow sometimes falls.

Where to Stay

There are three main options for accommodations at Lake Kel-Suu. The easiest is to stay with the shepherds at yurt camps, which are organized by local businesspersons for tourists. You can also rent horses from the yurt camps,

The second option is to book with an organized tour company and sleep in tent camps. Tour packages will vary and come in a range of costs.

The third, and perhaps most difficult option, is to bring your own tents and camp by the lake. This can be risky since changing water levels can flood roads and make areas around the lake marshy. If you get stuck, you may have to turn to tour companies for help.

Eating and Drinking

All yurt camps and campgrounds offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have any food preferences, it’s best to bring your food and drinks.

What to See and Do

Lake Kel-Suu is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes of Kyrgyzstan. Meaning “incoming water” in Kyrgyz, Kel-Suu has the unusual feature of sometimes disappearing into underground caves and grottoes. Before going there, be sure to research its current water levels.

No matter the state of the lake, the terrain is ideal for horseback riding, short hikes, and photo tours. The dam offers a beautiful view of the lake with its fantastic scenery—steep cliffs hundreds of meters high, waterfalls, rocky islands, bays, caves, and grottoes. The turquoise bowl of water is surrounded by sheer peaks, the tops of which are covered with snow even in the hottest summer.

About two kilometers away, between the steep walls of the canyon, you can see a 50-meter-high rock-island dotted with grottoes, caves, and indentations. But to see the lake completely, you need to sail it to visit its many caves.

The main cave has a narrow entrance and lurks in the rocks on the right side of the dam. First, you find yourself in a vast, high hall with an “altar,” and then the cave descends and divides into two narrow passages. There are no stalactites, although the walls of the lower corridors are covered with an interesting texture, similar to coral.

Kok kiya

How to Get Around

The lake is very difficult to access. It is located on the remote Kokshaal-Too ridge, and getting there requires passing through the vast and swampy Ak-Sai valley. Such a journey requires fording rivers, which only specialized vehicles and experienced drivers can handle.

The route: Bishkek – Naryn – Ak-Muz – Bosogo – Kynda – Ak-Sai – Kok-Kyya

The road from Bishkek to the Kok-Kiya valley will take an average of 13-14 hours of driving. You can get there by passenger cars, but preferably on off-road vehicles, as the second part of the route is completely unpaved requires fording rivers. It’s best to travel with a group of 2-3 cars.

Getting to the Ak-Sai Valley from the east through Kynda Pass is only possible 6 months of the year, as the pass is closed in winter due to snow and frost.

The responsibility zone of the Kynda frontier post begins in the Kunda Pass. You will be twice stopped by border guards to check documents and permits (they must be received in advance—at least two weeks prior to visiting). You’ll need a photo, a copy of your passport, and an application obtained from the Border Guard Service in Bishkek.


In many remote areas of Kyrgyzstan, including near Kel-Suu Lake, there may be no mobile network coverage at all. This means that you may not be able to make calls, send text messages, or access mobile data services while in the vicinity of the lake.

Before traveling to Kel-Suu Lake, make sure to inform friends and family members of your itinerary and the limited connectivity in the area. Consider downloading offline maps, guidebooks, and other resources to help you navigate and plan your trip.

Winter time Kel Suu lake

Winter temperatures in the Tian Shan Mountains, where Kel-Suu Lake is located, can be extremely cold. Temperatures often drop well below freezing, and strong winds can make it feel even colder. Be sure to dress warmly in layers and protect exposed skin from frostbite. Kel-Suu Lake freezes over in winter, transforming into a vast expanse of ice. The frozen surface of the lake provides a unique opportunity for activities such as ice skating, ice fishing, and even snowmobiling or skiing, depending on the thickness of the ice.

Border permits Kel Suu lake

Kel-Suu Lake is situated near the border with China, which may be considered a restricted or controlled border zone. Travelers may need a special permit or authorization to access these areas due to security concerns and border regulations. To obtain a border permit for visiting Kel-Suu Lake, you may need to apply through the relevant government authorities or agencies responsible for border control and tourism management. This process may involve submitting an application, providing necessary documentation (such as passport details), and paying any required fees. We can make it for you. It cost 50$

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