Sary-Chelek Lake is a high mountain lake at an elevation of 1.893m (6,210ft) above the sea level, located in Jalal-Abad Province in Western Kyrgyzstan.
Located in Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve, the road to the lake is gravel, rocky, tippy and bumpy at times. It’s a 4x4 track, pretty narrow. There are a number of smaller lakes in the area. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. Winters are snowy, summers are wet.
The road is pretty steep. Starting from Aktuidu town, at 882m above the sea level, the ascent is 38.5 km long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 1.011 meters. The average gradient is 2.65% but there are some sections up to 10%. Great trail for experienced wheelers. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. Stay away if you're scared of heights. Lake Sary-Chelek is one of Kyrgyzstan’s true gems – a major draw that is a little difficult to reach but, as all visitors seem to attest, is well worth the effort.
Wet conditions may make for tough driving along the muddy road. Sary-Chelek is the third largest lake in Kyrgyzstan. The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! There are many excellent photo opportunities. Name Sary-Chelek translates as a “Yellow Ladle”. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! The lake is just one part of the Sary-Chelek Biosphere Reserve which protects more than a 1,000 species of plants, 160 birds and 34 mammals, including rarities such as bear, lynx and snow leopard.