Song Köl

The Wild Road to Song Köl

Song Köl (also called Son Kul, Songköl, Song-Köl), is an alpine lake in northern Naryn Province, Kyrgyzstan, at an elevation of 3.048m (10,000ft) above sea level. It is the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan (18x29km wide, 13 meters deep) after Issyk Kul Lake. It’s one of the most hairpinned roads of the world.

Portions of the road may be temporarily closed due to road work or inclement weather. The “road” (a dirt trail, with sand, rocks, and broken in many sections) to access to this lake can be reached by 4x4 vehicles or bikes only. Starting at the town of Bashkaingdy, at an elevation of 1.864m above sea level, the trail is 76km long, crosses several gorges, and goes through the Kara-Keche pass, at an elevation of 3.400m above sea level. Heavy or prolonged rain can cause local flash floods that cover the road with water or wash out culverts or bridges. Its name, meaning "following lake", is popularly considered to refer to this relation. It is surrounded by a broad summer pasture and then mountains. Its beauty is greatly praised, but it is rather inaccessible. 

Make sure you get your vehicle and yourself well-prepared before driving this road. Snow cover in the lake basin persists for 180 to 200 days a year. In winter the lake surface freezes, the ice becoming as much as 1-1.2 m thick. The ice on the Song Köl begins to thaw in the middle or at the end of April, and completely disappears by late May. There are no facilities on the lake, but local herders will provide supplies and rent yurts. The area is inhabited and safely accessible only from June to September. Never underestimate this track!

With such a high summit altitude the road can be closed anytime due to snowfalls. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. Do not travel this pass in severe weather conditions. Avalanches, heavy snowfalls and landslides can occur anytime, being extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards, and driving under these conditions, can be extremely challenging.