We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Visiting Kol Suu

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
36 posts
10 reviews
Visiting Kol Suu

Hi,

I'm traveling to Bishkek in August. I only have about one week and I want to visit Kol Suu lake. I know getting to Naryn shouldn't be too hard but I know there's the border permit and in general, going with a tour seems to be the only option.

My question is what should I expect to pay from Naryn to the lake for a couple of days? I contacted a a couple of tour agencies and I got 200 and the latest one said 1,500 dlls, which seems a bit crazy. I come from a developing country and there's nothing more annoying than a tourist trying to bargain for everything but I know 1,500 is not entirely justified, also I am on a budget (not super tight, but nowhere near splurging!).

What's the range for that region and also for what I want to do: 2 day trip to the lake (hiking, staying in a yurt, border permit, food, etc).

One last question: is this itinerary realistic for 8 days?

Day 1: Bishkek

Day 2: Leave for Naryn and travel to Kol Suu

Day 3-4: Kol Suu

Day 5-6: Tash Rabat - back to Bishkek

Day 7: Almaty

Day 8: Fly back

I only started planning this trip a few days ago and still have months left to research some more!

Thanks!

The Netherlands
Level Contributor
330 posts
15 reviews
1. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

1500 dollars is way way waaaaaayyy too expensive. I did the Naryn - Tash Rabat - Kol Suu 3 -day trip for 20'000 som in September last year, which equaled at about 300 USD at the time (was 230 USD back in March last year, so the rate kinda fluctuates a lot!)

But I think these 1500 USD is because they offer private transport also from and back to Bishkek?

I think most operators plan to go from Naryn firstly to Tash Rabat with overnight at yurt stay, and then go from there to Kol Suu. It is a long drive of about 6 hours between Tash Rabat and Kol Suu, and back to Naryn is also about 5 hours, so I'm not sure if you can do the whole Bishkek - Naryn - Kol Suu drive on Day 2 as you write.

Here's my suggestion:

Day 1: Bishkek

Day 2: Marshrutka / shared taxi to Balykchy and from there shared taxi (400 som) to Naryn

Day 3: leave for Tash Rabat, hike to Chatyr-Kul Pass and back to Tash Rabet yurt camp. overnight there

Day 4: leave for Kol Suu, arrive around 2-3 PM. either visit the lake or hike on your own in the surrounding hills

Day 5: visit lake (again). i recommend by horse. it's about 2 hours to get from camp to the lake by foot, 1 hour by horse. renting one costs you 200 som (whoaaaa!). also, there's a little boat which you can take onto the lake, but you'll have to arrange this in advance.

in the afternoon back to Naryn

Day 6: Naryn back to Bishkek

Day 7: Almaty

Day 8: Fly back

also make sure you have a border permit arranged for the Kol Suu area! you cannot arrange this on the spot when arriving there. 2 weeks were needed to arrange this when i visited.

day 3-5 cost me 20'000 som, with private car & driver and the permit.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
36 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

Your itinerary suggestion sounds perfect, Mark! thank you so much for replying, I'm just realizing you were also the poster in one of the threads I used to do more research in this region so double thanks!

Are the 200-300 dlls charged individually or per van? should I start looking for more people to tag along or is this easy once you're there (going in high season- August)? despite the limited information online, this is still a relatively popular route with tourists right?

One last silly question: did you have cellphone signal?.. I would love it if I didn't but just want to get ready for it (money, maps, google translate, cloud).

The Netherlands
Level Contributor
330 posts
15 reviews
3. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

200-300 USD was for the whole trip, so you're paying for the van which fits 3-4 people, but also the food & overnights per person. Still, transport will take up the highest portion of this amount, so if you can find 2-3 other people, I suppose you'll pay around 100 USD for this 3-day trip.

Kol Suu is not as popular as Song Kul BY FAR. I was the only tourist there around Sep-10. I saw only 4 yurt tents anyway, so this is place is not really adjusted to mass tourism.

You cannot expect to find others when arriving in Naryn. Well, perhaps you can, but than those other people would have the border permit issue, which they won't have. You should really ask your tour operator to look for other people to join in on the date(s) you wanna kick it off.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
36 posts
10 reviews
4. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

thank you mark! I did (used the same company/guy as you!), he doesn't have anything scheduled to that location and in the dates I'm there but he'll let me know if he gathers more people. Crossing fingers, still 5 months left.

The Netherlands
Level Contributor
330 posts
15 reviews
5. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

if you use the same operator as I did (not sure how you know which one i used haha), ask if you can get Tolkun as your driver. his English is pretty bad but he tries really hard and he's the sweetest guy. plus he chimes in as your horse guide at Kol Suu for free, showing you a pretty neat cave with crystallized rocks that's nearby as well.

and if you're interested in taking that little boat onto the lake, mention it in advance. the boat is owned by the people who live nearest to the lake, and you don't really come in contact with them at all if not arranged upfront.

concerning other travelers joining in: don't get your hopes up. like me, you are pretty much set to one specific date which limits the possbilities a fair deal. Naryn isn't a town where the tourists flow in and out constantly :).

Groningen, The...
Level Contributor
201 posts
95 reviews
6. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

We've contacted the same operator Mark used for his tour. We asked a quote for a 4 day tour at the end of August, the first three days basically being the same as the tour Mark did with the difference we have to be picked up at the Torugart border pass + an extra day to take us to Tamga on Lake Issykul.

We got quoted USD 800 for the two of us. After referring to the USD 300 Mark payed traveling solo (without mentioning your name Mark, no worries) the price went down to USD 700, which we still think doesn't reflect what Mark payed. We understand prices can go up and of course there's the extra day, but we're sharing a car between the two of us. Maybe just be patient and hope the price goes down or look for someone else.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
36 posts
10 reviews
7. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

Mark, Kubat, right? did you go on the boat? I'm sure it's worth it. I'm strongly leaning towards his offer.. I contacted so many I got it all mixed up but the ones with the tight schedule I mentioned previously are another company lol. I'll probably go w/ kubat, only wish someone else would tag along.. I'm not a paranoid person and I'm sure rural kyrgyzstan is much safer than central LA and I may not have to carry my pepperspray at all times but riding alone with one guy in the middle of nowhere stresses me out a bit.. I'm hoping I can find a bigger tour in the next months.

takeusanywhere, I received a breakdown of all the prices by this guy a few weeks ago and it was 280 for the 2-day trip to kol-suu (from naryn), 344 for two people (172 each) and 3 days for two people would be 530. This is naryn to kol suu and back. In your case it's 4 days, longer distance to the south and an even greater distance all the way to the north-east part of the country... take that difference above: the 2-day trip for two people (344) and the 3-day trip for two people (530) = it's 186 more each day. Add it to 530 since you're going for a 4th day and the total is 716.. and this is based on the naryn-kol suu-naryn itinerary.. the 84 left (totaling 800) is for the longer drive all the way to tamga.. I've never been there and obviously don't know what the roads are like or how much gas costs or whether food is included or not but to me it sounds fairly consistent with what Mark was charged and what I got a couple weeks ago.

The Netherlands
Level Contributor
330 posts
15 reviews
8. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

Gas is cheap yo. I did a 10-hour drive / 400+km from Naryn all the way to Arslanbob over Kazarman with 3 different 'taxis'. 80% of that stretch is off-road. Total summed up to 100 USD, and that seemed a lot at the time of being there, while in retrospect and compared to our Western prices it's dirt cheap. Those taxis were able to hold 4 persons so if you can split it's an easy expense to take.

takeus: Are you using private transport to Tamga to save time? As from Naryn to Tamga via public transport is very doable. Take a shared taxi for 300~350 som pp to Kochkor or for 400 pp to Balykchy. From one of those hop on a marshrutka or again a shared taxi bound for Karakol, hopping off at Tamga. I do think the 86 USD for private transport as claudia mentions is a competitive price.

It's Kubat's agency I used indeed.

claudia, a little tip for you as solo traveler in this area: either say you're recently divorced or even a widow. It makes some conversations on why you're travelling without an other half on your own less awkward. Although the subject raised more eyebrows with the Uzbeks than the Kyrgyz :)

Perhaps you're already well-versed in this though. And if it's some sort of reassurance, I came across several solo female travelers in Kyrgyzstan, and absolutely none of them mentioned anything of harrassment

Groningen, The...
Level Contributor
201 posts
95 reviews
9. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

Mark and Claudia, Maybe we're wrong - and correct us if this is so - but it seems a little bit strange that the price Mark paid for three days almost doubles in the quote Claudia got. The costs for the car and driver - which is the most important cost - would be about the same adding only food/lodging/permit for the extra person. With the extra day and kms we still get to the figure that was quoted to us.

Mark: we want to take private transport to visit Skaszka Canyon along the way and maybe have other opportunities for getting out of the car to admire the landscape and take pics. It seems such a waste to get all the way out to this part of the world and then seeing a lot of great scenery pass by all the while being confined to a shared taxi or marshrutka.

10. Re: Visiting Kol Suu

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum posting guidelines with prohibiting self-promotional advertising or solicitation.

We ask all of our members to keep their forum messages free of self-promoting advertisements or solicitation of any kind - members affiliated with any tourism-related business should not include commercial contact information or URLs in their forum messages.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 21 March 2017, 16:59
Get answers to your questions about Kyrgyzstan