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Ara Kөl

Almost impossible to find, this tiny little lake sits on the edge of a village in Naryn, just down the road from Kochkor.   The road is rough, the village is tiny, and the immediate scenery… well, not the usual for  breathtaking Kyrgyzstan.   You might wonder if this could be the right place.

But then you pull over the hill and it turns out you are absolutely, without a doubt, exactly where all of the action is happening.  On weekends, thousands of people will book local tour groups or drive their families out to Ara Kol for a day of playing, eating, and skating on the ice.  The deep and icy colors are envied on Instagram, with the best pictures coming early in the season, before the surface ice gets scratched by the tiny sleds and ice picks that are rented out to daredevil children.  

Venturing onto the ice is sure to elicit a smile, no matter the circumstances.  All kinds of activities are taking place!  Perhaps a car or two has braved the edge, and is now spinning cookies off to the side.  There goes a young man on a bike, and another galloping on a horse!  Some will be enjoying the anomaly of setting up a picnic, right there on the lake. 

An easy one day excursion, Ara Kol is the new trend in weekend winter getaways.  From Bishkek it takes about 3 hours to arrive at the lake, with charming scenes of Boom Gorge and Orto Tokoi reservoir along the way.  Weekends are certainly the busier time, so chances to getaway during the week will guarantee a smaller crowd out on the ice. 

Ruby Mitchell

Online Content Editor @ White Leopard Travel Co. (also a tour creator and tester) Playing around with the light, scenes, colors, and surprises of Kyrgyzstan is a photographer's dream. Delightfully, in this age of instagram, most people are happy to be photographed and a camera is often a means to forming connections in the most unlikely places.

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