From Kochkor, there are two main options for trekking: Lake SomKul or Kul Ukok. The first one is rather large, and further out. It’s possible to go by car, horse riding, or trekking, by the long road, or the short trail, from the Kyzart pass reached by car. Smaller, more isolate Kul Ukok can be reached in one day from Kochkor on foot.
SomKul seemed to touristy to me, and I didn’t want to set off for a long trek, or anything costly (taxi to Kyzart). So I decided to go to Kul Ukok!
The road out of Kochkor to the next village, then the track, the trail up to the lake… it was a really long day. I walked for about 8 hours. I was totally exhausted when I reached the lake. The yurts were on the other side… Two kids on horses came to meet me, and I rode a horse for the first time of my life to the yurt. I witnessed the life of nomads, milking the cows, herding the horses, sheep, and goats, preparing dinner while the sun was going down with the temperature! After dinner, I went straight to bed, buried myself under tons of blankets in the cold yurt. Very bad night.
The next morning, after a simple breakfast, I took some pictures while desperately trying to wake my body up. I really had to leave, thinking I could not face a second night by the lake. Too cold, too dirty, too expensive (see the article CBT greenwashing of tourism).
Although my body was tired, and lacking vitamins (or just proper food), I started ascending the 3500m pass to the next valley, back down to Kochkor.
Long way up, I was struggling. I started to fell altitude sickness. By the time I reached the pass, my legs were shaking… I took only two pictures, one to each side of the pass, and started going down. Again, very long trail down, for long hours. I made stops and naps on the way… I reached the first village after 6 or 7 hours walking. I was lucky to be able to stop a van with a family going to Kochkor, and I got my free ride back. I went straight to bed…