Distantly ringed by a saw toothed horizon of peaks, the wide open landscapes of Song-Köl create a giant stage for constant performances of symphonic cloudscapes. Almost 20km across, and fronted by lush summer pastures, the lake’s water colour changes magically from tropical turquoise to brooding indigo in seconds as the sun flashes or the storms scud by in a vast meteorological theatre. It’s a sublime place to watch the sun come up or to gaze into a cold, crystal-clear night sky heavy with countless stars. At 3016m it’s too cold for permanent habitation but between June and September, herders’ yurts dot the shoreside meadows every kilometre or so. Since many are part of the community tourism schemes, the area offers an unparalleled opportunity for yurtstay visits or multi-yurt hikes and horse treks which can generally be organised at very short notice (though things can get busy mid-August).
Unpaved tracks, often little more than tyre-tracks in the turf, loop around the lake linking the main concentrations of summer yurts. Each grouping is typically known by the name of the valley/stream that runs through it.
Beware that weather is highly unpredictable. Snow can fall at any time so plan accordingly and be aware that July to mid-September is essentially the only season. While diminishing, the area does have a population of wolves so if camping independently you’d be wise to do so relatively near to established yurt camps.