KYRGYZSTAN | Sary-Chelek & Toktogul lake, Travel Blog n.3

Our trip moves further north, this time to a rather spectacular Alpine Lake.

We drove from the morning till around 5 pm, going through some epic mountains, high peaks, valleys, and at one point we were passing through green hills that looked a bit Tuscany, instead of cypress, there were small pine trees.

We arrived at the guest house 'CBT Artik (B&B)' in the afternoon, a super cute place, new building with showers and bathroom, where we stayed for the night. As the lake is part of a national park formed during the Soviet Union, since then there is a time frame when they open and close the gate which unfortunately was closing before the sunset and after the sunrise, also a fee to pay every time you enter.

We had to make a decision, going in to scout for a short time and see if it was worth coming back the day after or going back to the main road and shoot a beautiful red rock formation beside the way which was perfectly lit at that moment. We went for both! :P

The entrance fee at the gate wasn't that cheap, compared with the other prices you find in Kyrgyzstan, I think was around 400 som or 5 euros, per person. But the road to get to the lake was well maintained, and it took us 40minutes to get to it.

Apparently, this lake is very famous in the country, friends and local families come here to enjoy a day out and drinking vodka. Something that I often saw in Kyrgyzstan and enjoyed was that when locals see tourists, they most likely want to take a picture with you, as tourism is not yet significant, seeing a tourist is still rare for them. :)

The lake was stunning, very similar to an Alpine lake you could find in the Italian Alps or Swiss Alps, turquoise crystal clear water and mountains on the sides. We stayed for an hour looking around, and at the end I shot only one Timelapse, not looking at the lake, but at the green mountains on the right side, as the sun was lighting it up and the clouds' shadows moving fast, it was a perfect scene.

Sary-Chelek Lake

Sary-Chelek Lake

It was almost time for sunset, so we headed back to the main road and found the beautiful red rock that Albert spotted on our way up, I put the camera down on a small pond to get the reflection and got the timelapse running.

The day after we went back to the lake, this time on the left side, as I saw that there was a high vantage point to see the lake. The view was SPECTACULAR!

I set up my 1m slider high enough to get the tall wild grass and flowers moving through the frame and started shooting the beautiful scene. The light was good, the clouds were white and puffy, the only annoying thing was the hundreds of insects surrounding me!

After Sary Chelek was time for the next location, Toktogul Reservoir, home of the largest Hydroelectric Station in Kyrgyzstan, again the drive was incredible, so many viewpoints and a variety of landscape, I really enjoyed travelling through Kyrgyzstan by car!

Toktogul is enormous, our hotel “Менманкана Hotel” was in the south of the lake, very close to the beach, and people were having a swim, as the day was nice and warm. I went down to the shore, set up the Sony A7RIII and the Canon 70-200 f/4L and started to shoot, the light hitting the canyons and the mountains on the other side of the lake were TRULY SPECTACULAR.

The morning after, I woke up at 4am to catch the sunrise, this time I got my slider out shooting a right to left movement with the rocks of the beach as foreground and hoping for a beautiful reflection on the water.

I was totally alone and as the sun was rising, I relaxed and enjoying the time passing by.

Dynamic Perception Stage One Shooting a Time lapse of the Sunrise at Toktogul

Dynamic Perception Stage One Shooting a Time lapse of the Sunrise at Toktogul

To see more of the BTS of the trip check out the Kyrgyzstan Highlights Stories and follow me on Instagram @mattiabicchi

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