ilyani’s tips on Karakul Lake

I have just done Karakul Lake part in the Travelogue, and here I’d like to summarize some things that might be useful to future travelers. Although, I’d like to remind you that this is from our personal experience in April, 2012 and things can change since.

  1. First, be sure to fully charge your camera before going to the lake, because there’s no possible chance of getting power socket for charging in yurt or village (ignore the fact that yurt owner uses a mobile phone and dont waste your time thinking how on earth he charges his phone). Bringing an extra battery would help (yes, for our own note too, in the future!) because battery would dry faster in cold weather.
  2. Permit issue is what stops travelers from going to Karakul Lake normally by bus (fare from Kashgar is 36 yuan/person). At least we were too much worried about it thanks to confusing/inaccurate/obsolete source all over internet, including WikiTravel. People (who I suspect are the tour agent themselves) would post everywhere stating the restriction of going to the lake and you need permit because it’s located near the Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan border blablabla and if without permit you are likely to be stopped in the checkpoint and you might be turned down and have to go back to Kashgar! That sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? Especially for travelers in limited time. And they say the only way to get permit is to go with a tour, and price starts from 1000 yuan! My way is to be determined enough and go to the police station asking the actual rule! I guess it’s the most reliable source afterall, ignore those threating info from internet! It would help if you have a friend who speaks Chinese to  explain/ask the police on your behalf. There *is* the check point but all you need to do is to show your passport with valid Chinese visa.
  3. Bring your own food, those instant noodle in bowl are easily found in shops in Kashgar, coz they taste way much better than what yurt owner would serve you. And I guess, after we gave this piece of advice to a fellow traveler we met in Kashgar hostel, he went on and chose to stay in yurt with exclusion of meal, and only need to pay 40 yuan! (it’s actually 50yuan with horrible meal).
  4. There’s no proper toilet in the lake so be prepared about it.
  5. If you dont like the idea of drinking lake water, bring lots of bottled water from Kashgar.
  6. Ask the yurt owner to teach you how to light the heater burner, because it would look enough to heat the yurt overnight, but what happens if it doesn’t? Once the heater dies at 4am and you will end up sleeping in a freezer!
  7. Bus from Kashgar to Taskurgan departs around 10am Beijing time/8am local time. Only one bus running everyday. Please tell the driver that you want to get down at Karakul Lake, and please dont sleep in the bus (which happened to that fellow traveler!) or you would miss the stop and you will end up reaching Tashkurgan and have to take taxi/hitch hike to get back to Karakul!
  8. It’s safe to keep in mind than bus from Tashkurgan to Kashgar will pass by Karakul Lake around 10am local time/noon Beijing time and I can’t be sure if there’s more than one bus running, so get ready to wait by the road side (there’s a so-called bus stop without bench, with China’s universal bus stop sign) for you to catch bus passing and take a ride to go back to Kashgar. In the meantime, you can waste time watching wild cattles nearby the hills.

Read full stories of Karakul Lake here: