|Difficulty in September:||4 (5+)|
|From:||Son-Kul Lake - Alt. 3010 m (9880 ft)|
|To:||Naryn Confluence - Alt. 1850 m (6070 ft)|
|Distance:||60 km (37 miles)|
|Average Gradient:||20 m/km (100 ft/mile)|
|Est. Max Gradient:||50-60 m/km (250-300 ft/mile)|
|Typical Flow in September:||8-12 cms (300-400 cfs)|
The Kekdjerty, a small right tributary of Naryn, is a nearly unknown river despite its proximity to one of the major roads (Bishkek-Naryn) and one of the major attractions (high-altitude Son-Kul Lake) - possibly because of definite lack of water for catarafts.
The river is the only outlet of Son-Kul, a nearly round lake about 25 km in diameter, situated at altitude of 3000 m in the middle of a flat plateau, surrounded by distant mountain ranges. There are numerous herds of yaks, cows and sheep grazing on the shores during the summer; but no permanent settlements exist there though.
The source of the river is in the south-eastern corner of the lake; at the beginning it is hardly distinguishable from a lake bay. Gradually the Kekdjerty (sometimes called Son-Kul here) begins to cut the mountain range surrounding the lake and in 4-5 km from the source river gradient increases drastically for another 4-5 km; this section has not been run yet.
The river then practically flattens out, passing through two open sections of the valley and a small easy gorge between them. From here down there are no roads and settlements all the way down to Naryn confluence.
Unfortunately the river profile is too steady, so the altitude is dropped too evenly and there are no really hard sections, despite relatively high average gradient. The most outstanding river features are "slots" - extremely narrow (2-3 m) twisting corridors with curved walls several dozen meters high - some of them cannot be scouted at all!
The river runs through the mountains with no major snow and ice fields; and the flow is buffered by the huge lake so there's no major volume increase in the summer; the river has mainly spring flood (winter snow melting) that gradually finishes by August. The water is desilted in the lake and so is pretty clean, with no usual mountain mud.
Access & Logistics
There are several roads that go to Son-Kul Lake, the most convenient (and of the best quality) forks the Bishkek - Naryn road just after crossing the pass from Kara-Kudjur to Naryn valley, not far from the Karaunkur village. The road comes to the Kekdjerty valley just below the lakeside gorge section and then goes up and towards the lake; there are some astonishing 35-40 loops of the road serpentine as it climbs up the plateau. Having reached the lake, the road goes along its southern shore and the other end of it crosses another pass near the coal mines of Karakichi to finally join Aral - Kochkorka road, so if you drive from Kekemeren it's the more sensible and much shorter way to the lake (see Kekemeren description for more details).
The road comes close to the source of the Kekdjerty and there is a road bridge over the river here; if you are putting in for the lakeside gorge section, then start near the bridge. Below this point the road goes 2-3 km away from the river until the bottom of the serpentine, just at the end of the gorge. The road then follows the river for another 5-6 km and finally leaves the Kekdjerty by a side creek named Korgo. Here is the put-in for the lower part of the river.
Take out is possible just few hundred meters before the Naryn confluence, where a road along the Naryn crosses Kekdjerty. There are roads some distance up the river, and it is apparently possible to take out few kilometers earlier. It is only 30 km to the town of Naryn from the confluence.
The lower part of the river should be run completely self-supported; there are no roads or settlements along the way. The lakeside gorge seems to be short enough for one-day run, but perhaps a pre-scouting is a good idea to decide if it worth to go inside.