The lake lies in the valley of the same name and is framed by the Songköl Too range, up to 3,856 metres high, in the north and the Moldo Too range, up to 4,185 metres high, in the south. The lake has four tributaries and is drained by the Songköl River. This flows into the Naryn, a tributary of the Syr Darya, after 62 km and a gradient of about 1,160 metres.
Due to the altitude, the annual average temperature is -3.5 degrees. In January it averages -20 degrees, in July +11 degrees. There is snow in the valley 180 to 200 days a year. The lake itself freezes in winter, with a layer of ice that usually becomes 1 to 1.2 metres thick. Only towards the end of May, the lake becomes completely ice-free.
The area around the lake is rich in fauna, with more than 60 species of birds. There are also wolves, ibex and marmots. If you are lucky, you may even see a snow leopard, although these shy animals usually avoid humans.
In summer, the valley is a destination for shepherds who graze thousands of sheep and horses. During this time, the shepherds live in traditional yurts that they set up in the pastures.
Song-Kol Lake is a popular destination for tourists in the summer months. It can be reached by off-road vehicle either from the east via the 3,446-metre-high Kalmak Pass or from the south via the 3,150-metre-high Moldo Pass. Tourists can stay overnight at the lake in specially built yurt camps. Some herders see tourism as an additional source of income and offer overnight accommodation themselves.
Air connections: there is no airport in the immediate vicinity. Most guests arrive via the international airport in Bishkek.
Railway connections: you can travel by train from Bishkek to Balyktchy. From there, however, it is another 160 km to the lake on partly bad roads.