Following breakfast in our host's house, we headed to refuel and then onto the bustling market to buy food for our trip to the isolated glacial lake of Song-K?l located about 60km to the south. The team did well stocking up on freshly baked flat bread from a lady pushing it in a pram, fruit and vegetables from the street vendors and the rest of the provisions from a small supermarket. We met up with the helpful American Peace Corps workers at the Community Based Tourism (CBT) and were shown to the local co-operative where the women handmake crafts from sheep's wool including the traditional shyrdaks – nomadic felt rugs.
Fully laden, we drove further off the beaten track towards Lake Song-K?l; a much recommended crystal clear lake nestling in the mountains and surrounded by lush pastures. As the road turned to track and became steeper and more tortuous, the views became more spectacular. It was slow but steady progress with the Land Rovers gripping to the rocky surface in high ratio gear. We arrived at an expansive flat valley gouged out by ancient glaciers high in the moutains where we stopped for a welcomed rest and lunch.
After another hour's driving, the lake appeared before us in the distance like a glistening mirage in the warm sun. We headed closer until we came across some yurts for rent but moved onwards to camp at a spectacular lakeside location. At 3016m, the lake is fed by the melting snow on the surrounding peaks. It certainly is one of the most picturesque locations that we have visited on the expedition to date and the perfect place to unwind after the long, hard drives we have done.
As we prepared dinner and sent the daily blogs using the BGAN, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. We were soon digging out the thermals and jackets but our enthusiasm and morale were certainly not cooled. Ben produced an oustanding meal of couscous with salami and vegetables that warmed us more than the fire that we were attempting to light. With no trees in this region, we resorted to trying to light the dried dung but only succeeded in producing a great deal of unpleasant smelling smoke.
As I finish this blog wrapped up in my sleeping bag, I can hear the peaceful sound of waves lapping the nearby shore. Oh, and Andy snoring in the next tent. Bliss!
Dr David Houston