We left the yurt after a breakfast of fried eggs, bread and sour yoghurt drink to stop at the lakeside just down the track. The inviting water was still and clear lapping on a beach shoreline but belied the freezing cold water. We braved it and swam and washed for a while before drying off for lunch and then setting on our way.
The team arrived in the village of Jeti-Öghüz at the foot of an impressive red stone cliff. Within the village is a sanatorium that was a fashionable health spa in the Soviet era graced by Yuri Gagarin following his travels into space. It would appear that very little has been done in the way of maintenance since then and we quickly left the shabby dreary place.
We headed up the mountain track criss-crossing a fast flowing river over rickety wooden bridges to reach the Valley of Flowers. The poppies had gone but the lush pastures at the foot of the mountains were beautiful. Unfortunately, it is a popular destination for locals and there were a few school parties so we headed on further up the mountain pass beyond the grazing horses and yurts.
At a secluded spot beside the river, we set up camp and lit a fire as the temperature was once again dropping fast. I wasn't feeling very well (as were others) so retired to the confines of my tent shortly after dinner hoping that my innards would last the night.
Dr David Houston