From the village of Arslanbob we took a series of shared taxis to the high altitude lake, Song Kul. The landscape of Kyrgyzstan is striking. Very arid, desert-like, yet with snow covered-peaks in the distance. This would be our chance to get up some of those peaks.

Song Kul is used as a summer pasture by shepherds who bring their cows and sheep to the lake for the abundance of rich grass. From June to September it teems with life.

The best part of visiting this unique spot is that many of the herders welcome guests to stay with them in their yurts.

I’ve never slept in a yurt before and was surprised how comfortable it is. Almost as soon as we arrived, a big thunderstorm blew in, pelting us with rain and hail. Inside the yurt it was warm and dry. The herder’s son even came and lit a fire in a little stove for us. This was a mistake. Burning cow dung stinks horribly and I soon left the yurt, happy to stay outside in the cold air.

Another big windstorm arrived in the middle of the night, coating the whole world in white. We awoke to a splendid sunny day, perfect for heading up one of the nearby peaks.

Even after a big storm, the sun is intense. It didn’t take long for the snow to melt off the lower slopes, or perhaps it was the growing wind that blasted it away.

Back down by the lake, we encountered some of the local characters.

It’s always sad to see an animal with an injury or sickness but despite his sore looking eye, these dogs seemed to love life and were full of energy.

Song Kul is one of those rare beautiful places where you can roam free among the hills all day then come back down for a wonderful meal with an inviting family. In their yurt.

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