I wasn’t wrong. Last night was indeed one of the coldest nights I have experienced while travelling and despite being in my sleeping bag, fully clothed, with about 5 blankets on top of me and the burner going I was still up shivering for half of the night. I will definitely need a couple of extra blankets tonight, and have started to doubt my dream of travelling to Antarctica and taking part in the overnight camping trip which some of the operators offer. They will be in tents specifically designed for it, naturally, but it’ll be even colder than here!
I woke up at 7.30 this morning and went straight into the dining tent to warm up in the warmest clothes that I had. The dining tent isn’t particularly warm, there is no heating so by most standards it’s quite cold, but it’s just so cold outside. That’s one reason I decided to take part in the horse riding which was offered to us as I think it’ll warm me up a bit. I used to really enjoy horse riding but haven’t been on a horse for many years – I tried to persuade some of the group to come horse riding with me on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua a few years ago but we didn’t have sufficient numbers to be able to go.
The ride took us up a hill overlooking a lake so that we could get a good view. The horses are trained not to go faster than a trot with tourists riding them, despite my best efforts, but it was great to be back on a horse again. I’m not sure what the real name of my horse was but I called him Monty and he was great to ride, until half way back when he tripped, throwing me off and making me hit the ground hard. In the past when I fell off of a horse it was always onto sawdust or soft ground, not hard ground that is frozen solid, so I was winded quite badly but I knew how to roll so as not to injure myself. Overall I really enjoyed the ride and if you are given a chance to go horse riding when at Song-Kul lake then definitely do it – you will not regret it. The only annoying thing for me was that one of the dogs from the Yurt camp followed us the whole way and kept distracting our horses.
One thing I didn’t like, being a horse lover, was how the front legs of the horses are tied together when they’re not being ridden to stop them running away. It seemed a bit unnecessary as there was a post with long rope which they could have been tied to but I guess this is the traditional way.
I spent the rest of the day just walking around, taking in the scenery and taking some photos by the lake. I also had a chance to catch up on writing the notes for this blog – as explained elsewhere on this site I write my blog in note format when travelling and then type it up properly when I get home. I have found that this method works best for me as I generally try to immerse myself into a destination when travelling rather than spending hours writing, although it can sometimes mean that I fall behind. I had a bit of a shock when I finished writing the notes today – I had been sat on the shore of the lake for maybe 2 hours but when I turned around there were several hundred sheep behind me which made me jump. They were apparently as startled by me as I was by them and no sooner had I stood up but they all ran away.
While I was at the shore of the lake a number of group members either went horse riding as well or walked around the lake taking in the beautiful scenery. If you like walking, photography and mountain scenery, like me then this is definitely a special place but as it’s in the middle of the nowhere it doesn’t have much else to do. It is worth every piece of effort to come here, however. I have really enjoyed my time here so it’s sad that we have to leave in the morning but I’m looking forward to getting back to lower altitudes and warmer climates again. Take my advice – no matter what time of year you come here bring some cold weather gear or thermals. You will need them!
Unfortunately it rained for a while this afternoon so I had to hide in the truck, chatting to other group members and watching the family who run the camp dig a new toilet pit, until dinner was ready. Once again the food served was nothing special but it filled a gap before another early night. Hopefully this one won’t be as cold, although judging by the snow which has been falling tonight up on the mountains I’m not going to hold my breath!