After leaving Taraz on Friday, we worked our way along the northern side of the Karatau range to the small town of Karatau, where we struck westwards across the mountains towards the Syr Darya river valley. Along the road to Karatau it was always possible to ride over the steppe land at the side.
It transpired that the road I had originally planned to take no longer existed, but with the help of local advice, including herdsmen en route, we were able to follow a rough and remote track all the way over the range. The snowy peaks of the Zailisky mountains came into view again, but so far in the distance that they do not show up on the photo below. But I promise they are there! The blackened 'Mordor' like appearance of the hills is due to burning off dry grasses, presumably to promote fresh growth.
The only people we met were a small group of amiable herdspeople tending a large flock of sheep and goats on the high pastures. To my surprise they turned out to be Kurdish. Here are the 'boys' looking immensely pleased with themselves at having persuaded me to immortalise them in pixels, while the missus looks on resignedly.
She had every reason to look a trifle fed up a few minutes later when another member of the clan turned up with one of their sheep slung over the saddle - its throat torn out by a wolf.