I travelled with friends deep into the fastness of the Gobi Desert. Every turn on our journey across shimmering places where mirages of Mongolian antelope danced amidst dust-devils and through craggy windswept mountains, took us deeper into the most hauntingly beautiful, inhospitable and yet totally compelling place I’ve ever been. In the rugged canyon country of Khermen Tsav, home to wild bactrian camels, I trekked a dried up river bed lined with woody Saxaul shrub amidst towering red cliffs and white sand dunes.

It is said if one is to find traditional nomadic Kazakh people then one should enter the Mongolian Altai Mountains. Invariably hospitable and wreathed in smiles the people most certainly are amongst the most friendly I’ve encountered anywhere in the world. Winters are harsh in the Altai and the Kazakh people migrate with their livestock, their yurts and families from winter shelters barracked against the elements to glorious high altitude summer pastures.