From Matthias in Novosibirsk, Russia:
The month says June, but it’s 5° C in Novosibirsk. There’s a clue in the name – Siberia.
Here in Novosibirsk our gear has been in a Cinderella sleep since the end of the Altai expedition. We awakened it today and bundled it all into a minibus. Those of you who have been to the Altai might recognise Oleg (right), our friend and helper from Altai days. His friend Dennis (left) is providing his minibus and driving skills to get us to Bishkek. We’ll be leaving this afternoon.
From Ronald in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan:
Hi everybody. My name is Ronald and I will be your expedition leader for the first three groups. I arrived in Bishkek on Sunday morning hitting very pleasant weather conditions: sunny, light wind, 21 degrees C. To be honest: it will be colder in the mountains (probably between freezing and 16 degrees C).
Writing this diary, I am sitting in the office of our partner organisation NABU not too far away from the centre of Bishkek – a restless, busy and turbulent capital. The most important news for now is that we have found an experienced cook (even in the outdoors) who is also willing to stay with us in these remote locations. As she does not speak any English, Volodya – our scientist who arrived on Monday – has now got an additional job as translator 😉
Our cars are ready to go and the list of equipment that has to be organised gets shorter and shorter, and our pile of equipment gets larger and larger. It’s all currently strewn about in one big room of the NABU office.
This morning Matthias, Oleg and Dennis arrived after a mammoth trip from cold Siberia via the endless steppe plains of Kazakhstan and finally into Bishkek. They took turns at driving through two nights and a day and a half, 42 hours in total for 2000 km. You can calculate the average speed and state of the roads from that.
So we’re all here now (from right to left): Matthias, Biosphere Expedition’s founder and executive director; Volodya, our scientist; Ronald, expedition leader; Aman & Shilo, members of NABU’s Grupa Bars and local staff.
We’ll be in Bishkek for another couple of days before setting up base for you in the mountains. I’ll meet team 1 at the Grand Hotel as described in your dossier. Be there or be square! And please don’t forget to get some pocket money (in SOM) for sweeties, special drinks or similar at the airport because there will be no time for ATMs or money exchange on Monday. My mobile phone number you already have.
I am looking forward to meeting team 1 soon.