Horses – The Spirit of Mongolia – Tuesday’s Snapshot
January 29, 2014
Khovsgol Nuur – Tuesday’s Snapshot
February 4, 2014

 Шинэ жилийн баярын мэнд хvргэе! Happy Mongolian New Year – I hope you have a peaceful and prosperous year of the horse which began on January 31st (2014) in Mongolia. I spoke to Turuu to wish him happy new year. He was up at 4.30am on the 31st to visit and pay honour to the family ovoo (the sacred stone shrines that can be found all over Mongolia). As is the custom, he was there for sunrise and he made offerings of rice, milk and vodka as he thought strong and positive thoughts for the new year.

Mongolia is known as the ‘Land of the Eternal Blue Sky’ and the Mongols practised ancestral shamanism worshipping the Eternal Blue Sky (Tenger) and the many spiritual forces of nature. In 21st Century Mongolia a combination of shamanistic and Buddhist belief remains as an easy and unselfconscious part of Mongolian life. The stone shrines are known as ovoos – erected by local families and travellers to show gratitude and respect, and to honour the spirits of the surrounding land. Here’s Turuu and I working on our Eternal Landscapes ovoo in Arkhangai.

I’ve spent this past week over in Ireland – talking about Mongolia with Emer who is one of our most loyal supporters. Whilst there, I asked Emer about her love of Mongolia including what experiences did she love the most and why. These are her responses:

 ‘Spending time in the van. I don’t need to worry about the time or the day. I find it the best cure for cutting myself off from my life at home. I don’t think about work. I don’t think about the bills. I’m totally carefree and can let my mind wander as the countryside goes by. And it is brilliant countryside for that as there are no fences and nothing is penned in. Free landscape, free mind.’

 ‘I probably shouldn’t be saying this but when the van has trouble. I love seeing how the drivers can manage to get it going again and how people appear from over the horizon immediately offering to help.’ 

‘The realness of it all. It helps to put your own life and concerns into perspective and hone in on the truly important things in life.’

This is from a short research trip that Emer joined us on. This was our viewing platform for sunset cocktails in Bulgan Province.

Since returning home from Ireland, I’ve been working on a few tailor-made enquiries for family trips. You may think that Mongolia would be a challenging destination for families – but it’s often the children that adapt the quickest to their new surroundings! And although I am biased, Mongolia does provide the backdrop for a family holiday like no other.

 There are certain experiences that I feel should not be turned into a large profit making venture – trips to visit the Tsaatan (Mongolia’s reindeer herders) should be personal trips of discovery and not large group tour visits, visits to the Kazakh eagle hunters should (where possible) be overland as it gives you time to experience the incredible variety of landscapes en-route and family holiday itineraries so be adapted to suit each individual family especially the children and what the parents would most like them to experience. As an example – adventure, education, exploration…whether they want to hike, camp, ger homestay, camel trek, horse ride, relax in some hot springs under the stars or even travel on the route of the Trans-Mongolian. 

Eve Soloman travelled with us in 2013 with her grandson. She was kind enough to write a post on Tripadvisor about her time in Mongolia with Eternal Landscapes.She also wrote a review on the Responsible Travel website and this is an excerpt:

‘The entire trip was outstanding and amazing… the expertise of the guide, the enthusiasm for the country, the love of the country was thrilling. The Naadam Festival (which was what enticed me to going on this trip) was even more than I had imagined. Let Jess (the tour operator) guide you as to what you are most interested in seeing/experiencing. She is just so knowledgeable I had her plan a trip for my grandson and myself that I felt would be a great introduction to a marvellous country and she did it. I feel he probably would return here when he is older and show his friends this terrific area…’

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