Here, at the site of one of Mongolia’s most sacred mountains, the grasslands of the northern steppe and the expanse of the Gobi converge to create a unique landscape consisting of wetlands, basalt stone formations, steppe and sand dunes with the skyline dominated by Shillin Bogd and Altan Ovoo – two of the extinct volcanic cones. The area is isolated, immense and stunning.
|Landscapes all to ourselves – sunrise over the vast Dariganga region|
‘From the air Mongolia looks like God’s preliminary sketch for earth, not so much a country as the ingredients out of which countries are made: grass, rock, water and wind.’
Sunrise over the southern eastern Gobi
We camped at the foot of the mountain surrounded by silence and space. We watched the moon set as well as the sunset. As dawn broke the skyline, and the morning star slowly faded, so we made the short walk up to Shillin Bogd. Here we circled the sacred stone shrine in the footsteps of those who had gone before us and made our offerings of rice, milk and vodka as we thought strong and positive thoughts. The Mongolian men present removed their hats to honour the sun as it rose over the horizon, an ancient tradition.
Then we were hungry! Having returned to camp a group of local men joined us at our breakfast table. Having renewed their souls (they were late for sunrise and we watched from the top their 4×4 dust trail as they raced towards the mountain), they presented us with a bottle of vodka. So there we sat, in the vastness of the Dariganga landscapes, at 08.50, and as we sipped on it we all felt a little rejuvenated by the wild landscape, the epic sunrise and our new found friends.
|Genghis Gold Vodka – best with epic landscapes and new found friends|