|Gorkhi Terelj (prior to the snowfall that brought chaos to UB!)|
|En-route to Bayanzag – where land and sky meet|
‘From our tents we looked down into a vast pink basin, studded with giant buttes like strange beasts carved from sandstone. One of them we named the dinosaur, for it resembles a strange Brontosaurus sitting on its haunches. There appear to be medieval castles with spires and turrets, brick-red in the evening light, colossal gateways, walls and ramparts. Caverns run deep into the rock and a labyrinth of ravines and gorges studded with fossil bones make a paradise for a palaeontologist. One great sculptured wall we named the ‘Flaming Cliffs’, for when seen in early morning or late afternoon sunlight it seemed to be a mass of glowing fire.’
(And yes, we were lucky enough that for us, the cliffs did indeed put on a display of colour.)
From there we headed to Khongoryn Els sand dunes. June 1stis Mother and Children’s Day and celebrated throughout Mongolia. We passed through Bulgan sum in the southern Gobi and as well as a refreshing water melon, a battery charger and a kilo of apples. we picked up some small gifts for Maam and her two daughters Barkhas and Uransanaa.
|Happiness in the Gobi!|
Leslie had mentioned that as a weaver she liked to connect through her hands. At Khongoryn Els, we spent the evening once the sun had set in the family ger attempting to make camel hair rope as they use in the construction of their gers. A whole heap of patience and quite a lot of spit was required.
The ‘heartland’ part of the True Gobi and Heartland included a stay at Ulaan Tsutgalan also know as Orkhon Waterall, at the Khogno Khan Nature Reserve as well as a night in the modern town of Kharkhorin (once the capital city of Ogodei Khan – Karakorum and the site for Mongolia’s oldest monastery – Erdene Zuu). Here we stayed with our friend Gaya and we spent an enjoyable evening making (or in my case, failing miserably to make) Mongolian dumplings. There was very much an exchange of information and skills that evening as Leslie passed on to Gaya the art of needle felting and the making of the cutest of soaps wrapped in wool.
|Mongolia’s Buddhist heritage|
Our last port of call was Khustain Nuruu National Park – we arrived in the afternoon so that Leslie and Ken could enjoy the flexibility to explore and hike on their own. They were privileged enough to see over 36 Takhi – the wild horse also known as Przewaslskii.
(Takhi are social animals – living in harems of between 4 to 20 individuals (including a leading stallion, mares and offspring). Each harem has its own range where they spent up to 95% of their time.)
Before returning to our campsite on the outskirts of the national park we spotted Siberian Marmots close to their burrows – using rocks as vantage points to check for the enemy – birds of prey. In fact, it was quite a trip for wildlife as we had also spotted White Tailed Gazelle in the Gobi and on the outskirts of Khustain.
And that in just over a nutshell was our True Gobi and Heartland Discovered. By June 28th we will be back in UB to say good-bye to our current guests before welcoming those travelling with us on our Journey Among Nomads June 29th departure. Yes, I will be posting a full update on our Untamed Mongolia and Journey Among Nomads trips both here and on our Facebook page sofeel free to stop by and pay a visit if you have the time. For now, thanks for listening and I wish you were here.