We left our horses and Magi behind and set out by foot into higher altitudes. Two yaks helped us to carry tents, food etc. Our destination was seven beautiful lakes in Naiman Nuur National Park with following names (translation); Belly button, Deer, Rich Mountain, Table, Stirrup, Next to and Bucket.
The majestic 20m Ulan Tsutgalaan falls.
A herd of goats saying goodbye. They answered mostly to Minna for some reason…
View over Belly Button lake.
After a quite touch hike in muddy horse roads and semi-swamps with an environment reminding us of Sam & Frodo’s walk to Mordor in Lord of the Rings, we set camp in a valley where our yak guide’s family lived. It was common that local men visited our camp to chit-chat with guides and enjoy a coffee or tea.
Typical evening with purple clouds and sunset behind the mountains.
The following morning we woke up to a surprise. I though Minna was joking at first, but it had actually snowed during the night. Quite foggy in the morning and clear views for the rest of the day. A crispy winter landscape. Luckily, we had good shoes and many layers of clothes to wear. Six layers to be frank.
Morning. Our tent, the kitchen tent and yaks in the background.
Asking for best directions along the way.
Oggie, our wonderful guide, and Minna.
Our hike was like cross-country skiing, but without skies. Colours were as taken from a black and white movie as clouds blocked the sun. Snow felt like home and energy was high all the way, despite a constant, slight incline. Little did we know that a 300m windy climb awaited us a couple of km ahead. One of those where you bury you head and count your steps.
Dramatic photo of our yak guide on his horse.
Our car in sight. One happy goat.
We scrapped one day of camping due to weather restrictions (as you might have noticed by know, it was snow and too cold for tenting), and stayed in a local yurt. With our three sleeping bags and several layers of clothes, we managed to survive and get some sleep. A tin shed 50m away, aka toilet, with a door that almost blew apart was not as fun to pay a visit. It was hard to imagine that the family lived 24/7 in these borderline to non-liveable conditions. It was freezing cold except a 2m radius around the stove.
Yes, that is dried cow poop in a cardboard box used for heating. We also got some blocks of coal.
Morning. Extremely cold. Strong winds (can you see the yurt titling right due to the strong wind?). We were told the family would pack their yurts and move to their winter location next week. About time.
From snow to deserts. 80km long sand dunes nicknamed “Mini-Gobi”.
Our following days was pure leisure. For the first time in in 10 days we drove on paved roads again. On our way back to Ulaan Baatar we stayed one night in Khogno Khan area, where the snowflakes was switched to sand grains and camels crossed the streets rather than horses. Before sunset, we headed out on a shorter hike to the mountain monastery Erdene Khambiin, which holds a lot of important history.
Our tipi camp next to Khogno Khan rocky formations.
Erdene Khambiin Monastery, located a bit up in the mountain so that Gods from other planets can interact with monks as these Gods can’t reach the ground.
The mighty statue of Chinggis Khan.
We finally made our way back to Ulaan Baatar. A trip into the wilderness is good once in a while to appreciate the otherwise comfortable life (like having a shower…). Our last day we visited the must-see statue of the 40m high Chinggis Khan. Totally made in silver. We also made a very interesting visit to on of the cashmere factories. Incredible skilled people producing the whole chain from separating the wool to sewing final garments, but in working conditions that would be illegal in Sweden.
We thank Mongolia and its people for this time and hope to see you soon again!
Cashmere factory in Ulaan Baatar. Everything produced was 100% cashmere.
Viktor Khan and his (soon to be) wife ❤
Good bye lunch with Magi and Oggie. Such kind and intelligent people.