Arriving at Ulaanbaatar airport after the chaos of Beijing was like arriving in paradise. We were so happy to see a friendly smiling face holding a sign saying Lyn Taylor’s Adventure Travel. It was such an easy stress free exercise passing immigration and collecting our luggage. Now with all the stress and tension of our nightmare journey with Qantas and Air China we can finally begin our amazing tour of Mongolia. After only averaging 3 hours sleep in 36 hours it was wonderful to have a blissful 7 hours sleep in a comfortable bed.
The selection of breakfast items in our hotel dining room would have to be the best I have ever tasted. Bellies full and almost feeling human again we set off to the airport for our 1-1/2 hour flight to the north of Mongolia. Arriving in Muron the headquarter of the Khovsgul Province we collected our luggage. Soon I noticed waiting in the arrivals hall a cute little girl holding a sign saying Lyn Taylor, she was the niece of our driver who will be taking us to our Ger Camp where we will stay for the following 2 nights. We began our 4 hour journey by 4 WD through the vast Mongolian steppe into the forested mountains taking several stops along the way to take photos and admire the beauty and expanse of this country. We were chatting excitedly about seeing the colourful tents dotted along the way all obviously preparing for the upcoming Naadam Festival when we spotted 2 reindeers in a fenced area. We quickly asked the driver to pull over so that we could experience our first, of what will be many encounters of reindeers.
We were surprised to feel how soft their coats were, and how placid they were to our presence. Further on we came across many goats and sheep being herded across the road. Leaving the sealed road we headed west over a rough road which had several track diversions, like they say all roads lead to Rome. Finally we arrive to our destination of Lake Khovsgul, Mongolia’s largest lake. The lake, also known as the “Dark Blue Pearl” of Mongolia is situated amidst the pristine nature with beautiful forests, mountains and meadows abundant with bird species and orchids. Our Ger is so quaint, colourful and cozy with a wood burner heater in the middle, and a stunning view of the lake. Late lunch in the dining room was fit for a king, consisting of several meat dishes. Mongolians diet consist of 65% meat, for example a family of 5 would stock up for winter by killing 1 reindeer, 1 horse and 1 camel. As the sun does not set until approximately 830pm we had plenty of time to take a 5 klm walk to meet our reindeer family. The walk was through forests of pine, and the ground was sometimes carpeted with wild roses and different species of orchids. Sometimes the ground was quite wet and spongy under our feet. Climbing over fallen logs the trail weaved along the shores of the lake finally arriving at our destination.
The family who own the reindeers consist of mother, father and 2 grandchildren. We were invited inside and we were very careful to follow the protocols of entering and leaving a family get. We were graciously given a cup of reindeer milk which tasted similar to cows milk but lighter in colour and not so creamy. In the summer months reindeer milk is drunk several times a day. The Mongolian people are an extremely strong and stoic race of people. In February they have a tradition of making a whole in the lakes ice and jumping in, they believe that this will help acclimatise their bodies to help them keep warm through the remaining winter where temperatures drop to -40. After thanking our family by presenting them with gifts that we had bought from home, we headed back to our camp by boat. To keep us warm during the night the staff had kindly lite our fire, but for us it was so hot inside that we had to leave our door open, and wait outside for an hour before we could enter and go to bed. Hence no fire tomorrow evening. Our very first amazing experience of Mongolia will remember for a very long time.
Filed under: Adventure travel