21 November 2011

Mongolia Recommended By National Geographic

The National Geographic Traveller magazine has chosen Lake Khovsgol in northern Mongolia as one of their 20 destinations to visit in 2012.  I agree. It's a wonderful wild land of high mountains, sacred lakes and nomads.

Mongolian flag. Khovsgol Nuur National Park.
The flag of Mongolia flying high on Chuchee Mountain overlooking Lake Khovsgol
For Mongolians, Lake Khovsgol is a spiritual place and is known as 'Dalai Ej' (Mother Sea). It can come as a surprise to learn that Mongolia is not just the magnificent Gobi desert and stretching grasslands. The northern region of this diverse country consists mainly of wilderness - rugged 3000m mountains, alpine wildflower meadows, river valleys and the southern-forested regions of the Siberian taiga - all dominated by Lake Khovsgol.

Shamanistic ovoo, Khovsgol Nuur National Park
An ovoo  - a stone shrine created to honour the sacred spirits of the Lake Khovsgol area
Ask any of the EL drivers their favourite place in their homeland, and all will answer quite specifically - the area where they were born  and Lake Khovsgol. Ask Bambakh or Lokh, brothers from a herding family local to Khovsgol who also work as our horse wranglers on our treks, why they love their home and their answer is simple - they just stand there with their arms wide open encompassing the whole region (as if we are a little daft for having to ask the question in the first place).

They state in the NG Traveller magazine that, 'If you yearn for a connection to the wild you will find it here'. At Eternal Landscapes, we all agree 100%.

Sunrise. Khovsgol Nuur National Park.
Our camp site at Lake Khovsgol. Peace in the wilderness.
Image taken by John Holman

10 November 2011

Mongolia Is A Country Of Sublime Space

A brief introduction to the vastness of the 'eternal landscapes' of Mongolia. 

If you have read the newspapers, watched the news or listened to the radio recently you will know that the world has just reached a population of 7 billion. It was reported in the UB Post (one of Mongolia's English language newspapers), along with reports including 'Dalai Lama spreads morality message to new generation on eighth visit to Mongolia', 'Nine Mongolian Olympic berths secured for London 2012' and (my personal favourite) 'Tourists bunk with goats in Mongolia'.
'At 1:49:23 AM (GMT +8,) Ulaanbaatar-Mongolian time, the National Statistical Office of Mongolia has informed us that the world population has reached 7 billion. During this moment, mothers from every corner of the world were celebrating newborn babies as “7th Billion Children.” In Mongolia, 21 babies were born during this time, and 2 of them were born before 1:49:50 AM, only a 37 second difference from the time of the announcement.'
Did you know that Mongolia is the size of Western Europe? 1,565,000 square kilometres of glorious space. According to the 2010 census (which 96.5% of the population responded to, not bad for a country with 40% of its population still semi or fully nomadic), Mongolia has a  population of 2,754,685. That works out at roughly  1.7 people per square kilometre. That's a lot of space and makes Mongolia one of the least, if not the least, densely populated countries in the world.

There is a traditional Mongolian saying: 'Man's joy is in wide-open and empty spaces' and in Mongolia this certainly rings true. If its all starting to feel a little crowded, visit Mongolia and revel in the sense of sublime space. It's glorious. 

You can read more about how to visit Mongolia with Eternal Landscapes by exploring my Mongolia holidays and tours page.

Sunset. Khustain Nuruu National Park.
One of our last night wild camps at Khustain Nuruu - surrounded by a whole heap of glorious space!