18 August 2015

A Portrait of July In Mongolia - Briefly Summed Up In Pictures

It's been a while. I'm writing this in Bulgan, the provincial capital of Bulgan Province located in what is considered the heart of the country. 

It doesn't have a regional airport so frequently gets ignored by the tour companies.  Why? The roads are mainly dirt tracks cutting through the countryside which can lead to tiring journeys. But, why should we as international visitors only be looking for the more comfort driven and sanitised version of Mongolia as opposed to the hard reality faced by the locals themselves?

The mountain forest steppe topography here in Bulgan results in up to 350mm rainfall in the mountainous regions (the Khantai Mountains are up to 2000 metres above sea level). The river basins receive between 250mm-300mm of rainfall. What does this mean? Some of Mongolia's premier pastureland - providing those that travel here with an insight into 21st century herding life. You just have to be prepared to travel the rough roads first.

As with all provincial capitals, Bulgan also has it's own Naadam Festival. It might be a small capital - of a population of only around 15,000 but the Naadam is colourful and competitive. That's why I include it as part of our Mountains, Monasteries and Nomads small group adventure.

 I am currently working on our 2016 itineraries for private and small group trips. This includes an updated Mountains, Monasteries and NomadsDon't 'they' say that a picture tells a story of a thousand words? Here's a selection from our 2014 and 2015 MMN trips. 

Mountains, Monasteries and Nomads

Amarbayasgalant Khiid

Spend two nights here at a family operated ger camp a few hundred metres from the monastery. Options include a day-hike, a tour of the monastery or a horse trek. 

Image by our guest, Mick Egan

Bulgan Naadam

'I enjoyed seeing Naadam away from the capital - it was genuine. It was great to see the kids win their prizes for winning the racing. The next day we stopped in the middle of nowhere for our picnic lunch and a truck stopped by to eat near us, I recognised one of the horses and sure enough he was one the prize winners - they were a lovely family and I feel like Ive met the winner of the Grand National.'

Emily Puddler, Mountains, Monasteries and Nomads, 2015

Image by our guest, Mick Egan

Image by our guest, Mick Egan

Image by our guest, Mick Egan

 Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park

Your view from our campsite. Say no more. All images by our guest, Mick Egan.

Orkhon River Valley Homestay With Tumee and Jargaa

Images by our guest Helene Girardeau.

Khogno Khan Nature Reserve

Khogno Khan is a sacred granite mountain within an area of secluded valleys, fresh water springs, open steppe and sand dunes. Khogno Khan Nature Reserve was taken under state protection partly due to the specialised taiga and steppe plants that grow in this area. The small but vital Tarna River provides an essential water source for the herders and the striking Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes and a small oasis located at the foot of the sand dunes provide a natural habitat for numerous birds such as the Demoiselle Crane.

There is an option for a three to four hour hike – taking in Erdene Khambiin Khiid – a small working monastery set within the protective foothills of the Khogno Khan Mountain and the ruins of the 17th century Uvgon Khiid monastery. The views are spectacularly spectacular!

If you're interested in joining us in 2016 and would like information on the planned trips then please get in touch. I can't typically confirm the dates until October 2015 but I can give you a rough outline and calendar.  

'You (from you as the boss to the trip assistants and the drivers) really try to make the satisfaction and comfort of your clients a priority. You make us feel that we're not a number for you.'

Helene Girardeau, 2016