Well, I promised I’d report back on my Mongolian trekking trip and, yes, it was quite the fantastic adventure. From Ulaan battar, the capital, we travelled 2 and a half days overland, passing Erdene Zuu Monastery along the way.
The first two nights we stayed in tourist camps where we were accommodated in gers (yurts) and and bathed in a communal washing blocks, our last showers for quite a while. This was our pink palace with wood-burning stove. We also got entertainment the second night – you haven’t lived until you’d heard famed Mongolian throat singing.The next day we arrived at our horse camp in the Zavkhan province, 1,104 Km from the capital. We had a day to get used to our chosen mounts and from there our sturdy, tough and half-wild Mongolian horses took us over 120 miles (200+ km), through bogs and rivers, across the wide open steppes and over snowy mountain passes, a lot of which looked surprising like Colorado. Only without the hikers and joggers.
We visited nomadic families in their gers, tried such local delicacies as milk curds and mares’ milk vodka brewed in a home-made still. Yum!
We slept in tents, camped by rivers and lakes, basked in gorgeous sunsets and woke to a thick layer of morning frost. Zavkahn has some of the coldest winter temperatures in Mongolia, having been recorded as low as as low as −52.9 °C (−63.2 °F) but luckily this was September and we only had one day of snow.Food, you ask? It was mutton for dinner. Yep, every night. With vegetable curry for the non-meat eaters. Our wranglers killed a sheep on the first day of our trip and its carcase provided our main meal with nary a bit wasted. Here it’s prepared with hot rocks. Everything cooked on an open fire or portable stove, even our delicious bread.17 days of no technology, bathing in chilly rivers (for those so inclined) and rustic bathroom facilities.We met bands of roaming horses, got chased by a jealous stallion, heard wolves howl, encountered eagles, marmots, deer, and of course herds of sheep, goats, and yaks. In 2005, Zavkhan was home to 2,1 million head of livestock, among them 1,03 million sheep, 861,000 goats, 107,000 cattle and yaks, 101,000 horses and 6,300 camels (of the two-humped Bactrian variety). What didn’t we see? City lights, roads, or tourists.And I fulfilled my dream of galloping across the Mongolian steppes, thanks to my small but feisty ex-racehorse that I christened Snowflake. Stopping was a different challenge.And then when our adventure was done, they turned the horses loose, to fend for themselves, wandering free in this unfenced land that seemed to stretch forever. And we returned to civilization, thankful to Zavkhan Trekking for organizing an amazing trip.