Into the wild. Gerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Trip Start Aug 01, 2011
Trip End Apr 04, 2012

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Flag of Mongolia  , Övörhangay,
Sunday, August 21, 2011

What a trip.

 Sandwiched between our two stays in Ulaanbhataar was our 6 day eco-toursim adventure into central Mongolia.

The common way to arrange these trips is to simply arrive at your hostel, which will also act as a micro tour-operator. We were really fortunate to instantly make a group with four others; Ken and Shu (Japan), Alex (France) and Berta (Barcelona). A special mention has to be given to Ponska who drove like a machine through steppe, dirt tracks, rivers with water coming into the 30year old Russian van - singing jollily throughout.

Ponnska, our champion singing Mongolian minibus driver 
Camel riding in the Gobi Desert
Kharakorum Monastery
National park, where we soaked up even more nature, wild horses, gophers, camels, gazelle, and marmot
National cuisine home cooked by Sovda (guide)
1 year old goat herder

Day 1 - getting used to being in a ger and drinking fermented mares milk (super sour and alcoholic to 12%). Obviously at this stage there was no electricity or running water and squat toilet.
Days 2 & 3 in the ger and Shu and Tom are put to shame trying to make fire by 13 year old girl. In the process, Tom inadvertently slices his thumb (not for the first time) with his brand new Swiss Army knife. Meanwhile, unbeknown to the boys, the eldest daughter of the family has made matches and provides the group with enough fire wood to last us through the night. After she showed us how to build the fire properly it was happy days and we were snug as Ghengis Khan in his rug.

During the day we herded goats with the family and went horse riding, luckily we just missed the afternoon downpour. The following night we were introduced to traditional Mongolian games, using the anklebones of sheep. It is basically like a cross between marbles, ludo and Subbuteo. Amutha enjoyed the evening, Tom was a broken man, beaten again by the same girl. What a star she was though!

Day 4, and after a stop off at a waterfall we were off to the hot springs, which are the result of a dormant volcano (black volcanic rock everywhere). We really refreshed ourselves here (only shower of the trip). At 75 degrees celsius out of the ground, you really have to wait a while for the pools to cool before you take a dip. We both tried it but Tom went back for seconds at about midnight, when there was frost on the ground but the outdoor pool was naturally still bath-warm.

Day 5 was solid driving, interspersed with a wait a the policestation as the guide lost her mobile phone to some market girls 2 days earlier at Kharakorum. We ended up camping on a hill as we didn't reach the national park in time. It was disappointing as we lost light, but soon the experience of camping completely in the wild with no amenities became the adventure, and we soaked up some stunning views. 

Day 6 - mini safari, then back to the hostel, to recharge. 

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