Camping On The Grasslands

Trip Start Jun 07, 2011
Trip End Jun 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
Camping with Nomadic Familes
What I did
Walking and Ox Cart Riding

Flag of Mongolia  , Central Aimak,
Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our second port of call was to visit with two other nomadic families that live within the Terelj National Park, an area approximately 2,864 in size and characterised by lush rolling hills set amid the valleys of the Khentii Mountain range, 60km to the south west of Ulaanbaatar.

Our modes of transportation varied on this trip and we had taken to camping; yak cart and ox cart as well as the trusty steed (the polar opposite of the last beast we encountered!). As the clouds rolled in and the lightning struck we felt safe in our canvas homes as crashing droplets soaked the earth for an hour, after which the clouds disappeared and the sun was back!

The Summer season is much enjoyed by the nomadic families, especially the children, who run helter skelter about the place, hurtling themselves into the bone-icy waters of the river and playing with their cousins and friends. Out in the valley floor new calves and foals are appearing daily, but there is nothing that can prepare you for your first sight of a baby yak….small, hairy and cute as sin!

Ger life at this time of year revolves around milking the cows and goats, making yogurt, curds, butter, cheese and tea, butchering fresh meat, as well preparing dried meat for winter larder, a far cry from life in winter with severe weather raging all around. In mid-July the hugely popular national Naadam Festival takes place; it is part family reunion, part fair, part Nomad Olympics (we were only a few weeks short)! It is a celebration of all things Mongolian; Wrestling, Archery and Horse Racing (the horse is especially respected and valued within Mongolian culture). The highlight of the festival culminates in an almost death inducing horse race, jockeyed by boys from 5 to 12 years of age; he who survives this race and crosses the line first is the winner.
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