20th July 2017
Sales Consultant Clem has recently returned from Mongolia on our 13 day Land of the Great Khan group tour. Below she talks about her favourite moments from the trip, including the unique experience of staying in ger camps, savouring the view from Khongor Els Sand Dunes and celebrating Mongolia's Women and Children’s Day on 1st June.
This is probably the hardest question to answer because it is what Mongolia is all about! We were constantly in awe of the vastness of the landscapes around us on this trip. We travelled a huge distance over the two weeks through sweeping green valleys, past thick pine forests, over crumbling volcanic mountains and through the scrubby Gobi desert. The best and most surreal view has got to be at the Khongor Els Sand Dunes where we spent a day climbing the dunes, riding camels and walking. What you unfortunately can’t see in my photo (above) is that there were actually the most beautiful purpley-blue mountains (the high Altai Mountains) set just behind the dunes. This only added to the dream-like mix of luscious green grass and wildflowers, rivers, sand dunes and herds of horses and cows. The tent in the photograph is where we ate our lunch and dinner that day.
I know you are hoping for me to describe my experience with airag (fermented mare’s milk), but sadly (or thankfully!) when we were in Mongolia it was not the right season to be intrepid adventure travellers and sample this local delicacy. On a number of occasions we were welcomed by local families in their gers and were greeted with huge bowls of fresh yogurt which you sip straight from the bowl and pass around the group. Along with the fresh cream we were given to eat on little biscuits this certainly felt like a unique and local Mongolian culinary experience.
Best night’s accommodation?
We spent most nights on this trip sleeping in ger camps, which was really fun! Each ger camp has its own individual character. Again it is hard to pick just one, but I really loved the night we spent in an eco-ger camp (Ursa Major Ger Camp). The camp is set in the beautiful Orkhon Valley within sprawling green steppe lands. There is no electricity in the gers so you have to use candlelight once it gets dark, which definitely adds to the magic. Although there are no showers at this camp, steaming hot towels are brought to your ger in the morning and the evening. I could definitely get used to that!
Dinosaur bones have been found in the Bayangobi region, some quite near to our ger camp. We spent a fun morning playing at being palaeontologists and digging for fragments of dinosaur bones. Not your average pre-breakfast activity!
On 1st June in Mongolia it is Women and Children’s Day. We happened to be in a town for this day and saw that the national holiday brings hordes of children to the streets dressed in their best clothes. We went to the town square which was filled with young children in mini cars and on bikes, all scooting around at top speed having a whale of a time. The young girl (above), who has clearly colour coordinated her boater with her monster truck, was my favourite!
I left my phone in our ger camp in the Gobi desert – big regret!
Tips for travellers
Mongolians are some of the most welcoming and open people you will ever meet and will welcome you in to their gers for snacks and meals. Leave your Western uptightness at the door of the ger and get stuck in!