Mongolia, Gobi Desert, Lake Hovsgol,Naadam festival, Camels and Horses

April 23, 2016  •  3 Comments

12 Days in Mongolia with National Geographic Photo Expedition. An experience from the past.

 

Star trails and Moonlight over Three Camel Lodge. Ger Camp. Gobi Desert. Mongolia.Star trails and Moonlight over Three Camel Lodge. Ger Camp. Gobi Desert. Mongolia.

Three Camel Lodge in moonshine with star trails, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

 

Ulaan Baatar, a.k.a. Ulan Bator a.k.a. UB, is the Capital of Mongolia a land of around 3 million inhabitants. We visited the Gandan Monastery, the National Museum as well as attended a traditional Mongolian dance and khoomii, or throat singing.

Monks studying at Gandan Monastery, Mongolia's largest functioning monastery,Mongolia,UlaanbaatorMonks studying at Gandan Monastery, Mongolia's largest functioning monastery,Mongolia,Ulaanbaator

Monks studying at Gandan Monastery, Mongolia's largest functioning monastery.

 

Women lighting prayer candles at Gandan Monastery, Mongolia's largest functioning monastery,Mongolia,UlaanbaatorWomen lighting prayer candles at Gandan Monastery, Mongolia's largest functioning monastery,Mongolia,Ulaanbaator Women lighting prayer candles at Gandan Monastery.

 

Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. Gandan Monastery, Mongolia.Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. Gandan Monastery, Mongolia._MG_8098 The creation and destruction of a mandala - symbolizing the Universe -- made from colored sand. The monks follow an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition illustrating the cycle of life.

 

Traditional Dance and music, Ulaanbaator, Mongolia.Traditional Dance and music, Ulaanbaator, Mongolia.

Traditional dance. A show of quick steps and movements with music akin to galloping horses.

 

On the trip to Lake Hövsgöl, the second largest Lake in Mongolia, we visited an area near Mörön with Deer stones a.k.a. Reindeer Stones. They are ancient megaliths carved with symbols. The Deer Stones are believed to be from the Bronze age, 1,000 BC. They stand from around 2 feet and up to 15 feet. They are rooted in the old Shamanism and a cluster may mark burial grounds of important people.

Deer stones with inscriptions, 1000 BC, Mongolia.Deer stones with inscriptions, 1000 BC, Mongolia._T9C1468-Edit

Deer stones near Mörön.

 

At Lake Hövsgöl we lodged in the traditional Mongolian Ger a.k.a. Yurt.

Erecting a Ger, Lake Hovgol, Mongolia.Erecting a Ger, Lake Hovgol, Mongolia.

The traditional Mongolian Ger is built for the nomadic life and is easy to both assemble and disassemble. This Ger was assembled in less than an hour.

 

The following days we spent exploring and enjoying the Lake Hövsgöl area. Horseback riding was one of our experiences and our sore behind reminded us for several days  that the small Mongolian horses have a different trot than Western horses.

Ger Camp horse riding. Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia.Ger Camp horse riding. Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia.

Sunrise at Lake Hövsgöl.

Sunrise at Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia.Sunrise at Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia.

Teepees were a lodging option alternative to the Gers.

 

Our next major stop was the Gobi Desert, where we lodged at the Three Camel Lodge. The Gobi is covering the Southern part of Mongolia and the border to China. Gobi is the fifth largest desert in the World and much of Gobi is bare rock instead of sand. 

The highlight of our stay was the Naadam Festival.

Naadam begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riding and musicians. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam"  "the three games of men". The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and Archery. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games.

Female Archer. The combination of grace and strength is breathtaking.

 

Speed, strength and flexibility is the hallmark of a successful competitor. It's a puzzle how the law of gravity does not affect horse or man.

It's hard, even for experienced competitors. Not all are succesful. Warning: Do NOT try this at Home.

 

Traditional wrestling.

 

With a base in Three Camel Lodge we explored the surroundings in Gobi.

The Mongolian hospitality was legion and included invitation to visit a family Ger.

Typical family Ger.Typical family Ger._T9C2822

Typical Mongolian family Ger.

 

Even the Head Monk for a self built small monastery invited us inside his Ger.

Head monk at meditation monastery.Head monk at meditation monastery._T9C2675

Inside Ger of Head Monk.

 

Some of the Worlds best preserved Petroglyphs are at Havtsgait Valley. They were created by the original Gobi settlers. The oldest are from 11,000 to 6,000 BC.

Ancient petroglyphs, 7000 BC. Havtsgait Valley. Gobi Desert. Mongolia.Ancient petroglyphs, 7000 BC. Havtsgait Valley. Gobi Desert. Mongolia.

Rock carvings depicting hunting and lodging of original Gobi settlers.

 

The Sand Dunes of the Khongoryn Els gave the opportunity for exciting dune photography. Sand Dune at sunrise. Gobi desert. Mongolia.Sand Dune at sunrise. Gobi desert. Mongolia._T9C3323

The sand dunes at Khongoryn Els at sunrise.

 

Mongolia. Gobi Desert. Camel Caravan.Mongolia. Gobi Desert. Camel Caravan._MG_2713-2 Camel train in the desert.

 

_MG_2726-2 Camel rider.

 

The last night at Three Camel Lodge we were entertained by two young musicians who shared Mongolian music with traditional instruments.

_T9C3472 Young Mongolian musician.

 

Stars over Three Camel Lodge. Ger Camp. Gobi Desert. Mongolia.Stars over Three Camel Lodge. Ger Camp. Gobi Desert. Mongolia.

Final goodnight to Three Camel Lodge in moonshine.

 

The following morning we left the camp for Ulaanbaator and the long flight home to Saratoga, California.


Comments

Vikki Bettman(non-registered)
Beautiful as always! The camel train and the kayaks by the lake made me pause.
! I was hoping you were on the Iceland trip with Visionary Wild...purely selfish because following your blog is like being there and I wanted to see it.
Linda Foote(non-registered)
Tom,

What an other-worldly trip! The camel train image is exquisite. Thanks so much for sharing your trip via the images and the information. Nice clips, also.
Zohreh(non-registered)
you summed it up very well Tom, explicit photos.
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For many years I have enjoyed the freedom to travel the World with emphasis on photography. I have found that the Worlds wonders become more obvious through a lens. It emphasizes the beauty in the variety and details in culture, peoples, wildlife and landscapes.

Through my blog, stock photos and web site I make an attempt to share this beauty. My hope is that other people will find inspiration and motivation to protect and further share these Wonders of the World.

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