Meg, checks out the ice on Lake Hovsgol. Verdict-STRONG
Frozen lakes are scarier when you can see the bottom.
Annie and Andrew hanging in the ger-Hovsgol
I got too tired to put the pics in the right order. Hopefully the captions help.
Map of Hovsgol
I'm going to attempt to tell you all about what might have been the coolest trip of my life. Sadly, the pictures do it no justice and no descriptive words can quite describe what it was like.
Megan, Andrew and I decided that February was a great time to go to the Eastern Taiga, in Northern Hovsgol Province, Mongolia. We flew to Moron (te he he) and spent a night there. What is a "cheese restaurant"?-Moron, Hovsgol Aimag
The next morning we set out with our driver, Renchin, and our cook, Baagi. We used Hovsgol Travel to assist in planning this trip and here is a big plug for them: everything was well organized and we highly recommend them should you choose to visit Mongolia. That aside, we started out on a journey that took us from Moron to 30km northwest of Tsaagan Nuur (see map). "Where the hell is that?" you might ask, "back and beyond the furthest point EVER" i would say. It took about 11 hours to drive the 290km (you should be gasping now). That's because the "road" (generous term) does not really exist. While we were driving we tried to think of ways to describe it. The best thing we can up with was "bucking bronco-roller coaster". I'm gonna put a video up.
Annie Rocked Ulan-Uul...have you??
Yak. Not to be confused with a "cak" or a "yattle"
Ovoo and Mountains
Andrew and the reindeerUlaana and Meg in the taiga
I must say, even though there were points were I was sure my internal organs were bleeding, the journey was beautiful and exciting and the destination was heaven-like. We drove on frozen rivers and lakes (nice roads!) and stopped in sleepy, frozen soums (2000 people or less). It truly was an adventure. We spent a few days with the Tsaatan, Mongolia's reindeer herders. We enjoyed nature, slept in teepee's, played with the kids and gawked at semi-domesticated reindeer. One of the funnier bits about being with the reindeer is that every time you tried to pee, you'd get a reindeer friend poking you in the crotch or butt, ready to eat the lichen that your urine would uncover. Consequently, this made going #2 challenging....enough about that. At night, I slept on a reindeer skin, covered in a sheepskin deel. Cool people wear sheep to bed.
Mind you, it was bitterly cold at night. We all managed to stay warm (Baagi kept the fire going all night).
Freeze drying clothes
The lesser known "Annimal"
Playin in theTiaga
Entertaining myselfThe inner workings.
Somehow we managed to get back into the car and take a different route back to Lake Hovsgol. We went through Renchinlumbe soum (see map) Soum life in Renchinlumbe
where we stopped at our drivers friends house. While inside the house I was checking out the pictures on the wall only to find at picture of my old Peace Corps friend. Oddly, he had never been to Renchinlumbe and was apparently a friend of the sister of the owner of the house, yet he made the photo wall!
We made it to Lake Hovsgol a few hours shy of sunset. It was gorgeous. The craziest thing about the lake is that the water is SOOOO clear, that even in it's frozen state, you can see straight to the bottom. The ice must have been frozen 4 or 5 feet solid. As soon as we started driving on the ice, Rechin stopped the car so we could check out the ice. I was initially scared of driving several hours on the ice, but once I saw how thick and mighty it was, I had no fear. We made it to our ger camp and spent the next nights in a traditional Mongolian ger. During the day there we walked on the lake and through the woods. We caught a full moon, and listened to amazing "lake thunder" (when lakes freeze they make noise that sounds like thunder). We took a sleigh-ride on the lake too, definitely one of the highlights.
A ger with a viewClearly frozen Lake hovsgol
To be honest, as I write this I'm getting kind of sad. This in no way details the awesome things we saw and did. Maybe Andrew said it better. Check his blog: regalviszla for more description, pictures, videos and a different view!
Videos to come....