The Land of Eternal Blue Sky
When you think of Mongolia you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking of Genghis Khan, eagle hunting, or horses. But it is the seemingly endless landscapes, total remoteness, and generosity of the people that is the true, and little known, Mongolia we love.
The view you get when flying into the country is like that of an alien world - the extraordinary steppes and the rolling Gobi desert, make for a remarkable scene. For miles and miles, there is no evidence of civilization and then suddenly, the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, appears, and the decent to this incredible country begins.
A quick transit through Ulaanbaatar, or UB as it is more familiarly called, and you will be heading for the Mongolian Steppe. There are no fences keeping in animals, few houses, and even fewer trees. It’s a stark landscape of gently rolling hills with prominent ridges appearing as the drive progresses. Every now and again, we come across a herd of horses, yaks, or sheep crossing the road. Occasionally, we pass a small cluster of colourful houses, looking slightly shabby and dilapidated. And more and more often we see small groups of gers, known by those outside Mongolia as yurts, the traditional homes of the countryside.
The drivers seem to navigate by feel, following subtle changes in the topography that indicate that it's time to turn off the tarmac and follow the dirt road, and veer this way or that. Incomparable and mesmerizing, the scenery is unlike anything else. White specks in the distance at first, the camp comes into view - sitting atop a hill, overlooking the Orkhon River and offering sweeping views up and down the valley. As we draw closer, the gers come into focus, with their brightly painted doors and the red and blue of the decorations on their covers. We are greeted by the smiling faces of our Mongolian ‘family’ eagerly awaiting our arrival.
Camp is run by many members of the local 'clan'. They hold a true wealth of knowledge, about everything from the Orkhon Valley’s weather, to age-old Mongolian traditions.
The days seem to merge into each other and are spent playing polo and riding across the breathtaking landscape, a morning yoga session with an expansive view over the steppes, mountain biking and hiking along the ridges and valleys, rock-climbing a sheer cliff face, and bird spotting from the serenity of a kayak and watching a continuous slideshow of herds of horse, yaks, cows, goats and sheep. We ride to picnic lunches, or camp along a ridge covered in wildflowers and Edelweiss. For insight into the vast history and culture of Mongolia, we visit the museum and monastery in Karakoram, once the heart of the Mongolian empire.
When the days are done, the nights are spent eating delicious food, sipping on wine, and star-gazing. The night sky lights up like diamonds, and the shooting stars seem to dance through the sky!
The frantic speed and pressing requirements of daily-life at home, seem very far away, when the 'mod cons' that constantly badger us are removed. Adapting to ‘camp time’ we are met with the simplicity and tranquility of life at camp and are able to truly reconnect with the world we live in.
Interesting Facts About Mongolia
With more than 260 sunny days a year, Mongolia has earned the nickname: the Land of Eternal Blue Sky
Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world with only 4.3 people per square mile.
In Mongolia there are 13 times more horses than humans; and sheep outnumber people 35 to 1.