Mongol Adventures – Redux
August – September 2015
This past summer I returned to Mongolia for further adventures. Unfortunately I contacted John Williamson at Zavkhan Trekking a few days too late and the last place on his Zavkhan Classic horse trek had already been filled. Four years ago I rode horses for three weeks in the remote Altai region of Western Mongolia and I was impressed with their small-scale, custom treks that take you way off the beaten path.
This year I had to make do with less remote, more touristy treks. To make up for the shorter length, I took two trips; a 7-day horse trek and then a 10-day jeep trek, both organized through Stepperiders, Mongolia, a locally owned company specializing in horse trekking near Ulaanbaatar. I knew from my previous horse trek that I really wanted to buy a riding crop before I left UB. The best place to procure one was the Naran Tul, or Black Market. There I found a man who was making them by hand – I bought one for 10,000 Tugriks, or $5.00 USD.
Naran Tul – The Black Market
I flew into Mongolia on MIAT – Mongolian Airlines – from Hong Kong, arriving just past midnight. This worked out well, since the visa on arrival is only good for 30 days, and arriving just after midnight gave me an extra day. I stayed at the Lotus Guest House, run by an Australian woman named Devi who has been running an NGO/orphanage outside of UB for over 20 years. The Lotus GH is run by graduates of that orphanage, so merely staying at this Guest House provides employment and helps the NGO. I prefer to stay on the second floor in the traditional room, a four-bed dorm that looks like the inside of a ‘Ger’ [Mongolian for what is normally called a ‘yurt’, in the West.] I had made a reservation in advance – $15 per night, including a simple breakfast, kitchen access, and free Wi-Fi. One of the best deals in UB.
Random shots from around UB:
Chinggis Square, UB
I spent the first three days before the trek getting reacquainted with UB, this first batch of photos was taken during my three stays in the capital. I’ll try to post more photos every few days from now on. I took quite a few photos in RAW format with my Olympus OM-D EM5 mirror-less camera, so I still have to run the best of them through Adobe Lightroom 5 before I can post them.