Mongolia – The Gobi Desert – Part 9
We left Kharkhorin about mid-day and our goal for the night was to camp at the off-the-beaten-path lake of Ogii Nuur. We pulled off the main road to make lunch and Hishka decided to stop at a Ger on the way back to the main road. We were warmly welcomed by the family, even though our guides had never met them before. This was a fairly prosperous family as they had many horses and cattle and even a tractor. Inside their Ger we saw a flat screen TV next to the altar, solar-powered, of course. We had tea and homemade snacks with the family and I took several nice photos.
We reached Ogii Nuur by late afternoon and first got out on the south shore to walk the beach and see a shamanistic rock pile surrounded by a fence which did little to deter the herd of wandering goats.
We drove past around the lake and a little past it, to a scenic campsite over the hill. We set up our tents and had dinner. While this was happening the sun was setting and the gray clouds were gathering. We had to make an important decision. Should we stay there for the night and risk being caught in a downpour, or should we strike camp and look for a Ger for the night. Since the tents were rather well worn and flimsy and anything but waterproof I decided not to risk it. A decision for which I was immensely grateful when a storm broke that night. We were snug in a cozy ger, huge friendly dogs kept us company whenever someone had to venture out into the elements.
Due to the recent expansion of Ulaanbaatar, and the influx of money and cars, only vehicles with certain license plate numbers were allowed into the city before 8:00pm. Of course, our van had the unlucky number. To kill time we stopped at a very touristy national park near the capital. It was called Khustain Nuruu National Park, and was three times as expensive to enter as any other park. The highlight of the park were the herds of wild horses – Takhi, or Przewalski’s horses. This rare breed was reintroduced to the wild from breeding stock preserved in European zoos. They look exactly like the horses seen on the walls of prehistoric caves in Spain.
It was quite shocking to return to Ulaanbaatar and the crazy evening traffic. We reached the Lotus Guest House about 9:00pm, and our Mongolian Gobi Adventure was finally complete.