Photo Essay: Touring Mongolia

Landscape around Chinggis Monument

Welcome to Mongolia, land of the big blue sky. I’ve spent the last week and a half in Mongolia and it is not nearly enough time. However, it’s freezing cold here and I am not prepared for this type of cold. What this means is that I will need to return to Mongolia in the summer time when it’s warmer. In August, everything will be open and camping will be more enjoyable.

The Mongolian countryside is gorgeous. I loved the view of snow covered plains and mountains. The sky was always blue and the clouds made occasional appearances.

Camels in Terej National Park

The sight of camels sent me over the edge with excitement. When I arrived in Mongolia, I wanted to take a tour into the Gobi desert, but I was unable to go due to being ill. Instead, I opted for a 3-day tour into the countryside, knowing that I would not be able to see or ride a camel. Well, as you can see from the photo above, I did see camels -although I decided not to pay to ride them.

Kazakh GerGer of Kazakh Family

One of the things I loved about my time in Mongolia was staying with local families in their Ger (Yurt). During my short time in Mongolia, I had the opportunity to stay with two families. The Kazakh family was the second family. They owned three Ger’s, many sheep, goats and some cattle and had a little more land than the previous family. Their hospitality was humbling. We were offered tea or milk tea, milk cream, fresh homemade bread and jam within minutes of our arrival. Our dinner was a massive platter of beef and noodles with a kind of coleslaw on top.

At night, when the fire in the little stove would go out, the Ger would become quite chilly. This is when warm sleeping bags and blankets came in handy. The one thing I dreaded during the night was the need to pee. I’d hold off as long as I could before getting dressed and running outside to the outhouse. I don’t think I have peed so fast in my entire life!

Togo- Our driver...Togo, our driver

I strongly believe that our tour driver and guide were part-time sadists. Togo was always looking for some “fun” and if he was given the slightest amount of encouragement, he went full force. During our 3-day tour, Togo injured many of us. Poor Martin received a couple of invasive massages and Rachel became his favourite torture target. Togo was desperate to wrestle and looked for any excuse to attack us. Unfortunately for him, our group was anti-wrestling.

Girl in the window

Travelling through Mongolia, the landscape seems barren, cold and harsh at times (Probably due to the fact that it’s winter here), and in many respects, the buildings feel the same way. There is a definite Russian influence here and many buildings and homes feel cold and institutional on the outside. However, when you walk through the door, the view changes. Space is tight, but there is a feeling of warmth. Walls are covered in handmade rugs or paintings of horses. The beds are small and it’s hard to believe -coming from a first-world nation- that so many people can live happily in such a tiny space.

Little Ano

Aside from the yummy food, I loved interacting with the children of the families we stayed with. Our first stop was in Terej National Park and little Ano was a curious little thing. She would open the door to the Ger where we were sleeping and watch us briefly before backing away. No matter how hard I tried, she would not step over the threshold. The next morning, things changed. Little Ano finally came into our Ger and crawled onto my bed. She and I spent the next few hours colouring in my travel journal and playing with my iPhone. For me, it was more fun than being outside with the others.

Mongolia is a country of great diversity. There is so much to see and experience here. I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent here. I still have many things to write about and share with you about my time in Mongolia, so check back soon for more information on my Mongolian adventures.

About The Author

I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.

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12 Responses

  1. Andi

    Wow, what a photographic place!!! I imagine it’s even more beautiful without all the snow haha.

    Reply
  2. Kirsty

    Kudos for going in the winter, I bet it was freezing! It sounds and looks like a wonderful place to explore. Both Poi and I were looking forward to visiting when we were planning to go on the trans Siberian express! Money stopped us going that route, but one day we will go 🙂

    Reply
    • Pamela

      If you do make it to Mongolia, try and go in the Fall when high season is winding down and before the cold sets in.

      Reply
  3. Gray

    I admire the hell out of you for putting up with the cold in Mongolia. OMG. I just froze my ass off in Paris, and I thought that was bad (and yet I live in Vermont, so you’d think I’d be used to it). Great pics. I’d have been excited about the camels, too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Pamela

      I bought my newest niece a fluffy stuffed camel, but I secretly want to keep it for myself. They were so furry and warm looking.

      Reply
  4. Amanda

    Brrrr, sounds cold! But it still sounds like a worthwhile experience, especially staying with families and getting to know them along the way.

    I love that photo of the camels, with all the snow in the background. It’s definitely not what I think of when I think of camels! But I love it.

    Reply
    • Pamela

      If you’re still in the planning stages, the best time to go would be August – October. The country is still open and you can get pretty much everywhere then. Plus it’s not as cold and the high season is winding down.

      Reply
  5. Migrationology

    Wow, looks freezing cold, but the thought of the giant platter of beef and noodles sounds great and warming! Nice pictures!

    Reply

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