Gun-Galuut nature reserve was a breath of fresh air after sitting in a bus and then a car for 16 hours. I hired a driver through one of Puje's coworkers to drive me out to the reserve. I would stay there for one night and then return to go to the 13th Century villages with Taivan. It was a relatively short drive out. Around 2 hours. Some of it on paved road. As we approached the reserve we ran head on into a traffic jam of...goats. There are no fences so when they are crossing you wait or honk your horn to move them along.
The reserve is along the banks of the Kherlen river and consists of high steppes, mountains, marshes and lakes. The area was set aside in 2003 to protect endangered wildlife and their habitats. It is known for many species of birds including the threatened or endangered species.
While I didn't get to see a gray wolf or argali sheep I did see a variety of birds including swans, cranes, eagles, and magpies.
Mongolian traffic jam.
Swans and one ugly duckling.
The network of river, wetlands that make up Gun-Galuut.
Steppe Nomads in the distance next to the Kherlen river.
My tourist ger.
It even has a small stove.
The hobbit door.
Inside the ger. I have to bend over to get through the door.
The round top with a space for the stove pipe. The top can be covered in bad weather to keep in the heat and keep the rain out.
A finch that came in to the bird feeder in the gazeebo.
Kherlen river on my hike.
I think I'll go that way. It is easy to hike cross country because it is so open. Easy ground to hike on and it is pretty hard to get lost.
Horse sighting on the first of 3 summits I hiked to.
See the plant to the left? I brushed up against that and felt a sudden stinging sensation that started to travel up and down my leg along with reddness. I realized that I had no idea what it was. Luckily I had some Benadryl which arrested the reaction just as blisters were starting to form.
As I came closer to the rocky summit this little head appeared over the rocks. There was a whole herd nestled amongst the rocks. I surprised them.
Absolutley the most beautiful encounter I had with horses on my trip. This herd was on top of the summit closest to the Kherlen river and the expansive valley below.
Small plants on the steppe floor.
More horses poking their heads above the rocks.
The head horse.
Wind swept mane.
Just hanging out like velcro!
The horses bob their heads up and down all the time. I believe it is to move the bugs off their head. Sometimes they get some interesting looks on their faces as they do it.
Top of the mountain with the Kherlen river valley below.
Top of the mountain.
Just making sure I'm moving on.
Heading down the mountain to the valley.
Heading straight down for Steppe Nomads.
Tall grasses near Steppe Nomads.
I believe these are Demoiselle Cranes. They were very shy and once I came with in a certain distance they would take off and fly away.
Looking up river.
Some kind of monument on a rocky outcrop above the river on the other side.
The same herd that I saw on the mountain the previous day.
The molting colt
The main building.
Looking out of my Ger.
The dining area. Very high brow. The food was great too!
Outside seating accomodations.
View from the dining area.
View from the dining area. The horses always poke their heads through the fence to get to the better grasses on our side.
Evening sky. That night we had a rain storm and the next day it was grey and raining.
I wrote on my second night. "I'm in my yurt listening as the evening wind is howling outside. Inside here is a warm and inviting refuge. I have the light of the skylight overhead. I'm sitting at a small table on a square stool typing. It is amazing how comfortable it is inside here. Just 30 minutes ago I had to retreat from the outside patio at the dinner hall because the wind was kicking up and I was getting chilled. These yurts seems like small islands of survival. they have to withstand some of the harshest weather that Mother Earth can dish out. Sub, zero temperatures, gale force winds. blizzards, and then extreme heat in the summer. These Gers are and were essential for survival in a harsh unforgiving Mongolian landscape. I'm enjoying my stay imagining what it would be like to have to count on this small, yet sturdy, house made of felt.
A good, good night!