The mesmerising glacial lakes of the North

After 18 long hours on the bus, we finally arrive in Тосонцэнгэл. A nice anecdote, the night before the bus stops at a GER and all 17 people simply enter the tent. They immediately spread around and the owners start to prepare dinner… This is something you really have to see to believe it!

In Тосонцэнгэл we thought it was still further, but when we get back in the bus, the people tell us we’re at the right spot… We look for a ride to Морон from here, but a charter is the only option. Since we have to pay the driver his fuel for a going and a return, we think immediately about a charter for a couple of days to the north. We explain that also the the people here and they start searching us a driver for some days.
Ilse calls the Golden Gobi Guesthouse to find us a reliable driver for that excursion… That day we don’t get an answer from the Gobi, but the locals have an option for us. In a very hard conversation we explain them we want to wait for the answer from Улаан and finally they leave the room. Next morning we hear that we have a driver the next day! So we have a day off here in Тосонцэнгэл (and another hard time to convince the people here we found a ride). We watch a couple of movies, go shopping and explore a while the village.

Ням очир – simplified to Nyama for tourists – arrives the next morning to pick us up. It seems we stayed somewhere in the unknown outskirts of the village, so he has a hard time to find us. Around noon all is ready and we set off on the way to Морон… But the snow is our ally all that day. The sky is clear, but the snow reaches sometimes knee deep, difficult to cross by car! We experience some real snow driving and Nyama helps some people who are bogged in the snow. In the evening we only arrive at Цагаан Уул, a coal mining city at 140km’s from Морон, to sleep.
Early morning we set off to continue our trip. This part of the road has no snow, so the driving goes smooth. Underway we play a while on a frozen river… At noon we’re in Морон. Time to do a couple of necessities, before we drive to Уушигийн Овор (Uushigiin Uver), some 20 km’s from Морон.
The site is famous for the 14 deer stones. Deer stones are ancient burial markers, dating back to the Bronze Age. The ancient steppe tribes believed that the dead mounted the deer to fly skyward. The deer carved on these stones represent that act. Many stones also have a belt, equipped with axes or knives, for a successful navigation in the afterlife. We can observe them clearly there. The site even contains a special one! One of the stones carries a clear face, which is very seldom for these stones… The evening light make the steppe glow gold, with the stones in it. An excellent time to visit.

Thereafter we drive to the Ховсгол Нуур NP (Khövsgöl Nuur), situated around Ховсгол Нуур, alias the Blue Pearl. It is the second biggest lake in Mongolia, but the biggest and deepest (up to 262m) fresh water lake of the country.
The full moon makes our entrance mesmerising! We arrive in the darkness (as far as full moon provides it) at grandmother her house. During winter she keeps an eye here at the Nature’s Door Tourist Camp. She shows us our private GER with view on the lake, the stove is already burning crazy and we receive a delicious noodle soup.
The next two days we’ll walk around the area and enjoy the beauty of this blue pearl! Nyama laughs all time with our ‘thin’ clothes… The special hiking equipment can never be sufficient for the cold we’ll face here, he thinks. Above that our special goose feather sleeping bags will never be warm enough during the cold (-15°) nights.
Ховсгол Нуур is situated in the Siberian Taiga, so it is surrounded by coniferous forests (lark and pine trees), it only lies some 195 km’s away from the Russian Lake Baikal, but it was created by the same tectonic forces. Both are glacial lakes, nonetheless this one is 23 million years younger than Lake Baikal. During winter the lakes freezes up to a depth of 1m30, so trucks can cross the lake during that period. Since the traffic is very polluting, it is prohibited since 1990… For now the freezing still has to start.
We just hope to see some of the local fauna, like argali sheep, ibex, moose, bear, sable and wolverines, during these days. But we have no luck, they stay hidden around us.
Walking through the taiga forests and along the frozen lake shore is really relaxing! We like the place, just a pity the snow doesn’t sticks enough to make a snow puppet…

Thanks to Nyama we never have to fear cold these days. He himself is really worried about cold, after every walk or night he asks us ‘cold’? But no, all these days we never feel cold. The GER is even more like a sweat hut instead of a living place…
Two days later we leave grandma and her beautiful lake, we head to a new adventure. The Reindeer herders or Tsaatan. An area who lies only 50 km’s away in the next valley, but the snow makes the mountains uncrossable, so we have to pass along Морон if we want to get there… And much depends on the weather and the depth of the snow.

Dinsdag, 12 november 2013


Woensdag, 13 november 2013

Momenteel is nergens in het land de temperatuur hoger dan 0 graden. Waar wij vertoeven is het ‘s nachts tot -15. En straks gaan we naar een regio waar de temperaturen overdag nog dalen…

Onze driver heeft constant schrik dat wij gaan bevriezen met ons trekkersmateriaal. Als je hier niet als michelinventje rondloopt, dan heb je het hoogstwaarschijnlijk koud. Wij daarentegen hebben het nog geen minuut koud gehad in onze slaapzakken van slechts 1 kg!

We overnachten hier in een ecocamp. ‘s Morgens om 6u komt de huisbazin ons vuurtje aansteken en bij zonsopgang komt de chauffeur het hout bijvullen. Dan verandert onze ger in een zweethut. Op dat vlak zijn ze hier niet echt ecologisch. Maar ja, 2 bevroren toeristen willen ze niet op hun geweten hebben.
Gisteren kregen we elk een yakbout als middagmaal. We voelden ons net als in de strips van Asterix en Obelix. Veel vlees eten is de boodschap…dan bevries je niet!

Gisteren wilden we een sneeuwman maken ter ere van Nina, maar de sneeuw plakt hier niet! We konden gewoon geen bollen draaien!

Vandaag gingen we wandelen. We hadden veel overtuigingskracht nodig om de chauffeur te laten geloven dat hij ons zou terugzien. Wel als gewone, doorbloede mensen en niet als iglomannekes.
Rond heel het meer zijn we echt wel de enige toeristen!!!