A night in UB, and we drove outside of the city after a lovely visit to the Gandan Monastery (Chris has expounded on that) and landed in the Hustain National Reserve, home to the rare, totally wild Przewalski’s Horse. They say that this is the only remaining wild horse that still roams free, and their domain is beautiful, hilly, green steppe about 2 hours west of the capital.
We settled into our first deluxe ger, so-called
because it had its own toilet and shower – the shower didn’t work, but the
toilet was very welcome. Then we set out
on a fairly rigorous hike up the hill behind the ger camp. There we discovered our first ovoo,
hill of rocks intertwined with scarves in blue, white, yellow, red and/or
green, each expressing a different emotion based on color. These are considered places to meet and to
show spiritual devotion, with scarves, by adding rocks or other meaningful
items. The tradition is to walk around
these mounds clockwise three times, as the sun moves over the earth, and as one
would around a Buddhist prayer wheel – promotes good karma.
|A traditional Nomadic Ger|
We climbed up for a bit, reached the top, enjoyed a lovely 360 view and then hiked down. On the way, we spotted round, ivory-colored, soccer-ball sized mushrooms – they looked, well, alien.
Later that afternoon, as the sun was beginning to set, we drove further into the park to spot some horses. They are extremely elusive, but we observed several small herds from a distance as they slowly made their way to a water hole. I was glad that I had a long lens on the camera, but just made out a few individuals, their golden coats and jet black manes glowing in the setting sun.
|The Wild Mongolian Horse of Hustain National Park|