August 02 - August 18, 2011
M  O  N  G  O  L  I  A
Gobi , Altay Mountains & Hovds Gull Tour
Group Journal Day 03
Submitted by Jane Ross
Aug.04, 2011 Thursday

Itinerary: Drive through the Hustain Nuruu Natural reserve to see the Przewalsi wild horses. Drive to Ulaan Baator. stop at Gobi Kashmere Factory. After lunch meet with the American ambassador to Mongolia, Mr. Jonathan Addleton  Dinner and overnight at Edelweiss Hotel.

How to cook a Marmot and Przewalski (Takhi) Horses

Spitting rain. Our driver, Gomba, provided fermented mare’s milk for those hardy souls willing to get the day started with a jolt stronger than Nescafe or tea. We discovered a delicious locally made Karakhorum cheese at breakfast along with tasty tomatoes and a new addition to our local diet, apples. At departure, Meli reminded us that assumptions and opinions are not the Tour Schedule. She asked each of us to not try to be the tour leader. She also announced schedule changes due to changes in flight times for the rest of our tour in Mongolia. Departed gers in Khustai National Park at 0750 in search of Mongolian wild horses, the Takhi, also known as the Przewalski horse. Boloroo, our intelligent and beautiful guide, gave us full bio data on the Przewalski horse. This creature, first identified by a Russian count in 1878, disappeared from Mongolia in 1960. Fortunately these horses had been shipped out of Mongolia to zoos in Hamburg and Kiev in 1904. The horse was reintroduced to Mongolia in 1992 with a shipment of 62 Takhi horses from Europe . The Dutch are funding this project; there are now 550 Takhi horses in Mongolia, with 260 living in the Khustai National Park, and the others located in the Gobi.



Other species to be found in the Khustai National Park include the domestic horse and the rare wild ass of Western Mongolia. The Takhi horse has a shorter tail, stripes on its front legs, 66 chromosomes versus 64 for domesticated horses; it cannot be crossbred or broken to ride. These wild horses live in families; there are currently 20 families in the Khustai and each family marks its territory. A family is composed of a stallion and numerous mares and colts. The fillies leave home at 3 years, joining a stallion’s family, and the teen age stallions live by themselves as a family. Our guide related the tale of one old stallion who was beaten by younger stallions, and was then forced to live by himself – he eventually was, alas, eaten by wolves. We followed seven horses as they grazed across the steppe -- excellent photo opportunity as we were able to approach the family and observe them for almost 45 minutes.


In the Hustai (white birch) Park, comprised of approximately 500 sq kilometers, a large number of rare species may be found: 46 mammals, 217 birds, 2 amphibians, 3 reptiles, 15 fish, 400 insects, including the ever present and well-known “Ger-bug,” Mongolian gazelles, red and roe deer, argali sheep, grey wolf, lynx, golden eagles, falcons, vultures, cranes, the great bustard, and the unforgettable marmot.

A good recipe for marmot: catch and kill the marmot; remove head and clean it out; stuff head with meat and vegetables, and red hot rocks; tie neck closed; and then use flaming blow torch to cook the outside of the marmot head, which removes the hair and provides the final cooking. We anticipate eating this version of Mongolian Bar-be-que when we soon visit the northern regions.

After returning to the ger from our photo trek, we shopped at the ger Souvenir shop, visited the small ger Museum exhibits which included a piece of Russian space trash, excellent flora and fauna photo displays, along with a description of the reclamation project of the Takhi horse. In the Conference ger we watched an excellent 15 minute video on the Khustai National Park.



We departed for Ulan Baator: bouncing across the steppe in the bus via dirt tracks to the main road; arrived UB in time to shop for cashmere products at the Gobi factory outlet store (prices higher than at the Department Store in town and to some critical eyes, less fashionable designs); ate lunch at a Korean restaurant (non-Korean set menu included fish for the non-vegetarians – the number of “vegetarians” has now increased to seven, five of whom are temporary vegetarians – and for the vegetarians mashed potato mixed with vegetables, covered with a melted cheese slice and accompanied with a spicy tomato sauce).

A stop at world famous Gobi cashmere factory

A wedding celebration was taking place in the main dining room – after a dance with the groom, the bride changed from a strapless white “Western” wedding dress into traditional Mongolian dress to receive the gifts; darling children played in the hallways, and were quite willing to pose for pictures. We bought baked goods at the restaurant bakery, including a beautifully decorated cake to serve at tea during our ambassadorial meeting at 5:30.


   When the gift giving ceremony had started the bride and the groom changed in to their traditional outfits.It was nice seeing the Mongolians wearing their traditional dress, the dell and waltzing to the music of Strauss. The Mongolians  have been westernized with out loosing their traditional values.









We all hit the showers in our hotel rooms en masse and looked much cleaned up for our briefing on Mongolia by the American Ambassador to Mongolia,  Jonathan Addleton -- early dinner and finally to bed to prepare ourselves for the next excellent adventure in Mongolia.


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