We start the day early and head towards our first national park, Hustai National Park, with our tour guide (who’s name I cannot spell, so let’s just call her Darling, ’cause she’s really nice). First, it’s time to hunt some wild horses. Of course not literally – actually, we cannot even get closer than 200 m to them, that’s the rule we must obey. More difficult than sticking to this is however to find these horses. They don’t really like humans, it seems. The area is quite vast, 50,000 hectare, and while Simón tries to calculate the likelihood that we will see the horses, our guide actually spots them through the binoculars. We drive slightly closer, but the main part needs to be done by foot. After about twenty minutes of hiking uphill through the rain, we manage to get some nice shots. Unfortunately for the next tourists hunting wild horses, they decide to move further up the mountain once they see and hear us.
Also for us it is time to move on, to a family living in the countryside in some yurts, completely off-road. In the middle of nowhere we stop, this is where the family lives, and their animals live in the hills nearby (and for some odd reason come all by themselves around the corner suddenly because it’s milking time). We get some typical Mongolian food: dried milk, dried yoghurt, cream, butter, milktea, some pancakes. This will be our home for the next 12 hours. Everything we consume is retrieved from their own cattle.
When we go for a walk in the hills, we find some weird altar on top of one mountain, with the color blue for luck, and a detached horse head. Our further adventures include a toilet which is simply a hole in the ground, surrounded by something like a hut to give some privacy, a little bit further away from the camp. Our day ends with a concert by the family father, who plays the morin khuur and is accompanied by his 3- and 5-year-old sons who are real dance masters already now.
To fall sound asleep, we tell each other horror-stories in the dark yurt, but the probably scariest thing are the bugs crawling and flying around in the darkness. Only one makes it into my sleeping bag, though, and then we can finally sleep.
In the next morning, after a quick morning wash-up (don’t ask how), we take off to the next viewpoints: a 40 m high Genghis Khan statue, and after that another park, this time rocky, where we will ride horses and visit a temple. First, however, it looks like we are stuck at the statue – our driver loses the car keys while we climb through Genghis’ lap. For one hour, we turn the entire car inside out with all the seven of us – then our driver suddenly finds the keys in his pants. They went through a hole in the pocket into the insides of those. Happily we can continue to our next destinations. Unfortunately, the horseback riding is a little bit disappointing, very touristic, and we don’t really get to gallop through the steppe as we imagined, but we ride between the temple and then a bit further along the street.
Our day ends with a free shower back in Ulaanbataar, as we get into heavy rainfall during our nightly walk through the city. Tomorrow, we will board the train for one last time, towards our final destination Beijing.