One of my main goals in traveling through Mongolia was to spend some time on horseback riding through the countryside. Genghis Khan used these very horses to conquer the world, after all. I figured I owed it to myself to see what they were all about.
Our trip was a ton of fun, and a lot of it was thanks to this guy. Presenting Bata, horse-guide extraordinaire.
Within 36 hours of showing up to Lake Khovsgol, we were geared up and sitting on horses. Here, Dan and Bata retie the pack horse just after we'd started out first day's ride.
Almost immediately upon leaving Khatgal village, we were presented with expansive views of the countryside that are hard to convey in words or pictures. Ronit here is, I think, still pretty comfortable with the whole horse idea.
After just a couple of hours' ride, we ended the first day with Bata's family at their ger camp not too far from Khatgal. Still semi-nomadic, Bata's family would only stay here a few more weeks before they packed up the ger and moved to a winter location.
The next morning (well, nearly afternoon) we said goodbye to Bata's family and took off once more.
As we rode through a wide valley towards the shores of Khovsgol Lake itself, we passed a number of more permanent settlements.
Only a short time later, though, we were in a deserted grassland where a traditional shaman had left camp only a short time before. Unfortunately, we never did manage to find him the entire time we were around Khovsgol. (Also, in looking at this picture, this may well be the fastest Gal got his horse to go during the entire trip!)
The day ended with a colorful sunset over the far shore of the Lake from where our waterfront ger-for-the-night sat.
But once again, we said goodbye to our hosts the next morning.
It wasn't long, though, before we were sitting in a new ger with a new family. All across Mongolia, anytime we stopped in at a ger we were offered tea and snacks like incredible fresh-baked bread or an assortment of yak/goat/camel dairy products.
Dan was quick to make himself one of the family at this stop, though. This family passed us the next morning as they were moving camp, and the little girl started giggling again as soon as she saw him.
After hangout time, we continued over barely-ridden horse trails through the backwoods.
The landscape (and view) was often so wide-open that it was hard to take in with the naked eye. Much less take suitably expansive pictures of the whole area from a moving horse!
But, like all good adventures, the horse trek ended on Day 4 back in Khatgal where it had started.
After a goodbye to Bata, the four of us headed to the fanciest restaurant/guesthouse in the village and started planning out next adventure.