YEP 6 Exp Mongolia Day 2
While writing this, we are sitting on a fallen trunk by Lake Huvsgail after 2 amazing days of adventure. After a 6am wake up on Monday morning, we prepared our equipment and luggage for a 10am flight from Ulaanbaatar to Moren which is located in the far north of Mongolia. We landed at around midday and began the 6 hour journey to our destination of Lake Huvsgail. Despite it taking 6 hours, it was only in fact 175km away but due to the bumpy, rough roads and interesting traffic network it took us a lot longer! This was something that none of us had ever experienced before.
During the journey through the Mongolian steppe, we saw Kashmir goats, yaks, eagles, horses, nomadic villages and traditional shrines. We were most impressed by all the culture as none of us had seen something like this before – these people live extremely different lives to our own and don`t require the luxuries that we too often take for granted. We also visited a saline lake and undertook numerous experiments with Roswitha, testing water salinity, pH, conductivity and learnt a lot about Mongolia`s environments.
Our arrival at the lake was sudden; after travelling through steppe with little vegetation, we came over a couple of mountains and in to a valley covered in dense forest surrounded by snow capped mountains. This forest is the most southern part of the Siberian Taiga and is largely covered in permafrost. The lake is amazing – never have we seen such clear water in a natural environment on such a large scale. The water is so clear that last night Martin, on an attempt to brush his teeth, walked in to the water without even noticing and spent the rest of the night drying his shoes and socks at the fire.
Upon our arrival, we were allocated our horses and rode a short 3km to our first campsite. It was sunset by this point so the lake and its surroundings were beautiful. After setting up our camp and cooking our `trek n eat` dinner we sat around the fire chatting and telling stories. After a chilly night, we packed up our gear and loaded the pack horses. We, Martin and Constantin, were lucky enough to be stolen by Dimitry from taking some sunrise photos to diving into the icy cold water – what Dimitry refers to as a `Russian tradition`. Unfortunately Akira couldn`t join us on our horse trek and had to return to the initial camp due to her broken toe.
Us boys were given maps and a GPS and were in charge of formulating the route and the activities for the day. We began by discussing with the Mongolian horse wranglers and decided that we would ride approximately 15km to our second camp. After a good few hours on the horses, we all began to realize what may lay ahead with our sore backsides! However, the scenery and environment was enough to distract us and motivate us to continue and enjoy what was an amazing experience. After arriving and setting up camp, we all took a break and went out for a swim in the cold lake.
After we had some lunch, Mike took us on a trek in to the forest to summit a nearby peak. This gave us a chance to hear some of Mike`s lessons of survival and orientation in forests and jungles. He also taught us how to use the elements, such as the sun, wind, sand, snow and stars to navigate in extreme places around the world without instruments. After what we thought was a pretty tough trek, we arrived at the top to realize that Mike had done the whole trek in plastic sandals! After an amazing first couple of days, we are all eagerly awaiting what lies ahead!
Mongolia is half the size of India, 38 times the size of Switzerland and 2290 times the size of Singapore! Annually Mongolia receives around 200mm of precipitation! Such a large country with so little water!
84% of the total water resources of Mongolia is stored in lakes and many of the 3060 lakes are salt lakes, like Lake Uvs, the largest Mongolian lake.
Mongolia's largest lake by volume is Lake Huvgul and it is the next stop for the Young EXplorers. It lies in the north of Mongolia close to the Russian border. The lake holds almost 70% of Mongolia's fresh water, which is 0.4% of the worlds' fresh water resources. Lake Huvsgul is one of the oldest lakes on our planet (estimated 2 to 5 million years old). Due to its size the water is very cold and remains ice-covered until well into June. This pristine lake, sometimes called the 'Blue Pearl’, remains untouched from industry and contains some of the purest water in the world.