During northern summer (July-August) I returned to Mongolia to lead treks for World Expeditions. It was particularly special since I teamed up with Tseren Enebish of Tseren Tours who I have known for eight years (ever since I travelled through Mongolia by bicycle in 2000) to run a trek in the remote Kharkhiraa of Western Mongolia.
The eight day trek over the 3000m pass followed in the same footsteps of my journey by horse. In fact, the guide who had led me with his camel, Dashnyam, joined us as a camel hand! His seven children had grown up, and he was looking more bow-legged than I remembered, but he was still the same friendly, generous spirited man.
When we arrived in the Kharkhiraa river valley we went straight to his Ger. He had never known if I had made it to Hungary so there was much catching up to do. At the time when we met in 2004 he had been one of the most destitute nomads I had ever encountered with just 17 goats and one horse to his name. I had gifted him one of my horses, and had wondered ever since what had happened to him.
Tseren translated when I asked about my horse:
“We ate him last winter. He was old.”
Things it seemed had not improved for Dashnyam. He still only had about 15 goats, and the only horse he owned had been stolen by thieves two weeks before we arrived.
Together with the trekkers, we managed to raise enough tips for Dashnyam to buy himself a new horse, which he did immediately after our journey together finished.
Being back in Mongolia, I had a renewed appreciation of the sheer exposure of the Eurasian steppe, the lifestyle that is so closely tied to the animals, and the unending openness and generous hospitality of the nomadic people. My dream beyond these projects here at home is to learn fluent Mongolian.
Anyone interested in joining me on a journey to Mongolia is welcome to contact me directly, or visit the World Expedition website. (www.worldexpeditions.com). I will be running a similar 18 day trek through the Kharkhiraa in 2010. Please enjoy the photos below that were taken in July and August 2009.