Friday, August 31, 2018

Photography Tour, Horsemanship at Three Camel Lodge, Gobi Desert, Mongolia: August 31, 2018


The first afternoon at Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi Desert we were treated to an awesome display of Mongolian horsemanship. First, we watched as beautiful horses were herded and caught with the uurga (long stick with a sliding noose on the end).












Horse caught in the noose of the uurga
One test of skill and horsemanship is the ability of a rider on a galloping horse to lean down and pick up the uurga or even a box of matches from the ground. Sometimes they missed but no one ever fell. I tried to document every angle to show just how precarious the rider's position. To lean down so low, the rider barely has his foot in the stirrup. The horse looks to be off balance, too, when the rider leans low. It was an amazing test of strength for both riders and horses.












The drive from Kharakhorum to the Three Camel Lodge in the Gobi took us about 10 hours. The "road" is unsigned and unpaved. Our vehicles followed the rutted tire tracks of previous vehicles through grasslands, through hardened mud, through sand. Along the way we saw kites (the birds) in the air and vultures sitting roadside waiting to invite any disturbed rodent to lunch. It has been a wetter than normal year and the desert was covered with grasses and chives in bloom. Undraa told me that people prize sheep that are raised here because the meat is pre-seasoned from grazing on chives.

During the 10-hour drive, we came upon a family stranded by a flat tire and stopped to chat. Our driver, Baagi, went through the snuff bottle exchange protocol with the patriarch of the group because that's what men do when they meet. Dan stepped forward and participated in a one-sided exchange as he doesn't yet have his own snuff bottle.



The Three Camel Lodge was the most luxurious ger stay that we had the entire trip. The beds were comfortable and each sleeping ger had a bathroom ger attached to it so no more getting up in the night to stumble to a toilet. This is one place I'd gladly return.

Sunrise at the Three Camel Lodge

On our first night at Three Camel Lodge, a popular Mongolian musical group, Tengeriin Ayalguu (Melody of the Sky) performed for us using the traditional horse-headed fiddle and the Horn Flute that is shaped like the horn of a yak. The musician playing the horn flute is also a throat singer.


Rain was expected overnight.

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