Ice Ice Baby
Khongoryn Els Travel Blog› entry 23 of 80 › view all entries
Yolyn Am means Vulture's Mouth in Mongolian and is one of the big attractions in the Gobi; "big" is relative as we see no one else here. The area is a designated national park and includes a canyon similar to the one we visited yesterday. Last night seemed cold. It is not possible to keep the fire going all night and by the middle of the night the ger can get cold. Bob's Golden Gobi sleeping bags are maybe not quite as warm as he was making out!
My impression was that Yolyn Am would be ice bound but either the LP is exaggerating the ice or it is unseasonably mild. As Mongolia has mad one of the harshest winters on record I think the former. The scenery is remarkably green and not unlike Scotland or NZ in many ways.
After the canyon Bayaraa heads off up a steep track emerging into a valley on the south side of the range. From here we follow a river bed and come out on the mountains. On the way we see a fox that are native here. It's not a snow leopard I know but good anyway. We had heard about Marmots in Mongolia, particularly how locals liked to shoot and eat them. Marmots are only really found in the north of the country and the government has banned hunting as the numbers were in rapid decline. In the mountains here we see lots of animals a bit like large hamsters - not sure what they and they are quick to run down their holes so haven't had a good look at one yet.
We stop for lunch at a beautiful river valley overlooking a ruined monastery- only a single stupa remains - and with views south to the next mountain range.
Just as we think we are beginnig to make good time the van breaks down. We are not sure what exactly is wrong but it looks to be some issue with the transmission/brake on the front left wheel. Bayaraa jacks the van up and makes a repair while we kills some time. Phil makes an entertaining video something along the lines of "here we are in the middle of the Gobi - just the place you don't want to beak down.." pan across to the van jacked up and Bayaraa lying underneath. Bayaraa fixes the problem but after another 15 minutes we have a puncture. Bayaraa puts on the spare wheel (we only have 1 spare) and we are off again. Another 30 minutes later we literally grind to a halt - this time the transmission shaft seems to have broken. Now we are really beginning to worry but we should have faith. If you drive in Mongolia you seem to be able to fix just about anything and after what is only a few minutes Bayaraa has us back and rolling.
I have great faith in Bayaraa but nevertheless I am relieved when we finally pull into the camp. Here we will spend 2 mights.