Khongoryn Els Travel Blog› entry 24 of 80 › view all entries
Since we set off from UB I have been cautious about the nomad dogs. Virtually every family has 1 or 2 large-ish dogs that are traditionally used to protect the camp from strangers and the animals from attack from wolves. These dogs are owned by the family but are not pets, they live outside and are semi-wild, so I am not expecting them to be that welcoming to strangers. I have also read that one of the mongolian nomad greetings literally translates to "are the dogs chained up?". Despite all this so far the dogs we have encountered seem to have been reasonably friendly towards us, though they do tend to bark alot during the night.
Today we are to head out into the desert dunes on camels.
We ride camels for about an hour, leave them hobbled so they do not stray too far and then walk the short distance to the dunes and climb to the top.
On the way back James decides he has had enough of camel riding and walks. Julie's camel happily follows close behind the guide but mine seems to be on a go slow and I arrive back at the gers 10 minutes behind the others. Moogi is waiting with lunch and jokes that I have won the "largest stomach" award; this is the award in Mongolian horse races given to the horse that comes last.
In the afternoon Bayaraa drives us to the highest point of the dunes, not as Phil thinks to the top but to the point on the valley floor from where we can walk to the top. The dunes here are over 300m high and the climb really is hard work. The last third is incredibly steep and the soft sand make progress very hard work. Julie and James turn back while Phil and I slowly plod on. Suddenly the wind picks up and Phil loses his hat so gives up the climb to chase after it. I am determined to give one last push and manage to scramble up the last 20 metres to the top of the ridge. From here it is a easy walk along the top of the ridge to the highest point on the dune. The wind is strong now and blowing the sand into my eyes so I am not keen to hang around too long.
It's been hard work but enjoyable, but after the day's activities I'm covered in sand. Back at the ger I manage to scrounge a small amount of water to wash my face and hair so look a little less like I've just walked across the Gobi when we sit down for dinner.