Sunday, April 12, 2020

The valley of the Khan

After our windy night we continued East and spent the night on the coast of lake Terkhiin Tsagaan were we met our friends from Zürich again. The trio now complete again we climbed the volcanic crater the next day and then drove on. Cruising on the paved! road we made good progress all the way to Kharkhorin. Founded by Genghis Khan as the capital Karakorum of it's mighty empire, not much remains standing nowadays. It is said the location was chosen as the gigantic Orkhon valley was the only place Genghis could assemble and sustain his army before going to war.
Following the Orkhon river we decided to take the scenic route through the mountains instead of driving around it on the freeway to Bayankhongor. In hindsight one of the best decision we made as this turned out to be one of the highlights in Mongolia! 🤩

Typical Mongolian Family : Ger & Prius

Shortly after leaving the paved road we drove past one off the few remaining stone turtles which marked the entrances to the city. A bit later we stopped at the rather touristic site of Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall but quickly continued on.

The waterfall was quite the attraction for the local tourists
One of the few remaining turtles which guarded the city entrances

As the valley became narrower it was clear not many people tackle this route. Some of the passages were insane steep and the river had to be crossed multiple times. More than once we had to backtrack and choose a different route. But the view was extraordinary and after a short downpour the air had this magnificent shine. After stopping and setting up camp the "neighbours" showed up 😄 First a local showed up on his motorbike and was content to just watch us as communication was in hand signals only. Martin took his bike for a spin, almost crashed it 🙈

Not much later some kids showed up with fresh yogurt and milk. The little ones ware quite shy and just dropped the bottle before hiding behind the skirt of their older sister. 😂 
A cold night and some mountain passes later we reached the flats again and the entrance to the Gobi desert, our next destination!