the lake and the people
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner 'Oh this is one of the nicest places of my country!', sad a Mongolian fellow-sufferer during the long flight from Germany to Mongolia on my answer to the question which part of his homeland I'm intending to visit.
Destination of my fourth trip in the land of Dschinggis Khan and his riding hordes will bee the Khövsgöl Aimag. This province in the outer northwest of Mongolia has it name from the Khövsgöl Nuur, the biggest sweet water lake of the land. With his measurements he exceed every European imagination: 136km long, 23km wide, 262m deep, on 1645m sea level, 383km² capacity of pure drinking water and you can see 24m through the clear water to the ground. For all that natural beauty is the in the neighbourhood lying lake Baikal more known. But exactly because for this reason I would experience this land which the Tsataan people is only sharing with wolfs and bears.
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner The search for this people was starting already in Ulan Bator the capital city of Mongolia. The Tsataan are indigenous people with 60 family clans left over. They are breading deer in the hard accessible areas around the lake. The rest were 'adapt' from the socialistic government. Comparing to the yaks which the Mongolian nomads are breeding in the steppe, the deer are more resistant to the could and the winter. But the real worth are the deer showing in winter: they are making their traces during treks through high snow, over glaciers with temperatures about –50°C. One of the most important good of the deer for the Tsataan is the milk, which has four times more fat content than cow milk. Because of the height of the feeding grounds the animals are finishing the feed very quickly, so the deer and the Tsataan can survive only if the change every fourteen days the settlement. This is one of the difference to the Mongolian Nomads, they live in gers and the Tsataan live in tends out of deer skin. You can compare this tends with the tipis of the nord american Indians, but one look in a Tsataans face and you can imagine the relationship to the Inuit. The hard conditions of live let them older quicker than the nomads in the Mongolian steppe. The Tsataan, what means translated in Mongolian deer, are practising shamanism. The strong healthy effects and medicins from Tsataan shamans are well known over the Mongolian borders until the Russian Siberia.
© 2023 Tofisch & Partner From the Capital City we drove with havy 4WD Russian cars through the Bulgan Aimag over the Uran Togoo Nature Reserve to the Khovsgol Lake. The Mongolians in Ulan Bator sad to us, that in this Aimag the 'roads', what Mongolians ever call a road, are the worst of the whole land! Just on the half of our trip we could confirm this fact. So we stopped by the Uran Togoo Uul and tried to loosen our bones during a long trek on the top of this extinct volcano. A fantastic overview in the endless grass steppe combined with a beautiful flora plaid us for the painful way of travelling. But already one rest day after we were sitting again in the Russian cars and were shaked and we were asking us how the steppe could look so smoothly? Arrived in Khatgal, a small little village on the southern end of the lake, we are organising a boat shipping in the area near the mountain Khuren Uul, where we set up our base camp for the next days. We already heard there that a Tsataan family was moving towards the lake to set up their summer camp. We used already the next sunny day to make a trek on a nameless mountain near the Khuren Uul (3020m). Through country without tracks and deceptive landscape we could climb the summit after 5h walking. But also the steep descent, which in Mongolia you can make often without problems from an other side is requiring some sacrifice. A planed rest day before visiting the Tsataan family is very common for our legs.
The ascent to the camp of the family we could make by horse in a fantastic scenery. During the ride quiet a lot eagles were over flying our hats and after 2h we could see the small tend and some Deer. A unusual view that we almost could not realise, because we were invited to drink some tea from the hospitable family. Curious our views are going around the interior of the simple accommodation, impressed are overcome us thoughts which happy, simple and harmonic way of living we could experience.