Riding at the edge of the forest with wildflowers in full bloom
Blessed indeed. I found my way to Mongolia five years ago, this year, 2016, will be my sixth summer returning. I remember my first trip to Mongolia
, after about a week of being there when I was sitting on a log nestled in the willow trees by the river and I knew it in my bones that I’d be back, that I’d found a place so special, so magical that I’d return.
Right around Valentine’s Day in 2011 I booked my first horseback riding vacation to Mongolia, signing up for National Geographic Adventure’s Mongolian Horse Trek. It would be a two week trip, starting and ending in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia’s capital. The first day was spent in the capital visiting a museum and a monastery which was lovely. After the long flights to get to Mongolia it felt good to be on my feet walking for the day. Prior to the trip I hadn’t given much thought to Mongolia’s history or religion, all I had wanted to do was ride. I certainly knew of Chinngis Khan but on this day I learned so much more of Mongolia’s rich and fascinating history. Interesting? Absolutely. But get me to the horses. The second day we left the city for Kharakhorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia, to visit Erdene Zuu, a Buddhist monastery. I appreciated these two days more than I thought I would as they added to the big picture of Mongolia that would develop over the next couple of weeks.
In the late afternoon of the third day we arrived at Lapis Sky camp in the Arkhangai provence of Mongolia, east of Ulaan Baatar. Our bus drove up to a little saddle between mountain tops and stopped. We were told we were just about to camp and our guides suggested we walk down the other side of the saddle to the camp to stretch our legs. Excellent idea. As we crested the saddle and looked down at the valley below we were all completely captivated. The crooked and narrow valley below with the river running thru the middle, lined with willows and cottonwood trees, was unbelievably beautiful. I already wanted to stay much longer than scheduled.