06-May-2004 -- After spending 7 days on the road and making our last port of call before heading back to UB, it suddenly became apparent that we were going to stay only 10kms away from this confluence – how could we not indulge.
Arkhangai aimag lies west of UB and has some excellent hiking and riding locations. It boasts a couple of big lakes which are quite the meeting point for various migrating bird life at certain times of the year. The swans were gracing the Great White Lake with their elegant company, while a few geese were quite happy to be back and honking again in the neighbour. Saw loads of cranes in their pairs - there are various types of crane that come to Mongolia and I’m afraid my knowledge does not allow me to differentiate – but again fun to watch their elegant movements.
We were staying at N47 03.747/E102 06.038 so it was pretty much just a case of heading south down the valley, in the early morning before heading back to UB. The valleys around there are stunning and I felt we should have been galloping on horseback to our destination as opposed to jeeping it. There was still a family still living in their winter camp location near the end of that valley just around the last 2 kms point. Feeling sorry for me and my bout of insanity the guys decided to stay there with the jeep while I went off on the last stretch through the woods on my own. Well I say on my own but met one malchin (farmer) with his ox and cart bringing in some wood from the area and heard another calling at his sheep/goats over in the next valley, and then there was the constant knocking noise of the local wood pecker. The last 900m are straight up which required the removal of the thermals, which were still on from the chilly night before. The wood was quite overgrown in parts and sometimes took a wee while for the GPS to track enough satellites but on the whole a fairly comfortable find. As always my greatest problem is getting a good focused shot of the gps reading!
Best way to come in (as we did on the way out) is from Hotont off the main Kharkhorum-Tsetserleg road. Head south west up the valley – following the telegraph poles of course – for about 45kms. This brings you to Tsagaan Soum but there is not much in the way of a big community anymore. They are restoring a destroyed monastery (from the Stalinist purges) in that area though, and a couple of young lamas (monks) let us have a wee look inside and told us about the plans to have a grand opening ceremony in June. Just beside the monastery there is also a rashaant (natural hot water spring) along with 2 ger camp resorts. From there it’s another 5 kms south west before heading south down the next valley. Last k and a half are on foot.