Mongolia is steeped in Steppes – haha BOOM! But also has crazy natural wonders, unique animals and completely exotic festivals. Team Baja Llama was fortunate enough to drive through Mongolia from the west side of the country all the way to the Gobi Desert. Then back to Ulaanbaatar and north to Lake Baikal, Russia. We encountered awe inspiring stimuli at every turn. We wanted to share with you some of the amazing things Mongolia has to offer.
- The Amazing Mongolian Gobi Bear! A subspecies of the brown bear, these poor bastards were almost completely wiped off the face of the earth. At one point there were only 30 known Gobi Bears left in existence. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that a group of Russians could even confirm their existence. The climate is extremely harsh with little food to sustain these large mammals. They basically survive off dandelions and a variety of rhubarb. Only the best survive the Gobi Desert – that’s why the Mongolian Gobi Bear receives Baja Llama’s vote for ‘World’s best all around bear!’
2. The Thousand Camel Festival – Have you ever seen a camel up close? They are mesmerizing creatures and you get the feeling they are slightly smarter than they let on. Plotting – not necessarily against you, but plotting something devious. Well, not the Gobi Bactrian Camel. They just look like Genghis Khan’s animal reincarnation. The Mongolians love them, and rightfully so. The festival is held for 10 days in February and March when the temperatures are freezing. The merriments include Camel Races with traditional music and dancing.
3. The Ice Festival – We’ll just show you pictures for this as they are worth a thousand words.
4. Hunting with Eagles – Yes there is a festival for this as well. The Kazakh minority in the western part of the country gets jiggy with this festival. There is a film called the Eagle Huntress that features a 13 year old girl on her journey to becoming a master eagle hunter. I suggest you watch it to really get an idea of what a commitment this is. When we were in this region during midsummer is was f’ing cold. In the movie, she’s plowing through 2 feet of snow drift with a 20lb eagle on her arm like it’s nothing. There are only 250 or so master eagle hunters in the entire world. It takes many years to master and with so few teachers around, good luck learning!
5. Throat Singing! – The undisputed heavyweight of Mongolian icons. The sounds that resonate from their majestic throats are only found in Mongolia. Out of 200+ countries on the beautiful earth, Mongolia is the only one that developed this type of unusual singing. WHY is throat singing so special? Think of the overtones and the skill that it takes singing two notes at once that move up and down the scale independently. That is mind bending to someone like me that cant hit a high note with a joint and a Benjamin. Have a listen!