Back from Hustai National Park!

So we were sitting in the lobby of the Bayangol and who should walk in but Baaska, who was my guide for the Gobi and Ikh Nart legs of my trip in 2006! One of the nicest surprises I could have had. And, and to top it off, the driver was Omroo, who was my driver in the Gobi. Perfect. Off we went.

It turns out that the paving has been torn up for replacement on the regular road and it’s a dusty mess, so we went literally across country on the dirt tracks, so I got to see a part of the area that I hadn’t before.

Hustai ger camp at park headquarters
Hustai ger camp at park headquarters

We arrived late afternoon, got settled into our ger and had a nice dinner in the dining hall. The other artist who was joining us for the rest of the trip came in and we all met for the first time. She had come over earlier to participate in the eco-volunteer program that Hustai runs. The volunteers are trained and then help with the on-going research of the takhi reintroduction. There are now well over 200 horses.

Hustai takhi harem, late afternoon
Hustai takhi harem, late afternoon

We spent the next three days driving through the park in the morning and afternoon viewing the horses and I got lots of great reference photos. There are now 24 harems in the park, up from 15 the last time I was there. The stallion with the biggest harem has been named Temujin, which was Chinggis Khan’s birth name. We got to see him and his “girls” late one afternoon. Here’s a closeup of a takhi we saw, but you’ll have to wait for the painting to see Temujin.

Hustai takhi
Hustai takhi

We were also able to tour around to see a Buddhist ruin, a Turkic grave site and a deer stone.

Bronze Age deer stone; deer help souls go to the sky after death
Bronze Age deer stone; deer help souls go to the sky after death

It turned out that there was a science conference at the same time we were there and loads of other visitors, so the park was really busy.

We came back yesterday afternoon across country again, but by a different route and had a lovely picnic lunch by a stream lined with willows. There were also some Mongolian horses nearby and I was able to get some excellent photos of them that I’m really looking forward to painting.

We’re now in UB for the day, leaving for Arburd Sands ger camp tomorrow. Internet availability is turning out to be “interesting”, so I may not be back on until the 12th. But it’s being quite a trip and these posts are only hitting the highlights.

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