The WildArt Mongolia Expedition, Part 1: Departure and Our First Camp

Expedition members and staff, from left to right: Oidoviin Magvandorj (Mongol artist), Sendag (driver), Odna Idevkhen (Mongol photographer), Tugsoyun Sodnom (Mongol artist), Susan Fox (American artist), Batmaa (driver), Tseegii (guide), Sharon K. Schafer (American artist); photo by Soyoloo our great cook
Expedition members and staff, from left to right: Oidoviin Magvandorj (Mongol artist), Sendag (driver), Odna (Mongol photographer), Tugsoyun Sodnom (Mongol artist), Susan Fox (American artist), Batmaa (driver), Tseegii (guide), Sharon K. Schafer (American artist); photo by Soyoloo our great cook

Two years of planning all came together on August 23, 2013 when the first WildArt Mongolia Expedition departed from Ulaanbaatar in two Russian fergon vans, heading south and then west for a nineteen day adventure that combined art, endangered wildlife, Mongol culture and spectacular scenery.

We began in this:

View looking south from my 12th floor room at the Bayangol Hotel
View looking south to Bogd Khan Uul from my 12th floor room at the Bayangol Hotel

And within a few hours, found ourselves traveling through this:

Heading south into the steppe-Gobi transition zone
Heading south into the steppe-Gobi transition zone
Just one of those things you encounter on the road in Mongolia, local livestock
Just one of those things you encounter on the road in Mongolia, local livestock

I had in mind a very special place for our first camp…But first we needed to fill our water barrel from a local well. We also got lots of great horse photos.

Getting water
Getting water with assistance from local herders and a generator

Then it was on to our campsite…near my favorite sacred mountain, Zorgul Hairhan Uul.

Zorgol Hairhan Uul
Zorgol Hairhan Uul

Once camp was set up, we relaxed and had afternoon tea in the maikhan (Mongol summer tent).

Chatting in the maikhan
Chatting in the maikhan; from left to right: Guide Tseegii, artist Tugsoyun, artist Magvandorj, artist Sharon Schafer, photographer Odna

The next morning we were up in time to catch the first light on the mountain.

First Light
First Light

Magvandorj set up his easel and went to work.

Magvandorj painting on location
Magvandorj painting on location

There was a small lake at the foot of the mountain, which we explored that morning.

Morning light on the small lake
Morning light on the small lake

Odna, Sharon and I took lots of photos.

Odna and Sharon taking photos
Odna and Sharon

There was a white stupa at the base of the mountain.

The white stupa
The white stupa backed by a great rock formation

And a sacred spring on the backside, set about with prayer wheels and trees festooned with colorful khadag (offering scarves).

Khadag and prayer wheels
Khadag and prayer wheels

This is what our camps looked like during the Expedition.

The view  from camp looking away from the mountain
The view from camp looking away from the mountain

By late morning we were packed up and on our way to our next stop, Arburd Sands ger camp and a very special event.

Arburd Sands ger camp
Arburd Sands ger camp

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