Hours pile up traveling through the steppes of Mongolia. With mostly flat or winding grasslands stretching as far as the eyes can see, it's easy to get lulled to sleep or get hypnotized by the sheer "emptiness" of the landscape ahead of you. I was simply mesmerized.
Khustain Nuruu National Park is located in the Tov aimag (province) southwest of Ulaan Baatar. Also known as Hustai National Park (or "Birch Mountains"), the park has been declared a protected area after the re-introduction of the wild horse, the takhi (Przewalski's horse) to Hustain. The animal sanctuary is a vast 50,600 hectare land.
My travel outside the capital required a tour agency (duly registered by the authorities) that supplied a 4x4 vehicle and a driver, a daily tariff fee, payments to ger camp accommodations and the driver's food (as well as petrol). I'd have chosen to share the burden with another tourist, but on an off-season like May, just before Nadaam, their major festival in June, visitors weren't exactly a dime a dozen.
Make no mistake. Traveling through Mongolia is not cheap. The hotels in Ulaan Baatar are relatively expensive, despite paucity of the most common amenities, even in 5 star hotels. The gorgeous Blue Sky Hotel and Tower, for example, doesn't even have air conditioning - or electric fans, for that matter - due to weather conditions in the country. On its fleeting summer days, rooms swelter.
The steppes feed Mongolia's major industry, the cattle. This is why a good number of the population still lives the life of a nomad. They have to intermittently move around the grasslands to provide adequate "food" for the cows, the goats, the sheep, etc. Steppes are mainly unmarked so I was dumbfounded by my driver's "intuition", as he drove on roadless patches of grass to get to my ger camp. No GPS needed, apparently.
If I wanted adventure, this couldn't be far from one.
This is the Eye in the Sky!