Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Least Densely Populated Country on the Planet

Hey everyone!

I'm back from my AWESOME 3 week canoe trip through northern Mongolia and, man, what an experience. We started at Lake Khovsgol and followed it's only connecting river, the Eg River. 295 miles later, we connected with the (much) larger Selenge River which we paddled for a few days until we ended our trip just north of Erdenet. 


So we embarked on July 1st, with our boats, our gear, and three weeks worth of food crammed in the backseat of out Japanese minivan. We spent the previous day packing/waterproofing:

I wish I could say that the scotch tape worked. RIP watch. 
It took us 2 days to reach Lake Khovsgol, which was a little longer than it should have been. Because what trip through Mongolia is complete until you break down?

The lake is famous for many a thing, including the Reindeer People! We stopped to have a looksie at these poor reindeer whose life had come to posing for pictures for stupid tourists. 

If possible, enlarge this photo. The reindeer is totally peeing!
Then, finally, the lake! We camped one night on the lake before setting off the next morning towards the river. Khovsgol is THE most beautiful lake I have ever seen. It's water is impossibly blue and crystal clear. It would have been PERFECT swimming conditions if the lake hadn't melted only 3 weeks earlier. 

The crew. Eric, Carolyn, and Pico

Not edited at all!
And onto the Eg River!

No camels here. Only yaks!
Like my hat, dad?


Eric brought with him some fishing poles, so everyday, we attempted to fish. None of us had any luck, except for Eric, who kept us well fed throughout the trip. He taught me how to clean a fish! Oh, and these are just little trouty guys, but check out what ELSE was swimming in those waters: TAIMEN

Takin a rest in an abandoned summer house. 
I should go ahead and say here, that it was around this time, the river turned on us - fast currents, narrow turns, flooded banks, and overhanging trees. It was a scary two days. We did overturn on of the boats (we recovered everything minus a paddle), but (and if you know me at ALL, you will not be surprised by this), my camera, despite being inside 2 garbage bags AND a dry bag, got wet. For the remainder of the trip, I was camera-less and so these pics coming up are taken on Carolyn's camera and usually by Carolyn.

Eric's Counterpart's Family. We stopped in Tishig, a nearby soum and they fed us and housed us for a night!

When it rained, we put up a shanty, played cards, and attempted to eat some of our melted snack food. 
Oh, the title of this post. Mongolia is the least densely populated country ON THE PLANET. And yet, apart from the few times we camped on islands, we were never not in sight of a ger or within earshot of a motorcycle. But that is one of the greatest things about this country. You could be in the middle of nowhere (which we were) and still find a couch to crash on. We usually were visited by the nearby Mongolian family when they noticed our presence, which 9 times out of 10 was a wonderful experience. They would bring us milk, aral (sour milk product), airag (Mongolian homemade vodka), and usually a 2 liter of fresh milk. What a wonderfully generous and kind culture this is.

(oh, the 1 in 10 bad experience was usually a Mongolian who came to watch us. Just watch us. Like we were tigers in a zoo).

The nicest family we met. The little girl is trying on our lifevest.

How Mongolian we've become! Makin huushuur for dinner (and breakfast)
Our final campsite. 
Boy howdy, Northern Mongolia is pretty. 


  1. Thanks for the photos. This looks like a place for me to visit, but the nearest golf course might be a bit of a trip. Good luck on your next adventure and keep me informed.

  2. Thanks for continuing to share your adventures. I'm enjoying sharing them vicariously.

  3. Snag, that canoeing trip looks incredible. Jealous. Miss you!