On Saturday morning, July 7, we drove by bus west out of Ulaan Baatar into the countryside, to the Elsen Tasarkhai region. This was our first opportunity to see the broad plains and large herds of animal for which Mongolia is famous.
Horses in a watering hole
Mixed flock of sheep and goats
Later in the day, we saw demoiselle cranes, as well as numerous raptors.
About noon we arrived at Hoyor Zagal Ger Camp, the first of three at which we will stay on this trip. Gers are called yurts in most other countries, and correspond to the tepees of the nomadic American Indians. They can be taken down, transported, and reassembled in half an hour.
The interior of our ger.
A contemporary ger as used by the local people, with solar panel, satellite dish, and motorcycle.
In the afternoon we drove to the remarkably fractured, rocky mountains nearby where we visited an abandoned monastery perched on a cliff.
A white stupa, containing Buddhist relics, with the monastery in the background.
A lower temple was not abandoned, and was tended by this serene and dignified woman.
The pieces in front of the busts are sculpted from dyed yak butter, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
A colorful carved horse, adorned with prayer scarves.
The largely abandoned community and the seemingly infinite plain, viewed from the cliff.