Our Mongolia Photo tour to the reindeer herders is one of those trips where the journey truly outweighs the destination. It is a photographic journey in Mongolia that resembles a small photographic expedition.This is a journey where life and personal experience is intertwined with the joy of being one of the few photographic witnesses of these images.
We will be able to participate in photographic sessions being part of Tsaatan daily life by milking reindeer, making cheese, foraging pine nuts, and sleeping in typical teepee-shaped tents known as ortz.
Our Mongolia Photo tour to the Reindeer Herders is one of those trips where the journey truly outweighs the destination. The Tsaatan are a nomadic Mongolian reindeer herder minority group. The most well-known are located in the Taiga beyond Lake Hövsgöl, at the country's northernmost point.
We will drive in 4WD vehicles on the trails of Darkhad Valley after leaving the remote city of Murun. Throughout the journey we will discover several of the world's most pristine landscapes, have spectacular views: wild horses, yaks and golden eagles. We will meet unbelievable local people and speak about the joys and hardships of nomadic life.
A relationship that stood the test of time between humans and animals, and a culture that has a deep respect for the earth and its gifts.
It is a photographic journey in Mongolia that resembles a small photographic expedition. Travelers/photographers will witness a fascinating culture.
This is a journey where life and personal experience is intertwined with the joy of being one of the few photographic witnesses of these images. We will be able to participate in photographic sessions being part of Tsaatan daily life by milking reindeer, making cheese, foraging pine nuts, and sleeping in typical teepee-shaped tents known as ortz.
Even by Mongolian standards, the taiga is remote. In the capital we will sleep in first class hotels. Our transport will be Japanese made 4x4s cars instead of the typical Russian vans, as those are uncomfortable for long trips or off roading. The country is largely devoid of roads, making overland travel time-consuming.
We will drive in 4WD vehicles on the trails of Darkhad Valley after leaving the remote city of Murun. Throughout the journey we will discover several of the world's most pristine landscapes, have spectacular views and wild horses, yaks and golden eagles, meet unbelievable local people with their arms and speak about the joys and hardships of nomadic life.
There aren't many reindeer herders left among the Tsaatan. Today, in Mongolia, their population consists of only 44 families (between 200 and 400 people). Never leaving the taiga, they have remained a distinct group from the people living at the edge of the valley or in the steppe, and are defined by their extensive knowledge of the region.
The north Mongolian harsh winters have left their faces scarred, and working in the sun has given them darker skin and a weathered body type. The expansion of gold mining in the area, as well as the government's policy to limit their hunting grounds, has accelerated the decline. The government designated the reindeer herders ' hunting grounds as a national protected area. They can't hunt at all now because it's now off-limits .
The nomadic reindeer herders follow the reindeer cycles living in their 'ortz,' inverted cone-shaped tents similar to ancient Native American tepees. The Mongolian Tsaatan are more closely related to the Sami — the reindeer herders of the Scandinavian peninsula — than to the Mongolians of the steppe. They relocated to the Taiga, a vast Siberian forest that stretches from Russia into Mongolia.
For centuries, the Tsaatan herded reindeers through the taiga, first in their native Tuva, a Russian republic, and then, after frontiers were rewritten under Soviet influence in 1944, in Mongolia. They tame and break the reindeer to be ridden when they are very young, loading them with at least 20 kilos in the first year, moving to around 40 kilos in the second year, and able to be ridden by the age of five.
We have been visiting Mongolia year after year, if you want to know about other experiences please visit the other Mongolia Photographic Adventures.
Day 1.- ARRIVALS IN ULAANBAATAR CITY AND SIGHTSEEING
Our team will pick you up at the airport and take them to the hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival, we could visit the central square and the Palace Museum Bogd Khan. At night, we will attend a traditional Mongolian cultural performance which is one of Ulaanbaatar's most interesting and authentic events.
Day 2.- HERDING NOMADS
We live the City in our cars, the adventure starts heading to Elsentasarkhai semi-desert. We will have several photography sessions throughout the day including an up-close and personal experience with horse training and breaking – watching the expert tamers weave around and rein the wild geldings in their care, and some portrait work with the nomads as they go about their daily life alongside their ever-present animals. We will as well visit camel herders and have lunch with a nomad family.
Day 3.- MURUN DRIVE WITH PHOTO SESSIONS ON THE WAY.
Today, visit nomad families along the road and a photographic session in a nomadic home. We will be traveling through the least traveled northern and central parts of Mongolia. The nomads are as authentic as they can be in this area of Mongolia.
We will explore areas with deer stones along the way. The first human monuments are the Deer Stones, most of which date to the Bronze Age from the 13th to the 9th Century BC. The images of sun, moon, belts, cloaks, and jumping deer have all been fantastically sculpted on the restored, standing stones.
Day 4.- CITY OF TSAGAAN
Drive to Tsagaan Nuur remote city with photo stops en route, via the Darkhad depression.
Day 5.- VISIT THE REINDEER HERDING TSAATAN TRIBE.
Drive a short distance to the edge of the Taiga forest. 12 km horse riding to the Tsataan reindeer herders' camp, also known as the Dukha tribe. Meet the Tsaatans, observe their lifestyle.
Day 6.- TWO FULL DAYS WITH THE TSATAAN REINDEER HERDERS.
The group spends two entire days taking pictures of everyday life, activities, and photo-sessions with the reindeer herders.
Day 7.- RETURN TO TSAGAAN NUUR TOWN.
12 km horseback riding and short driving to Tsagaan Nuur. Have a shower and refresh from the Reindeer adventures. The nomads near Tsagaan Nuur town live in small wooden houses. We will visit a couple of homes.
Day 8,9,10.- MURUN-UGII LAKE-ULAAN BAATAR
The journey itself is a big part of the experience. It must be remembered that this is a country of vast expanses and, even by the standards of the locals, the reindeer herders are in a very remote area. We return from our remote origin to Ulaan Baatar in our 4WD cars with photographic stops, visits to nomads, and overnight stays at Murun, Ugii Lake, and finally Ulaan Baatar
Day 11.- LAST DAY, DEPARTURES
Transfer to the airport and end of our services.