I woke up early Sunday morning, too excited to sleep knowing we were going to play with an army of huskies. After a quick breakfast, we jumped in the car and drove down to the Tuul River. The Tuul is a long waterway, flowing over seven hundred kilometres through northern and central Mongolia, including through Ulaanbaatar along the southern edge of the city.
The river is frozen solid during winter, so we drove right out into the centre of the ice to meet the dog-sledding folk. We arrived to see the five sleds already laid out on the ice, with the dogs being taken one-by-one from the truck and hooked up to the sleds. The demeanour of the dogs ran the full gamut from irrepressible excitement to zero-fucks-given.
After an hour or so R&R, we were ready to go hiking. Everyone in the group was well-prepared, except for me. Despite the perpetually-icy streets of Ulaanbaatar, I still hadn’t bought myself a pair of winter boots. At first, I was waiting to find the best place to buy them; but after a couple of weeks of surviving totally fine, I decided maybe I didn’t need boots. So for the entire weekend, I was wearing a flimsy pair of Diesel running shoes that were so old there was little-to-no grip left on the soles.
I spent a weekend with friends visiting Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. This beautiful expanse of largely-untouched wilderness is located about 65 kilometres—or a 90 minute drive—East of central Ulaanbaatar. A lush green paradise in Summer, Terlelj is still a beautiful place to visit in the dead of Winter. With an overnight stay in a traditional ger, we had the opportunity to enjoy horse-riding, dog-sledding, hiking, plus we visited some local landmarks. Well worth the trip!
The weekend began with a lazy 930am start to meet Bold, our guide and driver. The trip out to Terelj was interesting. For the first hour we drove past mixed residential and industrial neighbourhoods, the density falling the further we drove. The smoke haze of UB continued all the way to these outer areas, albeit not as thick as the city centre. The mountains surrounding UB seem to hold in the pollution, preventing it from dissipating. It wasn’t until we crested a mountain that we finally escaped the smoke bowl. From then on, the trip was beautiful, with clear skies and pristine countryside all around. Continue reading Mongolia: A weekend in Terelj (Part 1 of 3)