Sunday, 16 November 2008

Bayankhongor-Kharkorin 12-19 August

From Bayankhongor we headed back into the mountains to the northwest towards Kharkhorin. The first stop was Shargaljuut, an area with hot springs and an old fashioned sanitorium. After that we tried to get to the Orkhon valley via Naiman Nuur national park although we were uncertain if there were any tracks going all the way through. After several passes and a lot of asking directions at gers we got to the southern most lake in the volcanic Naiman Nuur area and there the road stopped. However, we could see the other end of the lake with the binoculars and it looked like there were some people camping with a truck. We decided to follow the horse trail around the lake to try to pick up the track on the other side. The horse trail started easy but got very rocky and steep near the end of the lake. Fortunately for us, the Mongolian family camping on the other side of the lake saw us struggling and 2 young guys came to help us carry the bikes and luggage over the last 200 m of the steep horse trail. Two days of cycling along the edge of a lava flow brought us to the Orkhon valley and the Orkhon waterfall. It was a bit of a culture shock to arrive at the waterfall, ger camps all around and 100-200 mostly Mongolian tourists. We have now clearly arrived on the popular tourist routes and the next day, after 6 weeks of cycling through Mongolia, we saw the first other tourist cyclists near Khujirt. Between Khujirt and Kharkhorin the asphalt started and we expected to have an asphalt road all the way back to Ulaanbaatar, ca 400 km. In Kharkhorin we stayed in a ger camp just outside the famous Erdene Zuu monastery. And to everyone's surprise, we met Freek and Ellen in the ger camp in Kharkhorin! I knew of course that they were in Mongolia, but not when they would be in Kharkhorin. We had 2 hours overlap and exchanged travel experiences over a nice lunch.

Our route in this blog (green line)
Onze route voor deze blog (groene lijn)

Shargaljuut hot springs
Shargaljuut hete bronnen

Shargaljuut sanitorium

The landscape has changed to grassy hills
Het landschap is veranderd in gras bedekte heuvels

First view of the main lake in the Naiman Nuur volcanics lakes national park
Eerste zicht op het grootste meer in het Naiman Nuur nationale park

Following a horse trail along the lake
We volgen een paardenpad langs het meer

Larch forest in the Naiman Nuur area
Larixbos in het Naiman Nuur gebied

A lavaflow has filled the valley, the track follows the edges
Een lavastroom heeft het dal ingevuld, het pad volgt de grillige rand

Tourist attraction: the Orkhon Khurkhee waterfall
Touristenattractie: de Orkhon Khurkhee waterval

The Orkhon Gol valley

Outer wall of the Erdene Zuu monastery in Kharkhorin
Buitenmuur van het Erdene Zuu klooster in Kharkhorin

Temples in the Erdene Zuu monastery

Inside one of the tempels of Erdene Zuu
Binnenin één van de tempels van Erdene Zuu

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