Guys, I'm back! Finally, after nearly one month I'm very eager to share with you what I've been up to during all this time. For those who follow me on social media it's no secret though. As for those who don't -> I spent the last weeks sleeping in yurts, crossing rivers, driving through mountains, tasting unknown delicacies and, above all, meeting people in Mongolia.
I've been waiting for this trip impatiently, as it remained a big unknown till the very beginning. Mongolia is far from being a popular destination and I didn't have much idea about nomadic way of life nor anything that it might imply. Isn't it a promising recipe for a real adventure?
Stepping out of one's comfort zone definitely is a good recipe and my previous travels set the bar pretty high in this regard. As for Mongolia, in spite of many uncertainties, I could be sure of two things: breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable encounters. A two-weeks stay greatly exceeded any expectations that I might have beforehand.
Mongolia is characterized by a very low population density (about 1.8 inhabitants per square kilometer), still, opportunities to meet and spend time with locals turned out to be quite numerous and hence I wasn't lacking occasions to make some portraits too.
The very first one happened to be Naadam - one of many outdoor sport festivals organized across the country. With such disciplines as horse racing, wrestling or archery, I couldn't wish for a better chance to get in the nomad vibes and start to shoot.
Horses, camels and yaks together with gentle slopes and green steppe created a perfect background for taking photos.
Set up around 50km from Ulaanbaatar, this Naadam was without fail a very touristy experience and better occasion to get to know Mongol people were yet to come.
Among them, meeting Tsaatan family, living by the Khövsgöl lake was very enriching. Being a part of a small community of reindeer herders it's not very difficult to interact with them as many established themselves near roads in view of tourists passing by. Spending some time with a family settled by the lake appeared to be much more interesting. Even at first glance their way of life seems to be much different, as shelters are not yurts but tepees made of birch bark and resembling Native-Americans homes. This is just an appearance though and they live totally differently from most other people in Mongolia and around the world, reindeers occupying an extremely important place in their lives.
As much as petting those beautiful creatures was a true bliss, the most intense and touching experience throughout the whole journey, was spending the evening and night out in the mountains with a family of our awesome driver - Chuka. Making it possible to take a bit more of intimate photos as well.
I could hardly be happier than when following in the footsteps of little Byambaa during her everyday duties. Taking care of animals, milking cows with her mom and uncle, preparing and sharing a khorkhog and in free time riding a horse with her 7 years old friend - I felt very grateful that they let us participate in their daily life.
The time after dinner, sprinkled with vodka generously offered by our host and spent in company of even more family members turned out to be a cherry on top of the whole trip. The language barrier has melted as jokes and singing altogether created an unique atmosphere and precious memories.