Words and photographs cannot describe the magnificence of the Mongolian steppes. It was a five hour bumpy drive to our camp, 300 km beyond the capital, traversing vast sweeping plains without fences, trees and often any other living thing in sight. At the crest of every hill another stunning vista greets you, a landscape criss-crossed by a thousand roads as the Mongols ‘make their own’ road when other tracks get cut up.
At times we shared the road with herds of wild horses, goats or cows, watched over by Mongol horsemen mounted on wooden saddles, in their traditional clothes and long boots: unbelievably beautiful and sexy. Asleep at night in the felt tent, all was quiet except for the pounding hooves of Mongol horses trotting past.
We were welcomed into a nomadic family’s yurt or ger, where these stunningly beautiful people demonstrated their warmth and hospitality by sharing food and drink, dressing me up in a gorgeous hand-sewn ceremonial costume, and laughing with us as we grappled with the wooden saddles when riding their horses.
Occasionally the outside world became apparent on the steppes – the young Mongols chatting away on mobile phones, satellite dishes outside gers and a shopkeeper near an ancient temple in the middle of nowhere reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
However, in the ancient temples and on the steppes of Mongolia, an overwhelming sense of serenity remained pervasive. What a magical and astounding country!