Giraffe silhouetted in the Sunrise, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Giraffe in the Sunrise
The view from the truck, as we bounced across the roads in Northern Namiba’s Etosha National Park, was just breathtaking!

It was a dream-come-true: riding around in a truck with a pop-up roof across the open grasslands of Northern Namibia.

When I had the opportunity to travel with a small group of photography enthusiasts under the guidance of photographer Ben McRae and local guide guide Morne Griffiths, I had a momentary pang of guilt: I don’t know how many times my husband and I had planned travel to Africa, only to have something crop up in our schedules to make the trips impossible.

The guilt passed quickly once I was sitting overlooking a Namibian waterhole! (see: A day at the Waterhole)

I had my first taste of the African waterhole experience at a bush camp in Kamanjab, where we stopped overnight before continuing on to the magical Etosha National Park. Waterholes are like a zoo in reverse: people are behind protective fences or in their vehicles while the animals come and go as they please. 

It was nerve-wracking driving across the savannah, scanning the seemingly empty horizon and then seeing SOMETHING! anything – and stopping; standing on the seats of the vehicle to aim the cameras out from under the pop-top. Oh, how I envied the other people with their 400mm zoom lenses!

Watching the waterholes, on the other hand, was absolutely mesmerising: you sit, anytime of day or night, and the animals follow their own rhythms – coming and going. We had pitched our tents at Namutoni Camp for two nights, next to the King Nehale Waterhole on the eastern side of Etosha National Park. I could wander out to the waterhole and watch the animals all day long; I could set up my tripod and attempt to take pictures under the low, low, yellow light that was cast over the scene after dark; or I could lay in my tent at night and listen to the jackals fighting over the jerky someone had left in the next tent, with the roar of lions in the distance.

Never mind “Out of Africa”; I was finally in it!

Waterbuck Kobus Ellipsiprymnus at a waterhole, Kamanjab, Namibia

Waterbuck – Kobus Ellipsiprymnus
If you build a waterhole, the animals will come … especially if you are in a game reserve.

Waterbuck Kobus Ellipsiprymnus at a waterhole, Kamanjab, Namibia

Waterbuck – Kobus Ellipsiprymnus

Rock Hyrax Procavia Capensis on a rocky outcrop, Kamanjab, Namibia

Rock Hyrax – Procavia Capensis
Many of the animals are a delightful surprise: hyraxes are a primitive mammal with characteristics in common with elephants, manatees and dugongs.

Rock Hyrax (Procavia Capensis) on a rocky outcrop, Kamanjab, Namibia

Rock Hyrax – Procavia Capensis
They are like irresistible teddies with grins.

Pririt Batis - Batis Pririt in bushes, Kamanjab, Namibia

Pririt Batis – Batis Pririt

Hyena in the Sunrise, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Hyena in the Sunrise
An early morning ride in the truck gives us unique views over the veld: the hyenas are up early.

View from the Truck : Hyena in the Sunrise, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Hyena (Hyaenidae) on the Veld

Etosha Pan, Etosha National Park Namibia

Etosha Pan
In the language of the Ovambo people, Etosha means ‘great white place’; the Etosha Pan, which covers approximately 4,800 square kilometres, is the largest salt pan in Africa.

Gemsbok (Oryx Gazella), Etosha National Park Namibia

Gemsbok (Oryx Gazella)
The large oryx are a beautiful animal – and a popular menu item in Namibia where “vegetarian” is a foreign concept.

White Rhino (Ceratotherium Simum), Etosha National Park Namibia

White Rhino (Ceratotherium Simum)
Our reward for getting up early is a white or square-lipped rhinoceros – with a couple of giraffe on the horizon for good measure! The largest of the five rhino species, the white rhino has been brought back from the very brink of extinction, but is still considered threatened.

White Rhino (Ceratotherium Simum), Etosha National Park Namibia

White Rhino (Ceratotherium Simum)
The massive beast doesn’t tolerate our presence long before shuffling away at surprising speed.

Kori Bustard (Ardeotis Kori), Etosha National Park Namibia

Kori Bustard (Ardeotis Kori)
I couldn’t help but think of “All Creatures Great and Small” as I watched the small birds and huge mammals that co-exist on the savanna. The kori bustard is the largest flying bird native to Africa.

Guinea Fowl (Hamanumida daedalus), Etosha National Park Namibia

Guinea Fowl (Hamanumida daedalus)
While the fat-bodied guinea fowl can fly, they are more likely to run around at ground level.

Gemsbok (Oryx Gazella), Etosha National Park Namibia

Gemsbok (Oryx Gazella)

Gemsbok (Oryx Gazella), Etosha National Park Namibia

Oryx on the Run

Springbok jumping away, Etosha National Park Namibia

Springing Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis)
I never tired of watching the dainty-looking springbok hop and run. Protected in Etosha National Park, in nearby game parks, springbok are raised for their popular meat.

Two Gnus on the salt pan, Etosha National Park Namibia

Two Gnus
Not the most elegant of antelopes, the large wildebeests tended to cluster near the waterholes.
I grew up listening to Flanders and Swann’s songs about animals, including: “I’m a Gnu”. Every time I saw these creatures, I’d end up singing: “I’m a g-nu, spelled g-n-u… You really ought to k-now w-ho’s w-ho!”

Zebra, Etosha National Park Namibia

In distinct contrast with the gnus, the zebras are quite beautiful.

Laughing Doves

Laughing Doves

Black Backed Jackals (Canis mesomelas), Etosha National Park Namibia

Black Backed Jackal (Canis Mesomelas)
In the evening, as the light and temperature drop, the jackals come out to the King Nehale Waterhole on the eastern side of Etosha National Park.

Black Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas), Etosha National Park Namibia

Black Backed Jackal (Canis Mesomelas)
I love how the angled evening light catches their fur!

Giraffe in the dark, King Nehale Waterhole, Etosha National Park Namibia

Giraffe at the Waterhole
After dark, the animals come out: …

Giraffes in the dark, King Nehale Waterhole, Etosha National Park Namibia

Giraffes at the Waterhole
… singly, and in pairs.

White Rhinos in the dark, King Nehale Waterhole, Etosha National Park Namibia

White Rhinos at the Waterhole
The rhinoceroses are a treat; an added layer of hush falls over the animal-watchers around the waterhole when they come out.

White Rhinos in the dark, King Nehale Waterhole, Etosha National Park Namibia

White Rhinos at the Waterhole

Oryx and Rhino, King Nehale Waterhole, Etosha National Park Namibia.

Oryx and Rhino
It is fascinating watching all the animals take their turns.

And then, there were the elephants! 

They stand alone, so I’ll save them for another day.

Until next time – 

Happy Travels!

Pictures: 18-20August2015

Gloved hands mixing Gado Gado in a stone mortar, Bali Indonesia

“Gado Gado” or Jukut Santok
Gado gado means, quite literally, “mix mix”. Gado gado is a mixed vegetable salad combined with a spicy, flavoursome peanut sauce, and is an Indonesian favourite popular in Bali.

One of the many joys of travel is the food. I love food! 

I also love markets, and the insight they give into the everyday lives of the local people.

Combine those two components: food and markets, and I am in my element! So, I was very excited to read that the special package deal I’d organised at a resort at Sanur Beach, Bali, included a trip to the market and a cooking class.

My husband and I got up early to meet the chef at the appointed time of 6:30 am and to pick out a bicycle in order to ride the 3.5 kilometres to Pasar Tradisional Desa Sanur, the Sindhu Traditional Market – the principal fresh-food market in the Sanur Village area.

I have never seen a market so clean!

It turns out that this cleanliness is no accident. First opened in 1972, Sindhu Market was originally more ‘traditional’, that is, it was dark and dirty, with piles of refuse and puddles of water under-foot – especially during the rainy season. Because the market is in a tourism area, the Sanur community and the local government decided, in 2009, to renovate the market and promote it as a tourist destination.

Today, the market is beautifully clean, well lit, and orderly. It still services the local community, but it also attracts visitors and their tourist dollars. 

After seeing where the ingredients come from, we got to watch them being combined into gado gado and satay lilit.

Join me on a culinary adventure!

Cyclists - one in chef

Following the Chef to Market
It’s still pretty quiet on the Sanur Beach roads as we follow the chef to the local morning market.

Fish on a counter in Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Fish Sales – Sindhu Traditional Market
I spend a lot of time in markets when I’m travelling; this was easily the cleanest and most orderly one I’ve been in. It turns out that that is no accident: in 2009, the Sanur community came together to revitalize the market, renovating the stalls, expanding the aisles, conducting repairs on the ceiling and drainage, before covering the floors and counters with easy-clean white ceramic tiles.

Portrait of a Balinese man in chef

Chef Widastra
Our chef and guide points out some of the herbs and spices commonly used in Balinese cooking, although he confesses that the food that is served at the resort where we are staying comes from a different supplier.

Portrait of a female Balinese shopkeeper, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

While this is a “traditional” market, many of its customers are tourists, and the shopkeepers are friendly and welcoming.

Courtyard, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Market Courtyard

Butterfly Sewing Machine in a crowded space of fabrics, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Butterfly Sewing Machine

Balinese woman making offerings, , Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Making Offerings
Balinese Hindu practices are a central part of everyday life; …

Balinese woman making offerings, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Focus on the Working Hands
… there are people making offering trays from banana leaf everywhere.

Female Balinese preparing to refresh offerings, Sanur, Bali

Placing the Offerings
Offerings are bought (or homemade) for placing in front of houses and buildings; on ancestor- or house-shrines; at shrines in temples; and in shops and markets.

Fresh Greenery, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Fresh Greenery
One of the beauties of the tropics is the fresh food …

Flowers on a tray, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

… and fresh flowers at every turn.

Silver fish with sharp-looking teeth, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Needle-Nosed Fish

Parrotfishes, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali


Parrotfishes, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali


Balinese woman dishing up food over rice, Sanur, Bali

Dishing up Meals
You are never far from fresh, tasty food in Bali (or anywhere else in Southeast Asia for that matter!)

Balinese woman selling eggs, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Egg Lady

Taro, Turmeric, and Ginger, Sindhu traditional market, Sanur, Bali

Taro, Turmeric, Galangal, and Ginger
Balinese food relies on a complex spice and herb mix, including coriander, turmeric, galangal, ginger, chili, nutmeg, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. The different rhizomes and root vegetables all look much the same to me.

Sindhu Traditional Market, Sanur Beach Bali

Sindhu Traditional Market
We take a last look of  the market before we leave to cycle back to the resort to have breakfast ahead of attending a cooking class which will show us to how all the ingredients go together.

Lemongrass and chilis in a decorative bowl, Demonstration Kitchen Fairmont Sanur Beach, Bali

Ingredients in the Demonstration Kitchen
The ingredients make a colourful display in the demonstration kitchen, where we meet with Chef Dewa who will walk us through the day’s Balinese menu.

Ingredients for Base Be Pasih - Balinese Seafood Spice Paste, Demonstration Kitchen Fairmont Sanur Beach, Bali

Ingredients for Base Be Pasih
The ingredients for the Base Be Pasih – the Balinese Spice Paste for Seafood – are lined up, fresh and colourful.

Balinese chef Making Satay Lilit, Demonstration Kitchen Fairmont Sanur Beach, Bali

Making Satay Lilit
Chef Dewa shows us how seasoned minced snapper is attached to skewers of balsa or lemongrass, …

Balinese chef Making Satay Lilit, Demonstration Kitchen Fairmont Sanur Beach, Bali

Making Satay Lilit
… continuing until the skewers are ready for grilling.

Mixing peanuts and spices in a stone mortar, Demonstration Kitchen Fairmont Sanur Beach, Bali

Making Peanut Sauce
While the fish satay skewers are cooking, Chef Dewa grinds peanuts in a large stone mortar, seasoning with palm sugar, chili, galangal, fried garlic, kaffir lime, and salt before adding water …

Mixing Gado Gado in a stone mortar, Demonstration Kitchen Fairmont Sanur Beach, Bali

Gado Gado or Jukut Santok
… and mixing in the freshly cooked vegetables, to beforemake the gado gado that I love.

Text: Bon Appétit

And then we got to eat it all. It doesn’t get better than that!

Until next time, 

Bon Appétit!

Pictures: 27January2017

  • sidran - March 21, 2017 - 7:39 am

    Wow !I am also fond of visiting the local markets.This colorful market reminds me of the local market at Thimphu.Have you been there?ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 23, 2017 - 8:23 am

      Hi Sidran! I’ve been to Thimphu, but I don’t remember the markets very well ..,ReplyCancel

Waterfall on the Jenolan River, NSW Australia

Waterfalls on the Jenolan River
The Jenolan Caves area is as interesting above-ground as it is below.

I lived within easy reach of Australia’s Blue Mountains for many years, and while I’d take visitors up there regularly for day-trips and hikes, I guess I rather took them for granted. I knew some of the stories of the hardships the early explorers (Blaxland, Wentworth, Lawson, and their unnamed servants) faced trying to find a path through the rugged terrain that seems to extend forever (1813), but the current road is a vast improvement over the one forged a year later (1814) by William Cox.

What I didn’t realise was that the Greater Blue Mountains Area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage area of Outstanding Universal Value in 2000 for (among other things) “its exceptional expression of the structural and ecological diversity of the eucalypts associated with its wide range of habitats.” The post-Gondwana isolation of the Australian continent has lead to a unique diversification of plant life.

Just west of the Blue Mountains – but still within the Greater Blue Mountains UNESCO Area, there is a honeycomb of limestone caves considered by many to be one of the world’s most spectacular cave formations. Created about 340 million years ago, the complex is certainly the oldest known and dated open cave system in the world. The network of caverns, set aside as the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve, is still being explored, with more than 40 kilometres (25 mi) of multi-level passages identified.

For thousands of years, the waters in some of the caves were used by local indigenous peoples for their healing powers. The first Europeans known to visit and explore the caves were brothers Charles and James Whalan around 1838, and visitors have toured the caves from the 1840s. Today, eleven of the cave systems are open to the public, under the guidance and management of the Jenolan Caves Reserve Trust and the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service.

I first visited Jenolan Caves back in the early 1980s. Last year, while my husband and I were making plans for a road-trip up-country, Jenolan Caves House advertised some special over-night deals. 

The opportunity to go back was too good to pass up!

Jenolan Cave House, NSW Australia

Jenolan Cave House
Built in 1896, Jenolan Caves House was added to the NSW State Heritage Register in 2004. The rooms have been renovated to include en-suites and modern bedding, but otherwise are little changed from earlier days. Dinner in Chisolm’s Restaurant – in what used to be the Grand Dining Room – overlooking the blue-green mountainside, is a real treat.

Red Flowers, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia

Pink-Purple Wildflowers

De Burgh

De Burgh’s Bridge
Entry to the Grand Arch and Caves House is over an old stone bridge, called Limestone Bridge or De Burgh’s Bridge, built in 1895.

Low-light Portrait: Female Jenolan Caves Guide, NSW Australia

Cave Guide
The light disappears under the Grand Arch where we meet our Cave Guide. She had led the Imperial Cave Tour many times before, and was extremely knowledgable. But, she was as excited as if it was her first time and her enthusiasm was infectious.

Entrance to the Imperial Cave, Jenolan Caves, NSW Australia

Entrance to the Imperial Cave
The easiest cave for visitors because it has the fewest steps, Imperial Cave was first seen by Europeans in 1879.

The Underground River, Imperial Cave, Jenolan NSW Australia

Jenolan’s Underground River
Down a long spiral staircase in Imperial Cave, we come to an underground river so clear that we can see the limestone-coated rocks on the bottom.

Ceiling in the Imperial Cave, Jenolan, NSW Australia

Ceiling in the Imperial
The Imperial Cave tour spends about an hour wandering through the 1070 metres of tunnels and caverns.

Stalactites, Stalagmites, and Columns in Imperial Cave, Jenolan NSW Australia

Stalactites, Stalagmites, and Columns
The Imperial Cave features the usual beautiful speleothems (crystallised structures made from mineral deposits); … 

Waves of Crystal near the entrance to Imperial Cave, Jenolan NSW Australia

Waves of Crystal
… these deposits are built on a basis of limestone embedded with ancient marine fossils. More recently, bones of a Tasmanian devil – long extinct on the Australian mainland – and a wallaby have also been found.

Ceiling in Imperial Cave, Jenolan NSW Australia

Delicate Stalactites
The speleothems are still growing – albeit ever so slowly.

Curtains and Shawls in Imperial Cave, Jenolan NSW Australia

Curtains and Shawls

Rain on De Burgh

Rain on De Burgh’s Bridge
When we came out of the Imperial Cave, the rains had set in. 

Jenolan Cave House, NSW Australia

Rain on Cave House
We called it a day, made a dash for Caves House, and dressed for dinner.

Purple Flowers, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia

Purple Wildflowers

Jenolan Caves House from the back, NSW Australia

Caves House
The next day dawned bright and clear. We walked up the hill to the Binoomea Cut, 

Jenolan Caves Guide at the entrance to Binoomea Cut, NSW Australia

Guide at the Binoomea Cut
… the man-made tunnel entrance leading into the Temple of Baal Cave.

Crystal stalactites Temple of Baal , Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Crystal Stalactites
The two large chambers that make up the Temple of Baal Cave are known for their beauty.

Angel Wings in the Temple of Baal, Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Angel’s Wing in the Temple of Baal
The 9-metre formation known as the Angel’s Wing is one of the largest cave shawls in the world.

Delicate crystal Designs in the Temple of Baal, Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Delicate Flowstones
The Temple of Baal was named by early cave explorers after the biblical story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal.

Light Behind short curtain crystals in the Temple of Baal, Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

The Light Behind

Curtains in the Temple of Baal, Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Curtains in the Temple of Baal

Rivers of Crystal in the Temple of Baal, Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Rivers of Crystal in the Temple of Baal

Starting point of The River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Jenolan River Walk
We had just enough time after our cave tour to complete the Jenolan River Walk – a 3 km trip, out and back.

Water Dragon on the River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Water Dragon
Plenty of little water dragons …

Skink on the River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Skink on the Path
… and skinks were out enjoying the beautiful sunny day.

Tree Fern on Blue Lake, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Tree Fern on Blue Lake
The Jenolan River Walk starts out alongside the beautiful aqua-marine Blue Lake.

Wier on Blue Lake, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Wier on Blue Lake
Blue Lake is man-made; the water from the weir, built in 1908, generated electricity to light the caves and Cave House.

Rock Orchid - Dendrobium Speciosum , River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Rock Orchid – Dendrobium Speciosum

Waterfall on the Jenolan River, NSW Australia

Waterfall on the Jenolan River

Leaves in the Light, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Leaves in the Light

Maidenhair Fern - Adiantum Aethiopicum, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Maidenhair Fern – Adiantum Aethiopicum
I’m always amazed when plants I used to coax along in my apartment thrive in the wild!

Red Belly Black Snake, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Red Belly Black Snake – Pseudechis Porphyriacus
In the undergrowth below us – well out of harm’s way – a red-bellied black snake suns itself.

Suspension Bridge, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Suspension Bridge
The path, while short, has plenty of interest and variety.

Blueberry Flax-Lilies – Dianella Revoluta, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Blueberry Flax-Lilies – Dianella Revoluta

Waterfall on the Jenolan River, NSW Australia

Waterfalls on the Jenolan River
The track ends at a picnic area next to the old Jenolan Caves Hydro Electric plant, and some very pretty waterfalls.

Tree Fern on Blue Lake, River Walk, Jenolan Caves Reserve, NSW Australia.

Back at Blue Lake
We retrace our steps …

Crimson Rosella - Platycercus Elegans, Jenolan Caves NSW Australia

Crimson Rosella – Platycercus Elegans
… and share our lunch at the coffee-shop with a cheeky rosella before driving back over De Burgh’s Bridge towards home. (iPhone6)

Text: Take only Pictures

We could have easily spent a lot more time there – there were many more caves we could have explored, and more walks we could have taken…

I hope it’s not another thirty years before I get back!

Until next time…

Pictures: 20-21November2016

  • Gabe - March 10, 2017 - 2:23 am

    It was a lovely caving experienceReplyCancel

  • Carolyn Melbourne - March 13, 2017 - 1:30 am

    I love your post, especially the images. I always love cave images that contain people, to show the scale of the caverns. Kacy and Stu will be very pleased to see the nice pics of themselves!ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 13, 2017 - 2:02 am

      So pleased you enjoyed the post, Carolyn. We sure enjoyed our weekend. 😄ReplyCancel

  • sidran - March 21, 2017 - 7:33 am

    Lovely post.No wonder this is a UNESCO site.Amazing patterns and I like the bridges too.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 23, 2017 - 8:20 am

      Thanks so much, Sidran! I’m so glad to have your visit. 😄ReplyCancel

Great White Lake Foreshore (Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur) Mongolia

Great White Lake
Chunks of volcanic rock on the foreshore of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur pay homage to the nearby now-extinct Khorgo Volcano.

Once upon a time, a giant took a large rock and threw it away. The rock made a great hole where it landed. When the giant looked around, he saw a white surface, and he exclaimed: “Look, a white lake!” This exclamation is quite literally the meaning of the Mongolian name for Great White LakeTerkhiin Tsagaan Nuur. 

The real story behind the formation of this beautiful fresh-water lake in the Khangai Mountains in central Mongolia is not so very different from the legend: the spewing of lava from the nearby Khorgo Volcano dammed up an old river. The lake remains frozen much of the year – hence the ‘white’ part of its name.

The water was not frozen when I was there last September with a group of photographic enthusiasts organised by Within the Frame and local guides G and Segi. We were staying in the ger camp at the edge of the lake, and although the freeze had not set in, it was truly cold in the gers unless the wood was well lit; I was extremely glad of the hot water bottles photographer Jeffrey Chapman had given us!

After the long hours in the vehicle from Kharkhorin (see: From Kharkhorin to Tariat), I was happy to explore the soggy lake foreshore upon our arrival late in the afternoon, and again the next morning before breakfast – and even gladder when we got to hike up the side of the volcano!

Both are considered important scenic attractions in the Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park, which in turn is the ‘highlight’ of Arkhangai Province, just west of Mongolia’s centre on the northern slopes of the Khangai Mountains.

View from a UAZ windshield over dusty hills, Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, Mongolia

View from the UAZ
I’m not sure that you’d call it a ‘road’: it was a very rough track our Russian UAZ (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) four-wheel drive vehicles navigated to find Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur. (iPhone6)

View from a UAZ windscreen 0ver Great White Lake, Mongolia

View from the Truck 0ver Great White Lake
Somehow, the drivers found the path through, and the lake and the ger camp came into sight.

Long sweeping foreshore of Great White Lake (Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur) Mongolia

Great White Lake – Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur
The lake is 20 km long, with a sweeping foreshore.

Bubbling Waters at the edge of Great White Lake, Mongolia

Waters and Weed of Great White Lake
Nestled in the Khangai Mountains, the lake sits at 2060 metres above sea level. The waters are said to be exceptionally pure, and it is a popular camping and fishing spot.

Cairns on Great White Lake - Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, Mongolia

Cairns on Great White Lake
A spit jutting into Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur is dotted with cairns of black volcanic rock; the foreshore was too soggy for me to get a closer look.

Mushrooms in the Cow Pats at the foreshore of Great White Lake, Mongolia

Mushrooms in the Cow Pats
Mushrooms and other fungus revel in the lake’s boggy ground.

"Terkhiin Tsagaan - Цагааннуур" written in stones on the hillside, Mongolia

Terkhiin Tsagaan – Цагааннуур Camp
This is a busy complex in summer; but of course, when I visited – so close to winter – there were very few tourists.

Restaurant Tsagan Nuur Tourist Ger Camp , Mongolia

Restaurant and Mini-Market
A simple wooden building houses a shop and a restaurant. (iPhone6)

Sunset from the Tsagan Nuur Restaurant window, Mongolia

We have brought our own cook with us, so even though the season is over, we can enjoy dinner as the sun goes down over the lake. (iPhone6)

Cairn on Great White Lake - Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, Mongolia

Foreshore – Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur
The next morning, I picked my way carefully across the driest bits of land I could find.

Cairn on Great White Lake - Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, Mongolia

The cairns of rough lava-rock have an offering and a prayer inside.

UAZ and Guide on the mountainside, Khorgo Volcano Mongolia

UAZ and Guide on the Mountainside
After breakfast, we set off for the volcano. Our guide G, wearing his traditional Mongol deel, races back to meet our UAZ. The ‘road’ is more like a series of wandering tracks that meander across the hillside and head nowhere in particular. (iPhone6)

Ovoo or Obo, Khorgo Volcano, Arkhangai Province,Mongolia.

Ovoo or Obo
An ovoo or “magnificent bundle” is a sacred pile of rocks or wood. Intrinsic to Mongolian folk religion or shamanism (also called Tengerism), the piles are homes for the local master spirits. Before continuing up the hill, we conformed to local custom and circled the ovoo three times in a clockwise direction.

Walkers on path to Khorgo Uul Volcano, Mongolia

Walkers on Khorgo Volcano 
The walk up to the crater’s edge is short, and most of the path is quite gentle.

View over the landscape around Khorgo Volcano, Mongolia

View over  the Taryatu-Chulutu Volcanic Field
It’s a rugged landscape, with its volcanic rock, very little soil, and the needles of the scattering of larch trees turned yellow by the crisp autumn weather

Red Bush on Khorgo Volcano Mongolia

Red Bush on Khorgo
Khorgo Crater reaches only 2240 metres above sea level at its highest point, but the extremes of temperature have led to some hardy shrubs.

Lichen-covered Rocks on Khorgo Volcano, Mongolia

Basalt Rocks on Khorgo Volcano

Inside the Khorgo crater, Mongolia

Inside the Khorgo Cone
The Khorgo crater is quite small. The last active volcano in Mongolia, Khorgo’s final eruption was some 8000 years ago.

Walking down the Khorgo Volcano, Mongolia

Walking down the Khorgo Volcano

Illustrated signpost on Khorgo Volcano, Mongolia

Signpost on Khorgo Volcano
The artist’s impression of the scene in front of us gives some indication of the colours the volcano might wear in summer.

It was a great way to get the circulation moving a little before we returned to our UAZs and continued the long, bumpy drive west.

Text: Happy Rambling

Until next time,

Happy Rambling!

Pictures: 23-24Septembery2016

  • sidran - March 6, 2017 - 4:21 am

    It was interesting to discover this place through your pictures.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 6, 2017 - 1:54 pm

      Thanks, Sidran! It’s nice to have your company. 😄ReplyCancel

Stift Melk, Melk Abbey from Below, Austria

Melk Abbey from Below
The charming Austrian town of Melk is under the watch of the 11th-century Benedictine Melk Abbey, which, together with its 18th-century Baroque abbey church, sits on a rocky promontory overlooking the Danube.

It was Day Five of our canal-boat cruise down the Danube River:

Early in the morning, our boat docked in the tiny city of Melk (population: 5,257) in Austria.

Melk is is best known for it’s magnificent Benedictine abbey, first established in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria, gave one of his castles to a group of Benedictine monks. Newer buildings on the site were built between 1702 and 1736 following Baroque designs by Austrian stonemason and architect, Jakob Prandtauer. The most famous monastery in Austria, Melk Abbey is known for its frescos and the countless medieval manuscripts in its library.

After a second cup of wonderful coffee with Austrian croissants – yes, croissants originated in Austria. The story is that 300 years ago, at the time of an Austrian win in ongoing battles with the Ottoman Turks, a French chef in the employ of the Austrian Emperor made flaky breakfast bread-rolls in the crescent shape seen on the Turkish flag so that all Austrians could ‘eat their enemies for breakfast!’

Anyway, after that breakfast of coffee and subversive croissants, we were bussed up the steep cliffside for a tour of the ornately decorated 900 year-old abbey.

Overlooking Melk Abbey from the car park, Melk Austria

Melk Abbey
As we leave our shuttle bus, the Melk Abbey grounds come into view: attractive, tidy, and surrounded by green. (iPhone6)

Entrance Gate - Melk Abbey, Austria

Entrance Gate – Melk Abbey
The arched gateway into the grounds bear the coat of arms of Melk Abbey: St.Peter’s crossed keys.

Main Entrance to Melk Abbey, Austria

Main Entrance to Melk Abbey
The date of completion (MDCCXVIII or 1718) is marked over the arched entrance to the inner courtyard.


Prelate’s Courtyard
A fountain takes pride of place in the inner courtyard, the Prelate’s Courtyard.

Melk Abbey Roof detail, Lower Austria

Saints on the Abbey Roof

Portrait of an Austrian guid, Melk Abbey

Local Guide Stephen
A local guide gives us a run-down on the building, and prepares to lead us through the monastery.

Looking up a stairwell inside the Melk Abbey, Austria

Stairwell Inside Melk Abbey

The Emperor

The Emperor’s Corridor
There are endless corridors in Melk Abbey. The 196-meter-long Emperor’s Corridor (Kaisergang) is lined with paintings of Austrian monarchs.

A book in a case in the Blue room, Melk Abbey

Historical Displays
The Imperial Rooms (Kaiserzimmer) are now home to the abbey’s museum. The blue room houses precious manuscripts and artworks symbolic of a Benedictine monk’s task to ‘Höre’, the German word for ‘Listen’.

The green room in the Melk Abbey, Austria

Benedictine Treasures
The green room in the abbey’s museum houses ecclesiastic treasures.

Gold cross in the green room in the Melk Abbey, Austria

Admiring the Golden Cross

Eucharist in a mirrored room full of religious artefacts, Melk Abbey Austria

Treasures of Melk Abbey
Called by one blogger a ‘House of Mirrors’, the Mirror Room in the museum …

Mirrored room full of religious artefacts, Melk Abbey Austria

Treasures of Melk Abbey
… contains chalices and eucharists of great antiquity and value.

Glass case with an ornate Golden Mitre, Melk Abbey museum,

Golden Mitre – Melk Abbey

Ancient Song Sheet in a display, Melk Abbey Austria

Ancient Song Sheet
Melk Library is renowned for its extensive collection of religious manuscripts and music.

Spiral Stairwell, Melk Abbey Austria

Spiral Stairwell
The Baroque architecture leads to surprises at every turn.

Antique metal ward plates and lock body, Milk Abbey Austria

Medieval Locking Device
Valuables were often kept in locked boxes. Medieval and Renaissance locks often used a complex system of interlocking ‘wards’. ‘Wards are both thin flat plates and cylinders attached to the ward plates and lock body’.

Medieval Lock and Key, Melk Abbey Austria

Lock and Key
A single key, with very fine grooves made with a jewler’s saw, fits into the lock of this 16th-century steel strongbox; the wards then clang and bang as the whole mechanism tumbles into place.

Frescoed ceiling Melk Abbey Marble Hall, Austria

Ceiling Fresco – Marble Hall
The Marble Hall once served as a formal dining room. The ceiling fresco, painted in 1731 by Paul Troger, shows the Greek goddess Pallas Athena on a chariot drawn by lions. The surrounding trompe l’oeil painting by Gaetano Fant makes the flat ceiling look as if it rises up much higher than it does.

View over Melk from the Abbey, Austria

View over Melk from the Abbey

Inside Melk Abbey Church Austria

Inside Melk Abbey Church
The pinnacle of Melk Abbey is the Stiftskirche (Abbey Church). In true High Baroque style, the church is ornately decorated in marble and gold.

Melk Abbey Church Organ, Austria

Melk Abbey Church Organ

Arched walkway down from the Abbey to the Austrian town of Melk

Down to Melk
It’s a short, easy walk down from the abbey …

Melk Town Centre, Lower Austria

Melk Town Centre
… into the charming little city of Melk.

Quirky pottery creatures in a Melk shop, Lower Austria

Quirky Shops
I was really glad we had left enough time to browse the shops properly! Melk is in an apricot-growing area, and their apricot liqueur is wonderful; we stocked up on apricot soap, chocolate, and miniature liqueurs as souvenirs and stocking-stuffers.

Melk Abbey from the Town, Austria

Melk Abbey from the Town
The town is layered with history: the Abbey, where Napoleon stayed during the wars, watches over us, and just down the river at Willendorf, the 30,000-year-old fertility symbol, the Venus of Willendorf – the oldest-known piece of European art – was found.

Purple wildflowers, Melk Vienna

Flowers on the Walk
We walk back to our boat on the Danube River through the wildflowers along the pathway with our bags full of shopping.

That’s how I like my history:

Built into the streets, buildings, and artefacts; and sandwiched between breakfast coffee and croissants and afternoon apricot chocolate and liqueur!

Until next time –


Pictures: 20August2014

  • sidran - March 6, 2017 - 4:29 am

    That would be my way of seeing history too..Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel