Uureg Lake, Altai Mountains, Uvs, Mongolia

Uureg Lake Foreshore, Altai Mountains, Uvs Mongolia

Uureg Lake and the Altai Mountains
Blue skies, bluer waters, and sparse grasses – what could be more MongolianUureg Lake, on a high (2,200 m/7,500 ft) plateau in Uvs Province, Mongolia, is just stunning in the afternoon light.  

After five days of bumping across the rough roads of Mongolia’s seemingly endless grassy steppes, it was with a sigh of relief that I watched our Russian UAZ (Ulyanovsky Avtomobilny Zavod) four-wheel-drive vehicle climb into the Altai Mountains that run along the north western border of the country. 

Mongolian guides G and Segi of Shaman Tours were looking after myself,  a small group of photographic enthusiasts, and photographers Jeffrey Chapman and Winslow Lockhart from Within the Frame. We were taking the long roads to the Golden Eagle Festival in Bayan-Ölgii, West Mongolia, but we still had a full day’s driving ahead of us before we would reach our destination.

The little cabins at Suldet Tsakhir Tourist Camp on the shores of beautiful Uureg Lake were the perfect location for our penultimate stop.

High tension power lines on the Mongolian steppes.

High Power
We had lunch on the last stretch of flat land before we climbed into the nearby mountains.

Four UAZs driving towards the Altai Mountains, Mongolia

UAZs into the Mountains
Our Shaman Tour UAZs lined up for the last run towards the Altai Mountains.

View through a UAZ windshield to the surrounding hills, Altai Mountains, Mongolia

Up into the Mountains
Once we are finally out of the steppes, the hills rise steeply on all sides. (iPhone6)

Snow Patches in the Foothills of the Altai Mountains, Mongolia

Snow Patches in the Foothills

Ovoo on the Mountain Pass, Altai Mountains Mongolia

Circuiting the Ovoo or Obo
At the top of our first pass, we came to an ovoo, or “magnificent bundle”. In keeping with local custom, we circled three times, clockwise, to ensure the continued safety of our trip.

Ovoo on the Mountain Pass, Altai Mountains Mongolia

Ovoo on the Mountain Pass
This sacred pile of rocks which honours the spirits of the surrounding land is intrinsic to Mongolian folk religion or shamanism (also called Tengerism).

Wooden signboard at the Ovoo, Altai Mountains, Mongolia

“… In Protection of the Sacred Mountain …”

Rubbish bin full of empty bottles, cans and crutches, Altai Mountains Mongolia

Offerings at the Ovoo
Visitors discard crutches, steering wheel covers, and empty food containers – especially empty vodka bottles – to give thanks for good health, a safe journey, or any other boon.

Rubbish bin full of food wrappers and empty bottles, cans and crutches, Altai Mountains Mongolia

Offerings at the Ovoo

Yellow silk scarves on a rock pile, Altai Mountains, Mongolia

Yellow Khadag
While the ovoo itself is predominantly adorned with khadag (ceremonial scarves) in blue – a symbol of reverence for the sacred “Munkh Khukh Tengri” or “Eternal Blue Sky”, the surrounding rocks are tied in Buddhist yellow, a symbol of knowledge and religion.

Bumpy potholed road into the Altai Mountains, Mongolia

Bumpy Roads into the Mountains
Never ask if a Mongolian road could be any worse! It can always deteriorate. (iPhone6)

Dirt road leading to Uvs Lake and snowcapped Mountains, Mongolia

Uvs Lake and Russian Mountains
Our tailbones might be bruised by the bone-shaking climb, but we are rewarded with a closer sighting of the Altai Mountains, rising between us and Russia on the other side of Uvs Lake.

A tussock of grass on the road to Uvs Lake, Mongolia

Mongolian Grass and the Altai Mountains

Long dirt Road over grass to Uvs Lake, Mongolia

The Long and Winding Road
Uvs Lake is Mongolia’s largest, and the best known lake in the Great Lakes Depression. As part of an endorheic (closed drainage) basin, the lake is five times saltier than the ocean!

Suldet Tsakhir Tourist Camp in Afternoon Shadows, Uureg Lake, Mongolia

Suldet Tsakhir Tourist Camp
Now here is a “resort” I’d come back to! Simple, but located in a blissful setting high on a plateau on the south shore of Uureg Lake, the cabins at Suldet Tsakhir Tourist Camp beckon in the afternoon shadows.

Landscape: Uureg Lake and the Altai Mountains

Uureg Lake Foreshore
This beautiful saltwater-highlands lake on the MongolianRussian border boasts exceptionally clear water.

goat skull on the Rocky Foreshore of Uureg Lake Mongolia

Skull on the Rocky Foreshore
The lake is home to Turkic stone statues, burial mounds, and rock drawings that indicate the area has been inhabited by nomadic tribes for millennia. And, of course, there are the more modern animals.

Silhouette of a photographer on Uureg Lake Foreshore, Mongolia

Photographers on Uureg Lake Foreshore
The lowering afternoon sun led to a feeling of quiet, as we all explored the foreshore.

Reflections of the Altai Mountains in Uureg Lake, Mongolia

Reflections in Uureg Lake

Reflection of a sun burst in Uuleg Lake, Mongolia

Afternoon Sun on Uuleg Lake

Silhouette of photographers on Uureg Lake Foreshore, Mongolia

Quiet on the Foreshore
The snow caps over Russia turn pink…

Sunburst on the Grasses

Sunburst on the Grasses
… as the sun drops below the surrounding mountains.

Layers of Light on Uureg Lake Foreshore, Mongolia

Last Layers of Twilight on Uuleg Lake Foreshore

 Sunset on the Altai Mountains at Uureg Lake Foreshore, Mongolia

Sunset on the Altai Mountains

Silhouette of two men on Uureg Lake Foreshore, Mongolia

Sunset on Uureg Lake, Mongolia

Sunset on Uureg Lake
The sun is down – it is time for dinner. (iPhone6)

It was a beautiful spot – albeit freezing! The flooring of my cabin was not yet finished, so the wind whistled up through the floorboards all night.

Still, a worsening cold was a small price to pay to be in such a magnificent location.

Text: Happy Travels

Travel may not always be smooth (or warm), but it is always enlivening.

Until next time –

Happy Travels!

Photos: 26Septembery2016

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