We landed outside of Dalanzadgad and the tarmac of the runway was the last asphalt we saw for a very long time. Our guide Uyenga and driver Bor picked us up and we took off into the desert, with no signs as to where to go, and headed for our first Ger camp of our road trip.
A ger, shown above, is the traditional Mongolian dwelling, related to a yurt. There is a wooden frame covered in a waterproof layer and a layer of felt (around in mass quantities from all the goats and sheep around the company). They can be set up in two hours and taken down in half an hour, so the nomads (1/4 of Mongolia's population is nomadic) can easily transport them as they try and find greener pastures. All of the places we stayed on our road trip were camps made up of 20 or so gers, each of which can sleep 2-3 people on some very small and not so comfortable beds. Temperature wise, they're very comfortable though. The gers have a hole on the top of the structure, so in the summer, you can pull one of the layers of felt back to allow hot air to escape through the roof. When its cold, you can cover the top, and there is usually a wood stove in the center of the ger, with a flue out the top, which keeps the ger very toasty when its lit.
Anyway, back to the trip. We got to our camp, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, that had previously been the location of the airport, before it moved to its current location. The scenery, or maybe the lack of scenery, was beautiful.
The next morning, we got up early and went for a hike in Eagle Valley. Eagle Valley fills with snow in the winter, forming a glacier of sorts deep in the valley. It used to last through the summer, but these days it melts completely in August.
Eagle Valley was also chock full wildlife. We saw some small chipmunk type animals scurrying around, as well as larger ones that looked like mice that were the size of small hamsters and with feet kind of like rabbits so that the pounced around instead of running, called a pika. And we even saw some ibex, but from so far away that you could barely make them out. After our morning in Eagle Valley, we headed back to camp for lunch and then hit the road for a very rough six hour drive to the next camp.