Visiting pastoralists in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Visiting pastoralists in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia

adventure travel & photography

Destinations: Pakistan ◦◦ India ◦◦Turkey ◦◦ Egypt ◦◦ Bulgaria ◦◦ Mongolia ◦◦ Bangladesh ◦◦ Jordan ◦◦ Russia ◦◦ Turkmenistan ◦◦ Iran ◦◦ Kazakhstan ◦◦ Japan ◦◦ Hong Kong ◦◦ Greece ◦◦ Ukraine ◦◦ Syria ◦◦ Morocco

Type: Photo stories ◦◦ Places ◦◦ Documentary ◦◦ Black and White ◦◦ Fine Art Prints ◦◦ Seascapes ◦◦ Urban

The story

Most Mongolians living outside the capital Ulaanbaatar are pastoralists. They occupy yurts, scattered hundreds of kilometres from each other, far from civilization. “What were the lonely shepherds doing in the evening?” we asked ourselves as we passed another lonely yurt.


At the afternoon we arrived at the yurt camp of a nomad family, in the middle of nowhere. We’d spend the evening and the night with them, observing and participating in their usual activities. People cooked us a traditional Mongolian barbecue but left us eating it alone. They looked worried and depressed, no matter how strong they tried to hide it.


A middleman had come to the camp, and all the family members were busy selecting, slaughtering animals, and preparing the meat.


A girl from the family had fallen from a motorcycle about a kilometre from the yurts. One of the men carried her in with a blood-covered head, shaking. People did not have essential medicines and disinfectants, even headache pills. We treated the injury and gave her parents the drugs we had.


In the middle of the night, anxious voices woke us. In the sheepfold beside the yurts, the sheep and goats had tossed. The turmoil lasted half an hour. In the morning, we understood predators had attempted to attack the herd.


That was a busy evening and night for this family. First dealing with us, afterwards with the middleman, and finally, the wolves in the backyard.

That was a unique experience for us and an exciting story to tell, for the family - the harsh reality they face every day. I felt sad for the people. Two distinct worlds had met for a moment and then turned their backs as if nothing had happened.


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