Yesterday, Sunday, Karima and I were fortunate enough to be invited by one of the teachers, also a tour guide in the summer, to see the wild horses in Hustai National Park, about 90 minutes west of the capitol, out in the vast open steppes and mountains.
The wild horses of Mongolia are smaller, with big heads, gray in color, and small in number. Visitors to the Hustai can never be assured that they will see these small, camouflaged animals but early morning or at sundown are the best times…..
Snow covered the ground and it was biting cold. The road within the park was really not a road, just a set of tire tracks from previous vehicles, with haipin turns, dips and rises that would put anything but an all wheel drive in a tailspin. Our friend Saina drives a Subaru very similar to mine – it was heroic! (insert Subaru ad here)
We first saw a small group of 5 wild horses grazing way at the top of a hill, but advanced deeper into the steppes. We got out of the car and walked along a crisp snow covered hill – no, not a hill, that word doesn’t express the scale of it — these are huge rises that go on and on and on. Soon we started hearing the spine tingling howls of a wolf. It was answered by another wolf – they were messaging each other over the vast reaches and we were between them.
We saw entranceways to deep tunnels created by burrowing animals and smelled the short stemmed grass covering the steppes – and covered by a dust of new snow. The smell was fresh and sweet – kind of like camomile or some kind of sweet herb. This is the grass the horses rely on all winter.
The sun was already behind some of the peaks so we turned around to start back in a leisurely way – and then we saw several bunches of grazing wild horses. (YES, the Rolling Stones song circulated in my brain as the soundtrack….repeatedly!) I’m going to try to upload some photos of them. Their camouflaged color, relative distance from the road, and small group size (no more than 6-8 per group) made it difficult to photograph them, but it was breathtaking just to behold these unfettered, untamed creatures…among the greatest symbols of a state of harmony with nature to be found anywhere on planet earth.