Day 2: Mongolian Camels On the Road to Gobi, the Mongolian Desert

It’s morning, and of course I am the first to wake up. I always wake up to the morning light, and jet lag certainly doesn’t help. I walk around the stark landscape, but don’t take many photos. With a grey sky and a monochromatic landscape, it isn’t ideal light conditions. Yesterday I saw a Mongolian camel for the first time in my life! They’re actually called bactrian camels, and have two humps. (Camels in Africa and the Middle East have one hump.)

Scanning the vast flat land around me, I see no human or animal life as far as my eyes can see.

I feel badly, since Dasha is asleep in the car, but I have to open the door and get more clothes. I didn’t take them out last night, since I thought he was going to sleep outdoors on the ground, as he’d mentioned. He must have gotten cold.

I try being quiet, but that never works, so he wakes up. Meanwhile, Binderya, in typical teenage fashion, has to practically be dragged out of her cozy bed in the tent.

 

Getting on the Road + First Mongolian Camel of the Day

After breakfast of hot tea and bread, we pack up the tent and all of our things, and continue driving towards Gobi, the Mongolian desert. Driving along, Dasha stops the car when he sees a group of camels sitting on the outskirts of a village.

Neither the light (what’s with this grey weather in June?) nor the setting are ideal for photography. Plus, the camels are tied near each other, so it’s difficult to get a clean background. However, I love baby camels, which are the most adorable little things ever! So cute! The camels become edgy as I walk towards them, flicking their ears and shifting their weight, so I squat down low and wait a bit to let them calm down. I don’t stay long though, as we need to keep moving.

Mother and baby camel. So cute! Gobi Desert, Mongolia https://www.longestbusrides.com

This mother and baby camel became nervous when I approached. So, I backed away after a moment.

 

More Mongolian Camels! They’re never ending.

We take driving breaks whenever there’s something interesting to see, and this time it’s for more camels! I’m loving this! These guys are way off in the distance, and some have dreadlocked hair and look mangy. “Are these wild camels?” I want to know. Dasha tells me that the owners can find them when they need them back, so they’re not really wild. “How can the owners find them again?” I ask, imagining that camels wander for hundreds of miles. Sure, I can see a long way, but how do the owners know which way to go looking?

Dasha doesn’t answer me, although I’m sure he knows. Language barriers. In the absence of information, my mind goes wild with the possibilities. Considering how easily Americans lose their dogs when they escape through a gap in the fence, I am enthralled with the prospect of how these nomadic people must hunt for their camels. Maybe they can follow the vegetation that has been eaten.

2 mangy camels on Camel Day

2 mangy camels on Camel Day

Left to their own devices, these Mongolian camels keep in a herd and munch away on the short, sparse vegetation—it’s more like tiny bushes than grass. I imagine these camels must have hunkered down in last nights’ storm, since I haven’t seen any camel-sized shelter anywhere yet—no trees, no barns, nothing. However, it is June, and they obviously survived last winter, so the summer weather must be easy for them in comparison.

Dasha, a proud father, takes photos of Binderya in front of the camels, and I take a photo of them together, with camels in the background. We’re all impressed by these survivalist animals.

Dasha photographing his daughter with the camels.

Dasha photographing his daughter with the camels.

 

Even More Camels!! My Lucky Day!

I walk back to the car as we’re getting ready to leave, and see a whole other herd of furry camels walking up the road towards us. They remind me of Ewoks. I love the look! They’re so much nicer than the short-hair camels, in my opinion, with hair flowing in the wind.

Ewok-looking camels

Ewok-looking camels

We drive some more—it seems like a never-ending drive. Dasha regales me and his daughter with stories of his military service, and how during freezing winters he kept warm riding between the 2 humps of the furry camels. Really? First of all, riding between 2 furry humps sounds hilarious! Second, what??? Camels are used in the military even now? I thought that was something from the days of Genghis Khan.

Today is my favorite day in Mongolia so far—I’m calling it Camel Day!

Bonus: I saw a lizard on the ground. I only spotted it by its red dot moving, since otherwise it looks just like a rock.

Lizard

Lizard

 

Next Chapter: Desolate Earth – Gobi Desert landscape

Previous Chapter: Supper Time! Camping out in Mongolia.

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Bactrian camel