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Khovsgol Lake

After a long day's drive it was a relief to get to the Blue Pearl ger camp — and the staff came out to greet us wearing black tie formal gear! Peter and I had a ger to ourselves for the first time, but this was to be normal for the rest of the trip.

At dinner we planned our activities for the following two days. There were people — mostly women — selling souvenirs on the grass at the front of the ger camp. They'd come out all the way from Hatgal on motorcycles and were still there at 10.30pm, when it was still light -- it was just past the longest day of the year.

women selling souvenirs

The central building had a full-sized snooker table — we wondered how on earth they'd got it there! — and Mike and Peter and I had a go on that, though none of us had much idea what we were doing and we only managed to sink half a dozen balls in nearly an hour.

I went into the main building to check up on the camera batteries I'd left charging and ended up drinking vodka with the camp manager, his wife, Chinzo, Patti, our drivers, Justin and Jaime. So I didn't get to bed till after midnight.

Saturday 25th June

I was up at 7am and sat by the lake waiting for everyone else to come to breakfast. We met our guide, Ganbaa, and he was selling a booklet (published with the help of a British NGO) on Lake Hovsgol National Park. $12 was a bit steep for a 70 page booklet, but it had good information on flora and fauna, which probably wasn't going to be available anywhere else, so I bought one.

Justin and Chinzo's ridge
Those of us going on the hike headed off into the woods. Mostly we followed an old logging trail, and the forests had clearly been logged. Half way up the hill Justin became enamoured of some snow patches on the other side of the valley and decided he wanted to climb up to them. Chinzo went with him — and I was tempted, but I wasn't carrying water or equipment for a full day walk. Instead I photographed the ridge they were climbing, in case we had to go searching for them later.

There were flowers everywhere.

37mm, f/8.0, 1/160s, ISO 100
a Mongolian horse

Herbert the duckling
The walk was a short loop, reaching the lake maybe a kilometre to the north of our ger camp. Walking back along the shore, we found Ganbaa holding a duckling.

There was no sign of its mother anywhere. It followed first me and then Patti all the way along the beach, moving remarkably fast and using its wings to help it jump over rocks. Patti passed it on to Karen, who christened it Herbert and passed it on to Jay. And it eventually came all the way back to the restaurant, where the camp staff gave it a box and tried to feed it.

When I came back from an afternoon walk southwards along the lake, I was told they'd managed to find its mother and reunite them.

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