The rugged land of Mongolia – an area that gave birth to some of the most relentless warriors of the human race, bred tribes that changed the course of history, and still maintains a wilderness so powerful that no visitor can remain untouched – is a dream destination for many. Suzanne Al Houby, Rahhalah’s Founder & CEO, made this dream come true a few months ago when she explored the country for the first time. She immersed in some of the most beautiful landscapes she had ever seen, traversed part of the Gobi Desert, and connected with the locals who, in the context of their remote and untamed way of living, are ready to welcome every foreigner as a friend.
We asked Suzanne to share with us her top 10 memories from this trip, and this is the list with which we came up:
1. The visit to the Genghis Khan Statue.
Genghis Khan was not only a charismatic commander but, above all, the man who united the dispersed nomadic Mongolian tribes under the umbrella of one empire. His achievements influenced all next generations, so much so that everything in Mongolia reverberates until today with the pride emanating from such a legacy.
2. Living in a traditional Ger.
Despite the harshness of the weather, these nomadic lodges offer comfort and warmth, while they allow every visitor to appreciate what shelter and home truly mean.
3. The exploration of the Gobi Desert.
It is a landscape whose mere vastness and roughness leave a permanent mark on the soul. The earth smells like chives – the locals call the plant “wild onions” – and the travelers spend hours crossing mile after mile, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and occasionally meeting a few stunning sand dunes and cliffs, including the famous flaming cliffs where the oldest dinosaur fossils have been found.
4. Connecting with the Mongolian wild horses.
There is a deep connection between the Mongolians and their horses: a bond as if they belong to each other, and none can be whole on their own. Developing a personal connection with one of these horses, even daring to ride one in the process, turned out to be maybe the most cherished highlight of the trip.
5. Spending time with the Eagle Hunters.
Eagle hunting is another ancient tradition of the Mongolians that has been inherited from generation to generation, surviving intact until our days.
6. Understanding what a nomadic life really means.
A nomadic tribe, by definition, moves its camp frequently, depending on the needs of its animals, the weather, or other conditions beyond the control of the people. The moving process of disassembling and assembling their Gers within 20 minutes after crossing hundreds of miles in the desert is mesmerizing, inspiring, and thought-provoking.
7. Attending a Nadam festival.
During a Nadam festival, Mongolians from several tribes arrive from far and near to participate in national sports and compete in horse racing, archery, and wrestling. The festive ambience, the vibrant colors, and the details of the local rich culture turn this into an experience every visitor should have at least once in a lifetime.
8. Sipping Airag (fermented horse milk) as part of the hospitality ritual offered by the locals.
9. Mingling with the locals who always welcome visitors to their Gers and gatherings.
The adults are courteous and friendly, but the highlight is usually the children who are amazingly beautiful and playfully accustomed to the hardships of their nomadic life.
10. Shopping the excellent cashmere products of Mongolia.
Mongolia claims to produce the best cashmere in the world so, evidently, acquiring a few products is the perfect finale to a journey through the Mongolian steppes.