THE NIGHT OF THE GOATS

We have moved out of the deep Gobi desert and headed to the little town of Alti on our way up to the Alti mountians and the Russian border, we were lucky that the last small section of the road was smooth fresh tarmac after battling through rough roads and even a pretty big river crossing through the day. Our intention was to camp so we spotted a nice river on the map just outside of town and dropped off the main highway looking for a place to camp. We found a nice valley out of sight of the main highway and just in sight of a Ger on a nearby hilltop and set up camp.

This was Tony’s first proper camp with the awning out and the Coleman stove used to make a nice meal of salad and pasta with sausage, corn and tomato sauce which was lovely and apart from a sharp shower – capably deflected by the awning – we had lovely weather and we were chilling out.

Just before the shower there was a little lighting and it was interesting to see the goats which had appeared, all come down from the hillside disappear into a river collecting together at low height for safety

Just as we finished dinner the goats had dispersed but then another herd of about a thousand goats appeared over the hill and, grazing as they went wandered past us, as we sipped our post dinner tea, the sound of chomping of a thousand goats is surprisingly loud and they do smell a lot!

We had a few visits from the local herders, first a young man on a motorbike appeared, we said hello and shook hands and then showed him around the truck after asking if it was OK for us to sleep here, he indicated that it was fine and later came back with a young woman who we guessed was his wife.

Shortly after they left an old man, presumably Granddad, turned up with his snuff box and sat down at our camp table for a bit of a chat – by that meaning he was asking (miming) if there was anything to drink or eat, other than tea and pasta we had little to offer but I did find some chocolate to share, so I felt we had offered some sort of hospitality to our visitor.

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Finally the younger kids of the family approached but kept their distance with much laughing behind their hands at the odd foreigners and our night of the goats, and the goat herders passed peacefully with a good sleep. Once we had packed up there was nothing but some fading tyre tracks in the grass to tell of the interesting night we had spent in the Mongolian steppes.

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