We departed from UB to start an amazing 2 weeks trip to the northwest of Mongolia in a local flight to the city of Ölgii, located in the Bayan-Ölgii province and very close to the borders with Russia and China. Beside the astonishing landscapes of steppes, mountains, lakes and forests, we had the unique opportunity of staying with several Kazakh families, from who we learned lots of interesting things.
Most Kazakhs live in Kazakhstan (obviously!) but there are also Kazakh minorities in Mongolia, Russia, China, Uzbekistan; Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and more countries. In Mongolia, the Kazakhs represent the 5% of the total population, being the second largest ethnic group in the country (the first one is the Khalkhs). Kazakhs here are extended families that for several centuries continue preserving their nomadic lifestyle, religion (they are Muslims), their livestock activity, and traditions, whether through music, dance, colourful clothing, crafts, food, customs (eagle hunters, for example), games and festivities. They are very happy people, musical and great horse riders!
Whether in a ger (yurt) or in a house (with a colourful decoration, family portraits and rugs on the walls), the Kazakhs always welcomed us into their homes sharing what they had (milk, bread, cheese and even vodka!), teaching how to ride horses (BTW, these were semi-wild horses!) and herding their animals.
Therefore, to all Kazakh friends, we want to say: Рахмет !!!!