A Nomad’s Place 1
Of Mongolia‘s 2.8 million people, around 40% are nomads. They move all year round from place to place in the vast Mongolian steppe and they do this not for the mere reason that they want to but because they need to. They are herders whose livelihood are highly dependent on their livestock. And so they move around in constant search for the best grazing land for their animals. Every time they move, they bring with them their whole family, their mobile home — the ger, a circular felt tent — and hundreds, even thousands of sheep, cattle, camels or horses.
If it’s somebody’s first time to visit the Mongolian countryside, it is easy to arrive at a silly notion that the first consideration for choosing the next herder camp was the surrounding scenery because almost every ger camp that one would see has a stunning view. But then the whole countryside basically has a stunning view. Vast, open plains extend endlessly to the horizon. Colorful rolling slopes play dramatic hues against the cloudless skies. The scarce treeless hills and exciting rock formations reduce to dots the livestock grazing on the plains. To the herder, there are of course more important considerations such as the safety of his family and livestock, access to water, proximity to a town center, etc., etc. The surrounding view only comes as a bonus.
This series is going to be a long one. I spent 3 days in the the Mongolian countryside in the province of Bulgan in September and I snapped a photo of almost every ger camp we saw. It was not an easy feat. We were riding on a tight schedule and cannot afford to stop at every herder camp so I had to take photos from the passenger seat of a moving land cruiser. Nevertheless, I brought home more than a thousand images, hundreds of them about herder camps. This is what the series is all about.