To Tsetserleg and North of Ikh Tamir, Mongolia Week 18 26th - 27th August 2011
We thought we'd take a leisurely few days to drive through Tsetserleg to Tariat where there is a lake.

As we left Khar Balgas we spotted this owl watching us.

At the entrance to Tsenkher is this monastery.

We are getting used again to seeing religious buildings from the roadside.

Tsenker is a pleasant Mongolian town.
Beyond it the road hasn't been finished yet.

This was the beginning of a dirt section of dual carriageway.

It caused us some amusement.

Unfortunately there wasn't a corresponding arrow at the other end.

A lunch stop beside the river outside Tsenker.
Unfortunately left the camera in Tardis while we did some shopping in Tsetserleg.

We were also a bit put off by the local policeman who thought we were a bit heavy so wouldn't let us into the middle of town. We are about 4.5mt, the limit for town is 8mt.

No use arguing though.

We camped a few km out of town.

Next day we stopped for a pause at Taikhar Chuluu.

Its described as a massive rock formation in some books.

We are a bit out of sorts with the books really. They described Khar Balgas as having not a lot to see.

This rock apparently had some neolithic inscriptions. Long covered up with more recent graffiti unfortunately.

And we saw a yak.

Actually several. The milking shed was not far away - a stool on the grass. The lady milking didn't look like she would take kindly to having her photo taken.

Klaus (the German Geologist) had recommended a valley to the North of Ikh Tamir as being a nice drive.

This is Ikh Tamir.

We decided to really test our navigation skills and headed North.

The first bit was relatively easy.

Follow the river.

After that it got a bit harder.

The track was rather obvious along the top of the escarpment.

Just a hint that we were headed a bit too far East though.

All that was forgotten when we spotted this standing stone about 100m off the road.

It looked like it had only recently been placed upright.

There was other evidence of Archeologists at work.

The numbers written on some of the rocks, and the obvious holes filled in, were a bit of a giveaway.

There were rectangles and circles with piles of stones at the center.

Also small (1m diameter) stone circles around the outside of some. 30 circles around one rectangle.

Ali admired the small circles.

We believe we have stumbled upon a site of Khirigsuurs (burial mounds with surrounding stones).

We carried on our way.

The track we originally wanted to follow is on the digital map, but not on the paper one.

We found ourselves being pushed ever more Eastwards than we really wanted.

Past a mine. Complete with no entry sign.

The shafts went down at about 45 degrees with conveyor belts poking out.

We haven't a clue what was being mined, but it wasn't coal.

Then more standing stones. About 200m off the track.
With rectangles of stones littering the ground, obviously human, we were beginning to wonder what sort of area we had strayed into.
These were well preserved deer stones.

We think they are authentic bronze age deer stones. Engraved by "reindeer people" for their burials.

Perhaps not. There are reindeer further North but the Archeologists think these are likely Asian Maral deer.

The squiggly bits are antlers.

Perhaps a bit clearer.

These deer have their front legs tucked under them, as if heading skywards. Further West, as far as the Urals, the legs are apparently extended.

The circle at the top is the sun.

Thus, from the top, the sky, the earth, and the underworld,

The deer, or other hoofed animal, carry the dead to the afterlife.


They date from 2,500 to 4,000 years ago. Late bronze age or early iron age.

We know of a site near Murun and had planned to visit. These were a complete surprise.

The khirigsuurs are apparently from the same era.

As were the nearby vultures that flew off as we approached.
But they were pretty slow to take off.
More about gers later. We are slowly gathering bits of info.

This one not only had the solar panel and satellite dish but a single basketball hoop.

More deer stones a couple of km further on.

What started out with a scenic drive has become an amateur archeologist's delight.

And on the hillside squares and circles of stones.
This didn't look quite like a deer stone.

There's some odd lettering on it, and someone's recent graffiti.

Close up we haven't a clue about the language.
We stopped for lunch. And another check of the map.

We are far too far to the East, and a bit South of another track.

But we were delighted to see a large flock of (we think) cranes at a water hole, alongside the horses.

We tried pretending to be sheep, but this is about as close as they'd let us get.
Then they all took off.

Circled for a bit.

Then landed as soon as we turned around.

Its not often we see large flocks of large birds.

So we sat and watched as we had lunch.

We finally stopped about 4pm.

We are now well South East of where we'd planned to be.

A slight change of plan. We'll take the circle route back to Tsetserleg.

For a while it looked like we were on the wrong side of this river and would have to follow it North for about 10km to a crossing shown on the map.

We can see a town we recognise about 10km away.

We stopped for the night.

This is our campsite.

On a bit of a ridge overlooking the river.

Looks like our navigation problem is solved. A couple of Russian built 4wds passed. We watched them cross the plain on an obvious track then turn right on the far side and head towards the town.

If there's a river crossing its an easy one (we hope).


Looking SE again as the sun sets.
And the town is Battsengel.

We were originally headed for Bugat.

So all in all, what started as a scenic drive ended up in the wrong place, with a wealth of tremendous sights along the way.

We should do this more often!

Ikh Tamir through Tariat to Jargalant, Mongolia Week 19 28th - 30th August 2011

Raewyn Sun, 28 Aug 11 17:58:47 +1000
I never realised what a rich heritage Mongolia has, especially archaeologically. Your 'scenic trip' certainly seesm to have been so worth while, even if you did end up in the wrong place :). I am so enjoying following you ones on your trip :)

Mark Lawrence Mon, 29 Aug 11 08:28:46 +1000
can't wait to meet up with you at Kirsty and Andy's next year. Looks like you'll have plenty of stories to tell about your travels!!


BJ & Robyn Smith Tue, 06 Sep 11 06:30:26 +1000
Good one, it looks like you are having a great time. I'm not sure we could have travelled as far as you and still stayed married. Mind you if you have a tiff out there where does one go??? Keep up the comments and photographs, they make interesting reading

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