Sunday, June 25, 2023

Hey, kids! Let's put on a show! June 10, 2023


I got up after my last night in a ger and went out at dawn to walk around and see if I could find any birds before we went back to the city. There was a huge flock of goats and sheep moving through, and kept hearing this WHACK noise. I finally saw the source of it; young goats were testing their prowess by butting heads. They weren't terribly serious about it, but I could see some hormones were starting to kick in. Several Tolai Hares hopped around and one cooperated so I got a nice photo. The morning light was lovely! I could hear a hoopoe calling and caught sight of him on a telephone pole.

We finished breakfast and started out for Ulaanbaator. We made a quick stop at a nomad family's ger. The matriarch of the family, who was in her 90s was outside. Sergie had our driver stop and she spoke with a couple of members of the family. To my great surprise they invited us inside, where we had tea and some really nice goat-milk yogurt. Can you imagine in the United States having perfect strangers stop at your house and with no knowledge of who they were inviting them in for snacks? They were getting ready to pack up to go up in the hills for the summer. They had solar panels for electricity and somehow they had a land line telephone hooked up. We bid them goodbye and got on our way.

We got into Ulaanbaator and went to the Zaisan Memorial. Built as a monument to the friendship between the Mongolians and Soviets and remembering their dead from World War II, it sits on a very high hill, overlooking the city. The 612 stairs going up to the top of the hill looked daunting, but this time I did not stay back. It was a very long walk up, but well worth it. A large circular mural extends around the top with scenes showing Soviet support for the independence of Mongolia in 1921, victory over the Nazis, and peacetime achievements, such as the flight of Soyuz 39, which carried the first Mongolian astronaut, Jugderdemidiin Gurragchaa. The view of the city was stunning!

We then headed to the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, the spiritual ruler of Mongolia from 1869 to 1924. The palace was built between 1893 and 1903. It houses a huge collection of artifacts which the Khan collected, including his ceremonial ger which was covered in Snow Leopard skin! There was gorgeous furniture, clothing and other household items. He had a massive collection of taxidermied animals and birds from all over the world. I had a great time IDing all the birds and telling everyone where they were from. My all time favorite things were the accoutrements of the royal elephant, particularly his huge hat. I can't remember where they got the elephant. They are not native to Mongolia. Ulaanbaator is the coldest capital city in the world, with temperatures well below zero all winter long, so the elephant lived inside the palace with the family. I would not have wanted the job of cleaning up after him!

We then had a really great lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant, and then checked into our hotel. We rested up a bit and then went to a cultural show of traditional dance, singing and instrumental music. I was really impressed. One of the performers was an incredibly skilled throat singer. The costumes were incredible! The audience was packed and after the show finished there was a long line for the next one. We finished the night with an excellent dinner at the Seoul Club restaurant.

My trip to Mongolia was incredible. I am still going over my photos over and over and reliving the experience. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken! Even though I did not see nearly as many birds as if I had been on an actual birding tour, I have a deep appreciation for the ones I saw and was able to identify. It was very challenging not having a good field guide and being unfamiliar with the habitats of some of the birds. But the experiences I had on this trip were mind-blowing. Meeting the nomad families, having tea with the shepherd on the motorcycle, seeing the amazing landscapes, experiencing the Gobi desert, and riding a freaking two humped camel were things I will never forget! Mongolia is not for everyone. If your idea of an ideal vacation is going to Las Vegas, it isn't for you. But if you love wild places and you get a chance, go! The tour company that put this together is Travel All Mongolia. They did a a great job! I would highly recommend them.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

The trip back north begins. June 9, 2023.


It was time to work our way back to Ulaanbaator.  I was sad to leave Gobi Nomad Lodge. The accommodations and food were so good. The staff were awesome. We were the first group of the year to stay there so we had all of their attention. We packed all our stuff in the back of the SUV and headed out. We were only going part way, but it was still a long drive to the next camp.

Sergie told us it was going to be rough because we would be driving on paved roads. This seemed a bit counterintuitive. The first road we got to was great. We zipped along with no problem. We made a tea stop at a very interesting monument to bactrian camels, which play an important role for many of the nomads in Mongolia. We pulled over and got out and all three of us looked at each other said "Is that camel pooping?" Sergie said that the position it was in was how male camels show their sexual prowess, but I am certain that camel was pooping! 

After leaving the camel statue I understood what Sergie meant about the paved road. Suddenly it became the worst road I have ever been on! There were massive holes everywhere. Baagi, our driver, did an amazing job cutting back and forth on the road, avoiding the holes and oncoming traffic. Once in a while he would shoot down the shoulder, convincing me we were going to turn over. His calm expression never changed. We made a stop for lunch at the Burd Hotel in Mandalgovi. It was a really nice place! It was quite posh and the food was great. There was a little souvenir shop and it was nice to do some shopping for gifts. I resisted telling them they spelled bird incorrectly!   

We reached Baga Gazriin Chuluu, an area with incredible granite formations. We watched for ibex as we drove through and I thought I had spotted a couple, but it turned out to be Argali sheep, which are actually rarer. We stopped to look at the ruins of a monastery where monks had hidden during the religious purges. There were beautiful aspen trees inside the little gorge the ruins were in, and also a cave. Seeing aspens after our time in the gobi was surprising! 

After Max and Rami did some climbing we drove on to our last ger camp of the trip, Erdene Ukhaa. Again, the ger was lovely. This one had a beautifully carved door. I hit my head a couple of more times for good measure. There were some other visitors in the camp, including some in the ger next door. I am sure they were amused by my language when entered and exited! 

We had a nice dinner, including more Mongolian beer. After we ate we played a traditional Mongolian game using sheep anklebones. Each side of the bone is shaped slightly different and represents a different animal, sheep, goat, camel and horse. You toss the bones and see what animals come up. We had a "horse race" and spent a good bit of time laughing and teasing each other. I went to bed and fell asleep, but was waken in the middle of the night by a calling Little Owl. I went outside to look for it, unsuccessfully but the stars were mind blowing. I was grateful to the owl for waking me up!

Friday, June 23, 2023

Yakity Yak, Don't Talk Back! June 8, 2023

 I wandered out just after dawn and enjoyed the early desert morning. As I was walking I realized that I didn't hear anything, anything at all, other than my footsteps. I stopped and there was nothing. I was struck by the complete silence. I don't remember ever experiencing that before. Even the birds were quiet. It was a little unnerving. Finally the wheatears starting calling and I saw one of the shrikes hunting. A baby Tolai Hare tried very hard to be invisible.

We ate breakfast and set out with a boxed lunch for the day. Our destination was the Yol Valley. I was really looking forward to this day! The Yol Valley is home to a large population for Lammergeiers, aka Bearded Vultures. I have seen them in Spain and India, but they are such a cool bird! They drop large bones on rocks from great heights, breaking them open to feed on the marrow. The valley is a deep gorge, so deep that the river inside it has ice for almost the entire year. There are a lot of other birds found there, along with Ibex and Argali, a wild sheep. 

We stopped at the entrance of the park where there was a small museum. I have to admit we were a bit amused by the very bad taxidermied animals. The snow leopard and lynx were almost unrecognizable. The wolf look like it had googly eyes! The three of us had a good giggle, which I am sure the museum staff didn't appreciate.

After we left the museum we drove into the gorge. We were delighted to see a group of yak grazing on the hills, including a little black and white baby. I had seen yaks in India, but these had much better coats, which swung side to side as they walked. There were also some really beautiful horses. The scenery, even before we got to the gorge, was fabulous.  

We pulled up to the parking lot. I was so excited to see White-winged Snowfinches. We had looked for them in Spain, but didn't see them. They were all over the place! I know I amused everyone by my squeals. Rami and Max planned on hiking down the stream as far as they could. I again, planned on going slower. Sergie stuck with me, as she had pulled a muscle playing basketball. We walked down and crag-martins and house-martins were zipping over the water. We spotted a few Lammergeiers and Himalayan Griffons, another large vulture, soaring overhead. Two Common Cuckoos called.  I was absolutely enjoying this place!

Sooner than expected, Rami and Max came back. They had gotten to an area of very thick ice and decided to not climb up and go on, as they didn't think it was safe. We went a little way down a side path, but then decided to move on to our next location. I was disappointed that we did not see any Ibex, but I think we got there a little late in the morning for them. One of the differences between this trip and birding trips that I have done is that we didn't leave nearly as early in the morning. This is an area that I could spend a lot of time in.

We left the Yol Valley and headed to an actual big town, Dalanzadgad. It is the capital of Omnogovi providence and has a population of about 25,000. Mining is the main occupation there. For the first time in several days we drove on paved roads! There was a natural history museum there, but it was closed for lunch when we arrived. We did a little shopping and had our boxed lunches at a small park. We visited a grocery store that had a great dinosaur in front of it. All of the grocery stores we went into in Mongolia had major displays of vodka. I was very surprised to see bottle of Tito's in this one, which is made in Texas, in with the Russian and Mongolian vodkas.

The museum finally opened after lunch. We went to several museums on this trip; this was my favorite.  It has only been open a year. The building is very attractive and modern, with wonderful light. I would highly recommend visiting it if you ever find yourself in this area. There are fabulous fossils, including dinosaur eggs and a couple of skeletons. There are many historical artifacts. The exhibits were well laid out. We left and drove out of the city, passing an amusement park with a dinosaur theme. I wondered if it was called Jurassic Park. We got back to Gobi Nomad for our final evening there.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

It's a wild WHAT???

 I walked around the ger camp again at dawn. It was incredibly beautiful. The rising sun hit the distant mountains and sand dunes. Camels strolled by unconcerned by my presence. There was a big flock of sheep moving through. I seemed to be the only person awake. I really reveled in these early morning walks. Then it was time for breakfast and our departure back to Gobi Nomad Lodge for two more nights.

We had a very scenic drive back through the Uujim valley. Baagi, our driver, stopped and pointed across a hill to a distant animal and said he thought it was a Black-tailed Gazelle, better known as a Goitered Gazelle. I finally got a fix on it and checked with my binoculars. As I got it in focus I said "Yes, I can see the black tail. No! Wait! It's a WILD ASS! Max and Rami both said "A wild what???" I knew there were wild asses in Mongolia and had asked Sergie about them earlier. She said they were not found where we were going to be, but on the other side of the sand dunes, so I did not expect to see one. She was really excited. I passed my binoculars around and everyone got a good look.

As we drove further we did come across a group of Goitered Gazelles. They are classified as vulnerable. As soon as we slowed down they were off. As we drove further we saw a well with a big group of horses gathered around it. No one was in sight to water them. We stopped the car and got out. Sergie pulled the wooden cover off of the well and took the rope with a plastic bag bucket on it and started bringing up water and putting it in the trough. Max and Rami each took turns, too. Rami asked if it was okay to be doing that and Sergie said that it was what Mongolian people did. If the animals needed water and no one was around you give them water. The horses drank their fill and wandered off. It is hard to imagine how they make their living in the desert. 

We got to camp and had lunch and then headed to Khavtsgait petroglyphs. These rock carvings date from the Bronze Age, approximately 4000 - 3000 BCE. Unfortunately, the climb to see them was way beyond my ability. Max, Rami, and Sergie climbed right up. I was happy to stay below. I was able to photographs some birds and finally saw a couple of butterflies. As I didn't go up I can't really comment on the carvings. Max and Rami described them well to me. I have seen petroglyphs in Texas but we don't have camels here! We drove back to Gobi Nomad for dinner and another Mongolian beer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Ride'em cow girl, er... I mean camel girl!

 We were leaving the Gobi Nomad Lodge for one night to stay near the Khonghor sand dunes, then returning for two more nights. When I got up I went out to walk around before breakfast. I always woke up right at dawn which was before 5AM. We weren't having breakfast until 7AM, so I had plenty of time. It was a gorgeous morning. The almost full moon was setting over the mountains to the west. I walked out into the desert to an Ovoo, which is a large pile of stones with a post and prayer flags used as a site for prayer. We had passed a number of these. Sergie always walked around the shrines clockwise and added three stones. 

I saw a few birds, including an Isabelline Shrike which took a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler right in front of me. The birds in Mongolia can be a bit blood-thirsty. I then was walking back to my ger when I flushed another shrike off of a nest in the shrubs behind the camp. Since we were returning the following day, we only took what we needed for the night. After breakfast we took off for the dunes. 

On our way to the dunes we stopped in a small village and picked up some snacks. There was a boarding school for nomad children there. Sergie took us in to visit. It was close to the end of the school year and some grades had already ended the semester and gone with their families to their summer camps, but there were still some students having classes. We sat in on an English class for kids who I believe were in sixth grade. The kids were very friendly and didn't seem to mind us being there.

We got to our next camp, Gobi Discovery. I was a little nervous about this one, as it does not have electricity, other than a generator that runs a short time every day. I had charged up my solar battery and my back up battery pack. I mean, what would I do if my phone died? The horror! It actually was fine. I did have to time my shower in the evening so I would have hot water, but that was no big deal. The ger itself was huge! It was more western in decor and very nice, though I have a soft spot for the traditional furnishings. We got settled in and had lunch, then we left for the sand dunes.

This was a big day for me. I was going to ride a bactrian camel. When I booked the trip I found out that camel riding was a possibility. I was so excited! I can't say that riding a two humped camel was a life dream but when I found out I could do it, I was all in. We stopped at a nomad's ger who had camels and would arrange the rides for us. He and his family welcomed us in. He passed around his snuff bottle for us to take a snort, which I did. We gave his family some chocolates that we brought and then paid for the camels. Most of his camels were still on the range grazing before moving for the summer, but he had several available.

We went out and the four camels were saddled and sitting on the ground. Sergie told us to approach and mount them from the left. I walked up to mine and threw my leg over and got on. I put my feet in the stirrups and the camel stood up. I grabbed the front hump with all my might, and uttered one of my favorite four letter words, as the motion almost threw me off. Sergie got on her camel and took the lead on mine, as I had no idea how to get the camel to go, or keep it from running away with me, which happened with horses more than once when I was a kid. We rode about a half an hour until we got to the base of the dunes. When it was time to dismount the camel sat down. This was worse then when he got up and I said that word again! I really had a lot of fun.If

Sergie, Max, and Rami started off to climb the highest dune. I said "No thanks, I will stay behind and take pictures." The climb was steep and I knew I wasn't up to it. I watched as they ascended and was really impressed. If you look carefully at the photo you can see three tiny dots at the top. That is them! I was happy to putter around looking at plants and birds. The dunes were incredibly beautiful. There was a dramatic sky and I could see rain in the distance.  Finally the climbers reached the top. I could barely see them. Their descent was a lot quicker. We headed back to the camp. The generator was on and I washed the sand from my hair. I knew I was going to be sore in the morning, and I was right!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Into the south Gobi, June 5, 2023

It was time to go to the heart of the Gobi desert, but before we left I got in a little more birding along the Ongi River. I won't go into the details, as I said at the beginning that this was not a birding trip, but there was one big highlight. As I was walking back into the camp I caught a flash of gray. I was very surprised to see a Japanese Sparrowhawk clutching a large warbler while sitting on the fence around the camp. I was able to get a few photos. Normally when I see a hawk take a bird, or rodent, they don't hang around.

We had a good breakfast and we packed the car to leave. Rami, Max, and I all agreed at the end of the trip that this was our favorite place. The setting was wonderful, with the river and mountain. My ger was comfortable, the food was good. Don't get me wrong, every place we stayed was great, but this one was special. I could easily have spent a week there.

We stopped on our way to the next camp at the Flaming Cliffs, named for the glowing orange rock faces.   This area was made famous by Roy Chapman Andrews and his team of explorers in 1922, when they discovered the first dinosaur eggs. Unfortunately the museum at the site was closed, but we really enjoyed the scenery. We parked and walked one of the trails. Max, Rami, and Sergie walked the trail to the end, but I went slowly, looking for birds and enjoying just being there. I am timid on trails, so I was very happy to poke along. I saw a few birds along the way. There were a number of women selling handicrafts and souvenirs at the parking area, so I did a little shopping. 

We traveled on to the next camp, Gobi Nomad Lodge. This camp was exceptionally nice. The gers range from simple, but comfortable lodging to absolute five star luxury. I had one with an attached bath that looked like it belonged in a higher end hotel. There was a line of small trees and shrubs behind the dining hall which held a number of birds, which made me very happy. The dining room was very nice and there was a small museum in a large ger. 

Sergie set up an area to teach us how to make traditional dumplings. These are made in large numbers by entire families to celebrate special occasions. Sergie said even little kids as young as four make them in mass. She laid out the fillings and rolled out some dumpling skins for us to work with. She demonstrated how to fold them and pinch them closed. I absolutely sucked at it. My dumpling looked nothing like hers. I tried a second one and it looked even worse. I definitely do not have a future in Mongolian culinary arts. 

We had a different brand of Mongolian beer with the dumplings which were fried by the cook. Despite my dumplings ugliness they tasted pretty good. They were filled with mutton, which I am quite fond of. I wandered around some more after dinner, enjoying the vast desert surrounding the camp. It was one of the most isolated places I have ever been. There were rain showers in the distance, but they never reached us.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Sharing a cup of tea. June 4, 2023


We had a long drive ahead of us, heading south for our time in the Gobi. Our destination was the Ongi Monastery.  This was one of the largest temple complexes in Mongolia. Unfortunately, the complex was destroyed during the ant-religious purges in the 1930s. In the 1990s it was decided to rebuild the monastery and the first temple was re-inaugurated  in 2004. But first we had to get there! 

I am going to be honest. I don't remember a lot of the drive itself, but I do distinctly remember two stops. We pulled over for a quick break by a very dry hill. I didn't expect to see anything, so I didn't even have my binoculars. I noticed a small sandy colored animal up on the hill. I said "There is an animal up there," and went to the car for my binoculars. I was excited to see a fox. Sergie looked through my binoculars and said it was a steppe fox. It is better known as a corsac fox. It sat and watched us as we watched it. Then in loped off. We also saw our first Mongolian gazelles! 

We stopped for a tea break in a very remote spot. As we broke out the cookies we saw a guy herding sheep on his motorcycle. He stopped and chatted with our driver and then came over and shared our tea. He had a beat up Russian issued pair of binoculars he was checking his sheep with. Sergie asked if he could see my binoculars. I handed them to him and he looked very surprised when he looked through him. He turned and held out his Russian ones, grinned and motioned that he wanted to trade. We all laughed. I wish I had been able to give them to him, but I am not that good a person. I asked if I could take his photo and he was happy to oblige.

We also started seeing our first bactrian camels. I always preferred the bactrians when we went to the zoo when I was a kid. I was very excited to see them wandering the range. Some of them had ear tags and some were marked with circles. They were darker than I expected and starting to shed their wnter  coats, so they looked a little ratty, I asked Sergie about wild bactrians, but we were not going to be in range for them.

We arrived at our next camp, Secret of Ongi, which is situated on the banks of the Ongi river. We had been told it was likely that the river would be dry, due to mining in the area, but it was flowing nicely. The camp was very nice and the setting was beautiful! There is a small mountain that reminded me of the Big Bend area of Texas. My ger was very nice and the restaurant was lovely! After lunch I wandered along the river and had a number of birds, including Gray Wagtail, Little Ringed-plover, Thick-billed Warbler, and Black-faced Bunting. Max and Rami climbed the mountain. 

A bit later we walked up to the monastery, which was less than a mile away. On the way I saw Tolai hares, which I was excited about. It ended up we saw a lot of them by the end of the trip. There was a service going on at the monastery, which we sat in on for a short period. After the service ended we saw a very elderly, very tiny woman being helped out. Sergie told us she was 103 years old! She was well known for having helped soldiers during World War II by giving them food and other provisions. Sergie showed us an old news story about her. 

We returned to the camp and had a very nice dinner. I splurged on a bottle of Chardonnay for us to share. There was a performance by a gentleman playing the traditional horse-head fiddle and a young woman did a Mongolian dance. I was surprised at how much music he could produce with just two strings! 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Further west to Karakorum, June 3

 We woke up to bad news. Robert was not feeling well again. Since we were heading further and further away from the city, the wise thing was for him to return to Ulaanbaator to get checked out further and head back to the states. We all were very sorry to see him go. We exchanged contact information and kept in touch throughout the trip and after. He is doing very well now, thank goodness. I am very glad to have made a new friend!

Karakorum, where we were going, is the ruins of the capital of the Mongol empire. Founded by Chingiss Khan in 1220, it was the epicenter of trade on the Silk Road. Most of the inhabitants were craftsmen from all over the world. Sadly, the city was badly damaged during an attack by the army of the Min Dynasty. The Erdene Zuu monastery was built on the ruins in 1586. It was the first great Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Stones from the city ruins were used in construction. It is surrounded by a wall featuring 108 stupas, with 108 being the sacred number to Buddhists. 

 The drive west through the steppes was beautiful. There were herds of sheep and horses free ranging on the hills. We stopped at a small lake that had Whooper Swans and Bar-headed Geese, which thrilled me! We checked into our next ger camp, Munkh Tenger, where I tried to figure out how I could get the bed back to Texas! It was so beautiful, but I will admit it was more than a bit firmer than I prefer. This has been the case every where I have traveled in Asia. It was also great that this ger had an attached bathroom. We had a very nice lunch and headed to the ruins and monastery about two kilometers away.

We walked past the walls of the monastery  to see a huge turtle carved of stone. This was one of four that had marked the corners of Karakorum. We walked back and went into the monastery and toured the buildings. There was a large group of school children. We were fortunate enough to see another ceremony, with the monks chanting and the school children and adults lined up behind them holding a rope. There were women pouring out tiny cups of spring water as offerings. I had caught a cold (I tested, it was not covid!) Sergie brought me a little plastic bag of the spring water and another tiny plastic bag of juniper and suggested I burn the juniper that night and wash my face in the water to treat the cold. I will admit that I did start feeling better the next day.

After dinner Sergie suggested that they light a fire in the stove, just a little fire. I relented. It is surprising just how warm a ger can get! Dinner was great, our first time to have dumplings. I also had my first Mongolia beer. I went to bed early, as I did every night on this trip. You would think I was old or something!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Hustai National Park. Wild Horses!

We left Ulaanbaator for wilder parts of Mongolia on June 2 at about 930AM. I was surprised at the luxury of our rides. Sergie said we were going by "jeep". It turned out we were in two Lexus SUVs. Robert and I were in one car with a driver. Sergie, Max, and Rami were in the other, with their driver. Our first destination was Hustai National Park, 100 kilometers west of Ulaanbaator. We had our first wild mammal of the trip, Mongolian Marmot.

This was the location I was most excited to visit. Hustai is one of the sites where Przewalski's Horse has been reintroduced to the wild. These were the last truly wild horses, but they were declared extinct in the wild after the last sighting of a stallion in 1969. Reintroduction from captive populations began in the 1990s. I remember reading about these horses when I was a young kid. At that time I held no hope of ever seeing one. Now I actually had a chance, though there were no guarantees.

We arrived at the park and I was assigned my first ger of the trip. Gers are the round portable homes used by many Mongolians. They are sometimes, called yurts, though technically there are some slight differences. They are still used extensively, with ger neighborhoods even in the cities. I went into mine, crying out as I did almost every time I entered or exited "DAMN IT! I HIT MY HEAD!" The doors are quite low and I knew this, but I still misjudged over and over. Rami and Max said at the end of the trip that they each had a couple of marks on their heads from this. I said I had the entire map of Mongolia carved in mine.

My ger was lovely, with hand painted furniture and a stove in the center. The wooden spokes of the ceiling were painted the traditional orange. I wished I could have taken one of the beds home with me. I will say, though, that the beds were more than firm. I was enchanted. This was the one night that I did not have an attached bathroom, but I was ok with that. There was a modern bathroom in the basement of the restaurant. We ate lunch and prepared to go into the park.

Robert was not feeling well and decided to stay at the camp while the rest of us went in. We drove a few miles and saw a herd of Red Deer on a hill side. Up above them were the first horses we saw. They were a bit distant, but i was very excited. We went in a little further where we parked with the plan to hike in, going across a high hill and descending to another parking area where our driver would meet us. I looked up rhe hill and decided that I would stay with the driver. I know my limitations! I wandered around the area where we were parked and saw a few birds, Mongolians Larks, Rock Sparrows, Hoopoe, and a Steppe Eagle, among others. I was content.

Baagie, our driver (again, probably misspelled) motioned for me to go. We drove around to the other side. More horses and deer were in this area. A large patch of wild iris was in bloom by a creek. Baagie pointed to the top of a hill and said "sheep!" A group of Argali wild sheep walked across the brow. They are one of the more difficult mammals to see, so I was quite pleased. A family group of horse came down to drink from the creek, passing close enough that I got full frame photos. Max, Rami, and Sergie came down the hill. Max had spotted fox and I was a bit jealous. We drove back to camp for dinner.