To the west of Khovsgol Nuur, the empty Darkhad Depression is the homeland of Mongolia’s last reindeer herders, the Tsaatan: 44 families still live in the traditional nomadic way around this pine-speckled plain, moving five or six times each year between camps at different altitudes.

They inhabit conical, tepee-style tents called ortz, which are made from birch bark, animal hides, bones and wood. The summer months see the Tsaatan widely scattered over the higher ground of the Sayan mountains, but in summer they congregate around the shores of Khovsgol Nuur, which freezes solid.

Visits by tourists to the Tsaatan are discouraged, but TransIndus clients have on several occasions come across their camps while riding on horseback in the taiga forest of the Khovsgol area – a glimpse of a way of life nowadays threatened by climate change and the spread of gold mining in this remote borderland. 

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