As a photographer who travels six months out of the year, my expedition to Mongolia was far from a tedious business trip. The country’s unique cultures and unspoiled landscapes make it a destination unlike any other. Known as the “end of the earth,” Mongolia is the world’s most sparsely populated country with only two people per square kilometer (six per square mile). In contrast, Macau boasts a population density of almost 22,000 people per square kilometer (58,000 per square mile). Additionally, Mongolia is the second largest landlocked country in the world after Kazakhstan, with the Pacific’s Yellow Sea located 700 kilometers (435 miles) to the east, being the closest ocean.
In June and August of 2022, I visited Bayan-Olgii in Western Mongolia for a scouting trip and photo workshop, respectively. During our stay, we were accommodated in traditional Kazakh Ger camps. Our host, Mr. Shaimurat Askhabil, is a 58-year-old Kazakh eagle hunter who lives a nomadic lifestyle in Altantsugts district, Bayan-Ulgii province, in Western Mongolia. Shaimurat owns around 100 sheep, 100 goats, 30 horses, and six cows. He informed us that a sheep or a goat can be sold around US$100, while a cow can be sold for around US$400. Shaimurat uses his horses for herding, as well as for their milk and meat.
At Shaimurat’s Ger camps, guests are treated to a stunning mountain view without any additional cost. The majestic Tsambagarav Mountain, a part of the Altai Mountains range, is located to the east. This mountain has two peaks, with “Tsast Uul” (the background mountain in the upper left image) being the highest at 4,193 meters (13,757 feet) and the other peak also sharing the name “Tsambagarav.” Notably, Tsast Uul is the second highest peak in Mongolia.