This is Narankhuu – he is a herder from the Darkhad Valley in northern Khovsgol and a member of the Darkhad ethnic group. In this image he is brewing tea for our guests during their private Mongolia trekking expedition that we arranged for them to the taiga in the remote Tsagaannuur region of northern Mongolia.
The taiga eco-system is dominated by forested areas, primarily composed of larch trees, and surrounded by open valleys that resemble polar tundra. The several thousand square kilometre area of taiga is home for the Tsaatan – a community of nomadic reindeer herders, originally from Tuva in Siberia, who have historically inhabited the border region of Russia and Mongolia. Ethnically, the community identifies as Dukha, but their lifestyle as reindeer herders earned them the Mongolian name Tsaatan, which means roughly ‘with reindeer’.
From Narankhuu’s home, the east and west taigas can be accessed by horse towards the edge of the taiga, and then to the actual Dukha camps. Though the two taiga regions are geographically distinct, the two groups share many kinship ties and are part of the same wider community.
Narankhuu is intimately familiar with the routes, history, and people of the taiga and well respected by the reindeer herding families. He makes sure we follow the correct cultural norms as well as makes sure we support only the local community (Narankhuu is the only non-Dukha person apart from our guests and EL trip assistant) on a trek. The Dukha do not like prolonged stays as they disrupt their herding and movement patterns and so Narankhuu makes sure we keep on the move. He is also talented at making a brew of tea -anytime and anywhere.
This image of Narankhuu was taken by our guest Hui Li during her second trip to Mongolia with Eternal Landscapes – on a private overland expedition. We limit the number of trips we offer and the size of the groups to the Dukha due to the sensitivity of the area – both culturally and environmentally.