We woke up at 5:30 by the sound of neighing horses next to our tent. Finally, we would be able to visit the Tsataan! They are part of a Russian ethnic group, and there are only 450 of them. Tsataan literally means ‘reindeer people’. They live deep in the valley of the taiga forests, where the climate is cold enough to herd reindeer.
The only way to visit the Tsataan is by horse – and boy, was I excited to ride one! Mongolian horses are said to stay half-wild, and ours didn’t differ. Our Tsataan guides didn’t allow us to snap pictures on our way, because the sound would make the horses crazy. For the next 9 hours of horse riding there was only us, our beautiful horses and the incredible taiga, WAUW!
After 45km of horse riding (100% sore bum guaranteed), we arrived at the village, where 80 Tsataan live in perfect harmony with their 200 reindeer. We had a hard time connecting with the locals, but there aren’t enough words to describe how unique it is to see the Tsataan live in basic tippies in the middle of nowhere, completely dependent on each other and the reindeer. After a good night sleep (not exactly; the reindeer thought it would be nice to keep us company), we jumped back on our horses to conquer 45km of mosquitos and taiga. In the evening we camped next to an ice-cold river where we could take a bath with the yaks.