13th Century Camp
Mongolia’s 13th Century Camp in the Tuv aimag, Erdene province, is a living museum allowing visitors a glimpse of life as an ancient Mongol during the time of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan. The encampment is just under 100km (2-3 hours drive) east of Ulaanbaatar and covers an area of around 3km square. It is divided into six ‘camps’ each showing important cultural aspects of 13th Century life in Mongolia.
The ‘Relay Station’ or ‘Watchtower Camp’ shows how Mongolians developed the world’s first postal system. There are different military outfits to try on including chain mail (which Kath couldn’t even lift!) and a variety of different armours and helmets.
The second camp, known as the King’s Camp, shows an enormous ‘Palace ger’ where state affairs, such as the declaration of laws, would have been carried out. It is an impressive space – a great room for a party! Decked out in felt carpets with wall hangings, furs and three impressive thrones – one for the great Khan, one for his Queen and the 3rd for his mother, it offers a great opportunity to dress up in royal attire and take some photos. There is even a stuffed eagle at hand! The ger can easily seat 100 or more people at low tables and there you can enjoy a delicious lunch of traditional noodle soup and, Melissa’s favourite, khuushuur (deep fried dumplings).
The third camp, is the ‘Herders Camp’, where you can see aspects of everyday life in the 13th Century; livestock breeding, dairy production, leather tanning, as well as horse-training and herding with a lasso pole. The nomadic families that live here are not actors and you can see them with their own herds in their summer pasture. If you disregard solar panels and satellite dishes, the life of a herder in the 13th Century was very similar to the life of a herder today.
One auspicious Panoramic Journeys visit coincided with the annual castration of the lambs and our guests were treated to lamb testicle soup – which is said, of course, to be good for fertility…
The fourth camp is the ‘Shaman Camp’ and offers a fascinating insight into Shamanic culture. You can see the dwellings of shaman from different regions and ethnic groups of Mongolia and the caretaker is very informative. If you are lucky, you may get to experience a Shaman ritual, building an ‘ovoo’ as an offering to the sky god or perhaps a fire ceremony.
The fifth camp, is the ‘Educational Camp’. Here you can learn about 13th Century Mongolia’s unique attitude to literacy and how Chinggis Khan drafted in tutors from all over his empire to teach him and his successors. You can learn Mongolian calligraphy and many types of Mongolian scripts.
The last camp, the ‘Craftsman Camp’ explores the role of the blacksmith in 13th Century Mongolia and shows visitors the art of making jewellery, weapons, household implements and tools. It is in a spectacular location, positioned in between rocks with interconnecting walkways and a watchtower with amazing views across the plains.
Let your travel designer know if you would like a day visit to this quirky camp included within your journey.