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Tuva - Western Mountains, Siberia (Center on Interactive Map)

Map of Tuva - Western Mountains, Siberia

Map of Tuva - Western Mountains, Siberia

Western Tuva, Inside The Yurt Western Tuva, Ghenghis Khan Statue Western Tuva, Outside the Yurt Western Tuva, Ancient Turkic Carving Western Tuva, Sacred Site Western Tuva, Taiga
Western Tuva, Ladas Western Tuva, Mountaintop Western Tuva, Valley
Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) Female Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus) Juveniles Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)  Juvenile Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta) Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus) Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus) Male Siberian ssp Rufous-streaked Accentor (Prunella himalayana) Rufous-streaked Accentor (Prunella himalayana) Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) Male

Alpine mountains and forested valleys.



7/23/2008: We spent several hours driving to reach the home of Mergen's brother in Western Tuva. They lived in this wooden house without indoor plumbing. The house was nice, though, and we were staying the night. I had a bit of insomnia due to the hot weather, and the house was especially weatherproofed for the extreme winters here.

The next morning, we visited a statue of Ghenghis Khan that had been sitting in some field for some thousands of years. The story goes that someone tried to steal the statue for his home, but of course he met a grisly death. The statue was returned to the field by the family.

There was this other place with a number of stone markers left behind by Turkic people centuries before. My highlight of that area was the multitude of giant grasshoppers around. Late in the afternoon, we finally made it to our campsite next to some yurts. I guess these people were also relatives of Mergen... it seems that everyone here is loosely related.

7/24/2008: We spent the next couple of days hiking around in the forests and steppes around the campground. We met this 93 year old cigarette smoking woman who was somehow related to Mergen. This woman wintered in her yurt and lived mostly off of bread and milk. Surprisingly, she seemed as agile as a woman half her age, but she certainly looked every day of her 93 years.

We took another hike through swarms of flies to a highland area. I will have to say that the scenery in this area was the best that I saw in my one month in Russia.

One of the highlights was getting fresh cream for one of the herders in a nearby yurt. We dipped bread in the cream and topped it with sugar. That is the staple diet in this area. By morning, the cream had turned into butter, and believe it or not, it was not considered good to eat at this stage. I found it delicious, however.

7/25/2008: The last day in the mountains, we hiked several miles over a mountain pass into this area of radioactive cold springs. Everybody and their mother drives their beaten down Ladas on the "dirt road" to bathe in these curative springs. And I thought that I was the only person crazy enough to drive the economy car on the four-wheel-drive roads.

Anyway, all of the springs have various curing powers, and they are also nearly ice-cold. We learned that Mergen had a problem with "Angina" as a child. He was taken to these springs for two weeks of cold spring therapy. After that, he had no health complaints to speak of. In a similar vein, we learned about a relative of his who had been struck by lightening as a boy. The strike had hurt his leg, and he complained about a limp. The boy's parents buried him up to his waist in the middle of their yurt for two days after which the complaints stopped.

We took turns bathing ourselves in one of the springs (to fight bronchitis, it said). People are segregated by gender and go into a hut where the cold water pours over your head and back. I found that exposing oneself to extreme conditions is a common theme in Russia. Believe me, after that, I will not be complaining about any bronchitis.

Previous Visit (Tuva - Kyzyl: 7/22/2008)
Next Visit (Tuva - Kyzyl: 7/25/2008)

Species Recorded (17)

Birds ( 16 )

Old World Tree Warblers ( Phylloscopidae )
Yellow-browed Warbler - Phylloscopus inornatus

Old World Flycatchers and Chats ( Muscicapidae )
Siberian Stonechat - Saxicola maurus

Cranes ( Gruidae )
Demoiselle Crane - Anthropoides virgo

Sandpipers and Allies ( Scolopacidae )
Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos
Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago

Jays and Crows ( Corvidae )
Eurasian Nutcracker - Nucifraga caryocatactes

Chickadees and Titmice ( Paridae )
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Willow Tit - Poecile montanus

Dippers ( Cinclidae )
White-throated Dipper - Cinclus cinclus

Thrushes and Allies ( Turdidae )
Bluethroat - Luscinia svecica
Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus

Wagtails and Pipits ( Motacillidae )
Olive-backed Pipit - Anthus hodgsoni
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
Tree Pipit - Anthus trivialis

Brushfinches, Seedeaters, Sparrows, and Allies ( Emberizinae )
Ortolan Bunting - Emberiza hortulana

Old World Sparrows ( Passeridae )
Himalayan Accentor - Prunella himalayana




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