Who said winter can be boring?
On the southern edge of the Siberian forest, the Blue Pearl of Mongolia, Lake Khuvsgul, completely freezes over. Each March, the nomadic reindeer herders, Tsaatan, from the north, join local residents to celebrate Ice Festival with traditional games and races over two days. Despite extreme cold temperatures of down to -35°C, Ice Festival is popular attraction among the tourists.
Who said winter can be boring? Not in Mongolia! A respite from the confinement of the winter months, the Ice Festival is a time to get outdoors and play games. It involves a great variety of activities and competitions, including Ice Sumo, ger building with ice, ice skating and sleigh rides, all on or by the shores of the beautiful Lake Khuvsgul. Among the many activities staged on the meter-thick ice covering Mongolia’s largest lake (by volume) are tug-of-war matches and horse-drawn sleigh races, while spectators marvel at elaborate ice sculptures.
The power of the ice and the natural patterns it made in the course of its formation, really fascinating. So many vehicles, races of all kinds, yaks pulling huge blocks of ice for building, as if the ice had no power to melt at any time! This two-day event is also a shamanist ceremony of offering and provides a fascinating insight into the Tsaatan people's way of life. Many traditional games are played on the sidelines, and this is an ideal venue for visitors to join in the fun and games with local people.
Should you visit Mongolia at this time of the year that's your chance to discover the nomadic life in winter, on the occasion of the celebrations held for the Ice Festival!