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My own reaction when I first reached the South Gobi Altai, in autumn 1990, was to fall on my knees in awe at the magnificence of the empty desert at dawn. For a short instant I felt I had arrived, and yet in the next instant I realised there was still a long, long way to go. Wearily, I recognised I had barely scratched the surface. Such travel to a far-off country both brings us home and teaches us about ourselves -- revealing, perhaps, our true identities and, maybe, our deepest desires and greatest fears.
Mongolia is not a country to visit in a hurry. It is a fabulous wide-open land of extreme climate and extraordinary natural environment. People call it a 'mythical land' or the 'land of blue sky' because of its shimmering, clear air and cloudless skies for most of the year. It is a land of horses and herdsmen and one of the last great undisturbed wilderness areas on earth. Among its 2.4 million people are some of the last truly nomadic pastoralists in the world, and visitors can experience the unique pleasures of staying with nomads and living a lifestyle of centuries ago.