I have to pinch myself on a regular basis that I can get to call this kind of thing my work - the huge river valley where we rafted, walked, camped and fished in Mongolia truly is one of the most special places I have ever laid eyes on in my life. The fish that swim in the river are of course awesome, but the actual fish on a trip like this make up only a small part of the overall experience. Check out the little raft in the bottom left hand corner of the photo above - it was one huge landscape. Totally awe-inspiring and I only hope that my photographs do the place some proper justice.
The trip worked so well because the people on it were simply fantastic, and the organisation that went into putting us lot truly into the wilds in a way that we could easily deal with it was seamless - huge thanks guys for letting me work my cameras around you all. I know it can be hard when somebody like me is jumping around all over the place to get my shots, but I am over the moon with the material - it's eyes down now to edit it down and process it all. Above is the main species we went to Mongolia to catch - the legendary taimen, one of the world's truly great freshwater species. This is Alex McLeod with a taimen around 35lbs, and what really makes it so special is that he sight-fished to this monster with a dry fly. Of course this amazing fish went safely back to it's haunt in the pool that Alex has now named "The Bus Stop".
Around every corner there was another incredible view of this stunning river valley, and I spent most of the trip in a complete state of hyped-up excitement at the light and the scenery. For the most part the weather was fantastic, but I have never spent time in a place with such severe temperature fluctuations - at one time it got to 24C in the afternoon, yet we had hard frosts every night, the kind that when you wake up, your tent material is frozen. You can be really warm on the river bank, and then some cloud cover comes along, the wind picks up, and you are hurrying to whack some clothes on and get warm. The people who live in this part of the world are incredibly tough to take the winters out in Mongolia - there we are in shock at a hard frost and a bit below zero, but in the depths of winter we are talking scary cold and bleak out there.
To illustrate my point about weather fluctuations, we woke up after our first night under canvas to find the whole place covered with a fresh dumping of snow !! I could not believe my eyes when I crawled out of my tent and took a look around. But by midday it was blazing sunshine, all the snow had gone, and the guys were back to fishing in t-shirts for a few hours. Mad. What a place. Honestly, we are truly lucky people to have spent time in such a location. If awesome fly fishing in truly impressive locations floats your boat, then I implore you to head to Mongolia and experience something truly magical. Speak to the guys at Aardvark McLeod about it all. This was one of those lifetime experiences that will live with me forever, and I know just how lucky I am to have been on a trip like this for my job.
Check out the quality of the light in the photo above - I took this shot as we were driven from Muren airport out to the remote river valley that we were going to be calling home for a week. It is tough to show off a landscape that is just so vast and empty, but when the light goes off then the photos tend to come naturally if that makes sense.
It was fantastic to get home late yesterday, but it feels a bit strange to sleep in a bed instead of a tent or a ger, and not have to wear thermals and a hat to go to sleep !! My body clock is all over the place at the moment as were seven hours ahead of the UK out in Mongolia, so I guess it's going to take a few days to switch back to our time and work out what time it is. There will be more photos to come in due course. Mongolia really got to me in a big way, and I hope that one day I get the chance to head back to this wonderful country. I have heard so much about the place and the fish for some time now, and I can see exactly why people fall in love with the whole experience. Masses to catch up on now, and later on this morning I will get to take my eldest daughter to school for the first time ever. How cool is that ?