The rugged landscape of Mongolia is home to a nomadic culture seemingly untouched by modernity, and a population whose unique way of life fascinates photographer Nick Bondarev. Over three years, he undertook multiple expeditions ranging from two to six weeks to capture the essence of this land and its people for his project Out of Time; he shares select photographs in this feature.
The golden landscape of the Kurai steppe (pictured above) looks especially arresting against the snow-capped peaks of the Altai Mountains, whose name means “mountains with gold” in Mongolian. Extending 2,000km from the Gobi Desert to the West Siberian Plain, this range passes through Mongolia, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan, serving as a source of inspiration for these communities.
SOUND OF SILENCE: ATLAI MOUNTAINS
The Altai Mountains look vastly different in February, the depths of winter in Mongolia, when temperatures drop to -40°C and snow blankets the peaks and the plains. Mongolia becomes even quieter as it faces its notoriously long and harsh winter—snow covers every part of the country from Ulaanbaatar, the world’s second coldest capital city, to the sparsely populated steppes.
While silence reigns in wintertime, that doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer things to do. Travellers brave enough to endure the sub-zero temperatures are rewarded with sublime landscapes and clear blue skies. There are also activities including dog-sledding excursions and wildlife expeditions where one can encounter snow leopards, grey wolves, and wild horses.