Shamans & Reindeer People
Deep in the northern reaches of Mongolia lies Khuvsgul province, renowned for its crowning jewel—the eponymous Khuvsgul Lake. This majestic body of water stands as the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume and is often referred to as “the deep blue pearl” for its captivating beauty and ecological significance, tracing its history back over an impressive 2 million years.
Khuvsgul’s landscape is a haven for diverse flora and fauna, with the Taiga hosting various endangered species including the reindeer, a vital part of the region’s unique cultural ecosystem. The Tsaatan reindeer people, a remarkable community within Khuvsgul, also known as the Dukha people, represent Mongolia’s smallest ethnic minority, numbering fewer than a thousand individuals nationwide. Inhabiting the remote and pristine Taiga, these people forge a symbiotic connection with the reindeer, coexisting in harmony with the abundant wildlife and preserving a rich nomadic tradition that includes reindeer herding and shamanic practices.
Encounter shamans practicing one of the world’s oldest faiths, immerse yourself in the daily lives of Tsaatan reindeer families, and meet Tumursukh, the chief park ranger of the Red Taiga protected national park with an inspiring and extraordinary background. Tumursukh was featured in a recent, award-winning documentary “Mongolia: Valley of the Bears” that highlights his valiant efforts to save bears in the Red Taiga while trying to maintain the delicate balance between local herders and the wildlife.