They are not easy to find. Tsaats, reindeer people, they are called by the Mongols, thoughtless habit only or political calculation to disguise their true identity. For the nomads belong to the ethnic minority of the Turkic tribes – Tuvins. Call themselves Tyva-Kish, or even more originally, Sojon-Uriangchaj. In the area around the Khuvsguul – Lake, up to the Russian border, live the last reindeer people in Mongolia, the "Tsaats" (Tsa = reindeer, ten = people). This, in its way of life still original people, is related to the Inuit and their life under these hard climatic conditions is not imaginable without the reindeer.
They are not easy to find. Tsaats, reindeer people, they are called by the Mongols, thoughtless habit only or political calculation to disguise their true identity. For the nomads belong to the ethnic minority of the Turkic tribes – Tuvins. Call themselves Tyva-Kish, or even more originally, Sojon-Uriangchaj. Unlike most of their relatives in Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, and the autonomous republic of Tuva in southern Siberia, 30 to 40 families have never settled down, living not in yurts but in Urts resembling Indian teepees, and raising reindeer for food, fur, and transportation. In a country where there are 13 horses for every person, it may seem strange at first that the nomads use them as mounts. But for getting around in the rough topography of the taiga, a reindeer is more suitable, especially in winter. A reindeer nomad only swings on his horse for the days-long shopping trip to the next larger settlement or in summer.
In the area around the Khovsguul – Lake, up to the Russian border, live the last reindeer people in Mongolia, the “Tsaats” (Tsa = reindeer, ten = man). This, in its way of life still original people, is related to the Inuit and their life under these hard climatic conditions is not imaginable without the reindeer. The reindeer is the supplier of food, and the simple tents and clothing are made from the hides. From the reindeer antlers, the tsats make medicine. The reindeer graze the sparse vegetation in the northern taiga very quickly in the summer, so the tsaats move to another area every two to three weeks in the summer. Unlike the Mongolian nomads, the Tsaats do not live in yurts, but in tents covered with reindeer skin, which can be compared to the “tipis” of the Indians.
In this very geographically isolated people, shamanism plays an essential role in the almost intact life of the Tsaats. The shaman is not only a cultural and religious leader, but the shaman also plays an essential role in daily life and exercises great worldly power. Shamans practice a form of animistic religion (humans, animals and all things in nature have a soul – spirit) with multiple meanings and with different characters. The difference between soul and spirit is that only humans have a soul, while spirit is an abstract concept that refers to a wide range of natural phenomena. In the case of the shaman, the soul of his body goes on a dream journey and on this journey, in addition to deceased ancestors, he can also meet the various spirits (tengries). There are 99 different tengries in the world of shamans. The world of shamans is divided into an upper and lower world, in which the soul can wander back and forth. So far a very short definition of shamanism.
In this trip we will focus only on the region around the Khovs-guul – lake. The habitat of the Tsaats can be reached only
be reached by horse. For the horse stages riding skills are desirable, but not absolutely necessary. However, you should bring a certain sportiness with you. There will be two domestic flights on this trip.
The area around Lake Khovsguul is also one of the least developed regions of Mongolia. Some regions around the lake can only be reached by little used roads, but the efforts of the journey are rewarded by the beautiful landscape. Pine forests, larches and taiga indicate to the visitor that Siberia is not far away. This tour is mainly limited to the Khovsguul – Lake.