The pictures turned out pretty great though.
Not many photographers will plan to drop everything, forego most creature comforts and head off to Western Mongolia during their downtime. But Ryan Peters is no ordinary photographer. He had a mission — to get up close and personal with some of the wildlife he noticed when he was in Altai Tavan Bodg in 2016, a 6,362 km long park which also happens to house the country’s highest and coldest mountains.
Late August 2016, I drove four days to the outskirts of the park. At the time, I was not equipped to travel through it, so I promised to return. And I did.
If you look back at his previous work, this isn’t his first rodeo. In fact, Ryan has a penchant for the uncomfortable and an inclination for the “up close and personal”. As with any trip where GPS is as unreliable as the weather, there were some hiccups —
“Day 1 consisted of a 10 hour off road drive to the Ger Camps situated closest to the national park. Unfortunately heavy snowfall routed us and we had to seek refuge with the people living in the area. We literally had to knock on doors and pay to sleep in a part of their house. It was about 10 of us in a small room with no internet. I’m not saying I missed it, but it would have been nice to get online.”
Pay-dirt was when they got wind of a family of eagle-trappers (Called the Kazakh Eagle hunters) that had caught some very elusive Mongolian wolves and were keeping them for the winter. Surprising, as normally these animals would have been killed for their pelt and meat as they are a threat to livestock.
Mongolian Wolves tend to shy away from human contact. It made interacting with them in the wild nearly impossible.
“This was such a rare opportunity that a calm hush came over me on my way to meet them — it was as if I did not want to disturb the air in fear of disturbing some cosmic, natural order of things with my presence.
My enthusiasm overcame me when I arrived and my young Kazakh guide gestured me towards them. Two wolves; one much bigger than the other. As I sat, they sniffed the air around me. I dropped to one knee to appear as non-threatening as possible. For an hour we sat in silence, and I let nature take its course. These were not pets, my guide reminded me with gestures. After a long time, my patience paid off.”
And so, this was the result.
All we can say is, hats off to you Ryan. The world needs more visual adventurers willing to bite hard into what Mother Nature has to offer to get some amazing shots. Last we heard, he is heading back there again.
We can’t wait.