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The Mongolian Yurt: Ger Sweet Ger

Recently, I re-discovered my 2010 Mongolia trip photos while searching my archives for images to submit to stock agencies. I’m now motivated to publish a few more blog posts about this intriguing country.

The traditional portable home for nomadic herders roaming the vast grassy steppes of Mongolia is the yurt, or ger as it’s called in Mongolian which literally means home.

Ger pepper the landscape throughout Mongolia and today between 30-40% of the country’s population (Source: Wikipedia) live in a ger, not only on the steppe but many in city suburbs.

Due to the nomadic nature of its occupants, a ger is designed to be dismantled easily and moved, so construction only takes about 2 hours.

A collapsible wooden lattice wall with a door frame supports long, roof poles and a circular crown leaving an opening for the central chimney. The entire framework is covered with layers of wool felt for warmth then ropes secure waterproof canvas over the top.

These photos show the stages of ger construction: the bare skeleton of wall lattice and roof poles, the entire framework covered in layers of felt, and the completed ger with the outer cover of waterproof canvas.

Contructing a Mongolian ger. Wooden wall lattice, roof poles and door. Khutag Ondor, Central Mongolia

Constructing a ger. Wooden wall lattice, roof poles and door.

Contructing a Mongolian ger. Layers of wool felt cover the framework. Khutag Ondor, Central Mongolia

Layers of wool felt cover the framework.

Fully constructed Mongolian ger alongside partly constructed ger. Khutag Ondor, Central Mongolia

Fully constructed Mongolian ger covered in waterproof canvas and secured with ropes alongside partly constructed ger.

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11 responses

  1. I would love to go to Mongolia someday. It
    Looks so beautiful and remote. The yurts are fascinating too.

    March 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    • Nicole, it’s an incredible country! Fascinating to travel but a tough place to live. The scenery is stunning and very remote and the culture is unique. You have to go one day! I’ll definitely go back as I have family there now.

      March 18, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      • I can’t imagine what life would be like as a nomad living in Mongolia. Must be quite daunting.

        March 20, 2014 at 6:02 am

      • I guess if you’re born into it you know no other life so it doesn’t seem daunting. Winters are harsh there and stock die and as that’s their livelihood it’s tough for them.

        March 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      • And I can barely take our winter! Can’t imagine. Must be very strong people.

        March 25, 2014 at 2:48 am

      • They certainly are, Nicole! And I don’t envy you your winter either!

        March 25, 2014 at 9:31 am

      • They are very tough people that’s for sure!

        April 7, 2014 at 9:16 am

  2. Sas

    I volunteered at a campsite it North Wales that has yurts last year. They looked like a fun place to sleep in, although I don’t think they’re that good at dealing with the Welsh weather :)

    March 18, 2014 at 2:14 am

    • Yurts in North Wales sound a novelty! Didn’t you get to sleep in one? The ger in Mongolia withstand temperatures of minus 30 degrees celsius and colder. Maybe they just don’t know how to construct them properly in Wales! They’re fun to sleep in when traveling but very basic and it’s tough after a few days of no showers due to lack of water. Living in one wouldn’t be much fun. It’s a very hard life living on the steppe in Mongolia especially in winter.

      March 18, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      • Sas

        It was more the rain we had problems with, the yurts leaked really badly. Fortunately, the week I was there the weather was actually sunny on most days so I could dry everything out. I didn’t get to sleep in one of the yurts, but I’d love to camp in one sometime.

        March 19, 2014 at 12:42 am

      • They should be watertight. They withstand harsh winters with snow and ice in Mongolia. Sleeping in a wet yurt doesn’t sound fun! A warm, dry weather yurt experience is probably more pleasant. I hope you get to sleep in one some time!

        March 21, 2014 at 2:10 pm

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