Duniart – Photography and Blog by Toine IJsseldijk

Mongolia

Gobi Desert, Orkhon Valley and a lot of lakes

June – July 2019

What an awesome destination! It exceeded in everything I had hoped for, and best of all, not only for myself, but all 4 of us. Mongolia is a destination where time has almost stood still. It’s the size of Europe, but with a population of only 3 million people. Half of them live in the capital Ulaanbaatar, the other half spread out over a handful of large villages and the vast countryside.

Destinations

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Tsagaan Suvarga

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Yoliin Am

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Khongoryn Els

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Gobi Desert

Flaming Cliffs

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Ongiin Khiid

Orkhon Valley

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Tsenkher

Great White Lake

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Telmen Lake

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Khyargas Lake

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Khar Us Lake

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Khovd

Introduction

I was initially thinking of renting a car and self-drive, but I’m glad I realised that Mongolia is not a self-drive destination, unless you’re a real off-road enthusiast and then only when you are with people who speak Mongolian and, perhaps even more important, who know how to fix cars.
So we ended up renting a Russian 4-wheel drive minibus, which used to be used by the Russian army in remote areas of the former Soviet Union. With the minibus came an extremely skilled driver and mechanic, Mr. Patah. He was not only one of the most skilled off-road drivers I’ve ever seen, but was also looking after his car with heart and soul.
As most Mongolian drivers do not speak any English we had also decided to take a guide along, who would also be able to cook. And how fortunate we were with Vampi, who was not only a fantastic guide with a deep knowledge as well as respect for the local culture, but was also a gifted cook who managed to impress us with almost every single meal, no matter how few ingredients were available to cook with… In the most remote corners of this earth where the nearest shop or fridge is at least half a day away we have truly had some memorable meals!

Itinerary

Day 1 – Jun 21: Flight Bali – Hong Kong – Ulaanbaatar (stay in hotel)
Day 2 – Jun 22: Ulaanbaatar – Tsagaan Suvarga (stay in local ger)
Day 3 – Jun 23: Tsagaan Suvarga – Yoliin Am (stay in local ger)
Day 4 – Jun 24: Yoliin Am – Khongoryn Els (stay in local ger)
Day 5 – Jun 25: Khongoryn Els sand dunes (wild camping)
Day 6 – Jun 26: Khongoryn Els – Bayan-Zag (Flaming Cliffs) (stay in tourist ger camp)
Day 7 – Jun 27: Bayan-Zag – Ongiin Khiid (stay in local ger)
Day 8 – Jun 28: Ongiin Khiid – Orkhon Valley (stay in local ger)
Day 9 – Jun 29: Orkhon Valley (stay in local ger)
Day 10 – Jun 30: Orkhon Valley – Tsenkher hot springs (stay in tourist ger camp)
Day 11 – Jul 1: Tsenkher – Khorgo Volcano – Great White Lake (stay in local ger)
Day 12 – Jul 2: Great White Lake – Telmen Lake (wild camping)
Day 13 – Jul 3: Telmen Lake – Khyargas Lake (stay in local guesthouse)
Day 14 – Jul 4: Khyargas Lake – Khar Us Lake (wild camping)
Day 15 – Jul 5: Khar Us Lake – Khovd (stay in hotel)
Day 16 – Jul 6: Flight Khovd – Ulaanbaatar (stay in hotel)
Day 17 – Jul 7: Flight Ulaanbaatar – Hong Kong – Bali
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