Tsagaan Suvraga — Gurvan Saikhan National Park — Khongoryn Els — Arvaikheer — Mongolia 2014 Travel Journal
“With Heaven’s aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you.” — Genghis Khan
Travel Route: Tsagaan Suvraga — Gurvan Saikhan National Park — Khongoryn Els — Arvaikheer
What is a Russian automobile Furgon?
We are driving in a Russian Furgon or UAZ, Ulanovsky Automobile Zavod. Ours includes some major upgrades, for one the engine is Hyundai not UAZ. It’s a reliable 4x4 with impressive off-road capabilities. In addition, it sports a high wheelbase, ample luggage space, a sociable layout with forward and backward facing seats. The interior colors are a reenactment of a Buddhist temple, all that is missing are prayer wheels and it would have been complete. The vehicle has its own simple mobile kitchen, its own sunshade, a small library as well as a 220v inverter/charger.
Why touring Mongolia is the ultimate Road Trip?
It is the ultimate ‘Road Trip’ in the full sense, some days we spend up to 10 hours driving, on others we park at one site. It’s not easy to spend long hours on un-paved roads but I get a real context of the country and the people in between. The journey in Mongolia is about exploring the power of the landscapes. Travelling through the vast landscapes of Mongolia allows me to witness the local way of life without being too intrusive. It’s a chance to take a break from the modern world and let each day and each journey unfold. Travelling in this way gives me time to think and gain a fresh perspective.
Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park
150 miles (240km) drive to Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. A mountainous terrain rising out of the extensive desert plains. This mountainous region was formed by the same tectonic activity that created the Himalaya.
Khongoryn Els, a 44 miles (70km) drive along the foot of the sand dunes as they grow in height and stature. They are also called the Singing Dunes for the sound they make when the sand is moved by the wind.
Climbing to the top of this 300 meters dune for an outstanding view was fun, but I got more sand in me than I wished for.
We ended the last night at the Gobi drinking and singing along with our host family.
A long drive of 200 miles (320km) from south Gobi to Arvaikheer in central Mongolia, the scenery is spectacular. The drive was over 10 hours and the best way to handle it was to remind myself of the saying: “It’s not about the getting to the destination, it’s about the journey.”
Arvaikheer market sights, colors and people. I find the raw meat and its butchering fascinating.
Mongolia and the Soviet system
Mongolia was the Soviets first satellite state. Many of the economic methods later used in Eastern European countries were experimented with in Mongolia first. Present time Mongolian governing style can be traced back to the Soviet era.