Northern and Western Mongolia Tour Summary

Trip Start Jun 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Where I stayed
Khongor Guest House Ulan Bator
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Mongolia  ,
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 7th, 2011

Northern and Western Mongolia Tour Day 32 of 32
Mongol Els Dunes to Ulaanbataar Mongolia
An easy 294 KM for the day (on paved roads) 9:30AM to 5PM

Grand Total: 5365 kilometers (3334 Miles) in 32 days. 168km average per day or 199 km per day if we exclude horse trek and rest/family visit days. Average speed while driving 27KPH (17MPH). 10 hot showers in 32 days.

We got on the road at 9:30. The top rated speed for the Russian vans like ours is 80kph (don't ask me why the speedometer goes to 160). Sereg could get his bucket to 85kph on the pavement. We were making good time being passed left and right by more modern vehicles. The vans are great where the non-road doesn't allow you to exceed 30kph, but now we were lagging. Then in the last 10km into UB we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic and back on even footing. Did we say 'bumper-to-bumper'? We have not seen any of that for more than one month!

Uemaa was feverishly catching up on her bookkeeping. She needed to account for the money she took out of the Khongor Debit Card. On return to the Guest House, Uemaa immediately sat down with the tour company owner to review the expenses. Sereg helped unload the camping and cooking equipment and got out of there quickly.

We already knew from Uemaa that Pancho had arrived UB safely. But we just had to ask the Khongor Tour Coordinator for more details: According to the jeep driver, Pancho had gotten off well before the endpoint and quickly disappeared in the crowd. He had given the jeep driver the balance due Khongor Tours for his tour. Pancho looked healthy according to reports and he said he was going get the next flight to Korea. We’ve not attempted to contact each other since.

Our horse trek and stay with the nomadic West Tsataan Reindeer Herders was certainly the highlight our entire stay in Mongolia. It exposed us to both fantastic natural scenery as well as a unique and vanishing way of life. For us, this is what travel in Mongolia is all about.

*20% deposit paid upfront with adjusted balance paid at end of trip
*Good translation is important. Our Kazakh/Mongolian speaking driver with English/Mongolian speaking guide teamed up well.
*Cells phones are inexpensive in Mongolia. We bought a Mongolian SIM card with enough call credit for 7000₮ ($6)
*Very pleased with our choice to focus on northern and western Mongolia.
*Good gifts to bring to  Tsataan Reindeer Family: Nylon strapping (for making reindeer leads and tying tipi canvas) and fabric (4 meters or more) for making deels (coats).
*A well padded Russian saddle is the most important asset for a long comfortable horse ride.
*We were lucky and had few bugs. Bring insect repellent with deet from home. We couldn't find any repellent with deet in UB
*The roads are rough.Wear a sports bra.
*From UB, we went with and recommend Khongor Tours to other travelers for price and flexibility.
*Khongor’s camping gear is not the best. Sort through what they have before you leave on your tour and trade up if possible – or bring your own (warm) sleeping bag and tent.
*If flying to Bayan-Olgii to start a tour, we got good impressions of Blue Wolf Tours and the independent english/kazakh/mongolian speaking guide & driver in Olgii who gave us his card:
   --WEB ADDRESS: -->
   --MAIL ADDRESS: --> -->
   --PHONE NUMBER:--> 00976 9542 40 44 --> 00976 01 42 36 13
*Dust mask can be bought for 50 cents.
*Choose your travel partners carefully.
*Amsterdam Café, Khongor Guesthouse and LP’s Thorntree are good places to post notices for travel partners   
*Consider a one-way drive. We gained an appreciation for the vast openness and nomadic lifestyle of in Mongolia by driving slowly across the steppe. Ending our tour at day 23 (Ulgii) or day 25 (Khovd) would have been perfect. Fly from there. 

FINAL ITINERARY AFTER REVISIONS (8 nights in a tent, 4 nights in hotel/guest house, 14 nights in ger camp or guest ger, 4 nights in a family ger, 2 nights in a tipi)

DAY 1   7-Aug    Amarbayasgalant Monastery (ger camp)
DAY 2   8-Aug    River Hutag (ger camp)
DAY 3   9-Aug    Moron City (ger camp)
DAY 4   10-Aug  Khovskol Lake (Jankai) (ger camp)
DAY 5   11-Aug  Khovskol Lake (Jankai) (ger  camp)
DAY 6   12-Aug Tsagaan Nuur (long drive) (guest house)
DAY 7   13-Aug  Start horse trek to reindeer herder village (tent camp)
DAY 8   14-Aug  Ride rest of the way to the reindeer herder village (Tipi)
DAY 9   15-Aug  All day with reindeer herders (Tipi)
DAY 10  16-Aug  Horse trip to Tsagaan Nuur Village (one day-guest house)
DAY 11  17-Aug  Moron (hostel room)
DAY 12  18-Aug  Tes river (tent)
DAY 13  19-Aug  Bayan Lake (tent)
DAY 14  20-Aug  Overnight at Uureg Lake (tent)
DAY 15  21-Aug  Olgii City  (permission delayed/weekend) (family ger)
DAY 16  22-Aug  Olgii City (get permission) (family ger)
DAY 17  23-Aug  Alati 5 Bogd Mountain (tent camp at gate)
DAY 18  24-Aug  Alati 5 Bogd Mountain (horse ride to glacier, tent camp)
DAY 19  25-Aug  Olgii capital (horses to gate then van to Olgii (Ger camp)
DAY 20  26-Aug  Khoton and Khurgan Lake (family ger)
DAY 21  27-Aug  Khotot and Khurgan Lake (family ger)
DAY 22  28-Aug  Eagle Hunter Family (family ger)
DAY 23  29-Aug  Olgii City (ger camp)
DAY 24  30-Aug  Tsambagarev Mountain (family ger)
DAY 25  31-Aug  Khovd City (move ger then van to apartment)
DAY 26  1-Sep    Khar Us Lake / Skipped to river bridge (tent camp)
DAY 27  2-Sep    Bypassed Bayan Lake. Went to Uliastai hospital (Hotel)
DAY 28  3-Sep    Bypassed Telmen Nuur due to Uliastai detour (Camped in tent by a river)
DAY 29  4-Sep    Terkh White Lake (Ger camp)
DAY 30  5-Sep    Erdene Zuu Monastery near the town of Kharkhorin (ger camp)
DAY 31  6-Sep    Mongol Els Dune (ger camp)
DAY 32  7-Sep    Back to UB

Final Cost: $57 per person per day, everthing included.
(With a mix of 6 people for 4 days, 3 people for 24 days and 2 people for four days):

My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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Jodean & Hans on

Amazing how much you were able to experience during this tour. It was fun to tag along with you two. (figuratively speaking of course) We will look forward to continued updates. J&H

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