Subscribe to my newsletter to stay informed.

Every month I send out a mix of adventure news, upcoming events, and inspiration, as well as tales from the road.

Plus, new subscribers receive a complimentary copy of the chapter on Africa from my book The University of Gravel Roads.

Rene

* indicates required

2015 Mongolia Motorcycle Tour

Mongolia Motorcycle Tour

 

I rode through Mongolia for a month in 2008 as part of my big ride. Although I’d been on the road for more than four years at that point, Mongolia was a place that was full of uncertainties. It was difficult to get information on routing, infrastructure, and fuel availability. On top of that, the language was hard to learn quickly.

However, all this could not take away from the fact that this is one of the most remote and least travelled parts of the world. This in itself means that riding motorcycles here might be as close to ‘exploring’ as the word used to mean. Mongolia is the least populated country in the world, and of its 3 million residents, half live in the capital city of Ulan Baatar (which everyone abbreviates to simply ‘UB’).

This year I took seven other riders, all of whom have been with me in Africa at least once, on an exploratory 14-day loop, a first step to offering an annual tour. Bikes and backup were arranged, and we followed a popular 4X4 route that catches most of the attractions within a few hundred kilometers of the capital. We stayed after the motorcycle tour to watch the Nadaam Festival, Mongolia’s largest annual festival.

2015 Mongolia Motorcycle Tour Summary

Mongolia Riding Steppe
Mongolia Pensive

 

In UB, we stayed in 4-star hotels with well-appointed and comfortable, albeit sometimes gaudy decor in a Chinese/Russian theme. Buffet style breakfasts carried familiar foods as well as mystery dishes. Plentiful restaurants cater to all tastes and ethnicities, including western.

On tour, accommodation was in ger camps. These are the circular, felt covered structures used for tourists but also by many Mongolians, even within city limits. Each camp contained 10-30 units containing 2-4 beds around the perimeter, occasionally queen-sized, depending on the overall size.

Ger field
Ger and house

 

A separate structure for dining room and bar, and another building for toilets, sinks, and showers completed the camp. Water was usually heated by a fire or solar panels, which meant limited access to hot water. Occasionally the camp had a power supply, which meant hot water was available at any time.

Inside ger
Gers and Temples

 

While on tour, ger camps provided all the food. Fried eggs, toast, wieners, sometimes rice porridge, and less frequently cold meats and cheese made the breakfast table. Prepared lunches included cheese or meat sandwiches, fruit, chocolate, and plentiful bottled water. Dinners were typically goat or lamb with rice, often accompanied by coleslaw or beets. Fresh vegetables are rare although some camps had greenhouses growing cucumbers and tomatoes.

Mongolia Dinner
Mongolia Dining Room

 

Daily riding distances are around 200 kms and conditions are challenging. You’ll need off-road experience to do the trip and even intermediate riders should have additional off-road training. Road conditions ranged from wide open grassy fields with 20+ tracks running beside each other, to slow river crossings, dried creek traveling on river rock, to forest paths and sand.

Mongolia Road
Mongolia Pony

 

Mongolia Water Crossing
Mongolia Field

 

A back up vehicle carried a spare bike, fuel, and spare parts. Another carried a doctor and luggage.

 

Mongolia Rest Stop
Mongolia Gas Stop

 

Mongolian Cliff

 

This is primarily a riding trip. Having said that, future trips will start immediately after the Nadaam Festival. This allows riders to arrive early if they choose, attend the festival, get acclimatized, and allow luggage to catch up. There will also be an opportunity to visit museums and learn more of Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire.

Mongolia Genghis Khan
Mongolia Crew

 

Mongolian Riders

The July 13-26, 2016 Mongolia Trip (Nadaam Festival optional) is already sold out with African-alumni riders!  Watch for information, including pricing, for the July 13-27, 2017 motorcycle tour to be posted here soon.

 

Photo Credits: Mongolia 2015 Collection