Showing posts from: Mongolia

Day 3: Crossing into South Gobi

TSAGAAN SUVARGA TO BAYAN ZAG This morning we head deeper into the desert, finally crossing into the South Gobi province after 4 hours of easy driving. We stop for a break at Dalanzadgad or “DZ,” where we can refuel. The provincial capital, DZ has grown rapidly due to an ever increasing influx of business from the nearby Oyu Tolgoi mining operation. It is a somewhat sprawling and non-descript modern town, but with the omnipresent sensation of the desert encroaching from every direction. To the west the Gurvan Saihan mountain range serves as a landmark providing a clear directional guide for our general southward heading. As we leave the dusty town, resupplied and ready for the adventure to begin in earnest, our little convoy takes off into the vast expanse of the Gobi. The Gobi covers much of the southern part of Mongolia, but unlike the Sahara, with its massive “seas” […]

Day 2: Heading South

ULAANBAATAR TO TSAGAAN SUVARGA Today after loading up the trucks and sorting out last minutes details the real journey begins as the team moves out from Ulaanbaatar (aka “UB”) early in the morning, heading south on pavement for a long straight stretch towards the Gobi. The driving will be easy, but after the initial wow effect of the awe inspiring landscape wears off, the five hour drive through the vastness might get a bit tiresome. When we finally turn off pavement onto dirt, some 400 kilometers southwest of UB, the majestic beauty of Tsagaan Suvarga is a welcome reward. Tsagaan Suvarga means “white stupa” and the rocky formations can look like a ruined city when seen from far. The sculpted cliffs, some 30 meters high and 100 meters wide, were formed by thousands of years of wind erosion. The different color layers reveal the sedimentary structure of an ancient sea […]

Day 1: Arriving in Mongolia

ULAANBAATAR AT LAST After over 24 hours of travel and a blur of airports, planes, and timezones, I made it to Mongolia tonite. Wheels touched down just a bit before midnight, so there isn’t much time to see anything here in the capital, and anyway, all I am looking forward to is getting a little sleep before the team hits the road early tomorrow morning. Despite my exhaustion, I am excited to finally be here and full of enthusiasm for the project ahead. I am joining a small team led by Bruce Elfström of Overland Experts as part of a working expedition to support the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project (MBDP). The MBDP is a unique microproject that helps Mongolia’s nomadic herders, offering a local solution to a local problem, while at the same time encouraging sustainable practices, protecting the region’s endangered snow leopards and decreasing the environmental pressures of desertification. […]

Packing and preparation

Reviewing the packing list and going over the paper maps to have everything ready by the time I hit the ground in Ulaanbaatar on Monday. Excited to be part of this amazing journey and looking forward to meeting the herding families working with the project. I had a chance to review the route and plot it roughly on my maps at least for the first few segments. Of course we will be using GPS for the actual navigation and the expedition leader Bruce Elfström of Overland Experts has scouted the route. We will also be traveling with members of the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project (MBDP) in-country team who are familiar with the region. We will be driving an assortment of vehicles including two Land Cruiser 76 series, a Land Cruiser Troopie, a Lexus 470, a Land Cruiser 80 series, a Ford Ranger diesel pick up and a Fourgon (UAZ 452) […]

Training for Mongolia with OEX

OVERLAND EXPERTS FACILITY, HADLYME, CT: Training at the OEX CT location with the some of the team for the upcoming Mongolia expedition this weekend. Great weather for being out in the woods, and a lot of excitement for the trip. We reviewed basic skills and equipment that we will have available for the mission. We also got to know each other a bit, working together in a team environment out on the trails. It seems like it will be a good group of people and everyone is enthusiastic about the project. Got some good insight into the route and the activities of the Mongolia Bankhar Dog Project (MBDP), the NGO we will be supporting during this expedition. The first day of the weekend focused on refreshing our skills and going over general convoy management protocols. We also learned more about the mission in detail, the terrain and the types of […]

In Search of Maps

Detailed topographic maps of Mongolia are not so easy to find, but some thorough research led to a great resource for maps. This collection has maps for many regions that are difficult if not impossible to find elsewhere — while they may not be “current” in terms of roads and such, the topography of the land itself does not change, making the maps helpful for navigation and planning. The PDF maps can be downloaded for free and printed or used digitally. Was able to obtain a set of 1:250,000 topos of the area of Mongolia we will be traveling in, and while the maps are old (from the 1980s), the topographical details will not have changed. We can use the maps for general planning purposes as well as for marking routes and other field notes when we are in-country.

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