M is Mongolia (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

It's "M" Day for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge

One of my favorite places I’ve ever been,  Mongolia is about as exotic and different from my regular life as I can get.  We flew into Ulan Baator, and I have to say it’s is not a very pretty city.  It is full of boxy Soviet buildings that are in many states of disrepair.  Thankfully, our plan was to get out of the city as soon as possible.
We did this by booking a private driver and van to take our small group on a nine day foray across the steppes.  I love the word “steppes.”  I love that they are barren, rather treeless, windswept, and seemingly never-ending.  Beautiful.
Our drive took us from the capital to the one real sight to see, the Old capital city of Karakorum, then to the far-flung Orkhon Valley as well as to a small part of the Gobi desert.  We only traveled on pavement for the first 100 kilometers or so.  After that we were on dirt tracks or at times, just grass with no discernible path.  Our driver was fantastic, informative, spoke English, and best of all was adept at fixing up our Russian van each evening so it would keep going the next day.  We got lost twice where he had to pull up to a random ger (yurt) and ask for directions.
Some of the highlights of the trip were seeing truly nomadic people setting up their summer camps, milking and taking care of their yaks and goats, eating a Mongolian dumpling, listening to a throat singer, watching some apprentice acrobats,  and getting to know our driver.
If you haven’t been to Mongolia, I would go.  If you are an adventurous traveler this really is the place for you!

What do you think?  Is Mongolia the trip for you?

It's "M" Day for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge


  1. I’m probably not quite adventurous enough…I also think I might starve (vegetarian). Some friends visited some years ago and said they doubted I’d find anything to eat!

    1. Anabel, The food was a bit…non-existent. They said there was meat in it, but I really didn’t see any, hardly any. If you go, take some food with you…like peanut butter. I would say that for the carnivores as well, though. Food was tough.

  2. Very interesting topic for M today 🙂 We were talking about a trip on the Trans Siberian Railway through Mongolia a few years ago and I wasn’t really sure if it was a place I wanted to visit. However since I’ve reconsidered thanks to posts like this. It sounds like you had a great experience, thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. This really is a good choice for M Corinne because it is very different from the norm and probably not many folks opted to go with this destination. Mongolia is a spot in the world that probably many don’t know much about but it really does look like a fantastic place to explore. I have a friend that spent quite a bit of time in Asia last year and spent a couple of days in Mongolia and just as you have highlighted there was plenty to see. His opinion of the capital was similar also, not particularly impressed but everyone is different I guess.

    1. Chris, You know, capital cities are awesome. They usually have the good museums, best restaurants, but I love getting out into the back country of a place. That’s where the “real” people and experiences are for me.

  4. I would love to go there. I never put two and two together about the capital city and the boxy buildings/soviet history.

    I definitely want this experience some day!

  5. I’v seen a few documentaries of Mongolia and it seems to be a fascinating place. I also love the steppes landscape, reminds me of the serengeti.

  6. Your blog reminds me a bit of National Geographic with all the travel destinations, and I never know what exotic locale will pop up next. I remember reading an article and looking at pictures of nomads in Mongolia, and remembering the beautiful horses.

  7. wow sounds like fun, especially the Russian van, never thought Mongolia was a place to go but then again noone believed me when i said i moved to Libya haha.
    Can’t wait to read the next posts

  8. Oh my, you are one lucky pair to get to travel so much! I love the juxtaposition of the motorbikes and the traditional home! Great photography to capture that! Thanks for dropping by my blog!

    1. Mary, Thanks for dropping by ours. Yes, we feel extremely fortunate, and this is one of the themes of my photography. I love finding examples of new and old together.

    1. You’d be surprised, it really wasn’t that hard to prepare. Of course, it all depends on what you want to get out of it. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I’m heading to Mongolia in Juli, I’m so excited! Did you organize the tour ahead of time and how much should I expect to pay? I’ll try to stay fairly budget, but I don’t know if that’s even possible.

    1. Tiffany, I wouldn’t call it a tour, per se. It was more like a driver who was willing to talk and answer all the questions we shot at him. I’ll send you more later. Have you booked anything? You are going to love it!

      1. Thanks for your answer Corinne. The only thing I booked so far is a hotel for the few days I’m in Ulanbaatar for the Nadaam festival. So now I’m trying to start looking into tours. I hear it’s easy and cheaper to do it when I get there, but I’m also a bit worried since I’m there at the very peak of the peak season 🙂 I’d love to get some more infos from you.

  10. Yes, I am definitely adventurous enough for these kinds of trips! I was visiting Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Transnistria about 2 months ago in the quite cold winter, and it was a crazy but beautiful experience. We often felt like in an another universe, especially with all the Cyrillic letters around and in Transnistria, what is actually the “museum of past” with a very unique atmosphere… The old school Russian military van is fascinating, is that an ordinary vehicle in Mongolia?

    1. Elli, I’m glad to hear it. Mongolia sounds like it is right up your alley! The only vehicles I saw outside of Ulan Baator were trucks, motorcycles and these Russian vans driving the tourists.

  11. I have a very special place in my heart for Mongolia. I visited in 1994 with a friend en route from Hanoi to Helsinki by train. We didn’t have any plans but met a young Aussie entrepreneur in UB who was setting up a travel agency and was doing reccies for his proposed tours. He said if we paid our flight we could come along for free. In those days there were no tourists and no trips for foreigners to do, so this was an amazing bit of luck. We flew off to Hovd in the far west and trekked in the Altai for several days on horseback at 4000m, camping and staying in local gers. Eating the local “food”. It really was the worst most awful “food” I’ve ever had in all my years of travel but the people were so welcoming and generous. The whole trip was such a unique and unforgettable experience and one that I feel so lucky to have had.
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted…Silent Sunday – 18 May 2014My Profile

    1. Phoebe, I can imagine! How lucky were you! I agree, the food is still not much to write home about. I would do things differently if I went back, which I’d like to do!

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