Mongolia & Russia
15 August - 2 September 2011 (19 days)
All inclusive, deluxe tour, maximum 8 riders.
Private tours also available.
Motorcycling in Mongolia is nothing short of an awesome experience. To ride unhindered through a land with no barriers, no fences, few roads and varied terrain, offers the ultimate feeling of total freedom.
As you pass by galloping horsemen in their traditional robes, brightly coloured waistbands and spiked hats, herding their horses, sheep, goats and occasional camels down grassy hillsides, across pasturelands, through swollen rivers or down to a lake’s edge, there is no doubt you are in the homeland of Ghenngis Khan. Very little has changed in the Mongolian countryside for centuries and this is a tribute to a people at one with their land and with a profound respect for nature, ancestral customs and traditions.
As Claire Sermier observes in her book, Mongolia – Empire of the Steppes, “The attitude of the herders, their sense of responsibility, their great tolerance, their openness and their relationship with one another, symbolism, time and space, cannot leave one indifferent.” The nomads are a proud, but simple people, profoundly happy to be alive.
The traditions of hospitality and openness will be part of our daily lives. You are likely to hear the pounding of hooves before you see the men on horseback who seem to appear out of nowhere. They will swing down from their saddles and sit awhile, maybe joining us for a cup of tea, coffee or the ubiquitous airag (fermented mares’ milk for which they have such a fondness). Stop by at a ger (canvas and felt yurts) and you’ll be quietly accepted. No fanfare, no fuss. You will simply be welcomed, invited inside and handed a bowl of warm milk or, you guessed it – airag.
At the nomad camps you are likely to witness mares being milked, cashmere goats being shorn for their fine fleece and horses being caught with the traditional long poled lassos. You may even be joined by wolf hunters – not the kind hunting for sport, but the real thing – men whose job it is to protect the herds from attack. For anybody with an interest in botany, ornithology or fishing, the possibilities of indulging these interests are boundless.
We ride approx 2700kms on this tour, but distances mean little in this vast land where the terrain and the quality of the “roads” varies so greatly. Unlike some of our other tours, the “rest days” allow for short local rides, exploration, visiting nomad families and some down time. Each day has been paced for coping with terrain that is sometimes quite arduous with deep sand, loose gravel and the possibility of having to get the bikes across the occasional swollen river!
As it stays light until well after 9pm, there is no hurry to get anywhere or the need to play ‘catch up’ before the darkness settles. There are no mountain passes to negotiate, no traffic to avoid. Should you find yourself on the same road as something else, or the conditions become too rough, you simply take to the grass, while keeping a careful watch for marmot holes – a definite trap for young players!
While the riding can be “challenging” (and an off-road course would not go astray), it is achievable for a relatively novice rider with the right attitude. Sand and dirt roads make great levellers!
For those of you who have viewed, “The Long Way Round,” you will have seen the ‘roads’ we ride. The doco does not exaggerate – dirt, gravel, sand, mud, dust, rocks and river crossings, but hey, we are riding the same sort of bikes as Claudio ended up on – a Russian Planeta, the perfect bikes for the terrain. Of course we are also not carrying anything on our bikes but us, a bottle of water and a camera. And just think, we are taking on the land of Ghenngis Khan and like him, we can conquer all.
This tour is unlike any other – no towns to visit, virtually no organised sightseeing, few temples, no forts and museums are confined to the capital, Ulaan Baatar. Mongolia and all it implies, offers a unique riding and life experience that you won’t easily forget.Click here for the Mongolia overview