Karlien Van Houtte
- Age: 27
- Nationality: Belgium
- Where was your adventure?: Mongolia
- How many days was it?: 8
- What type of adventure?: Basic Tour
- Give us a general overview of your adventure:
Who: Me, two Italians I met in Ulaan Bataar (Salvo and Gian Luca), and our driver/guide/translator Shaagaa.
What: A 1-week trip from Ulaan Bataar to the Great White Lake (Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur) and back; except for 1 night (when it was freezing and snowing, so we stayed in a “guest ger”), we camped and we had freshly caught (by the Italians) fish for dinner; some of the other things we did include a visit to old ruins, visiting (and drinking with) local families, climbing a volcano and a visit to Kharkhorin
When: late august
Mongolia’s beautiful, the people are unbelievably hospitable, and as it’s very sparsely populated and no one owns any land, it’s the best country in the world for camping
How: We hired Shaagaa and his Russian minivan through Nasaan’s Guesthouse in Ulaan Bataar where we were all staying
- Was it difficult?: No
Why or why not?
Shaagaa was an excellent driver, and he always knew the perfect spot for camping and the best places to go to.
The only difficulty was dealing with the weather. It was very cold at higher elevations. The night before we decided not to camp, it was allready snowing and in the morning my hand and feet were all red and stiff. Luckily we had met a guy who promised us breakfast at his ger, so we could warm up there, they even brought us stools so we could sit by the stove!
- Would you recommend this adventure trip to someone else? Why or Why Not?
Absolutely. Mongolia is a land that can’t be described or even caught in pictures, it has to be experienced. If camping sounds too rough, you can also stay in family gers, I did this on a later trip to the Gobi and except for one night when we ended up at a soulless tourist camp, we never had any trouble finding families willing to let us crash for the night and feed us (in exchange for 4$ per person and some presents).
- What do you wish you would have done differently?
I can’t think of anything.
- What kind of advice can you give to other travellers going on this adventure?
Just go to Ulaan Bataar and shop around to see which guesthouse or company offers exactly the kind of deal you want. But make sure they’re reliable because I’ve heard some horror stories.
- What type of gear did you bring?
I brought my own tent (Jack Wolfskin) from home because it’s the best (small, can set it up in 5-10 mins, absolutely water-resistant) even though that meant I had to haul it across Russia for 2 months without using it there.
I bought a very cheap (8$) sleeping bag at the State Department Store in Ulaan Bataar. It was basic but sufficient. I donated it to an orphanage before flying back to Europe.
I borrowed a sleeping matress from Nassan’s Guesthouse.
And I should mention my awesome hiking boots too – Meindl Wales. My feet are very narrow so it’s hard to find boots that fit, but these are very comfortable.
- Where is your next big adventure? Why?
I don’t know yet.
- Did you travel before or after your adventure? If so, where?
Before: I spent a month in central Europe, went home for a week to pick up my Russian visa, flew to Helsinki, spent 2 months in Russia (mostly Siberia), hitch-hiked to Ulaan Bataar and spent a week there.
After a couple of days in Ulaan Bataar, I did a 2-day homestay near UB, couple of days in UB, week in the Gobi, week back in UB, then flew to Berlin, stayed there for almost a week, spent 8 days in Poland and then another 5-6 days in Berlin.
- On your adventure, what person did you most identify with?