Travel Route: Tsagaan Suvraga – Gurvan Saikhan National Park – Khongoryn Els – Arvaikheer

“With Heaven’s aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you.” – Genghis Khan

What is a Russian automobile Furgon?

We are driving in a Russian Furgon or UAZ, Ulanovsky Automobile Zavod.  It’s a reliable 4×4 with impressive off-road capabilities, and it sports a high wheelbase.  Our UAZ includes some significant upgrades; for one, the engine is Hyundai, not UAZ.  Also, it has ample luggage space, a sociable layout with forward and backward-facing seats.  The interior colors are a reenactment of a Buddhist temple, all that is missing are prayer wheels, and it would have been complete.  The vehicle comes with a simple mobile kitchen, a sunshade, a small library, and a 220v inverter/charger.

Is touring Mongolia the ultimate Road Trip?

It is the ultimate ‘Road Trip’ in the full sense.  Some days we spend up to 10 hours driving; on others, we park at one site.  It’s not easy to spend long hours on unpaved roads, but I get a real context of the country and the people in between.  The journey in Mongolia is about exploring the power of the landscapes.  Traveling through Mongolia’s vast landscapes allows me to witness the local way of life without being intrusive.  It’s a chance to break from the modern world and let each day and each journey unfold.  Traveling in this way gives me time to think and gain a fresh perspective.

Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park

One hundred fifty miles (240km) drive to Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park.  The mountainous terrain is rising out of the extensive desert plains.  This mountainous region was formed by the same tectonic activity that created the Himalayas.

Khongoryn Els

Khongoryn Els, a 44 miles (70km) drive along the sand dunes’ foot as they grow in height and stature.  They are also called the Singing Dunes for the sound they make when the wind moves the sand.

Climbing to the top of this 300 meters dune for an outstanding view was fun and exhausting; the sand was all over my body.  

We ended the last night at the Gobi drinking and singing along with our host family.


A long drive of 200 miles (320km) from the south Gobi to Arvaikheer in central Mongolia, the scenery is spectacular.  The drive was over 10 hours, and the best way to handle it was to remind myself of the saying: “It’s not about the getting to the destination, it’s about the journey.”

Arvaikheer market sights, colors, and people – I find the raw meat and its butchering fascinating.

Mongolia and the Soviet system

Mongolia was the Soviets’ first satellite state.  Many of the economic methods later used in Eastern European countries were experimented with in Mongolia first.  Even the present time Mongolian governing style can be traced back to the Soviet era.