Tsagaan Suvarga

Travel Route: Bagan Garmin Chuluu – Mandalgov – Tsagaan Suvraga

“The desert is so huge and the horizon so distant that it makes a person feel small as if he should remain silent.” from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Is touring Mongolia challenging?

Touring Mongolia can be challenging.  Outside Ulan Bator, you can’t count on public transportation, and there are only a few hotels.  The roads are mostly unpaved, and the distances are such that often you don’t pass a human habitation for days at a time.  Thus, I teamed up with an English guide named Jess, who runs a tour company with Turuu, her local driver.  I put my trust in them and let them lead.  We traveled together for 23 days.  We were a company of four tourists; a Swiss couple, a Canadian woman, and me driving in a Russian UAZ/Furgon.  Sleeping accommodations were either tents, Gers, or hotels, and food was fully provided.

How vast is Mongolia?

Mongolia is a vast country, half the size of Europe, surrounded by two mighty nations: China and Russia.  Half of the three million inhabits live in and around the capital, Ulan Bator.  What’s left is a vast land with mostly nomadic people who still live in Gers, just like their ancestors back in the days of Genghis Khan.

Where is Mandalgov?

Mandalgov is a frontier town in North Gobi.  Every place we have visited so far, including the capital city Ulan Bator, looks like a frontier or, as the American expression goes: “the wild-wild west.”

What is Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project?

Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project is a family run conservation site.  I planted a tree in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.  A single young tree can absorb 26 pounds of CO2 per year; thus, it’s a small way to contribute to carbon emissions management.

What is Tsagaan Suvraga, the White Stupa?

Tsagaan Suvraga, the White Stupa, is a limestone formation with fantastic color combinations.  I felt ecstatic, a sense of joy from seeing this pure beauty.

Impressions from the Gobi Desert

A drive south, 75m (120km) to Tsagaan Suvraga, is a vast and endless horizon landscape.

The Gobi is a bleak place, vast, harsh, and silent.  A place of profound emptiness and isolation.  If you want to fall off the radar, come to the Gobi.

Sunrise at the Gobi, the camels come for water.  A camel’s firm and a tall hump are signs of good health, while a floppy hump means the camel needs food and water.

The Gobi Desert is an endless emptiness.  Living here requires a tough state of mind.  Local people have learned to adapt to this rough way of life.