Mongolia. The very mention brings to mind the mysterious land of Mongols and gers. However, it is also one of the most beautiful and untouched landscapes on earth. This is due, in large part, to Mongolia’s status as the least densely populated country in the world. In fact, it’s possible to visit vast valleys only occupied by one small family and their livestock.
Despite being such a large country, Mongolia only has 2,600 kilometers of paved road, compared to 40,000 kilometers of unpaved road. This means that almost any trip outside the country’s capital of Ulaanbaatar will involve some off-roading. Some of this will be on compacted dirt of gravel, but much will be in unmarked “roads” through fields and over hills.
That’s what makes Mongolia so difficult for independent travel. If you want to get off the beaten path, there may be no path to follow, and, with each valley looking nearly identical to the one before, there’s a good chance you might get utterly lost.
The picture above was taken during my tour of Mongolia with Golden Gobi. After miles and miles of paved road, we came to the inevitable: the end of the road. However, onward we trudged, bouncing back and forth like dice in a cup towards our next destination.