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Cycling in Mongolia
Cycle across the vast expanse of the Mongolian steppeland on a 15 day intrepid adventure. Mongolia remains a mysterious presence in the heart of Central Asia, a traditional country where visitors are still an unusual sight. Nomads wander the grasslands, setting up their white gers (tents) where the pasture is lush for their horses. On your bike, you will follow good trails across wide, open steppe, into expansive mountain scenery and through larch and pine forests. Camping wild under the wide skies adds an adventurous edge to what is certainly a most adventurous cycle tour into a fascinating country.
- TypeFully Guided
- Duration15 days
- Culture LevelOut There
- Skill Level3 - Intermediate
- Activity Level3 - Active
- Elevation3 - Intermediate
- Distance366.6 miles
- Avg. Daily Distance32.9 miles
The terrain is best described as undulating, as the rolling steppe grasslands of Mongolia are. The route mostly follows jeep tracks along river valleys and over ridgeline mountain passes, with some better quality sealed tarmacked roads in the early stages of the trip. Trails are mostly hard-packed 4WD dirt tracks, however, mountain passes often have loose gravel on the descent, requiring extreme caution. Sandy patches are hazardous in places, particularly at the base of small dips in the road.
The route passes through some more mountainous areas where roads follow rivers upstream and occasionally cross up and over into the neighboring watershed. The passes referred to in the itinerary are universally low - usually requiring just 100-200m of vertical rise/descent. Some of the descents can be rocky. Typically there are 4 to 6 hours' riding each day.
This trip will appeal to anyone who is physically fit, enjoys riding off-road and who is happy to camp in beautiful and wild places (the tour operator uses good quality camping equipment, but home comforts are not a feature of this trip). Your tented camps include a kitchen tent, communal dining tent, wash tent and toilet tents. Mongolia is a country with just 1500km (932mi) of sealed roads and these tend to be heavily trafficked and in poor condition. By far the most appealing travel is away from the main transit corridors and this is where the route takes you.
*NOTE: The 27 June departure is 2 days longer than the other departure dates due to extra excursions exploring the Naadam Festival (hotel and meals are included).
The Naadam Festival celebrates the ‘three games of men’ (or Erin Gurvan Naadam) which are wrestling, horse-racing and archery. More recently a fourth game, knuckle-bone flicking was added to the competitions. The festival is celebrated throughout the country but the biggest festival is in Ulaan Baatar. If you choose this departure date over the next two days, you will attend the grand opening ceremony before watching Mongolians compete in all four sports.
You also get to mingle with hordes of Mongolian spectators as the grounds around the stadium (where wrestling, archery and bone-flicking take place) and the horse races are filled with stands selling food, games, flags and various other things. The atmosphere is a big part of the experience and many Mongolians dress in their best traditional clothes for the occasion. In 2010 the festival was entered into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list and is a great celebration of the Central Asian nation’s culture.