Ikh Tamir through Tariat to Jargalant, Mongolia Week 19 28th - 30th August 2011
The next four days (this page and the next) were spent driving northwards.

Navigation was a very manual process.

This is the plot of our route from Tariat in the South to Murun in the North. With the detour West from Jargalant.

The initial road on the North side of the lake, didn't exist on any of our maps.

Look at the sun, the compass and read the gps every so often. Then plot the track in Oziexplorer. Oh for the gps mouse I left behind....

We could estimate and see roughly on the paper map, but the computer was heaps better and easier.

Although the maps were from the same publisher they must be of very different vintage. Roads that exist on one don't exist on the other, and vice versa. And those that do exist on both are sometimes in different places.

The map scale is 1:1,600,000. That's about 16 km to 1 cm. Not very good resolution. The lines showing the roads are 1-2 mm wide, that's 1.6 - 3.2 km. We had to drive a few km before it was obvious we were on the wrong track. The contours are very useful but only show us the major features.

There is also the bit where Teutonic exactitude meets Mongolian reality. The Mongolian roads aren't necessarily where the German map makers think they are. Though we really are thankful for the map.

As we drive further we are getting a feel for the terrain and how the Mongolians have developed their roads. We think we can detect, and are beginning to predict, the sense of it. We are also beginning to sense the difference between major and minor tracks from the impact they have on the ground. On the harder ground a major track may be little worn whereas on soft ground a minor track looks well used. 

We are becoming more confident, making fewer mistakes, and recognising our mistakes earlier - we think!

We also seem to have a little less difficulty having our pronunciations understood, though its still a challenge asking for directions.

We are also absolutely certain that there are more mistakes waiting to be made.

As we've climbed higher into the mountains we've begun to see more yaks.
And a few river crossings.

The Russian built 4wd went through without hesitation.

The car was hesitating.

It was a bit cruisy for us.

We were tired about 3 hours after passing through Tsetserleg for the second time.

So we stopped for the night.

We are headed West, then North on what look like very minor roads.

The wide, flat valleys make the mountains look like hills.

Something we are beginning to notice is that some valleys are drier than others.

The green roof of the building on the right is copper.

We've seen quite a few.

Seemingly endless blue sky, and chocolate box scenery.
We stopped for a brief look at the Chuluut River Gorge. It seemed to run for miles.

There are apparently Neolithic paintings on rocks in the gorge.

We figured our chances of finding them without a guide were about zilch.

Nearly invisible from the road for most of the time the gorge is cut into the valley floor.

We passed a mob of about 20 cyclists headed the other way.

Judging by the lycra they weren't Mongolian.

Tariat is at the East end of Terkhin Tsagaan Nuur.

This is where the river exits the lake through basalt, the edge of a lava flow.

We camped by the side of the lake.

Had a simple meal (meat and noodles with milk tea) at the Ger camp.

Liz and Brenda were staying in one of the gers.

We took the opportunity to be nosy.

The wood stove has no damper on the flue. The lid didn't fit very well (not at all really).

Cooking would be done with a wok which fits in the hole left by the lid - as we saw when we ate in our hosts ger.

The outside cover is a white cloth.

Apart from liking the cloth presumably the birds keep it free of insects.

This flap is to adjust the hole in the roof for warmth / light.

Under the cloth is felt.

Then an inside lining.

And if it was a Mongolian family the floor would be covered with carpet and the walls with hangings. Plus furniture other than beds.

We happen to be driving through at the end of Summer.

Time for all good Nomads to move on.

This ger is being disassembled ready for the move.

They are assembled by putting up the wall lattice with door  first, then an internal girth, then the roof ring with supporting struts. then the felt and cover, and external girths. 

On top of this truck is the ger, the roof ring seems to be on the very top most times.

We forgot the camera when shopping in Tsetserleg but when visiting the market we spotted spare parts for gers.

Sunset at the lake.
We gave Liz and Brenda (from the ger) a lift into Tariat the next morning.

They'd flown into Ulaan Bataar and had just a week in Mongolia.

We headed to the North side of the lake.

This bridge is labeled "5t" which means we are ok to cross!

We discovered later that a road sign with a red circle and a picture of a small truck meant a 5 tonne limit.

Our aim is to drive round the side of the lake then head North.

Khorgo Uul Volcano.

Extinct, fortunately.

This is the lava field. The flow created the lake. 

The river then cut through the lava so there is a flow of water.

At the rim of the crater.

The climb took about 15 minutes from where we parked.

And another 15 to walk around the rim.

A look inside the crater.

It looked like there was a track down but we decided not to. 

For reasons which escape us.

It seems the marmot population exceeds the human population of Mongolia.

They are everywhere now.

There are a few ger camps for tourists on the Northern side of the lake.
There seemed to be a constant procession of trucks and yak carts on the move.

These were carrying wood, but most were carrying whole households. Including the family.

Must be getting close to Winter.

We stopped for lunch part way around the lake.

Fortunately we'd met a couple of Americans with guide and driver while walking up the volcano.

The guide told us the road went all the way around and we could get through to Jargalint and beyond.

She also told us they had just heard there was a bridge out with a deep water diversion. We decided to proceed anyway.

We never did find the broken bridge. Though we did notice a few very deep tracks in mud around a bridge.

But here's a truck crossing a river.

So far Mongolian river crossings have been easy.

Either coarse solid sand or medium size gravel.

Very occasionally large stones.

Entry and exit has been relatively flat with the occasional one leaving us grateful for our excessive clearance.

This overloaded truck didn't fair so well.

He was stuck on the exit. One wheel spinning and dug in. The tailgate in the soil with a post further in.

I wasn't keen on using the elastic recovery rope I have. A bit risky with just sign language. We borrowed a wire rope from a nearby ger. While motorbike was fetching it I produced the spade and cleared the post at the tail and mud from in front of the spinning wheel. Then added the maxi tracks.

Once the Mongolians got the hang of what I was doing they did all the digging. Very likeable independent people.

After that he could almost drive out himself but Tardis helped a bit anyway. Just to feel useful.

No more photos of this episode sorry. The kids hid when they saw the camera and the women didn't seem to understand the question, so we thought we'd better not.

This is as steep as it looks. And as narrow at the top.

Tardis romped up of course (I wouldn't have the photo here if it hadn't).

Then down the equally steep bit on the other side. Second gear with the exhaust retarder seems to hold it on most hills. Heaps of grip from the tyres.

Needed first gear a couple of times where the angles and rocks weren't very nice.

We camped not far from the Ovoo on a saddle.

These gentlemen were on motorbikes and stopped for a drop of vodka.

It took a bit of explaining when we couldn't produce an instant photograph for them. I think they were still in the land of Polaroid.

We didn't join them with the vodka (our Mums told us not to drink with strange men) and they rode off into the sunset.

The view from the campsite as sunset approached.

Looking back whence we have come.

The afternoon wind was a bit cutting but seems to die as darkness settles.

We are at about 7,500 ft (in old money). This is from the gps in the sat phone.

Temperature the next morning was about 3 degrees inside Tardis.

Sadly the diesel heater failed to start. Air bubbles in the diesel line.

Rigid small bore plastic tubing connected with flexible rubber clamped with hose clips. Something must have contracted more than something else and the rubber was more brittle at low temperature. Result, air bubbles in fuel.

Unfortunately it still works ok when not quite so cold. I hate intermittent faults. Testing after fixing could be interesting.

Good news is the engine started as normal, with almost no cranking. We've been this cold before but never this high.

To Ikh Uul to Shine-Ider through Murun, Mongolia Week 19 31st August - 2nd September 2011

Sorry, comments closed.