Mongolia was never a destination I longed for traveling to.
But as it happened, I got to know a Mongolian woman and all of a sudden I realized how little I knew about this country and culture and that made me really curious discovering this land!

I started the journey in Stockholm, flew to Ulan Bator with a few hours stop in Istanbul and when we finally hit the ground I was really excited about starting to explore the country!

It was a nice and warm autumn day when arriving to Ulan Bator, perfect for shorts and t-shirt. I spent the day in the city, trying out some Mongolian food and just looking around in the city. Since I work with constructions at home, I always find it interesting looking at the infrastructure. Ulan Bator is a great mix between the traditional Gers (the round tents the nomadic people use) and top modern buildings. I think that Ulan Bator was one of the first cities in the world with communal heating system. That’s interesting.

Outside one gear we stayed in during a night

But back to holiday mode!
The plan was to fly to Hoft, a city in the north west of Mongolia and after that travel by car, horse or feet (whatever suitable for the moment) back to Ulan Bator, but first a round trip in the area of Ulan Bator to capture some more of the life around the capital. Even though the capital houses one third of the countries inhabitants it’s not far to travel to some really quiet areas with beautiful nature! The Buddhist heritage is a big part of the culture which gives the mountains a certain tranquillity. In the late afternoon, we stopped by a Ger we found on the way having the best dumplings ever, filled with sheep meat and carrots. Yummi! This was also the first time I got to taste the milk tea often served in Mongolia.

Waking up to slight snow fall and ice hanging from the roofs, I continued the journey towards the city of Hoft. Here I spent two days in the home of a man with his grand son. They took us around the area and even if he did not speak a single word of English, he made such an effort showing the Mongolian country and people! It’s remarkable how kind people are.

The journey between Hoft and Ulan Bator took me some amazing places! First of all, we had to cross the Altai Mountains, by car! Good thing the driver was not afraid of heights, driving his car on steep cliffs.
As soon as the sun went down behind the top if the mountains at night, the cold was getting under the skin real quick. I have never before experienced such big variations in temperature over 24h, 20 degrees during the days and down to -20 degrees at night. That made the nature look so different from the time I zipped the door to the tent, till the time I opened it in the morning. Every night I made camp near by a river or lake, to be able to get water. But almost all mornings, the lakes and even the rivers had frozen over night.

Never ending adventures

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Camping with tent is always different in different countries. Here I had no idea what to expect, but really, it was such a good experience. You can travel for hours during landscape only consisting of nature (no people and lights), so at night the scenery at the sky is something truly amazing, you can see stars you have never seen before!

Before heading towards the Gobi Desert we made a stop by a Ger, belonging to a nomadic family. The family cooked us a lovely meal, freshly made noodles with meat. I mentioned earlier that about one third of Mongolians live in Ulan Bator. But one third still live the traditional nomadic life. During the stay in the Ger we also drank a lot of the milk tea. The tea was made from milk that had just been milked from one of the family’s cows. When I come to think of it, before I went to Mongolia, I had never had fresh (not pasteurized) milk before. That is for sure quite a sad though! Something so basic, but you can not even buy it legally in Sweden!

When in Mongolia, there is just one thing you have to do! Riding horses, so when I had the chance I didn’t hesitate trying! The Mongolian horses are quite small, but really strong. Letting the horse run in the endless sand landscape was such great feeling of freedom. I have always been a little intimidated by horses, but this made me want to try it out at home too. I will try to arrange a longer tour by horse back home in Sweden.

Mongolia has shown to be a great destination for exploring! If I get the chance I will definitely go back!