Copyright © 2004 Jeanie Barnett and individual authors. All rights reserved.

We started in Ulaanbaatar and made a clockwise loop to the west and north with a spur to Lake Khovsgol. The roads were nearly all dirt or gravel, with few surfaces graded. Paved roads only existed in towns, but sometimes weren't much better than the dirt roads. Many of the roads shown as "paved" on the ITM map of Mongolia are not. Daily distances, as given in the itinerary ranged from 50-230 km on travel days, though we probably averaged about 100-120 km/day, depending on road conditions, vehicle repairs, and geology stops.

Click on campsite to go to journal entry for that day.

Route map

The grain of the land is generally east-west, with a basin-and-range topography. Elevations are moderately high -- mostly in the 1000-2000 m range, with a few mountain passes over 2000 m. Most of the mountain ranges are not steep, especially if one takes the switchbacks rather than going straight up! We saw a couple of road signs indicating 6% grades and one for a 12% grade.

Several major rivers drain the region and join the Selenge River, which flows northeast into Lake Baikal in Russia. Most of the river crossings had bridges, but some were of questionable condition. For smaller streams, our drivers seemed to prefer driving through the ford, rather than taking a chance on a rickety bridge. Fine by us!

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