All of Mongolia
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While a guided tour in Mongolia isn't particularly dangerous, it's still not a walk in the park. The following pointers are meant to give a quick overview about the differences between a trip in a thinly populated country with very few paved roads versus travelling eg. in Europe or most of North America.
The times for our daily driving distances are calculated in accordance with the typical road conditions in Mongolia. In many cases, this will mean that there are no roads at all for the western eye. We just drive in the tracks of those who took the same route before us. In dry weather, this still allows to predict approximate arrival times. But after heavy rains, the conditions may become much more difficult, so that a specific route will take significantly longer than "normal".
Because of that, we calculate our daily itineraries with a certain time reserve. Good road conditions will then allow more time for sightseeing, or we can use the time for a visit at the Yurt of a nomad family. If the driving is getting harder, we'll have to shorten the stops, or maybe even cancel some of them after consulting with the passengers. We assume that our visiting guests are willing to adapt to a flexible program. After all, an adventurous drive through hard terrain will provide you with much more exciting stories to tell your friends at home than the exact timetable of the local city bus.
Automobiles in most industrial countries will receive maintenance in regular intervals, where certain parts are replaced after a given time even if they're still fully functional ("checkbook maintenance"). In Mongolia, this would be completely unrealistic, and more specifically unaffordable for most people. Here every part will be used for the full length of its natural life cycle before it gets replaced. Of course that means that the driver needs to carry adequate spare parts, and master the necessary mechanical skills. It is not uncommon to see people dismantle and repair even complicated components like a transmission box on the open road.
In most cases, we'll be running our tours with at least two vehicles. That way we can still bring our passengers to the planned destination even if a lengthy repair should become necessary in the open field. The vehicle with the defect will then just follow after being fixed. We only hire drivers with solid skills and sufficient long-distance experience, who will master situations like this with ease and routine. And if everything else fails, we're still equipped for a night in tents. Of course the remaining itinerary will then need to be adapted accordingly.
For other information to turn your stay in Mongolia into a pleasant experience, please also refer to our travel tips