Our 16-day Eastern Siberian and Mongolian Adventure 2015 begins and ends in Barnaul in Eastern Siberia and continues into Mongolia, where riders spend eight days riding the vast expanses of this fascinating country. Take a look back through the photos and stories posted by our tour leader and participants.
Majestic is not a word we use very often, but it is the best way to describe northern Mongolia, and even that doesn’t make the place any justice. (by Ricardo Serpa)
On the first day in Mongolia, a little over two weeks ago. We stopped by a huge lake for lunch, under an almost cloudless sky, and this is what was facing us on the other side of the shores. Our very first glimpse of what the country we would be visiting for the next several days had to offer.
An image from nowhere: this is the road between Russia and Mongolia, after the Russian border, and just before the asphalt turns into dirt, marking the proximity with the Mongolian side. We were in no country for around 20 kilometers only, but the differences in the landscapes, people and overall atmosphere of the places could be felt immediately, a totally unexpected sensation. Our adventure in Mongolia was about to start at this point…
We crossed the border yesterday and rode close to 300 kms through one of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen in my entire life. The road was way more a track than a proper road, and it was pretty challenging, but every moment of it is forever registered in my mind. We will be camping in the countryside for the next 4 or 5 days, so no Internet access until the next town in this tour. For now, a nice view from a hill I rode to register the vastness around us. The bikes and the support truck look almost insignificant next to the mountains and the open field. Hard to imagine there’s more of it ahead of us…
Back in Russia, after 9 intense days of riding through northern Mongolia’s steppes and deserts. Extremely challenging tracks and very long days, but a lifetime of unforgettable memories and experiences. We free-camped by lakes and rivers, slept in gerts and yurts, and were able to truly feel a very different, primitive and authentic part of the world. There will be a lot of work preparing the images, and the trip is not yet over, but I hope to be posting some photos here soon. For now, a fine moment in a restaurant (or sort of) in the middle of basically nowhere, sharing some local food with a friendly group. (by Ricardo Serpa)
An unexpected sight while crossing part of the Mongol Els desert, and a nice addition to the “Road” series.
Genghis Khan got nothing on me…(by Ricardo Serpa)
The image doesn’t make justice to the moment, but this is what riding through the Mongolian steppes fels like:vastness and open fields for hundreds of kilometers ahead of you, with not a soul in sight. (by Ricardo Serpa)
I have never seen more beautiful night skies than in northern Mongolia, especially at places like this, where there’s not a single source of light around you as far as the eye can see. This shot was taken at around 1am, at the lake we were free-camping, and this star-filled scene was a welcome reward after the hardest and most challenging day of riding of the whole trip. (by Ricardo Serpa)
Night scene in Khovd, Mongolia, where we stopped for the night in a yurt campsite. The yurts, traditional Mongolian large tents, were very comfortable and cozy, but this was probably the coldest night from the trip. Late in the evening, when all lights were turned off, this is what we saw: another gazillion-star sky, showing the Milky Way as if coming right off the mountain in front of us. The local name of this little mountain, translated to English, is Energy Rock, and although I never got the chance to learn the origin of it, I found it to be very appropriate.
One more image to share while I still have some decent connection, before hitting the road again tomorrow. This is from one of the most beautiful areas I visited in Eastern Siberia, the last 100 kms on the Chuyskiy Trakt before the border with Mongolia. This part of Siberia is absolutely stunning in all senses, and full of contrasts like this. Fall is arriving and the colors start to show everywhere. (by Ricardo Serpa)
The view from my cabin at the “Nomad” camp, in Chibit, Siberia. Fall colors beginning to show, and not even the cloudy weather could take anything from it. We stopped there on our way to Mongolia, and once again on our way back, and both times were great. The camp had the best banya, the Russian sauna, from the whole trip, but will be remembered for more than that, as the photo shows…
This little boy showed up by the door of the place we ate at on our second day in Mongolia, by the huge Khyarkas Lake. It was more of a shack than a restaurant as we know it, and saying it was basic is an overstatement, but it was either eat something there or stay hungry till the end of the day (turned out we would be much better off staying hungry till later, as the food wasn’t really very appealing at all). As we were leaving, I saw the cute and curious little girl by the door, looking at all the motorcycles getting ready to leave, and it was only when I pointed the lens to her that I discovered she was a he, not a she. It was quite the surprise, as I could have bet any money it was a girl. Still intrigued by it…(by Ricardo Serpa)
Camels in love by the side of the road…:)
A great day on our recent Eastern Siberian and Mongolian adventure. Sometimes we would find roads like this one to ride for a couple dozen miles, and sometimes it was just plain open fields ahead of us. Incredible riding throughout the day, on our way to the Durgun Lake for the camping site. (by Ricardo Serpa)
Here’s another moment of our third day in Northern Mongolia. Almost impossible to describe the liberating sensation of going through roads like these. (by Ricardo Serpa)
One lonely Brazilan among a friendly group of Mongolians from Ulaangom, enjoying their day off. We stopped for lunch along the shores of the Uureg Lake, on our first day in the country, and they were laughing, singing and eating, not very far from where we were. Curiosity spoke louder and I couldn’t resist getting closer, so the rest just followed. They found it quite amazing that we were visiting the area in motorcycles, and tried to ask as many questions as they could. An interesting thing I noted in almost Mongolians I’ve met during the trip: they are extremely happy and smiling people, but once there’s a lens pointed at the them, their expressions become quite solemn. Mine, not so much… (by Ricardo Serpa)
It’s hard not to fall in love with a country that offers views like this… On the final day of the Mongolian leg of the trip, riding through the only paved road we had in over a week.
This is what riding through the Mongolian semi-desert feels like. No roads, just tracks ending on the horizon. A liberating sensation of infinite vastness…
A surprise visit during breakfast. They were both very curious about the group of dusty foreigners, wearing strange clothes and eating porridge by the side of a big truck and lots of motorcycles. Once they realized we were a friendly bunch, the smiles came out and they shared a bite with us all.
A restroom in the middle of the desert. Better than no restroom at all…
Another nice moment from the recent Siberia and Mongolia tour, after climbing a tricky steep hill on our first full day exploring northwestern Mongolia. The view from this place was incredible, and it was totally worth risk destroying the tires in those extremely sharp rocks. The tires were OK, and so were we..:)
Leaving Mongolia on a crisp and chilly morning, and this was the first of many stops I had to make because of the incredible views along the road. — at Bayan-Ulgii Aimag.
Father and son by the roadside, on the Ulaangom-Khyargas Hwy, enjoying a cigarette together and waving as I rode by. I turned back and we had a nice hand-signal conversation for a while. Smiles and good mood all around, and the very solemn pose for the photo, as it was almost always the case in Mongolia. Chinese bikes like this one are everywhere, and they are substituting the horses as the country catches up with the modern times. One can only hope these changes won’t happen so fast.
A pause for lunch and some quick dry cleaning, Mongolian style… :)
From all the images I brought back from the Siberia and Mongolia tour, this is so far the one that best conveys what it is to ride in the desert. Even though I like it, it still doesn’t do any justice to the real feeling, and the freedom we experienced on this endless playground. (by Ricardo Serpa)
Fine riding in fine sand… This is Alex negotiating a nice-looking sand dune, while the rest of the group took a well-deserved water break in one of our off-road days somewhere in northwestern Mongolia.