It is impossible to think of Mongolia without thinking of Ghengis Khan, the Mongol ruler who conquered much of the world at lightning speed.
In preparation for our trip Jesse started reading Ghengis Khan and The Making of the Modern World where we learned about a softer gentler side of the famed nomad.
His journey towards world domination really began as a quest to save his wife who was kidnapped by an enemy tribe. In his quest to win her back he formed strong alliances which became the foundation for his later victories. In the end the story of Ghengis Khan is a love story.
In the same way the story of our time in Mongolia is also a love story of a country famed for vast expansive land and an unlikely group of travelers flung together in this distant land. At a distance, our time in Mongolia may seem harsh: cold nights in sub freezing temperatures, long days driving across bumpy back roads, outdoor latrines, days without a shower, all while sharing close quarters with a group of complete strangers.
These conditions became the perfect incubator for a group of modern day travelers with roots in the U.K., Nepal, Bhutan, Portugal, Spain and the U.S. to exchange stories, bond, and experience the wonder that is Mongolia. Together we experienced nomadic life in ger camps across the Gobi, climbed the highest sand dunes in Mongolia, rode horses and camels, hiked canyons that were once seabeds, touched four-thousand year old petroglyphs, and stood in reverence of ancient monasteries that were destroyed and then restored as Mongolia transitioned from communism to democracy.
Mongolia is a land of vastness. The Great Gobi Desert extends over 1.3 million square km (500,002 sq mi). Most people often think that a desert is a vast land filled with sand dunes, but the Gobi is entirely different. Shrubs and gravel cover most parts of the region with great variety of untouched beauty spread across this vast expanse of land. In order to reach these places we had about 5-6 hours of driving each day in rickety old Russian vans on rough back roads.
Along the way we exchanged stories of our upbringing, our lives back home, what motivated each of us to seek out this adventure and many many belly laughs over jokes old and new.
As with all our travels, it is always the people who make the trip. In particular our time in Mongolia shone a light on this truth. We are grateful to our Mongolia guides who shared their culture and history with us, and revealed to us the immense beauty of the Mongolian land and its people.
Watch this video to see the summary of our time in Mongolia:
Check back here as we update on each day of our Gobi adventure: