A Few Question for ScottW in Ulaan Baatar
The new system does not appear let me have access to your e-mail address, hence this public posting.
A friend and I will be in Mongolia around the last week of June and first few weeks of July as part of a Korea/ Germany ride. We are on two Triumph Tigers.
We plan to enter from Mongolia from Naushki and exit in the west.
I understand that is about the time when you will be leaving Mongolia. I was hoping to catch up with you as I have read many of your posts on riding in Mongolia, but I do have a few questions I hope you can answer;
Maps of Western Mongolia
We will be using a GPS as you have recommended to others. The unit I am looking at has limited mapping capabilities (Garmin GPS60) so we will want to purchase some topographic maps of Western Mongolia. I have found a series of Aeronautical maps here in Australia, but would prefer to purchase if possible in Ulaan Baatar. (Space issues)
Are they ready available in Ulann Baatar and what maps would you suggest/ do you use?
Huvsgul lake as an alternative Entry Point to Naushki
We will be visiting friends in Irkutsk and would like to avoid back tracking to Ulan Ude if possible.
Are you aware of any border crossing from Russia to Huvsgul lake area?
Kazak Mission for Visa’s
I was hoping that Kazakhstan would have an embassy in Ulaan Baatar but to date I can only find a reference to a mission with an address listed as 6 mcr, N 95, Ulan-Bator and a phone number and fax.
Are you aware of the mission and if anybody has obtained visas from it?
Recommended Hotel/ Place to Stay in Ulaan Baatar
If the mission does issue visas we will need a place to stay for a few days whilst the paper work is done, can you suggest any place that is secure, but cheap?
At this stage we have allowed for 2 to 3 weeks in Mongolia, can you suggest a route across to the west. Have done a far bit of reading do date and the route taken by Geoff Kingsmill looks interesting, so does the area around Huvsgul lake. GPS way points of any places of interest would be very useful. The Tigers give us about 400 plus Km range. Not looking for out and out rough riding, I think average type of country is going to test my limits (My riding partner is an ex motocross competitor so he will be in his element)
Lastly would be happy to catch up with anybody who will be in Monoglia at the same time?
Hi Brett: Lots of questions. I'll try to hit them all. I prefer to answer questions on the HUBB because then other folks can take advantage of the info later on. But if you need my email contact info, let me know.
1. Naushki is a small Russian town on the rail line. The closest Russian town to the border is Kyakhta. You can make it from the border to UB (Ulaanbaatar) in 5-6 hours depending on how hard you ride. The road is paved all the way, though the paving is of uneven quality.
There is a border crossing at the top of Huvsgul Lake, but it is only open to Mongolians and Russians. A few large foreign tour groups have managed to cross there, but only by obtaining prior permission ($$) from the Russian and Mongolian Foreign Ministries.
2. GPS/Maps: I think with the Garmin 60 you should be able to load the Garmin WorldMap base map for Mongolia from the WorldMap CD-ROM. That is by far the best GPS map for Mongolia. I can fit all of Mongolia into the memory of my Garmin GPS V, so you should have no problem with a newer model.
There are not any topo maps of Mongolia. There are some detailed Russian military maps that you can sometimes find, but a set of those for your route would be about 10 pounds of paper (and you'll need to be able to read Russian). Your best bet is to get to UB and buy the "Mongolia Road Map" and the "Mongolia Atlas." Those two are the best driving maps for Mongolia. They have distances between towns and gas stations marked. You can buy them several places, but I recommend Xanadu Books, which is the best English language bookstore in the country. It's also next door to Millie's Espresso, which has the best coffee in the country. Convenient! Millie's is in the LP guidebook. They are about 50 meters west of the front gate of the Chojin Lama Museum in downtown UB.
3. There is a Kazakh Embassy in UB. I don't know any foreigners who have gotten visas there, but they do issue visas, so they should be able to help you. I have no idea what you need to get a Kazakh visa, though. The Embassy is located in the "Diplomatic Compound" about 50 meters NE of the Lenin Museum/Freedom Square, entrance #2. The phone number is 976-11-312-240; fax: 976-11-312-204.
4. Places to stay: There are many guesthouses in UB. Most can provide safe bike parking, usually by locking the bike in a shipping container at night. The UB Guesthouse (http://www.ubguest.com) is popular. Some riders have also stayed at the Khongor Guesthouse (http://www.mandarinmedia.com/projects/khongor/).
5. Routes west: There are basically two: North and south, divided by the Khangai Mountain range. The northern route has rougher tracks, but is prettier (greener) scenery and you can stop at Huvsgul Lake on the way west. The southern route has smoother tracks, but less to see (lots of wide open Gobi).
There are some variations on how you can do the routes, but here are the main tracks I recommend:
Northern route: UB-Kharkhorin-Tsetserleg-Murun-Huvsgul-Murun-Uvs-Ulgii-western border
OR UB-Erdenet-Murun, etc.
Southern route: UB-Kharkhorin-Arvaikheer-Bayankhongor-Altai-Khovd-Ulgii-western border.
No matter which way you go, it will be almost entirely on dirt tracks with no signs. Whether you are looking for rough riding or not, you're going to get it.
A 400 km range will be more than enough, though you should top off in every town that has a decent gas station. Most of the fuel outside of UB and the main cities is only 76. I haven't heard of anyone having big problems with the 76, though to be safe you probably shouldn't try to redline it on the low octane stuff.
As for riding time, you can do the southern route in 3-4 long, hard riding days, and the northern route in 5-6 of the same type days. If you allow a week for the southern route and closer to two weeks for the northern route that will give you time to relax and look around a bit and you won't have to ride more than 3-4 hours a day unless you want to.
Let me know if you need more info.
Thanks heaps Scott.
Post on the HUBB when you are leaving UB and if we make it to town before you head off, we would love to shout you a beer for all of the information you have posted on Mongolia.
I'll second that Brett !
Many thanks Scott, your info is a big help !
Scott, This is Brett and Dave the two Australians, we are in UB now (its about 10:30 Friday AM local time) and would love to catch up and shout you that beer.
Also want to pick you brain on track conditions etc. We had a bit of a rough time on the road acrss from Vladivostok with one bike and one rider not in the best of conditions.
So we think we will scrap the idea of the western route and look for a loop starting and ending in UB. (unless the border crossing above Khovsgol has suddlenly opened to foreigners (the LP guide hinted it might open in 2005).
We are staying in a guesthouse opposite the Mouse House Internet Cafe on Baga Toiruu (West) Just forget the name for the moment and its not listed in the LP guide, but they did have a garage for rent for the two bikes.
Will check the HUBB later today and tomorrow. If you have time to meet that would be great.
More Questions for Scott W
On this Mongolia topic, since many others will read it, a few related question for Scott or anyone else:
1) My friend and I will be coming to UB from Russia (via Tashanta) and will be in UB for a week (around Nadaam), then flying out of Mongolia for three weeks (July-Aug timeframe), then back to Mongolia - can you suggest a place we may pay to "store" two BMW 650 Dakars for 3 weeks while we are gone?
2) Any UPDATED info on possibility of riding into China (i.e. Beijing)? I see all kinds of conflicting data on this - any insight? Either doing it "alone" or paying a service to "help us". We have carnets for the bikes.
3) Any contacts on air freighting our bikes out of UB (if we can't ride to Beijing) to either Korea or Japan? I saw a posting about "no German bikes in Korea" - we have BMW's but they are American registered (we have USA passports).
Thanks for you input Scott and/or anyone else reading this - if you're still in UB when we arrive (around July 1-4) we'll buy you a meal/beer. Thanks again.
We are staying at the Nassan Guesthouse and have rented a lockable garage from them for 1,200 T per day.
We also had a offer from another guesthouse along the same lines.
The Guesthouse mentioned by Scott have had their contain removed in a city wide clean up assumably for the 800 ann.
Sorry cant help with the other two questions
Scott/Brett or whoever is in UB,
we're going to be in Mongolia in a month or so, and we would like to change tyres to put some knobllies for the rest of the trip.
Do you know if it's possible to have them shipped to some place in UB from Europe, so that we would pick them up when we arrive ?
I got riduculously expensive quotes from DHL/FedEx (~1000$..!) so I'm going to look into regular post, but how reliable is it ? is the only possibility take them with us ?
I am planning to ride through Mongolia also. I have read that tires are available in Russia. Mongolia isn't that so vast that one set of tires wont get across. Not sure what size tires the Ural motorcycles run use these must be available in Mongolia. Maybe you only have to carry a front tire??? Bill
Brett: Sorry, I was in the Gobi for the past 5 days. Give me a call if you are still in UB.
This is for Scott..
Hey, do you know if it is possible to get a Mongolian Licence here in UB as my Aussie one has just expired. Thinking of buying a Russian bike here and riding back to Europe. I have a 3 month Mongolian visa so a little time for planning but not heaps!
Thought you were gone
Scott, any chance you will still be in UB on July 28? We will be arriving on or about that date and would certainly love to buy you that beer.
Lionbreeze, I do not know if it is possible to get a Mongolian license without a residence permit. And if you did get it, it is only in Mongolian, so I'm not sure how useful that would be (or how accepted) that would be in other countries.
Jack and Janet, sorry that I'll miss you. Best of luck with your travels!
Reagarding getting a Kazak visa in UB. I did that and it was no problem (Irish passport) but I met a couple of Hungarians who spent a month there being told to "come back next week" and were finally rejected without explaination. So if you can get the visa in advance, you should.
Regarding shipping tires. the woman who runs the Nassan guesthouse is very nice and they have those big containers for storage. I'll bet if you asked, she would let you ship tires there.
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