18 June Mandalgovi – Dalandzadgad 280 kms – Total 6372 km
I am pretty good at making decisions s-l-o-w-l-y.
I do need time for percolation, weighing up the options, make up my mind only to change it a few moments later after getting another piece of information.
This rummaged through my mind en route to Dalandgadzad, the district capital of Omnogov in the south Gobi. The question I pondered was how best to see/experience this part of the Gobi.
One, my preferred option was to break the ride on a bike and swap over to a guided tour. This 3-4 day event would allow me to see all sites in this area:
- Chongorijn Els/Khongoryn sand dunes,
- Yolyn Am canyon and its museum,
- Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park, the “Three Beauties” peaks,
- Bayanzag, (known as a Flaming Cliffs.
And I also wanted to ride a camel, securely fastened between two humps.
This guided tour is offered by many operators and cost are about the same: expensive! The expense is caused by my one-man-group. It seems next to impossible to join another group …
But I certainly considered this expense as worthwhile, as it always provide more substantial information about the sites and their history. I can sit in a 4-wheel drive, relax and look around, without risking to hit a pothole.
The ‘little’ problem was that I needed to do such a tour with little delay once in Dalandzadgad, ideally the day after arrival. This presented a challenge to the tour operators. But she came through with the goods. My tour starts tomorrow at 9.30 pick-up and all I have to do is pack and find a safe spot for the bike and remaining luggage.
My contingency option was to make Dalandzadgad my home-spot and explore the area on my own sans all the luggage and weight, but on the bike. Probably not as ‘rich in info’ compared to the guided tour, but special in its own way. I would stay two or even three nights in D and then head on. The risk is of being on-your-own and in case of any accident this could be tricky.
Heading-on was another topic for rummaging: where to, what route and is it advisable to do this alone. More thinking, my head is aching! To cut through this maze the final point was my decider: alone or not. Well, after reading through many posts of past riders/drivers who did this area I became more-and-more convinced that doing it alone would be the less best option, considering the many kms of Piste I will have to take.. A break-down, fall, river-crossing or other malevent could become a dangerous situation. Here I am, an old bloke on a heavy bike not being able to continue.
So, alone is second choice for Mongolia, especially when trying to go off-piste and navigate through unknown Mongolian country side. I learnt that a pair of riders on lighter bikes made 80 kms a day navigating through creek-beds and sand dunes! I am running short on remaining visa time (30 days in total) caused by my lay-up in UB fixing the fork-seals, so this risk I like to avoid.
I am happy to go alone the middle route, but even there are long stretches of off-road. I am told that the Piste is clearly visible and cannot be lost …. famous last words.
So, alea jacta est! I shall be doing the guided tour and then head up north again to connect to the middle route via Karakoram. If possible Neil may join in provided his clutch if fixed in time. I know he prefers to travel Mongolia with company, especially after his recent break-down, which happened right in the area I am in currently.