After our first meeting with the nomadic families of Mongolia we head towards the south. There awaits the pristine Gobi Desert; a rocky semi-desert stretching from Russia and Kazakhstan, through Mongolia to China. The Gobi only exists of a “sandbox” for a small part, the landscape that you expect in a desert. Vast steppe and rocks define most of the view.
We travel with two Russian minivans through Mongolia, each bus carrying five passengers, a driver, tour leader or the cook. We are driving on uncomfortable dirt roads full of holes, but the view makes up for it. Until we are abruptly stopped and our Russian minivan has a flat tire. A large nail pops out of the tire, probably lost by one of the nomadic families while transporting their ger. These nails are used in order to keep the ger into place. Unlucky, because we already had a blown engine and already changed minivans because of that.
Not much later there is delay number three when the other minivan tries to free itself from a mud puddle with a roaring engine, but instead is digging itself in deeper. July is the rainy season in the Gobi and the last few weeks the water has been pouring from the sky in this part of the desert. The dirt road has turned into a slippery mud mass. Fortunately, we drive in convoy and ‘our’ minivan pulls out the other van without difficulty.
That evening we arrive in the dark at the nomadic family where we spend the night, after driving off-road for about 10 hours. After a late meal, including sour yogurt sweets made from mare’s milk, we fall asleep in our ger.