FATBIKE ADVENTURE THROUGH TAVAN BOGD NATIONAL PARK, ALTAI MOUNTAINS, WESTERN MONGOLIA
The first time I went to Mongolia was 4 years ago. As a photographer, I had long wanted to visit the far western part of Mongolia, which shares a boarder with China to the south and Russia to the north. I spent 3 weeks immersed in the predominantly Kazakh culture, making friends with a family of Eagle hunters and getting to know the ways of the nomadic people living in Tavan Bogd National Park. I knew then that I wanted to include this incredible place in my future… what I didn’t know was how everything would fall into place and 4 years later I would find myself organizing and leading adventure biking tours through Western Mongolia.
My partner in this venture is not a photographer, rather an athlete of all trades having worked as a mountaineering guide, rescue training teacher for firemen and emergency responders, cave search and rescuer, and graphic artist. We are both passionate and dedicated bikers and when we saw the epic scenery, the warmness and welcoming nature of the local people, the incredible culture and the quality of our local guide and organizer Agii Makshum, we decided with no uncertainty that we would like to share our Mongolian experiences with other like-‐minded adventurers. We wanted to bring people closer to the countryside, closer to the culture and closer to the people. The best way to do that, considering the lay of the land would be on a Fatbike. We decided to go with the Trek Farley 5. Our company, Round Square Adventures was born with the idea of offering small group, van-‐supported Fatbike tours through Tavan Bogd National Park. We also design a la carte tours for those who would like to mix fatbiking with some mountaineering, climbing or horseback riding.
First of all, we love to travel and secondly, we love to see places by bike. We have travelled in many remote countries in the world; on skis, sailing, motorbikes, paragliding, mountaineering, walking and in small planes, but when we came to western Mongolia we had no doubt that Fatbikes were the ideal way to see the epic scenery. In this kind of environment, you need versatility. Damp, rock-‐studded single track, mellow dirt trails, swampy meadow, river crossings, snow, the fatbikes can handle it all. You really wouldn’t want to do 100km on tarmac, but as there is no tarmac where we go, there’s no need to worry about that!
Riding a bike across a glacier that has been there for millennia, day-‐long descents down glacial valleys, crossing dozens of rivers in one day, camping in places of breath taking beauty, admiring mythical and ancient ruins of nomads, witnessing the traditional Naadam festivals with Mongolian wrestling, archery and horse races, attending a Kazakh wedding or staying with an Eagle Hunter, are all parts of the story we experience on our Fatbike trips through the mythical Altai mountains.
We plan our Mongolia Fatbike adventure tours around the summer months when the warm weather permits the Kazakhs to venture out and socialize. They travel many miles to participate in
a Naadam or go to a cousin’s wedding, usually on a horse with which they will play Buzkashi or participate in a race. The summer months are when brides plan their weddings and young colts are broken in, a time when the whole community comes together to socialize and celebrate before the snow and cold weather comes in October. Our last fatbike adventure in September culminates with the Golden Eagle Festival where eagle hunters gather to test their finely trained birds in singular contests of speed and agility.
Although this is an organized trip, it is far from being an ordinary one, where, just as the climate and the wild terrain influence the nomadic way of life, their migrations and communication, we also have to adapt to the elements, which in the end is what makes our fatbike trips a once in a lifetime adventure.
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