8 hour driving day
350km – 10km Tarmac, 5km Dirt Track, 335km Tarmac
Weather: Cold and Sunny
With over 600km to UB, we knew in our hearts that we were never going to make it in a day. Little did we know that Mongolia had one final trick up her sleeve, just when we had started to believe we were home and dry (or rather, home and thawing). The road wasn’t bad, apart from a surprise dirt track section just outside Bayankhongor, and the sun just made such a difference. The scenery continued to be absolutely stunning. As the day wore on however, the road quality deteriorated. None of us were really sure what was wrong with it – it was tarmac, there were no potholes, no corrugations, no obvious repaired sections.. it just wasn’t remotely smooth! Very frustrating!
After a defrosted ratpack lunch (we had to use at least some of them!), we continued our bumpy progress, and with less than 300km to go, decided to camp for the night. As soon as the sun dropped below the horizon, the temperature really plummeted. Our Coleman stove stopped working, and for the first time we were actually slightly concerned. After warming the gas canisters using the Webasto powered heater, we managed to get the JetBoil working well enough to warm up some more rations (this time eaten out of necessity rather than choice!). By 8pm, it was minus 26 outside, but a barmy zero in the back of the Land Rover. We were so grateful (and surprised!) by the difference that some extra insulation, 4 people’s body heat, and a small re-routed engine pre-heater actually made! Well worth the hours of effort back in the UK.
For the first time, the roof tent was declared medically unfit for purpose, and we all stayed in the back for a slightly cramped night’s sleep! Definitely our coldest so far.