With each shudder of the car as it sped across a hollow in the road, the steering wheel seemed to strain to break free, just like I had since landing in Mongolia eight days ago. In that time, I had managed to drive hundreds of kilometers from across the Gobi Desert, experiencing life as a modern-day nomad, unencumbered by responsibilities on an overseas adventure tour while exploring a new landscape while in the capable hands of a unique tour group led by an extremely capable expedition leader.
We were 10 people driving across the Gobi to truly live and experience life like the locals did. So far, we had slept in traditional yurts, watched the sun set in fiery shades of red over the breathtaking Flaming Cliffs, and been mesmerized by the spectacular Orkhon Waterfall all on a road trip that honed my driving skills and made me forget computer screens.
As someone who was curious about the world, I had always hungered to travel to places that are untouched by people.
I was craving an adventure vacation, one that I imagined would see me find the planet’s furthest reaches – like a glacier walk in Iceland or Patagonian expedition. I chose Mongolia despite skepticism about participating in this experience as I didn’t have a passion for driving, something that I assumed would be a pre-requisite to take on a road trip like this. Luckily, Nomadic Road’s itineraries didn’t require prior 4×4 expedition experience and I was heartened to spend my first day getting a tutorial, along with the entire group – while also being introduced to an expedition team that included a mechanic (in case of any car-based issues), a local chef, a cultural expert and videographer to name a few. My worst fears assuaged, I was ready to go, waiting to experience life on the desert, meet the monks of the Ongii monastery and see the breath-taking natural landscape that features snow-covered sand dunes and one of the largest dinosaur fossil reserves in the world. My nomadic expedition was under way.
It was my fellow travellers that made my trip what it was — coming from all over the world in search of unique and memorable experiences. They were the ones that started to call me The Nomad, because of my endless curiosity and desire to make the really dive into the experience that is on offer.
So, whether it is staying in yurt along the way, or driving through ravines and past wild horses, it’s an experience that is sure to live on in my memory. I’m used to being in the crowds and not driving through dessert and steppes without another person for hours on end. It’s a way to come to terms with the vastness of our landscape. Fellow traveller Rosemary for the UK said:
“I think setting out each morning into really spectacular landscape – I’ve been surprised at how much the landscape changes between the different areas and the different days.”
Sums up Katie, who flew in from the US:
“It’s beautiful, I wasn’t expecting it to be this vast but then you come across these pockets of people who are incredibly friendly and warm and funny and silly, and you just realise that there’s this whole country with all this history and all of these different things to offer and I just didn’t know about it.”
When asked what her favourite memory of the entire trip was, she said,
“At the top of the sand dunes, cracking open a beer with this group of people that I only met five days ago, and its beautiful, the sun is setting, we’ve got music playing and it just feels like that’s what a vacation should be.”
As for me, I’ll be sharing more from my other adventures across the world, driving through the jungles of Borneo, across Lake Baikal’s frozen surface and through Patagonia’s landscape. Each trip has been personally enriching but taken together they’ve allowed me to see the world in ways that I would never expect with a group of people who are as curious as I am about the world. Organized by one of the best adventure travel companies, the team has the knowledge and skill to make even these remote corners feel comfortable and familiar, it’s no wonder that I’ve embraced by new name – The Nomad – and look forward to sharing more about it. From each rattle of my 4×4 to the sites, people and landscapes that have been indelibly seared into my mind.