We woke to a cloudless and cold morning but no frost in our peaceful campsite. But it wasn’t peaceful for long.
Everything had to be packed up, the camp and our personal items. We were all reminded that we couldn’t take more than 15kg (33.1lbs.)… and that included carry-on bags… unless we were prepared to pay an excess baggage fee.
Meanwhile, gifts and tips for the crew were being worked out. ‘This and that’ went into this bag while ‘that and this’ went into another bag, and so on. At last everything was worked out and the presentations took place. I think everybody was happy.
Our full crew of drivers and cooks
Our drivers got ready to take us on one last drive together… into Khovd town for a little extra time to look around and perhaps do some last minute shopping.
There was only room in my pack for something very, very small…
a ‘Mongolian boot’ keyring for our Christmas tree!
For a town so far from UB, Khovd punches above its weight.
It even had a “Pizza Hut”… but we didn’t eat there.
We had lunch at a restaurant before heading to the airport on the edge of town, there to await our flight which was scheduled to take off at 14.30.
It was weigh in time… the moment of truth! I think we all went over the limit but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that the limit was in fact 20kg. The sting in the tail came when we were told that the airline going back to Ulaanbaatar charged a higher rate per kg than the airline that flew us from Ulaanbaatar. My excess cost AUD6.90 – but that’s not a fortune in anybody’s language!
Tim told us not to get our hopes up about the flight being on time. He said that the flight was more often than not delayed, sometimes for up to 12 hours or more! We were most thankful when we received our boarding passes which showed some faith on the airlines part that the flight was ‘on time’. And so it was – we left only about 20 minutes late.
The wind sock hung limply on its mast. The wind was not going to help our 13 year old Fokker 50 get off the ground!
I’ve never seen the wheel-bay flaps used for advertising before.
It was a 3 hour flight to UB plus we lost an hour.
Mongolia is a big brown country.
Surprisingly, there are many lakes scattered across the country.
But there are also many sand dunes.
The last light of the day cast long shadows.
On arrival in UB, we went straight from the airport to a restaurant for our farewell dinner. We ate at ‘BD’s Mongolian Barbeque’, a place I’d eaten at when I was last in UB in 2008. The place hadn’t changed much… except for the fact that photos and videoing was not allowed any more at the bbq area. But, it was still a good feed. There was a huge range of types of food to select from. You took what you wanted to a large circular hot plate where the chefs cooked your selection as one mixed up meal. A repeat visit to collect more goodies and have them cooked was a tempting option. But I resisted.
Tim had written a short summary about each of us. He read these out, often to our amusement! It was around 23.00 by the time we got back to the Tuushin Hotel to check in and collect anything we’d left in storage whilst away on the trek. It was after 01.00 before I was ready to have a much needed shower and feel the comfort of a proper bed. Oh… but it was good!
And the next day, it was time to say farewell to Tim and to my trek companions. It was time to think about heading back home.
Members of the group started leaving UB during the early hours of the morning heading for all sorts of places to continue on either straight home or via some other exotic destination. I didn’t have a flight until 17h55 so had all the morning to wander around. Michael wasn’t leaving until the next day so we decided to walk to the Government Department Store to have a look around. Eventually we found out that the top floor was the place to be to find all things Mongolian. A few tee shirts and a couple of Christmas tree dingle dangles later we left. Michael had all day so he went his way and I headed back to the hotel.
I got a little lost on the way back to the hotel but this was no problem at all as it took me along some streets I hadn’t been on before. Eventually I arrived in Chinggis Khan Square at noon. I was so pleased I’d got ‘lost’ as I arrived in time for “The Changing of the Guard” with all the pomp and ceremony of such an event.
DSC02529 © DY of jtdytravels
An impressive ritual took place.
Very smart, colourful uniform.
He was watching me!
The guard goose-stepped off duty,
no doubt part of a drill left over from the “Russian” days.
Very colourful, very precise, very impressive.
After that little interlude it was back to my room for some last minute packing.
And so that really is the end of the saga of my Mongolian trek with Tim Cope.
Well almost. There’s just one thing left to do…
I just needed to shave off that seventeen day beard!
Especially since it was all white!!!!!
And as I finish this task, there’s just more one thing to say…
Thank you for joining me for the journey
on this trek through the vast landscapes of far western Mongolia.
All photographs copyright © DY of jtdytravels
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