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A birvaz ferry. One way to cross a Mongolian river

How To Cross A Mongolian River

Khentii Province in Mongolia’s north-east is considered the birthplace of Chinggis Khan.  We typically leave it alone for July and early August when the roads usually turn into a quagmire and the mosquitoes seem to have personal vendettas against all. But, late August onwards is glorious – the roads are drying out, the autumn colours start to put on a show of their own and the local communities are coming together to cut hay.

 

The Onon Gol featured in our learn how to cross a Mongolian river blog post

The Onon-Balj National Park on the border of Siberia in Khentii Province – as captured through the lens of our guest Séverine Baptiste-Blanchart. Ditch your watch and head out to pastures new on a horse trek. The only way to explore this remarkable area with its wild wilderness spaces.

To get to Khentii you have to cross the Onon Gol and to do this we always use the birvaz.  The what? The birvaz is one of my favourite inventions – a floating platform on a pulley system that crosses the river – used by locals with their motorbikes or in this case, by EL with our Furgon van. Tserendorj is the operator and crossing the river this way gives you time to discuss the weather, the state of the Mongolian economy and to count fish. If on your arrival you can’t find Tserendorj then first check the river as he is prone to having a quick (icy) dip between ferry crossings.

A birvaz ferry. One way to cross a Mongolian river

Also in Khentii is the small community of Binder. On a previous research trip, a local decided to take us under his wing and show us his preferred way of crossing the Onon River. The tractor taxi … which proved to be one of the most nervewracking experiences any of us had ever had in Mongolia.

Mongolian river crossing with a tractor

Of course, there’s the traditional horse option as demonstrated here by Baasanchuluu on one of our Khovsgol and Khoridol Saridag treks.

On our how to cross a Mongolian river blog post - crossing a Mongolian river on horseback

Then there’s always a bridge.

Cross a Mongolian river by bridge

 There’s also the ‘drive through’ option.

The planned drive through … such as this river in Gorkhi Terelj National Park.

Crossing a Mongolian river Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Or the unplanned drive through version such as in the Gobi Desert when rivers form after rainfall.

River crossing in the Gobi, Mongolia

Or just waiting until it all freezes over such as Khovsgol Nuur National Park.

 Our east trips take place from late August onwards including our National Parks and Nature Reserves small group experience
Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia. http://www.jessbrooks.co.uk/
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