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.
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.
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.
Of course, there’s the traditional horse option as demonstrated here by Baasanchuluu on one of our Khovsgol and Khoridol Saridag treks.
Then there’s always a bridge.
There’s also the ‘drive through’ option.
The planned drive through … such as this river in Gorkhi Terelj National Park.
Or the unplanned drive through version such as in the Gobi Desert when rivers form after rainfall.
Or just waiting until it all freezes over such as Khovsgol Nuur National Park.