Barangol to the border in the Altai Mountains, Russia

We left our cabins at Barangol this morning after catching up with the internet, emails, route information etc The roads continue to be great and we are enjoying the tranquility of not being constantly thrown around in the cars.
The scenery through the Russian Altai mountains is stunning. It would have to be one of the most scenic driving routes on the trip. It does not have the remote ruggedness of the Pamir, or the starkness of the Karakom desert in Turkmenistan, but the forests, the green fields, the rivers and streams, constantly by our side are so easy on the eye. The little villages with their cute wooden houses and large stockpiles of wood for the winter, are very picturesque and appear tranquil and tidy and organised.

We stopped at one of the villages and stocked up for our lunch. Bread, cheese, fruit and a few treats. A bit further on we pulled over to one of the many streams and brought out our chairs and had lunch in the shade of the trees.

On the road again, and the scenery just got better. Steeper mountain sides, faster flowing rivers, (and rafting) and snow capped mountains in the distance.

In some places, the local Russians approach our car and are curious about who we are and where we are going.

Our overnight stop was the town of Kosh-Agash, one of the driest places in Russia. It is in a rain shadow and only gets 150mm of rain per year. They cannot even grow potatoes here!

We had to hunt around for a hotel, as none were marked on the maps. We saw some Toyota Landcruisers belonging to an overland travel group outside a building. Sure enough, it was a hotel! We checked in and as we were doing so we found the tour group( NZ and UK) and guide (NZ) had just travelled across Mongolia and we discussed travel routes with the guide, Greg, over dinner. He was immensely helpful and we have planned a fantastic trek across Mongolia using a more Northern route than we had planned. Greg said that the southern route is currently in a very bad state and is very boring in many parts. We see more lakes, streams, yurts etc on our new route. He was also able to plot the route on our maps. We had heard something similar from a few teams that have already crossed Mongolia. All are using this more Northern “middle” route from advice received.
One team that did the Southern route lamented the hundreds of kilometres of corrugations.
Tomorrow morning we are up early to hit the Mongolian border. This could be a long process as we (i.e. the charity) are actually importing the car. The paperwork is tremendous.
C-YA in Mongolia Andrew an Jeff
Andrew Bochenek
Mongolia Charity Rally 2015

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