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Summer 2013 Route (Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan)
Friday June 14, 2013 - 47.911708° N, 106.975594° W
After having taken a very long winter hiatus, spent away from the expedition for multiple personal reasons, I am currently located in Mongolia's capital Ulaan Baatar.

I am here, "carving time" away from riding my bicycle, in order to wrap up the creation of a new "leaner and meaner" website for Nexus Expeditions, which will come to supplement this "old school" blog.

The launch of this new website will be announced very soon. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I must say that I am definitely getting quite antsy to be able to depart Ulaan Baatar and start riding my bicycle again through the Mongolian steppe!

So, over the next few days, I will return to Kharkhorin, 410 kms West of Ulaan Baatar, to be reunited with my Surly Big Dummy bicycle, aka "Long Crocodile" which has been hibernating at the Mönkhsuuri guest house.

Mongolian section: 1378 kms (via the fastest southern route)

Believe it or not, but at this stage, after having received valuable input from quite a few international and Mongolian overland travelers, I am still deciding which route to take amongst three different options for the section between Kharkhorin and Altai (Southwestern Mongolia), I am now waiting to get to Kharkhorin to talk to locals and to make then my final decision on which route to embark upon. - Option #1: The Southern "faster" route to Altai - Option #2: The Central adventurous route... - Option #3: The Northern scenic route From where I stand right now, the "central adventurous route" through hot springs and mountain trails entice me the most! But we will see ín Kharkhorin what option makes the most sense...

Option #1: The Southern "faster"route to Altai:
(through a dryer and flatter landscape, on the Northern edge of the Gobi Desert)

175 kms: Kharkhorin- Arvaykheer, (southwestbound, via Khujirt ).
(Ref: Khujirt in mapcarta)

205 kms: Arvaykheer- Bayankhongor (westbound).
390 kms: Bayankhongor-Altai (westbound)
Total: 770 kms

Option #2: The Central more adventurous route:
(through mountain trails and hot springs)

60 kms: Kharkhorin to Khujit (stop at Khujit Hot Springs) (southbound)
~250kms: Khujit to Bayankhongor (southwest bound, through mountainous trails)
(via Shargaljuut Hot Springs) (Ref: More information on Shargaljuut Hot Springs)
390 kms: Bayankhongor-Altai (westbound)
Total: 710 kms

Option #3: The Northern scenic route to Altai:
(through a mountainous western Mongolian alpine landscape)

107 kms: Kharkhorin - Tsetserleg (Northwestern route)
160 kms: Tsertserleg - Tariat (Northwestern route)
(Stop at Khorgo - Terkhiin / Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park)
200 kms: Tariat - Tosontsengel (Northwestern route)
186 kms: Tostontsengel - Uliatsai (Southern route)
181 kms: Uliatsai - Altay (Southern route)
Total: 834 kms

From Altai to the Chinese border
246 kms Altay - Darvi (Northwest)
362 kms Darvi - Moron - Tsetseg - Most - Hujirt - Uonch - Bulgan Mongolian- Chinese Border crossing (southwestbound)
(via a new mining road built by Chinese on Mongolian territory and going through Bulgan Gol Natural Reserve)
Total: 608 kms

Chinese section (through Xinjiang Province): 1287 kms

Update on crossing Xinjiang Province: Because I am cycling through the Xinjiang province, I am neither required to have a special permit (in addition to my valid passport and Chinese visa) nor to have a guide on my route.

However, currently, non-Chinese overlanders traveling by motorcycle or cars in Xinjiang province are required to have a guide.

400 kms: from Mongolian-Chinese border crossing located in Takashiken to Sangezhuangzi (through S320 + S338: Aratolbe )

226 kms: from Sangezhuangzi to Urümqi
(through S303 + G216 : through Daquan Xiang, Ergon Xiang, Laotai Xiang)

253 kms: from Urümqi to Dushanzi Qu
(through G30: Dafeng, Jingouhe)
408 kms: From Dushanzi Qu to Chinese-Kazakh border crossing located in Khorgos.
(through G30: Jinghe, Shashanzi, Khorgas)
Total: 1287 kms

Kazakhstan section (until Almaty): 367 kms
Click here to read about Information/Map on all Central Asian Border crossings provided by Caravanistan.

134 kms: from Chinese-Kazakhstan border crossing Khorgos-Khorgas to Shonzhy.
(via Verkhniy Penzhim, Akkent, Zharkent, Koktal).

233 kms: from Shonzhy to Almaty.
(via Charyn Canyon National Park, Kokpek, Shelek, Bayserka, Guldala)

5/22/2013 Update - Crossing the Chinese - Kazakhstan border on a bicycle?
Mail received on May 22d from Travel Guide Caravanistan
"News from Khorgos-Khorgas border crossing from China to Kazakhstan:
A bicyclist wrote: "I crossed the border with my bicycle on May 10th 2013, and I was able to bicycle through the 7,2km corridor between the two borders. All sides were friendly and helpful.
No Problem at all. "

This is good news! However, if I am not allowed to cross this border via human power (on my bicycle or walking through it) I will then have to go through another China- Kazakhstan border such as the Dulart (China) Kolzhat - (Kazakhstan) border crossing.

In addition, in Kazakhstan, I am NOT required to neither have a special permit (in addition to my valid passport and Kazakhstan visa) nor a guide on my route through Kazakhstan.
I got alerted last year while reading this information on Kazakhstan border zone permits requirements.

However, here is the latest feedback I received on this matter:
"Special Permits are currently only needed for the high Altai nature reserve. You would only need a special permit to go south from Katon Karagai into the Markakol Nature Reserve, and to go east from Uryl, at the end of the Bukhtarma valley east of Katon Karagai."

I will decide once I will reach Almaty, which route to take:
- southbound through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan,
- Westbound through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan
- Northbound through Kazakhztan and back into the Russian Federation.

I obviously still have a few options to pick from in order to travel from Almaty to the Western coast of either Europe or Africa and then to start my row across the Atlantic Ocean.

I am also currently planning future sections of the expedition and learning whether or not I could get the permission to human-power cross the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman and human-power cross the Red Sea between Yemen and Djibouti.

Finally, I am currently considering the Pros/Cons for each different launching option for my row across the Atlantic Ocean: Portugal, Senegal, Namibia or South Africa.
Links & Additional Information:

Wikipedia article on Ulaan Baatar.
Website Link

Wikipedia article on Kharkhorin
Website Link

Lonely Planet information on the Mönkhsuuri Guest House in Kharkhorin (Karakorum), Mongolia.
Website Link

Surly Big Dummy.
Website Link

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