ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
How much did you pay for your horse?
I bought the horse for 500 euros and sold it back 45 days later for 250 to a family of yak and ewe’s herders. I found him in the village of Khaorkhin, 300km away from Ulaanbaatar.
How did you feed yourself?
For the first part of the trip I carried on my back about a week worth of food. However, it usually lasted me a lot longer as I often ate with nomads. When running out of food I would walk to one of the many villages in the steppe and buy provisions.
In the desert, I carried about 10 days’ worth: dried fruits, walnuts, peanuts, almonds and Chinese noodles. I ate very little during this part of the trek which explains impressive loss of weight. As I crossed the desert, I only bought food from two rare villages.
How did you drink?
In the steppe there were many streams and rivers, so thirst was not a problem for me or my horse.
In the desert however, I had organised my itinerary through waterholes and wells. Sometimes, I was able to drink water from swamps or muddy puddles. I also walked hundreds of kilometres with a sort of trolley onto which I had attached a 20L water canister to survive in the driest part of the desert.
How do you pay for your expeditions? What is your budget?
To pay for my expeditions I worked during my studies. For Mongolia, I also used crowdfunding to buy a satellite phone in case of emergency during the desert crossing.
If I manage to travel by only working small jobs, it is because my way of traveling is very cheap. I sleep in my tent, I walk, I eat (a lot) of Chinese noodles. The places I travel to are wild, there are no shops, no restaurant, no hotels; there is often nowhere to spend money. This way of traveling is sometimes difficult and is not for everyone. Therefore, apart from the plane ticket, my budget for three months in Mongolia was very small; “regular” tourists would have spent it in a week.
To have an idea of the cost of living in a country, you can look in traveling guides for the price of hotels and restaurants.
Is it dangerous for a woman to travel on her own in Mongolia?
As a man, it is hard to answer this question as people don’t always act in the same way toward women or men, so my impression might not be accurate. However, I had the feeling that women were perfectly respected in this country. Nonetheless, alcohol is an issue in Mongolia. The safest, for solo travellers -male or female-, is to pitch your tent near a yurt or hidden away between trees. I met several women travelling on their own during my trip, so it is doable.
How did you communicate with the nomads?
I had a French-Mongol dictionary that I used a lot at first. I also spoke by signs, drawings and looks. After a while I started to learn a few words, and by the end I could speak a few sentences and have very basics conversations. It was never an issue, just a different way of communicating.
What are the essentials to pack?
Detailed maps, a compass, a GPS, a lighter, a tent and a sleeping bag.
Do you always travel on your own?