Roam the Rolling Deserts
The trek to Inner Mongolia may lead some travelers to question whether or not they are still in China. The flowing grasslands and desert expanses of this exotic land are far closer to Mongolia than Beijing, and the capital city Hohhot offers exposure to Mongolian traditions and cuisine. Spend a night in a traditional nomadic yurt and visit the mausoleum of Genghis Khan. While organized tours are available in and around Hohhot, families with older children may want to visit more remote towns and villages set against a backdrop of grassland and desert. Culture-seekers can soak up on traditional Mongolian singing and dancing, while adventure seekers can try horse and camel riding. Due to the harsh climate in this part of the country, visiting between June and September is recommended.
The Travelers: German couple Peter and Antje Küsters and their son Joel (5). Friends Tobias Trost, Roman Neubert and Anna-Julia Toll joined the family on their adventure.
The Route: The Küsters avoided large towns and cities on their journey, preferring to experience the magnificent landscape from a four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle. They drove north first via Fengning, then past Duolun, where only 4WD vehicles can venture. The trip then continued north through the southern reaches of the Gobi desert.
The Vehicle: The Küsters used a 4WD for their travels, though a regular car is fine unless you plan to go off the beaten track or into the desert. Peter suggests having your car serviced and brushing up on your vehicle knowledge. Carry spare parts and a manual, as the middle-of-nowhere is a barren place. Stock the car with food, water and toilet paper. Local restaurant food is very basic and includes mutton jiaozi and yak meat in strong and fibrous stews.
Camping Out: A pop-up tent that fits snugly on your 4WD roof is ideal, though a regular camping tent is also fine. Good quality sleeping bags, torches and a lamp are imperative, and Antje suggests using sleeping bags in guesthouses if you decide to stay a night with a roof over your head. Camping out isn’t fit for those used to comfort, but it does offer the breathtaking experience of sleeping under the stars.
Sight to Remember: The serenity of the landscape – with nothing but the breeze in your hair, the hills in your eyes and a happy kid running across the plain in his new Mongolian cowboy hat chasing meandering cattle with a lasso.