Little did we know that when we drove off road that we wouldn’t see a real road for the next 24 hours.
In August of 2017 I took a short trip out of Ulaanbaatar with some friends and we heard that there was a waterfall 70 kilometers away from where we were staying.
We thought, 70 kilometers isn’t far (40 some miles), we should go find it!
Mongolia doesn’t have many places of water and waterfalls are one of my favorite things so I was all up for the adventure.
We were hoping to make it a day trip and end back in UB in the evening after a mini detour.
It wasn’t to be.
We had a GPS on a phone that gave the general direction of the waterfall but there were no roads; only a number of dirt paths spiraling through the hills and valley.
I know now that if I had told my other Mongolian friends where I was going they would have said that there was no way I could make it with my car. In hindsight it’s true that it wasn’t the best idea and we barely made it.
It’s difficult to show in words or even pictures how difficult it was to get across the valley.
At one point we were about 10 kilometers away according to the GPS (6 miles) and we needed to cross the river yet again. We couldn’t find a way that looked shallow enough and I think it was at this time that we thought we might not make it and that maybe we should turn back.
We asked a man herding his sheep if there was a bridge and the direct translation was, “There is a bit of space between here and the bridge.” What he actually meant was it was super far away.
Later on we stopped and asked two other ladies who responded, “We don’t know but can we come with?”
Our car was already at full capacity and my friend’s response was to quickly get in the car and demand that I, “Drive away quick! They want to join us!’
Somehow we found the bridge.
And somehow we found the waterfall after 4 or 5 hours weaving through the valley.
We couldn’t drive the whole way and had to walk the final short distance.
It was worth it even though we couldn’t leave until the next morning.
It was worth spending another cold night in a ger despite that the owners of the camp were drunk and not thrilled to have us.
It was worth it even though two of my friends had nightmares that night about large rocks and sheep blocking our way in the valley.
And even worth the damage done to my car.
The song “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” is totally true. You shouldn’t do it (in Mongolia at least).
But we did and I do not regret it.
It was an adventure with friends and probably the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen so I was alright with the (literal) bumps along the way.