Western Mongolia to Russia borderJuly 18 in Russia ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C
Have you ever heard of closed borders apart from when there is a emergency warning?
Well, Mongolia closes its borders for their National celebration of "Nadaam". A concept very foreign to us and definitely one you need to know about, particularly in view of your permitted staytime. While Nadaam officially takes place from 11th-13th July, it is celebrated around those dates in all parts of the country (we came across celebrations as early as the 4th). As unpredictable as these festivities seemed to us, the border times weren't. We quickly found out that the border between Tsagaanuur and Tashanta in the Western part of Mongolia would reopen on the 16th of July. We planned to be in Tschemal, 488kms up North, by the 19th and our Visa were still valid for another week. Hence everything was going to work just nicely.
We wanted to avoid the rush on the 16th (reopening day), therefore planned to drive to the border from Ölgii either late that day and sleep at the border or on the 17th. Water had been filled up, stocks should last, we had read a fair bit about the border procedures, we should be good to go.
But then we found out that the Kudlik family, our friends and fellow overlanders, where in Ölgii, too, and hence decided to postpone the plan for a day.
So today, we get up after a wonderful evening of chatting, laughing and drinking great wine (thank you Zuzka&Martin), pack up and make our way to the border. We arrive at 12pm, being the 26th car in line. The border post seems small, it feels like we just stopped in a little village anywhere in Mongolia. Nothing is moving, we probably got here just in time for the lunch break (yes, the border closes for that, too.). We kill the time by having a quick lunch ourselves, listening to an audiobook, taking pictures (Jo) and reading (Tom). We also meet Lena, a very nice Russian girl, who is returning from a two week holiday with her husband. Three hours later, things start moving. With the help of a Mongolian with perfect English who drives the car in front of us, Tom masters the first check to enter and within another hour we've passed passport and customs control without any issues.
Now we need to drive through approx. 30km of no-man's-land before reaching the Russian border post. I'm wondering who the animals along the side of the road belong to and if I'll ever see the cute Earth squirrels again.
At 4.45pm we enter the Russian border post. All officers seem to be used to overlanders as we're repeatedly asked about the route we'll travel and everyone nods their head understandingly. We park the car, pass the passport control again without any issues, have the car checked quickly including running our backpacks through a scanner and then it's time to get the temporary import documents for the car. This is the only part that's slightly confusing, but a friendly young officer leads Tom through the documents. While I'm chatting to two motorcyclists from Munich (check reissaus.com), everything is done and we're officially in Russia just after 6pm ( it might have helped that everyone simply wanted to go home as the border closes at 6pm).
All in all it took 6hrs, every check and control was super pleasant and easy and we were super happy.
No long interrogation, sleeping in no-man's-land nor problems with documents. Let's hope every crossing will be this smooth.Read more