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Photo Tours &
Railfan Tours

Mongolia Tanago Railfan tours

Mongolia Autumn 2019

Branch lines and the Gobi Desert

26. August - 12. September 2019

Mongolia Autumn 2019 Branch lines and the Gobi Desert

Beside our classic Mongolia tour in summer we offer a completely new tour program with a modular structure: we visit the remote branch line Choibalsan - Ereentsav in the extreme northeastern part of Mongolia, where semaphore signals and the Russian TEM2-copies of an ALCO mode are still in use today.
We shall visit the branch lines Sharin Gol, Erdenet, and the private Chinese mining railway with three railway companies operating on it.Finally we spoil ourselves with the spectacular desert passages of the Trans-Mongolian railway in the south of the country.

The trip is structured in 3 parts, each part can be booked separately or together with other parts.

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No. of participants min 6, max. 12
Duration see program
Meals halfboard
Price from 1.670 Euro
open for bookings Sold out.
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Part 1 - Semaphores: 26 - 30 August 2019:

August 26, 2019, Monday:

Arrive by Aeroflot or MIAT (the Mongolian airline) in the morning in Ulan Bator (flights not included in the tour price). Transfer to the city with day rooms in a good tourist class hotel. Depending on the time available, we take the first pictures of the railway operations in the Mongolian capital, before we have to return to the airport in the afternoon to fly to Choibalsan.
Overnight in a basic hotel near Choibalsan.
Meals: dinner.

We are happy to book the international flights for you. Our entire program is based on Aeroflot and MIAT flights (10/2018 timetable). You are also welcome to travel with other airlines, but you may have an extra night before or after the tour. Departure in Europe in most cases will be Sunday, August 25, 2019!

August 27, 2019, Tuesday:
In the good old days, the Bayantumen railway line, completely isolated from the rest of the Mongolian network, served for extensive uranium traffic from Choibalsan to Eerentsav and on to Russia. The mines have long since been shut down, and the traffic levels went down significantly. Today, only a few mixed trains operated with old TEM2 diesel locomotives.
Everything is a bit run down, the railway administration in the distant capital Ulan Bator does not bother, and thus the semaphore signals still exist at the intermediate stations are still operated today as they have been 60 years ago!
Our plan for today is to chase the regular service to Choibalsan on the service road parallel to the track. The train will not set any speed records and the duration of the stops will be rather long than too short.
Night shots of the diesel locomotive at the station or Choibalsan railway depot finalise our itinerary today.
Overnight in a basic hotel near Choibalsan.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

August 28, 2019, Wednesday:
Since we can not really ask the regular train to arrange some runpasts at the semaphores for us, we have chartered a special train (mixed) today, which allows us to get the perfect semaphore and station shots! We shall travel the same section as yesterday but at a different time of the day now.
At night we do some night photo shoot with the diesel locomotives at Choibalsan.
Overnight in a basic hotel near Choibalsan.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

August 29, 2019, Thursday:
Our charter train set returns to Errentsav today, allowing us to capture more scenes on the way. The city of Choibalsan is also very photogenic: here the Soviet era is still alive: tractors and tanks as monuments, and a typical Soviet town architecture of the 1950s and 1960s are reminiscent of the great neighbor in the north.
In the evening we fly back to Ulan Bator.
Overnight in a good tourist class hotel (3-star) in Ulan Bator.
Meals: Breakfast.

August 30, 2019, Friday:
In the morning transfer to the airport and flight home.
Meals: Breakfast (possibly packed).

End Part 1 or continue with Part 2.


Part 2 - Branch Lines - 30. August - 6. September 2019:

August 30, 2019, Friday:

Arrive by Aeroflot or MIAT (the Mongolian airline) in the morning in Ulan Bator (flights not included in the tour price). Transfer to Ulan Bator railway station where we take a northbound train to Darkhan.
Overnight on the train (couchette).
Meals: dinner.

We are happy to book the international flights for you. Our entire program is based on Aeroflot and MIAT flights (10/2018 timetable). You are also welcome to travel with other airlines, but you may have an extra night before or after the tour. Departure in Europe in most cases will be Thursday, August 29, 2019!

August 31, 2019, Saturday - September 1, 2019, Sunday:
The branch line to Sharin Gol is mainly used for the transport of coal from the mines at Sharin Gol. A daily mixed train provides public transport, additionally 1-2 freight trains plye the rails daily. 2M62 are mostly used, but since the track gradient works against loaded trains from Sharin Gol, even the M62 double locomotives only manage a maximum of 18 loaded coal wagons! We will also pay a visit to the coal loading service in Sharin Gol and with our state-of-the-art SUVs, we are able to get to photo points even off the beaten track!

North of Darkhan there is also another Mongolian branch line, which has a rather idiosyncratic operation: the first 50 km from the mines towrds the state railway are jointly operated by MTZ and the private company DMP, here orange livered Chinese CKD4B diesel operate. For the next 72 km the next pörivate railroad, the BTEG, which uses CKD4B in white and blue livery, will haul the trains. Finally, the state railway takes the trains on the last 7 km to the Transmongol main line...

There is no fixed timetable for this route, trains run when the bunkers of the mine are full. We will therefore be in close contact with the local dispatchers and will organize an optional visit if you are interested (and trains will be running). This visit is not part of the official tour program!
Overnight in a basic hotel in Darkhan.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

2nd September 2019, Monday - 3rd September 2019, Tuesday:
The second important mine railway in the region starts south of Darkhan and runs in a westerly direction through some spectacular river- and mountain landscapes to Erdenet. Here are all the diesel locomotive series of the state railway are being used, M62 in single or double version are currently the mainstays of transport. Again, we will be able to reach the remote photo locations perfectly with our SUV.

Since the distance of 150 km is too long to shuttle between Darkhan and the Erdent line every day, we will spend 1 night, possibly even 2 nights in Erdenet. There is a very basic motel, alternatively we talk to the state railway to provide us with a sleeping and dining car. If all else fails we spend the night in a yurt nearby.
Overnight in a motel, on the train, or a Yurte (not yet clarified) in Erdenet.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

4th September 2019, Wednesday:
We will spend another day along the Erdenet branch line and will return to Ulan Bator on the night train.
Overnight on the train (couchette).
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

September 5, 2019, Thursday:
Today is dedicated to the local railway activities in and around Ulan Bator: we visit the railway´s running shed and repair shop, take pictures of the morning passenger trains, and watch the passage of freight trains in one of the marshalling yards.
Overnight in a tourist class hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

September 6, 2019, Friday:
In the morning transfer to the airport and flight home.
Meals: Breakfast (possibly packaged).

End Part 2 or continue with Part 3.

Part 3 - Gobi Desert - 6. - 12. September 2019:

September 6, 2019, Friday:
Arrive by Aeroflot or MIAT (the Mongolian airline) in the morning in Ulan Bator (flights not included in the tour price). Transfer to Ulan Bator railway station where we take a southbound train to Shaishand.
Overnight on the train (couchette).
Meals: dinner.

We are happy to book the international flights for you. Our entire program is based on Aeroflot and MIAT flights (10/2018 timetable). You are also welcome to travel with other airlines, but you may have an extra night before the official start of the tour. Departure in Europe is in most cases Thursday, the 5th of September 2019!

September 7, 2019, Saturday - September 10, 2019, Tuesday:
The main Transmongol route from Europe via Russia to China passes through the Gobi desert. For the Mongolian railway, this section represents the greatest challenge for people and machines. Temperatures of -20 ° C in winter, blistering heat of well over 45 ° C in summer, plus sandstorms, sudden temperature changes - and the steepest section of the Mongolian railway ever!

The Mongolian railway nevertheless sets up most of the freight trains on this section at the limit of their load, in order to haul as much tonnage as possible at once. Not all locomotive engines comply without problems and brake downs happen quite frequently. For us, this means a variety of motive power: from old M62 and 2M62 to the new Russian 2TE116UD or 2TE25KM, everything is used that is more or less suitable for the desert.

We will focus on the outstanding scenery along the mountain passages in the southern section of the route. Here the heavy freight trains have to work extremely hard on the winding and steep tracks through a spectacular low mountain landscape. Since we do not want to go back to our hotel in Shaishand every time, we will spend a few nights in a Yurt settlement.

On the 10th of September we will take the night train back to Ulan Bator.
Overnight at the hotel (Shaishand), in a yurt, and 1 night in a couchette.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

September 11, 2019, Wednesday:
In the morning, arrival at Ulan Bator and transfer to our nearby hotel. The rest of the day will be spent linesiding at one of the railway passes near Ulan Bator (Khonkoor).
Overnight in a tourist class hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
Meals: breakfast, dinner.

September 12, 2019, Thursday:
In the morning transfer to the airport and flight home.
Meals: Breakfast (possibly packaged).

End part 3.

Tour price:
(land-only, per person):

Part 1:

1.840 Euro sharing a double room if booked before 30. November 2018
1.980 Euro sharing a double room if booked on/after 1. Dezember 2018
160 Euro single room surcharge

Part 2:

1.760 Euro sharing a double room if booked before 30. November 2018
1.860 Euro sharing a double room if booked on/after 1. Dezember 2018
180 Euro single room surcharge

Part 3:

1.670 Euro sharing a double room if booked before 30. November 2018
1.770 Euro sharing a double room if booked on/after 1. Dezember 2018
140 Euro single room surcharge

Part 1 - Part 3:

4.970 Euro sharing a double room if booked before 30. November 2018
5.170 Euro sharing a double room if booked on/after 1. Dezember 2018
480 Euro single room surcharge

Our services:

Part 1 (Semaphores):

  • Special train Ereentsav - Choibalsan;
  • Special train Choibalsan - Khavirga - Choibalsan;
  • Linesiding of service trains Ereentsav - Choibalsan;
  • Night Photo Shootings at Choibalsan;
  • Domestic air tickets Hunnu Air Ulan Bator - Choibalsan - Ulan Bator in Economy Class;
  • 2 nights in a basic hotel in Choibalsan;
  • 1 night in a tourist class hotel in Ulan Bator.

Minimum number of participants: 6, maximum number of participants: 12.

For all travel parts:

  • Shed and repairshop visits if possible;
  • Off-road vehicles (4x4) for a maximum of 4 participants per car;
  • All necessary transfers;
  • Photo and entry permits, entrance and visitor fees;
  • Hotel rooms with shower / WC on the basis of a "shared double room", single room with supplement;
  • Meals according to the program;
  • Tanago-information leaflet;
  • Professional and experienced Tanago tour guide (German + English speaking) plus local tour guide.

The maximum number of participants per tour part is restricted to 12 participants.
Please book by 31.May 2019 at the latest.

Not included in the tour price are tips, personal expenses, international flights.

This trip is charged to us in foreign currencies. Since the exchange rate of foreign currencies to the Euro (our accounting currency) has become very unpredictable, and we do not wish to burden the travel price with fictitious currency reserves, the published price represents the exchange rate valid on 1.October 2018. Price deviations due to international currency fluctuations and unforeseen price increases by our partners may occur. We therefore reserve the right to amend the tour price accordingly.

Even as a solo traveler you can book a "shared double room", we will try to allocate another "shared-double-room-booker". However, if this fails to work, we need to charge the single room supplement.

This trip is organized and conducted by Tanago.

Notes:

Remarks:
Even though more and more people and companies are settling outside of the capital, the impression of total emptiness and unbelievable endless horizons often remains. Especially in the Gobi desert, we will hardly encounter any settlements.

Please note that the country's infrastructure can not be compared to Central Europe. Buses and road conditions are not up to standard in Western Europe. Our vehicles during the stay in Mongolia are all-terrain SUVs from South Korean / Japanese production. With these vehicles, we can get there (and through) almost everywhere. Steep hills, raging fords, or mud and slants do not matter at all. Many photo spots are located far away from all main roads, or any road at all and can only be reached by our SUV.

Away from the capital, our nights have to be spent on a basic level of accommodation. The yurts are clean, but occasionally do not have electricity or running water. Our Ulan Bator hotel is a good tourist class property with large rooms and well-functioning free Wi-Fi.

From the loneliness of the country to the hustle and bustle of the capital Ulan Bator, there is a huge difference. Perhaps the most annoying element of modern times in Ulan Bator is the daily traffic jam on the main streets of the city. On all main roads!

The published program represents the planning status in October 2018. Changes can not be excluded and will be communicated to booked participants.

Temperatures & Technology:
Mongolia is a windy country in every season. The weather can change completely within a day: from warm autumn to really cold. Expect temperatures between 10 ° and 25 ° C. Outside the Gobi desert, we hope to enjoy the golden fall foliage colour. Depending on the summer rainfall, maybe even still a few green spots. There is only sand, boulders and rocks in the Gobi. The sky is mostly blue and sunny, it hardly rains. The sun seems much more intense than ours.

You may need a world travel plug (adapter). Read the health information about the country on the internet!

Immigration requirements:
For Germans, it is possible to enter without visa for 30 days if coming for purely tourist purposes. Required is in any case a passport with at least 1 free page and a validity of minimum of 6 months after the departure date leaving the country! Other nationalities inquire at their embassy please.