Mongolia’s First Self-Driving Photography Tour: Follow the Tracks

Book with promo code BREANNA and save 15% off your booking with this exclusive Follow the Tracks discount.

Table of Contents

On the desolate plains of the Mongolian steppe, the profound sensation of solitude draws the attention of people like Max Muench, a German photographer who roams the world in search of the planet’s most photogenic sites. Travelers similarly attracted to Mongolia’s promise of bewitching isolation now have the opportunity to follow in Muench’s footsteps independently through Follow The Tracks guided self-drive tour, an authentic and affordable way to explore this unique country.

This is just about the best way to travel independently while relying on the experts to provide the best vehicle, accommodations, and digital guiding needed to witness Mongolia in all its magnificence.

Self Drive Tour Mongolia-Photo Credit Max Muench
Photo Credit: Max Muench/@followthetracks

What is the Follow the Tracks self-driving photography tour?

Follow The Tracks’ Mongolia Tour is a guided self-driving tour through Mongolia, taking an off-the-beaten-path approach that quite literally follows in the footsteps of photographer Max Muench. Travelers will be taken through some of the country’s most photogenic spots, stay with real Mongolian nomads in the desert to get to know their culture, and go beyond the typical tourist activities to become abundantly familiar with Mongolia.

What’s included in this self-driving experience across Mongolia?

Travelers are provided with a fully kitted out 4×4 off-roading vehicle, which can fit up to four guests, as well as airport shuttle service on arrival and departure. During the drive, a tablet pre-loaded with a digital guide, including offline maps and location videos, will guide you through Mongolia. Accommodations are included along the way, while a rooftop tent enables you to make camp anywhere you like on nights where a ger camp or hotel isn’t on the docket. Camp kitchen materials are included as well so you can always eat on the go, as well as a mobile hotspot so you can get online when in range of the internet (which you should note won’t always be possible).

Photography opportunities are laid out in advance, as well as access to a photography Masterclass to get you as prepared as possible for the incredible sights that await you in Mongolia. It’s worth noting that flights to Mongolia, travel insurance, car fuel, and food (other than hotel breakfasts) are not included. Details on what is and isn’t included in this self-driving photography tour can be found on the Follow The Tracks website.

Follow the Tracks Eagle Hunter Itinerary
Follow the Tracks Mongolia Itinerary

Pick up Your Rental Car in Ulaanbaatar

While the concept of a guided self-driving tour seems a little contradictory, it is actually the perfect combination of independence and support for the most intrepid of travelers. Follow The Tracks offers three different itineraries, which are outlined in greater detail below, varying by duration, route, and price. Trips range from 13 to 19 days, introduce visitors to a variety of cultural and geographic experiences, and cost between 1,999 Euros ($2,250 USD) and 3,600 Euros ($4,050 USD). There are also additional packages that can be included, like one focused on photography, or for complete independence, there is the option to simply rent a car free from additional bookings and accommodations.

For any of the available itineraries, guests choose their preferred travel period, purchase their preferred route and any additional packages, and are then greeted on arrival by a staff member who helps facilitate the experience by providing everything that will be needed up front. They can also answer initial questions for eight hours following your airport pickup.

The Different Self-Driving Itineraries

The Camel Route

Named in honor of the famous two-humped Bactrian camels that call Mongolia home, this 13-day journey takes visitors through the Gobi Desert and Central Mongolia, famous for waterfalls, monasteries, and of course, camels. After spending a night in the country’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar, the Follow The Tracks tablet will spend the next six days guiding you into the Gobi Desert to see sights like White Stupa, Yolyn Am Canyon and Flaming Cliffs. There will be opportunities to ride and photograph camels, stay in Ger camps, and even take a hot shower after several nights of camping in the desert.

Following the dry desolation of the desert, the next phase of the trip brings guests into the heavily forested interior of Mongolia for a change of scenery. This is where you’ll get a chance to witness waterfalls and experience cultural immersion, all while looking for wild horses and playing on sand dunes. Once back in Ulaanbaatar, take your remaining time to become acquainted with the city and all the food it has to offer.

The Eagle Route

Named for the remarkable birds of prey that assist nomadic Mongolians on their hunts, The Eagle Route is also a 13 day journey that takes you into the Gobi Desert, but afterwards splits off into the Altai Mountains, home of the famous Eagle Hunters. The Gobi Desert experience is similar to that of the Camel Route, except that it’s followed by an adventure through the meditative steppes. For two days, Eagle Route travelers experience desolate but ever-changing landscapes, lakeside camping, and wild flocks of migrating birds.

Once in the Altai Mountains, guests will witness skyscraping, snowy peaks while staying with a nomad family. You can even assist them in herding the goats and horses while enjoying Mongolian hospitality. The journey continues deeper into the mountains, where guests will have the opportunity to ride horses alongside locals and meet the legendary eagle hunters in person. Although it will be understandably hard to leave such a magical place on the planet, this trip also ends with a few days to explore Ulaanbaatar at your leisure.

The Horse Route

There is no animal more intrinsic to Mongolian culture than the horse, which carries and feeds the people of this Central Asian country. The Horse Route is a 19-day journey around the entire country, from the fast-growing Gobi Desert to the Altai Mountains to the lakes and glaciers in the North. Spend the first week exploring the same Gobi Desert itinerary as the other routes before heading into the steppes, and then onto the mountains.

The last week of this route is predominantly in the Northern Lakes region of Mongolia. The lakes here are absolutely gargantuan, as is the nearby sand dune, the northernmost in the world. Choose between exploring the lakes by kayak, or extending your trip to Tavan Bogd National Park, where you can explore the massive glaciers holding fast to the mountain peaks there. If you’re really lucky, you might even see the elusive snow leopard. Stop by the town of Ulgii for shopping, whether you’re looking for souvenirs or need to restock for the rest of the journey. From here it’s possible to extend your trip even further, a highly recommended addition to make to enjoy even more time in the Northern Lakes area.

Follow the Tracks Mongolia Driving Tour-Photo Credit Max Muench
Photo Credit: Max Muench/@followthetracks

Author: Breanna Wilson

Hi! Sain uu! I’m Breanna, an American travel writer and adventurer living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for more than 5 years. I’ve written for and been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others. Read more of my Mongolia travel articles here.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments