MONGOLIA´S MECHANICAL WORKHORSE UAZ 4×4Kirsten Scully
Mongolia’s infamous horse, once thought to be descendent of the primitive and wild Przewalski breed, but now known to be its own ancient breed, services Mongolia’s population to this day, surpassing its own citizen population with an impressive number of around 3.5 million horses.
The small and pony-‐like appearance is deceitful; in fact, the horse’s strength and tenacity is a symbol of Mongolia’s history, it’s conquests, and the development of its empire in the thirteenth century.
However, the Mongolian horse’s impressive reputation and awe-inspiring characteristics are followed closely by another, reputable mode of transport. Following the cavalry of Mongolian horses is the mechanical Queen of the Steppe; the Russian 4×4 UAZ, with a completely revamped definition of horsepower.
This popular all-terrain Russian vehicle began its journey in 1965, its engine is a legacy used in the GAZ 21 “Volga”. Much like the horses, the vehicle’s appearance is also deceitful: it was coined Hogaza in Russian, meaning loaf of bread, due to the tubular shape of its body. We affectionately call it “the Blender”.
These vehicles, expertly maneuvered by our experienced drivers, make the journey a fun and adventurous mode of transport. We couldn’t do our adventure trips to Mongolia without them.
They are robust, they hang to 40% uphills like salamaders on a wall, they have super simple motors making repairs quick and easy and on top of that they are practically amphibious, making the numerous river crossings a piece of cake.
Leading our squadron is the specially modified seat-less UAZ. Its purpose is to transport all the food and communal tents (such as the dining room, and the shower and latrine tents), the generators, tables and chairs. It is followed by two UAZ 2206s, which seat 6 to 11of us. These vehicles not only transport our selves, but they also carry our bags and the fat bikes (securely fastened to the roof of the minibus).
Using these special vehicles to traverse western Mongolia’s river plains, glacial moraines, mindbogglingly difficult roads and fording deep and fast-flowing rivers, makes traveling in the van an exciting and unforgettable experience.