Biking in the Summer. Gobi Desert, Bayankhongor Province, Mongolia, May 2006. Photo © Marc Progin. Click photo to view large.
To say Marc Progin has a passion for Mongolia is an understatement. Since 1999, he has biked 14,000km over Mongolia, covering the Altai Mountains in the West, the desert sands of the great Gobi to the South, and forested shores of Lake Hovsgol to the North. Typically, he bikes 10-14 hours a day, covering up to 150km each day. He passes through villages, where he stocks up on supplies, but prefers to spend the nights in solitude by a lake or river.
Marc Progin with his bike outside his ger at Camp Toilogt. Marc rode his bike over 2000 km from Ulan Bator to Camp Toilogt. Then he ran the 100km Sunrise to Sunset ultramarathon... and won his age group! Nikon D300, 10.5mm, 1/250, f/9, ISO 200, fill flash.
Photographing mongolia’s haunting landscape is a challenge. Dust is a big problem for digital cameras, especially in Mongolia. Marc avoids this problem by carrying 3 camera bodies with him, each with a lens attached so that he doesn’t have to change lenses. A Nikon D2x with a 17-55mm rides with him in his backpack. In his support vehicle, an assistant carries another D2x with a 70-200mm and a D100 with a 10.5mm fisheye.
Walking in the winter. Dharkaat depression, Far North Mongolia. Photo © Marc Progin. Click photo to view large.
Marc says that getting good pictures is a matter of 50% vision and 50% sweat… and Marc relishes in the sweat. Hard work and harsh conditions don’t seem to faze him. A few winters ago, he spent three weeks with the eagle hunters in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia. He carried all his camera gear and moved on foot although he did bring in 5 pack animals to carry his assistant, food, fuel and tent. Only 3 of those animals made it out alive.
Kazakh hunters with their golden eagles pose with their captured foxes high in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia. Photo © Marc Progin. Click photo to view large.
Age hasn’t slowed him down. He is 63 years old, and recently retired. He doesn’t have a website yet, and is busy with 3 books awaiting publication. Contact him at Marc@progin.com. At the moment, Marc is in Switzerland looking forward to his daughter’s wedding before continuing his Mongolian odyssey.