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Lost in Mongolia: Rafting the World’s Last Unchallenged River

by Colin Angus

Colin Angus is, at the age of 32, a seasoned explorer and author with a habit of traversing some of the world’s most dangerous waterways. Angus’s second book, Lost in Mongolia, charts a hazardous 5,500-kilometre journey down the mighty Yenisey River from western Mongolia through Russia to the Arctic Circle. The journey from source to sea had never been undertaken.

Angus retells the adventure in the form of diary entries, creating an enthralling and fluid account of the five-month journey. Angus’s writing retains both a comic and dramatic honesty as he details a roller-coaster of harrowing trials and extreme emotions. The journey is fraught with hazards, from Angus getting separated from his team without food and proper clothing to the team’s narrow miss with tanker ships at night. The book is thankfully free of the philosophical ramblings and excessive historical and geographic background that often fill out travelogues.

Instead, Angus offers a day-by-day glimpse into the explorer’s world. Nomadic tribes, kind Mongolian soldiers, mob-connected Russian “businessmen,” and the indigenous people of the North provide the trip with a full cultural spectrum. Constantly invited into people’s homes to eat and drink vodka, Angus experiences life in the far-flung outposts of post-Soviet Russia along the river.

The accompanying photographs are generally good, but there are not enough to fully complement the text and fill in some of the area’s visual details. Luckily a detailed map at the front of the book helps the reader make sense of the unfamiliar geography.