Mongolia. The name evokes images of vast, sweeping plains, burning deserts, high mountains and deep, crystal clear lakes. Born to the horse and with restlessness is in their blood, the wanderlust of the Mongolian people fits the greatness of their land. History tells us that under the Khans, they once swept across the entirety of Asia conquering every kingdom that dared to stand in their way and stopping only when Kublai-Khan died and his empire fractured into four separate, competing kingdoms. Today, hemmed in by Russia and China, the country has become a cultural backwater, but the spirit of the people and their connection to the land remains as intense as ever. Given all that, what you are about to see makes perfect sense.
To those of us in the United States, Mercedes-Benz is the purveyor of high end luxury vehicles and the occasional delivery van but the rest of the world receives a much wider range of their product. In fact, their large trucks are famous throughout the developing world for their longevity, toughness and off-road ability and, given that reputation MB was the natural choice for two wealthy Mongolian businessmen who decided they needed to get back to nature and engage in traditional activities like hunting wolves with eagles.
The men chose the Mercedes Zetros 2733, a 6X6 all wheel drive commercial truck chassis that puts its 7.2 liter inline 6 cylinder engine out front of the driver and added a custom made mobile home body, specially made to be able to deal with the climactic extremes of the Mongolian wilderness. As the photos on Daimler’s website show, the living quarters are well appointed units featuring all the comforts of home, including a full galley and bathrooms that feature heated marble flooring. The vehicles are also outfitted with large flat screen monitors, DVD/CD players, wireless LAN systems for computers and self aligning satellite dishes so the trucks’ occupants can be in constant contact with the outside world no matter how far they may choose to roam.
Truth be told, I am not much of an off-road guy and I have little interest in mobile homes, but I like exploring and the idea of a nicely appointed, large off-road truck that can take me further than the local KOA campground really fires my imagination. That said, I think I’ll leave the wolf hunting to the locals, I’m not so sure I have the heart for it.