Mongolia

Vast steppe landscapes with gers housing nomadic families, wild horses and camels, the mighty Gobi Desert, clear lakes, rugged mountains, the cultural heritage of Genghis Khan, falconers and reindeer herders; Mongolia is one of the most diverse countries we visit during our world tour.

Mongolia stands for adventure. Not far outside the capital Ulaanbaatar the asphalted roads change to bumpy dirt roads and sometimes in just a single tire track across the steppe, making it impossible for ourselves to travel the country. Fortunately, there are countless of tours and it is also possible to only hire a driver with a 4WD car, so you can easily go out in the untouched nature.

 

Mongolia in regions; plenty of diversity

For us Mongolia is an exciting stop on the Trans-Mongolian Express, the part of the Trans-Siberian train journey which goes toward China. But the impressive country certainly deserves to be visited as a main destination during a holiday. The variety of landscapes is huge. You sleep mostly in the traditional ger, with nomad families or in the more touristy (and more comfortable) camps, regardless of which region you choose.

Mountains and falconers

Western Mongolia is the place to be for travellers who are looking for mysterious mountains with snowy peaks. The Altai Mountains, which stretch from Russia deep into Mongolia, connects with the clearest of lakes. In this area you’ll meet the Kazakhs, one of many Mongolian tribes. The nomadic Kazakhs are falconers and use their raptors for hunting.

Reindeer herders and deep forests

In Northern Mongolia, you’ll find a completely different landscape; vast forests which grow on high mountains, the beautiful Khuvsgul Lake and the far-reaching taiga landscape. Here lives the Tsaatan; literally ‘ reindeer families ‘. This nomadic family live of their reindeer herds, fully in harmony with nature. Shamanism is therefore a main belief here.

Genghis Khan

In the largely uninhabited Eastern Mongolia, you will find the rich cultural heritage of one of the world’s greatest conquerors; Genghis Khan (1162-1227). The bloodthirsty ruler United the Mongol tribes and founded the Mongol Empire; the largest empire in world history. His empire stretched from China to the Danube. In the East of the country, there are many historical and religious places displaying the history of Genghis Khan. The landscape consists mostly of steppe, full of Gazelles living their undisturbed lives in the serene environment.

Waterfall Orkhon River Valley and yak herders

River Valley and yak herders

Central Mongolia is fast to be reached from Ulaanbaatar and houses the Khangai mountains, with peaks up to 3500m. But the biggest attraction is the Orkhon Valley, in which the Orkhon River runs through and the beautiful waterfalls and hot springs are the most beautiful things to see. Next to the Unesco-registered Kharkhorin Monastery, a monastery town built in 1235 and once the capital of the Mongol Empire because of the good location at the busiest trade routes. In this area you also find yar herders, which you will not find anywhere else in Mongolia.

Fairytale-like Gobi Desert

The Mongolian South is dominated by the vast Gobi Desert. Gobi means ‘ dry place ‘, but still, this landscape is seen as a ‘ half-desert ‘. Gobi has a stretch of sand, the impressive Khongor Sand Dunes (which you can climb for a fantastic view), but mainly consists of green steppes and mountain ranges. Nomad families herd their horses, goats and camels in this desert and move to a new place every quarter, to where the vegetation is still rich in nutrients. At the height of the Flaming Cliffs many dinosaur fossils have been found. Canyons and sights can be found at the Yol Valley and the White Stupa, which are more in the direction of Ulaanbaatar.

Ulaanbaatar and Terelj National Park

All the listed regions in Mongolia can be visited if you have more than a week of time. Do you want to combine multiple regions, then a minimum of 2, 3 or 4 weeks in Mongolia is a ‘ must ‘. But the country also attracts many guests who don’t have that much time, not least because of the Trans-Mongolia Express.

In Ulaanbaatar, a surprisingly modern city situated between the beautiful hills, you can already see a lot in a day. Short-time visitors combine the capital often with a trip to the nearby Terelj National Park. This Green park is busy and offers ger-camps that are a bit more touristy than elsewhere in Mongolia, but it is a great starting point to get acquainted with this impressive country.

Activities and Sightseeing in Mongolia

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