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Experience Summer In Mongolia

Summer in Mongolia is a time of vibrant life, cultural festivities, and stunning landscapes. Each region offers unique experiences that reflect the rich traditions and natural beauty of this fascinating country. Join us as we highlight a few of our favourite locations to experience summer in Mongolia.

Ulaanbaatar: The Vibrant Capital

Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is a unique blend of old and new, exuding a vibrant frontier spirit and a strong Mongolian identity. Home to roughly 50% of Mongolia’s population, Ulaanbaatar faces its challenges, often resembling a car park, yet it remains the beating heart of Mongolia and the hub of contemporary urban life. For many Mongolians, daily life unfolds in this urban setting as they strive to develop and improve their city. Ulaanbaatar deserves to be appreciated and explored as the urban center it is.

While most travelers are keen to depart after a day or two, summer brings some of Mongolia’s most iconic festivals to Ulaanbaatar. The city hosts the Naadam Festival, a celebration of the “Three Manly Games”: wrestling, horse racing, and archery, as well as music festivals like Playtime. Ulaanbaatar also offers valuable insights into Mongolia’s cultural heritage. Projects such as GerHub provide immersive community-based tourism experiences where nomadic heritage intertwines with modern urban life. For more details, you can book directly with GerHub or contact us for assistance.

Northern Mongolia: A Tranquil Retreat

Although Khovsgol Nuruu National Park is undoubtedly a highlight, it can get busy, especially around Naadam when Mongolian families enjoy the extended public holiday. However, northern Mongolia offers a rich diversity of culture, people, and landscapes, making it worthwhile to look beyond Khovsgol or combine it with other locations and activities such as:

  • Trek or Horse Ride through the Khoridol Saridag Mountains: This magnificent 150 km-long mountain range stretches from south to north between the western shore of Khovsgol Nuur and the Darkhad Depression. The area is renowned for its sharp peaks, deep narrow gorges, steep slopes, and wide valleys.

Horse trekking in Khoridol Saridag Mountains during summer in Mongolia

  • Experience the scenic beauty and cultural heritage of Selenge Province by train.
  • Discover the stunning landscapes and unique cultural sites around Galt on a mountain biking adventure or focus on the region around Moron and include a visit the ancient deer stone site of Uushigiin Uver which features well-preserved Bronze Age carvings and offers a fascinating glimpse into ancient history.

The Central Heartland: Cultural and Spiritual Core

Mongolia's Orkhon River Valley during summer in Mongolia

Mongolia’s Orkhon River Valley during summer in Mongolia. Image by EL guest Annelies Quaegebeur

The central heartland of Mongolia is renowned for its rich history and spiritual significance. Easily accessible from Ulaanbaatar, this region offers a wealth of exploration opportunities. You can visit monasteries such as Tövkhon Khiid, explore the Orkhon Valley —including the ancient capital of Kharkhorin – one of Mongolia’s current six UNESCO World Heritage sites—and enjoy the rolling hills of Arkhangai Aimag. While many companies focus on extended hikes or horse treks to Eight Lakes, we also recommend Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur for its alpine lake, volcanic craters, rugged mountains, river valleys, and rolling steppe. Additionally, the granite massif of Khogno Khan is another favourite spot.

The Khangai Mountains, with their reliable rainfall, provide consistent pasture for Mongolia’s herders, making the Central Heartland an ideal location to slow down and immerse yourself in the peaceful rhythms of rural Mongolian life. Here, you can experience the traditional lifestyle of the Mongolian steppe, engage with the local community, and learn about their sustainable practices and deep-rooted traditions.

Western Mongolia: Land of the Kazakh Eagle Hunters

Western Mongolia is renowned for its stunning Altai Mountains and the unique culture of the Kazakh people. Summer is the perfect time to experience the way of life of the Mongol Kazakh eagle hunters, most of whom are herders. Although the eagles are typically rested during the summer months as they moult, life continues, and visitors can still get an authentic glimpse into this ancient tradition by engaging with eagle hunters and their families. The Altai Mountains, with their river valleys and forested hillsides, offer breathtaking trekking locations although note that there are no formal trekking routes or marked trails. While the high peaks of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park are deservedly popular, the region known as Yolt and the snow-capped peak of Tsengel Khairkhan are equally captivating.

The hospitality of Mongol Kazakhs of Western Mongolia

The hospitality of Mongol Kazakhs of Western Mongolia. Image by EL guest Massimo Rumi

Alternatively, you can connect the central heartland with Western Mongolia on a rugged road trip, taking in the wild beauty of Zavkhan Province. Highlights include Khar Nuur and its surrounding landscapes, as well as the sacred Otgon Tenger Mountain.. This journey offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the diverse and awe-inspiring scenery of Mongolia while experiencing its rich cultural heritage.

The Gobi: Desert Adventures

The Gobi Desert is a land of contrasts, offering dramatic landscapes and an unforgettable road trip adventure. However, be prepared for exceedingly hot conditions as it is a desert environment. While most travelers opt to fly to the Gobi for a 3-or 4-day loop, we believe that this approach sacrifices the opportunity to experience the diverse landscapes and learn about the resilience of the herders in one of the world’s most extreme environments.

In addition to visiting the iconic sites like the singing dunes of Khongoryn Els and the flaming cliffs of Bayanzag, we also recommend:

  • Khermen Tsav: This red canyon features stunning sandstone formations stretching for 15-20 km. One of the most challenging journeys in Mongolia, it should not be undertaken lightly. However, the lack of roads, the vastness of the space, the silence except for the wind, and a magnificent sunset in this incredible location offer a rare sense of perspective that is hard to find in our fast-paced modern lives.
  • The granite rock formations of the Middle Gobi: Every corner of this region is captivating. Despite the diversity of its landscapes, the Middle Gobi remains largely undiscovered by international visitors, who often gravitate towards the more renowned attractions of the southern Gobi.
Ikh Gazriin Chuluu Mongolia

Ikh Gazriin Chuluu Mongolia. Image by EL guest Julian Elliott

Eastern Mongolia: Steppes and History

Eastern Mongolia is characterized by its wide-open steppes and significant historical sites, including those related to Genghis Khan. The region is less traveled, offering a more intimate experience with the local culture. In addition to the sights of Khentii, we love the expansiveness of Shiliin Bogd, one of Mongolia’s most sacred mountains, and the sheer fun of spending time with holidaying Mongolians on the shores of Buir Nuur near the eastern border.

Khamariin Khiid remains an important spiritual center—a monastery and a place of pilgrimage for Mongolians and followers of Buddhism. It is conveniently accessible via a local train journey to Sainshand, where you can connect to Khamariin Khiid through a local driver. This trip can be easily combined with a visit to Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. Located in Dornogobi Aimag, this small reserve, with its rocky terrain and canyons, harbors a wide diversity of flora and fauna. It is a long-term study site for a collaborative project between the Denver Zoo and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

Exploring these areas provides a deeper understanding of Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, offering a unique and enriching travel experience away from the more frequented tourist spots.

Visiting Mongolia In The Summer

Summer in Mongolia is a time of exploration, connection, and discovery, although you should be prepared for unpredictable weather. Despite being the peak season, the climate—especially with the impacts of climate change—can cause disruptions.

If you plan on staying with nomadic herders, remember that their way of life takes priority. Visiting a Mongolian herding family can be a rewarding cultural experience, but it’s important to do so respectfully. Respect their privacy and boundaries, seek permission before taking photos, and be mindful of local customs and norms. During the summer, their livestock graze to build up fat reserves for the harsh winter. Sometimes families undertake what is known as an ‘otor’ or mini migration, where one or two family members sleep in tents and move their livestock to better pastures outside their usual area.

Through our long-term partnerships with local herding families, we offer our guests a chance to experience the diverse landscapes and rich cultures of Mongolia authentically. Join us on a journey that not only explores the beauty of Mongolia but also supports and sustains the communities that make this country so unique. Contact us to learn more about our tour experiences and community partnerships.

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I'm Jess Brooks, the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia and the voice behind EL's blog posts. For more than a decade, since 2006, I've been based in Mongolia, working closely with my beloved Mongolian team to advocate for a tourism approach that brings about positive change.. What sets our blog apart is our deep understanding of Mongolia—our home. Unlike content from influencers or creators, our posts prioritise authenticity and firsthand knowledge as guiding principles.
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