Mongolia’s Monasteries – A Snapshot
August 4, 2023
Yes, Gorkhi-Terelj is the closest national park to Ulaanbaatar and is very developed (some would say over developed) for the tourist industry (the main valley was first developed for tourism in 1964) but it shares a common border with Khan Khentii and the two reserves are similar. Between the two sites, altitudinal variation is significant, leading to the development of different habitats but both support large areas of forest steppe and mountain steppe, with alpine habitats on higher peaks. The area is rich in rivers and streams, including the Terelj and Tuul and these water sources together with the rainfall in this mountainous region brings life to the pastureland – providing grazing for the livestock of the herding families who make this area their home. These herders include Naraa, Bujee (his wife) and their two children Tsindee and Bayasa – the family we work with in the region.
Trip Ideas For Autumn In Mongolia
August 31, 2023
Selenge River Mongolia

Explore Mongolia’s Selenge Province

Mongolia’s Selenge Province is often dismissed by tour companies and visitors, but this northern province – dominated by the mighty Selenge and Orkhon rivers within a backdrop of mountain forest steppe – makes a perfect location for a slower-paced exploration. Here’s our quick guide to what you can see and do in Mongolia’s Selenge Province.

Take The Train

Travel north out of Ulaanbaatar on the Монголынтөмөрзам (MTZ) train. An express route this is not but remove your watch and relax as the rolling steppe slowly unfolds as you pass through some of Mongolia’s most important agricultural land.

The local trains have compartments of four beds (clean bedding is provided) that you can use for sitting, relaxing, or sleeping on. Each carriage has toilets which are cleaned regularly and a samovar providing hot water for tea, coffee, and noodles. 

On the way to/from Mongolia’s Selenge Province, there are numerous stops including Darkhan. Selenge is one of the 21 aimags (provinces) of Mongolia and the province of Darkhan-Uul, and its capital Darkhan, is located as an enclave inside Selenge. Darkhan makes for a great overnight stop and we particularly like it for the very cute Mingo Coffee Shop (their event evenings are very popular with the local community), the Callisto Cocktail Bar with live DJs, and the rooftop terrace view of the Тохь restaurant. It’s also a great city for a walk and you can join local families at the Morin Khuur Statue and seated Buddha for views over the old and new town.

Use Yeruu Lodge As A Base

Located next to the Yeruu River, Yeruu Lodge is the brainchild of Norwegian founder Eirik Gulsrud Johnsen. You can take the train from Ulaanbaatar to the small community of Orkhon where the team at Yeruu Lodge can collect you through a pre-arranged transfer.

Completely off-grid, the lodge runs off solar panels, and uses thermal heating, and all of the property’s water comes from an on-property well and is recycled after use. Accommodation is in gers and the minimal Scandinavian-style restaurant and dining area with its wonderful terrace overlooking the river – has been designed to fit within the natural landscape.

Yeruu River, Mongolia's Selenge Province

Visit Altanbulag

  • Mongolia’s Selenge Province is historically considered the birthplace of the 1921 revolution which brought independence from China and for those interested in history, we suggest visiting the newly updated National Museum of Mongolia located in Altanbulag. It’s small but surprisingly informative.
  • Altanbulag began as a trading outpost called Maimaicheng and then Kyakhta across the Kyakhta River from the Russian town of Kyakhta during the Qing rule of Mongolia in 1730. Trading took place in the interior courtyards of the larger houses. On 13 March 1921, a Soviet-backed People’s Provisional Government of Mongolia was established at Altanbulag. This government went on to later form the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924.

 

Historical Altanbulag Mongolia

 

Historical Altanbulag Selenge Province Mongolia

 

 

Saikanii Khutul

  • Close to the Russian border, this beautiful site with its panoramic views is known mainly only to local families. It is where the mighty Orkhon and Selenge rivers join together en route to Lake Baikal in Siberia. There is also a cave where Sükhbaatar – the commander of the people’s army that brought independence in 1921 – and his team of revolutionaries sheltered.

Tujiin Nars

Tujiin Nars Pine Forest, Mongolia's Selenge Province

  • The Tujiin Nars pine forest is a special protected area of pine trees that covers 8,961 hectares and stretches from Mongolia into Russia. The forest sheltered Mongolian revolutionaries in the 1920s, was nearly laid bare by illegal loggers in the 1990s, gained its protected status in 2003, and is now the site of one of the most successful reforestation efforts in Mongolia.

‘The story and example of Tujiin Nars is itself an important contribution to the context of Mongolian environmentalism. In a country which is sometimes criticized for its ineffective policy, corrupt politicians and civil servants, and economic inequality, Tujiin Nars reveals the capacity for change and success. Tujiin Nars required improved, effective policy, proactive and committed government and community members, invested stakeholders with tangible resources, and a growing economy. The most important lesson which Tujiin Nars teaches other environmental movements is the importance of holistic development, that creating a political, social, and economically positive environment and community is the integral element in creating real change.’ Julia Bowman, Tujiin Nars: A Story of the Forest

Dulaankhaan

  • Head to the small rural community of Dulaankhaan and the home of master craftsman Boldbaatar – a 5th-generation composite bow and arrow maker. You can spend time at his workshop before heading to his archery field for an archery practice.

Amarbayasgalant Monastery

  • Visit Amarabyasgalant KhiidThe monastery – where the remains of Zanabazar – Mongolia’s first Living Buddha (spiritual head of state) – are interred – was constructed between 1726 – 1736, when Mongolia was under heavy Manchu influence and this influence can be seen today. By the early 1890s Amarbayasgalant was one of the greatest pilgrimage destinations in Mongolia.
  • Amarbayasgalant Monastery is situated in the cul-de-sac of a long, deep valley backed by Mount Buren-Khaan against which the monastery is built. The valley is well-watered by the Iver River and has long provided an essential water source for herders and their livestock.
Our host Darsuren at Amarbayasgalant Monastery, Mongolia's Selenge Province

At Amarbaysagalant we work in long-term local community partnership with Darsuren –  a grandmother whose son is a herder out in the Iver Valley. Learn about why we work with her here – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/meet-darsuren-amarbayasgalant-mongolia/

 

Our Slow Selenge Explorer allows you to discover this more local side to Mongolia’s Selenge Province combining revolutionary history, Buddhism, environmental success stories, and culture. It is a customisable trip giving you the freedom to build a unique and personal trip for your chosen dates and personal interests.

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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