Explore Wilderness Trails – Trekking In Mongolia

Trans Mongolian Train Extensions - Local Trans Siberian train
Taking The Trans-Mongolian Train – Your Introduction
July 15, 2020
Untamed Mongolia – Review by our guest Lynn McCaw
August 11, 2020

Trekking In Mongolia

Mongolia beckons adventurers with its vast landscapes and boundless horizons, making it a trekking mecca unlike any other. In this sparsely populated land without boundaries, there are no official trekking routes, adding an element of exploration and discovery to every journey. While you may not return home with tales of well-trodden paths, the essence of trekking in Mongolia’s nature is an experience worth relishing.

Covering an expanse comparable to Western Europe, Mongolia offers a trekking experience shaped by its immense size. Don’t expect a diverse array of landscapes within a single trekking region; instead, enjoy the opportunity to slow down and immerse yourself fully in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

While some may seek out the farthest, highest, or most remote destinations, we believe that trekking in Mongolia should not be a competition. Instead, we believe it should about embracing the timeless allure of the country’s ‘eternal landscapes’, allowing each day to unfold organically as you absorb the shifting shadows, the gentle play of light, and the silence punctuated only by encounters with locals and the vastness of the great outdoors.

Amidst one of the least densely populated countries in the world, where every horizon seems to stretch endlessly, every step becomes a journey of self-discovery and appreciation for the simplicity of life. Here, I invite you to remove your watch, relinquish the rush of modernity, and savour the pure joy of existence in wide-open spaces.

Here’s a concise overview of some of our favourite trekking destinations in Mongolia, following the traditional clockwise direction of journeys in the country. However, it’s essential not to fixate on seeking the most authentic or untouched regions. Instead, embrace the words of this Mongolian proverb:

‘Man’s joy is in wide open and empty spaces.’

Trekking In Mongolia: Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

Trekking in Mongolia - Gorkhi Terelj National Park

The view from the Aryabal Meditation Temple in Gorkhi Terelj National Park.

Indeed, Terelj is undeniably one of Mongolia’s most frequented destinations, given its proximity just 60km from Ulaanbaatar. While it often finds its place in standard tour itineraries, the true allure of Terelj lies beyond the usual tourist attractions. Venture a little further, and you’ll discover a hinterland that’s nothing short of spectacular.

With a willingness to explore beyond the beaten path, Terelj reveals a diversity of landscapes waiting to be uncovered. From winding river valleys to rugged mountain peaks, from expansive Mongolian steppe to lush coniferous forests of Siberian Pine and Siberian Larch, and even up to sub-alpine meadows, the region offers an array of habitats to explore. Abundant streams and springs dot the landscape, offering refreshing stops along your journey.

Whether on horseback or on foot, Terelj beckons adventurers to immerse themselves in its natural beauty. And don’t let the winter chill deter you; Terelj’s winter landscape is equally enchanting, providing excellent opportunities for winter trekking. Just remember to pack your best thermals to stay warm.

Trekking In Mongolia: Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park 

Trekking in Mongolia - Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park Mongolia

The ‘bird’s eye view’ out over our campsite within Gobi Gurvan Saikhan NP.

This is Mongolia’s largest national park located in the southern Gobi – a mountainous terrain rising out of the extensive desert plains and a region of incredible biological diversity. This mountainous region was formed by the same tectonic activity that created the Himalayas and is part of the Gobi Altai Range – the outer crumple zone of the Himalayan geological activity. Yes, you will have heard of places such as Yolyn Am (the Ice Canyon) but these are popular regions. Instead, explore the further more distance regions by camel (bring padded shorts) or on a foot trek.

Trekking In Mongolia: Khangai Mountains

The Khangai Mountains are one of the three main mountain chains in Mongolia and form the backdrop to the central heartland along with river valleys (the Khangai give rise to Mongolia’s major rivers) and both forest and alpine meadow steppe. Popular locations include Naiman Nuur (Eight Lakes) and anywhere surrounding Tsenkher Hot Springs. However, consider Tarvagtai National Park or Terkhiin Tsagaaan Nuur National Park.

A panoramic view of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park during trekking in Mongolia

The wild beauty of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in central Mongolia

If you’re happy to travel further consider sacred Otgon Tenger  – the only mountain in the entire Khangai range to have a permanent glacier. The southern face is dominated by Mongolia’s most extensive granite wall. Mongolians consider the mountain to be the mystical abode of Ochirvan (Vajrapani), the fierce, dark blue protective deity of the Buddhist religion.

Protector Deity Ochirvan of Otgon Tenger Mountain in Mongolia

Ochirvan – the fierce, dark blue protective deity of the Buddhist religion.

 


The Philosophy Behind Our Treks

Baasanchuluu - head of his family and a member of the Darkhad ethnic group. Although young, his knowledge of the local area is as vast as the landscapes of his home. His pasture is located close to the community of Khatgal. Khovsgol Ice Festival, March 2018.

Baasanchuluu a member of the Darkhad ethnic group.

We take immense pride in our enduring local community partnerships with rural herding amilies, enabling them to benefit from tourism.

Our treks are led by the herders, individuals who have tended to their livestock in the trekking regions for generations, possessing an intimate familiarity with their home terrain. It is their invaluable local knowledge that enriches our Mongolia trekking tours, making each experience truly unique. While other companies may offer similar experiences, what sets our treks apart?

What makes our Mongolia trekking tours distinct is our commitment to leaving the route entirely flexible, placing the reins in the capable hands of our herder partners. This approach fosters a more organic and authentic Mongolian style of exploration, eschewing regimented itineraries prevalent in the industry. Instead, our partners use their deep knowledge of the area allowing you to leave behind established routes, discover lesser-explored areas, and experience the sheer freedom and rugged diverse terrain of Mongolia’s outdoor spaces. Our treks are immersive adventures that combine exploration and cultural encounters and allow you to appreciate Mongolia’s vastness and natural beauty, and forge a deep connection with the land.

Every trek with us unfolds as a one-of-a-kind adventure, ensuring no two experiences are alike. Rather than a cookie-cutter itinerary repeated throughout the year, each journey becomes a distinct exploration and cultural encounter. Trekking with us means venturing off the beaten track, unveiling the untamed beauty and rugged diversity of Mongolia’s landscapes, while forging a connection with the land and its people.


Trekking In Mongolia: Altai Mountains

Mongolia stands as one of the world’s highest countries, with over 80% of its terrain soaring above 1000 meters. As a result, breathtaking views abound across the nation’s expansive landscapes. However, for those seeking the ‘view of views’ then you may want to head to western Mongolia particularly the Altai Mountains and the awe-inspiring Altai Tavan Bogd.

Altai Tavan Bogd National Park Mongolia

Altai Tavan Bogd, known as the Five Holy Gods, stands as the highest mountain range in Mongolia. Situated within the protected confines of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, with Khuiten Uul (‘Cold Peak’) at 4374m being the highest. These permanently snow-capped mountains form a bowl around the Pontanii Glacier. Among them are Nairamdal (‘Friendship’, 4180m), Malchin (‘Herder’, 4050m), Bürged (‘Eagle’, 4068m), and Olgii (‘Cradle’, 4050m). But, this is a popular trail so if you’re seeking a more distinctive experience, reach out to us, as we have an exciting alternative.

Trekking In Mongolia: Khovsgol Nuur National Park

Khovsgol Nuur National Park in northern Mongolia is undoubtedly a standout attraction, offering much more than just its renowned lake. This remarkable region exemplifies the concept of an ecotone on a grand scale, where diverse habitats converge. From the meeting points of forests and meadows to lakeshores and beyond, Khovsgol boasts an array of ecosystems.

Within this expansive park, you’ll encounter wet meadows, shallow ponds, coniferous forests, steppe woodlands, open steppes, alpine meadows, high mountains, and of course, the majestic Khovsgol Lake itself, also known as Dalai Ej or Mother Sea. Additionally, the park encompasses the remarkable Khoridol Saridag mountain wilderness and the vast Darkhad Depression, further enriching its ecological diversity.

These distinct regions offer ample opportunities for exploration. Furthermore, Khovsgol Nuur National Park provides an ideal winter escape, offering a serene and captivating landscape to explore during the colder months. Trust me, it’s worth experiencing firsthand!

The western shore of Khovsgol Nuur National Park in northern Mongolia

The western shore of Khovsgol Nuur National Park in northern Mongolia.

The interior of the Khoridol Saridag Mountains

Reindeer belonging to the Tsaatan reindeer herders of Mongolia.

Reindeer belonging to the Tsaatan reindeer herders of Mongolia. The Tsaatan are also known as ‘Dukha’ and make their lives in the fragile ecosystem of Mongolia’s taiga in the Darkhad Depression

For further insight into our trekking experiences in Mongolia, please visit the following link: Mongolia Trekking Tours. Whether you choose to trek with a company, a guide, or independently, we have just one request. As decreed by Chinggis Khan himself, protecting Mongolia’s environment is integral, outlined in his yasa or collection of laws. While you may witness some Mongolians exhibiting negligence and causing damage, as visitors, it’s crucial for us to lead by example. We encourage everyone to adhere to the simple principles of #leavenotrace, outlined at https://lnt.org/.

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes

 

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia. http://www.jessbrooks.co.uk/
Sign up to our Newsletter

Written by Jess - the founder of Eternal Landscapes - there's no spam, no sharing your details and no random offers. It goes out once or twice a month. Hopefully enough to be of interest but not too much to annoy.

We respect your privacy.