When people ask me why did we choose the name Eternal Landscapes I typically show them a photograph. I don’t have a particular one I use. I just grab one from my photo gallery …
If you’re looking for an adjective to describe Mongolia then vast is a good place to start. Completely landlocked between Russia to the north and China to the south, Mongolia’s land area is roughly equivalent to that of all the countries of Western Europe. This leads to a diversity in both land types and landscapes.
Ask someone about the landscapes of Mongolia and there’ll be a variety of answers. Go on, try it. Answers will probably include ‘it has mountains doesn’t it?’ ‘There’s desert I think.’ ‘Isn’t there grasslands?’ And we can say yes to it all.
Mongolians typically divide their country into three landscapes – the Gobi, Tal and Khangai (desert, steppe and mountain) but for this post, I’ve divided the country into the five main geographical regions.
The Gobi is a fossil-rich mid-latitude desert that occupies much of southern Mongolia and north-eastern China. Within Mongolia, it covers five of Mongolia’s 18 provinces – Gobi Altai in the west through to Bayankhongor, Ömnögobi (Southern Gobi), Dundgobi (middle Gobi) and Dorngobi (East Gobi).
Mongolians say there are 33 types of Gobi and there is a remarkable variety – everything from vast gravel plains to 2800m mountains, dunes and oases. These areas provide habitat for many of Mongolia’s threatened species, including the wild camel, Black Tailed (Goitered) Gazelle, the Gobi bear and the Mongolian wild ass.
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. This area is also rich in history relating to the Huns, the Turks and the Mongol Empire as well as the founding of Buddhism in Mongolia.
Western Mongolia is dominated by the Mongol Altai Mountains. This major mountain chain – Mongolia’s highest – is a region of intensive mountain building and high seismic activity. It is a continuation of the Altai Mountains of Siberia and summits reach 4000m plus and are covered with permanent snow, ice and glaciers. Western Mongolia is also home to one of Mongolia’s ethnic groups – the Kazakhs.
The northern region consists of dense coniferous forests of pine and larch – where the southern edge of the circumpolar boreal forest meets the steppe of Central Asia. It also has vast depressions including Khovsgol Nuur and the Darkhad Depression.
Eastern Mongolia is dominated by the history of Chinggis Khan, the Khan Khentii Mountains (stretching 200km across Khentii Province to the northern border with Siberia) and extensive stretching grassland (steppes) – one of the largest expanses of unspoiled, temperate grassland in the world.
Look at the Mongolia country profile page of our website for more of an introduction to the landscapes of Mongolia. Or, if you want to experience them for yourself with us, why not look at the Mongolia tours and experiences we offer. Remember, we offer a range experiences all year round and through the network of local families we work with (as part of our responsible travel philosophy – it’s a more sustainable approach).
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes