Kazakh eagle hunter with eagle
Mongolia’s Kazakh Eagle Hunters
August 25, 2019
Deer stones - experience them as part of our archaeological Mongolia day tour
Mongolia Day Tour – Spend a day with an archaeologist
September 17, 2019

Reasons To Visit Mongolia

Why visit Mongolia? I could provide a list of reasons to visit Mongolia …but I think it helps to understand the experience better if it is through the eyes of a previous guest. So here are a few reasons to visit Mongolia through the words of our returning guest Ross Briggs who has explored the north, south, east and west of Mongolia with us. These are his thoughts from when he joined us on our Landscapes of the East and our Wild Treks Research Trip.

The Best Cultural Experiences

It is hard to separate these experiences, included should be the hospitality of the people – our visit to Jargaa and Batbold at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur and their hospitality – the special food, bin, bortsog, khorkhog, clotted cream, milk tea and generally being fussed over. Ulzii at Ikh Nart and Guibarsha at Ulgii are all memorable encounters. Meeting Byamba and Radnaa at the Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project in Mandalgobi – being able to help their cause and contribute in a small way to the plantation.  I felt I was leaving a little of myself behind.

Byamba of Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project - located in Mongolia's Middle Gobi.

Byamba of Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project – located in Mongolia’s Middle Gobi.

 

This is Batbold and Jargaa - owners of a small tourist ger camp located in Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Arkhangai Province, Mongolia

This is Batbold and Jargaa – owners of a small tourist ger camp located in Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park in Arkhangai Province, Mongolia

Otgon Tenger Uul would have to be my most memorable cultural experience.  Seeing the reverence Turuu showed to the mountain and lake, taking part in the lake water ritual, knowing, seeing and experiencing the significance of the area made it a very special day.

Reasons to visit Mongolia - Otgon Tenger

This is Otgon Tenger in Zavkhan Province. Many Mongolians consider it the spiritual centre of the land and Mongolia’s most sacred mountain. This is the highest mountain in the central Khangai Range – with its permanent snow-capped peak it is said to be 4021m.

 

Protector Deity Ochirvan of Otgon Tenger Mountain in Mongolia

Mongolians consider the mountain to be the mystical abode of Ochirvan – the fierce, dark blue protective deity of the Buddhist religion (traditional Mongolian beliefs have held that wrathful deities inhabit many of Mongolia’s sacred mountains).

The Eagle Festival sits in this category.  I thoroughly enjoyed the festival, the eagle competitions and the hunters, the diversity of the costumes and all the associated trappings. Being able to get up close to the eagles was very special.

Reasons to visit Mongolia - Kazakh eagle hunter with golden eagle

Baldan Bereeven Khiid in Khentii Aimag  – I enjoyed the visit there, the setting, the meditation walk and the visit to the temple. I always find visiting these places so peaceful and come away humbled.  I find they make me look at myself and make me realise how insignificant my personal worries and concerns are.
Reasons to vist Mongolia - the remote Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery.

Although partly destroyed in the Stalinist purges of the 1930’s, Baldan Bereeven Khiid was once one of Mongolia’s most influential monasteries. It would have once been the centre of local life for a population whose faith and devotion more than made up for the simplicity and the challenging remote life-style.

The Best Adventure Activities

I interpret this as things that get my adrenalin flowing.  My favourite would be observing Argali sheep at the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve with Ulzii.  The chance to watch the sheep quite close for a reasonable time was very special. Seeing this endangered species was a once in a lifetime experience for me that I doubt I will repeat.

Also, driving the short cut to Otgon Tenger Uul.

Reasons to visit Mongolia - sacred stone shrines on high passes

I guess my trek to the west end of Khar Nuur in Zavkhan Aimag was an adventure activity which I really enjoyed – especially the solitude and the scenery.  The diversity of the terrain, sand dunes to grassland to the rocky shore and then the climb back over the ridge and down on to the dunes leading back to camp.  The scenery was magnificent.

You must realise that the whole trip was an adventure to me, I loved all of it.

The Places I loved

I loved it all.  The Gobi with its enormous flat plains, the rocky outcrops with amazing formations. I especially enjoyed Ih Nart, sitting at the end of the craggy ridge above the huge Gobi plain looking to the south and inside.   The Khentii, rolling hills and the grassland steppe that goes on forever, speckled with larch forests.  Learning the history of this area and feeling the presence of the ancient tribes. Sitting at the campfires under the amazing starry skies and one of my most memorable moments, listening to the wolves howling in the forest across the valley.

Reasons to visit Mongolia - Khentii in northern Mongolia

 

Khar Nuur – getting there from Uliastay, through the amazing scenery, the huge river valleys and the steep passes.  Finally dropping down to the lake with its amazing deep blue waters with the sand dunes dropping into the lake like sand glaciers. Camping with the sand dune rising behind and the lake at our front door. Exploring the western end, the fabulous sand dune formations, and the picturesque coves after crossing each rocky spur that reached down to the water.

A glorious image of Khar Nuur in Zavkhan Province - it is quite remarkable - a crystal clear alpine lake surrounded by mountain steppe and sand dunes.

Meeting Turuu’s friend Bazraa and seeing his favourite places – Senjit Dava  – and its rock formations including Senjit Khaad – the rock gate.

Reasons to visit Mongolia - The remarkable Senjit Khaad

 

And then on to the sand dunes, the walk in the arid sand canyon, turning the corner to the green oasis with the shallow river flowing over the sand.  Continuing upstream to find the river seeping out of the base of the large curved dune at the head of the valley.  This area has unique landscapes that I have not seen anywhere else.  I think it is very special.

 

Reasons to visit Mongolia - the spectacular (and surprising) Mukhartiin Gol the

 

I have singled out these places but there are many more equally loved, we travelled through some amazingly scenic areas and camped at many special places, on their own not significant but as part of a whole area/region equally impressive.  I recall the run home, Olgii to UB, spectacular.  From the Altai mountains to the Gobi plains an amazing part of the journey. I will always remember the land, the enormous landscapes but I also cherish the time I have spent with the people I have met.

And of course, you can always find your own reasons to visit Mongolia by looking through the Mongolia tours and experiences that we offer.

Reasons to visit Mongolia - Shazgai Nuur, western Mongolia

Jess @ Eternal Landscapes

 

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and 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. 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/
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