As we have mentioned elsewhere in our blog and website, if someone asked us to describe Mongolia in one word, the one word that would spring to mind is ‘vast’ – vast landscapes, vast skies, and vast horizons. Shilin Bogd is located in one of Mongolia’s vastest landscapes – the wind-scoured lowlands of Dariganga in the south-eastern Sukhbaatar Aimag.
Shiliin Bogd Map
The Dariganga region is where the grasslands of the northern steppe and the expanse of the Gobi converge. It is a unique landscape consisting of over 200 extinct volcanic lava and cinder cones, typically ranging in height from 25m to 300m and varying from partially eroded to wholly preserved. Two of these extinct volcanic cones dominate the skyline – Shillin Bogd and Altan Ovoo.
The area is isolated, immense, and stunning. For us, what makes this area so special is the immensity of the stretching landscape, sky, and horizon – they conspire to restore your sense of the earth’s immensity and your place in it. It is very much as travel writer Stanley Stewart describes in his excellent book (In the Empire Of Genghis Khan) –
‘From the air Mongolia looks like God’s preliminary sketch for earth, not so much a country as the ingredients out of which countries are made: grass, rock, water and wind.’
Shiliin Bogd Uul is the highest mountain in Sukhbaatar Aimag at 1778m. In traditional Mongolian culture, mountains are the closest thing on earth to the Eternal Blue Sky and thus many are venerated and sacred. Mountains are the king of the area and given strong titles as their guardian spirits hold a direct connection with Tenger (the God of the Eternal Blue Sky).
Because Shiliin Bogd is considered sacred, you will often find groups of Mongolians walking to the top for sunrise. They circle the ovoo – the sacred stone shrine – making offerings of rice, milk and vodka. Men and women both climb the volcano although tradition states that it is the soul of men who climb Shiliin Bogd that will be renewed and filled with strength for the future. You’ll notice that the Mongolian men remove their hats to honour the sun as it rises over the horizon, an ancient tradition.
You can camp at the foot of the mountain. You’re often joined by visiting Mongolian families. If the night is clear it is a great location for watching the moonrise (or set) as well as the sunset. It’s a steady 20-40 minute walk to the crater rim and follows a distinct path up the side of the volcano (as in tradition, locals all in a clockwise direction). And you join the local Mongolians waiting for dawn to break the skyline.
On one of our visits, having returned to camp from seeing the sunrise, a group of local men joined us at our breakfast table. Having renewed their souls (they were late for sunrise and we watched from the top their 4×4 dust trail as they raced towards the mountain), they presented us with a bottle of vodka. So there we sat, in the vastness of the Dariganga landscapes, at 08.50, and as we sipped on it we all felt a little rejuvenated by the wild landscape, the epic sunrise, and our new found friends.
Get to know the landscapes of eastern Mongolia on our virtual tour of the region. Or, if you are interested in experiencing Mongolia with us once international travel restrictions lift (that time will come eventually) then have a look at the range of Mongolia experiences we offer – https://www.eternal-landscapes.co.uk/mongolia-tours/
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes