Mongolia Travel Experiences
Mongolia is not only a wonderfully remote destination but also unique in what it can offer the traveller. Many visitors fall in love with the country and its people, the vast open spaces and pristine wilderness. Below we list what we think are the experiences that make Mongolia such a top and rewarding destination for the more adventurous traveller.
Meeting Local People
Any trip to Mongolia is as much about the people and their nomadic culture and routes as about the scenery or other factors. Particularly when out in the grasslands the warmth and traditional hospitality of the people is a big part of any Mongolia experience. Mongolians are very proud of their country and history and have a unique culture perhaps deliberately distinct to it’s giant neighbours of China and Russia. They are tough, no nonsense and resourceful people yet also very friendly and open to the world.
A Night in a Ger
Undoubtedly the top Mongolia experience for us is the almost unique opportunity to spend a night out on the open steppe in a ger – the traditional style home of Mongolia’s nomads and little changed in style over the centuries. Most gers used on any of our trip will be designed for use by tourists and are comfortable, cosy and clean. Little beats waking up early and opening the door onto a vast vista or the glow of the stove on a chilly night. All in all a Mongolia experience we never get tired of.
Stunning Unspoiled Scenery
If you are a fan of wide open spaces and emote, wild landscapes then Mongolia really is the place for you. With a population of less than 3 million in a country bigger than Alaska there is an awful lot of pristine scenery to see ranging from the mountains and lakes of the north to the grasslands of central Mongolia to the vast Gobi desert in the south of the country. The great news is that even on a short stopover you do not have to travel far out of Ulaanbaatar to get into the grasslands and experience the great Mongolian outdoors.
There are few countries in the world more suited to getting away from it all in remote country rarely visited. Generally you need at least two weeks and a reasonable budget to put together a worthwhile expedition but if you have those then the possibilities Mongolia provides are excellent and quite diverse.
Train Through the Gobi & Grasslands
The quick and easy way to see Mongolia’s scenery is by train. The Trans-Mongolian line runs from the Russian border in the north down to the Chinese border in the south via the capital, Ulaanbaatar. This route starts in the mountains, passes through the grasslands and continues into the rugged Eastern Gobi and you can see all of this without even leaving your train cabin (although we strongly recommend stopping off in Ulaanbaatar!) This is the main reason why the Trans-Mongolian route from Moscow to Beijing is by far the most popular of the Trans-Siberian routes to travel.
Genghis Khan is one of histories most famous and charismatic leaders and his legacy and celebration is impossible to avoid on a trip to Mongolia. Despite brutal tactics as he tore through much of Asia, Mongolians are fiercely proud of their national hero and you are likely to learn a lot about him from your guides. His lasting legacy can be seen throughout Mongolia and much of Central Asia and the stories associated with his upbringing, consolidation of power and conquests bring your tour to Mongolia to life.
Not surprisingly such a vast and sparsely populated country as Mongolia has its fair share of wildlife. Of course, much of the nomadic existence is centred around horses and camels and you will see semi-wild herds of both across the country. The gobi has vast herds of gazelle and in the north are reindeer and wolves although both these would take quite a bit of effort to see. Mongolian rivers and lakes are full of fish as the locals seem to take little interest in fishing.
The vast majority of visitors to Mongolia come during the brief summer from June to August. Mongolia’s winter is long and about as harsh as winters get anywhere but it can also be a rewarding time to visit if you dress up well enough. One of our favourite experiences has been to spend a night in a ger in the depth of winter. Gers are super insulated and the stove keeps them cosy and warm despite temperatures outside being a good 50C lower than in the ger. For the adventurous, Lake Khuvsgul holds a winter festival in late February.