Types of Tourism in Mongolia
The Khentei Mountains extend northeast of Ulaanbaatar. Their slopes are covered with larch forests inhabited by brown bears, wolves, lynxes, elks, deer, wild deer, roe deer, musk deer, wolverines, hogs, squirrels and sables. The river Onon originates in the mountains of Khentei. Onon, together with Shilka and Amur, forms one of the ten longest river systems in the world.
The most popular protected area of the Khentei Mountains is Terelzh National Park, which is located 110 km northeast of Ulaanbaatar. The park is home to wild animals such as the Mongolian elk, weasel and brown bear and about 250 species of birds. In addition to the rich wildlife, the Hagin-Khar glacial lake with a depth of 20 m and the Yesti hot mineral springs are of interest here. On the territory of the Terelzh National Park you can go hiking, climbing (altitudes within the park exceed 1650 m), horseback riding and cycling. A recreational area with campsites, restaurants, shops and souvenir shops is located in the southern part of the park. Check top-medical-schools.org for travel information in Mongolia.
On the way to the Terelzh National Park (about 50 km before reaching it), the Bogdykhan National Park is located on the slopes of Mount Bogdykhan. This is the oldest protected area in the country, which was created about 300 years ago. Mount Bogdykhan is revered by the Mongols, as these are the native places of the national hero – Genghis Khan.
Mountains of Khangai
In the central part of the country, the mountainous country of Khangai is located, where the Orkhon River originates. In the northern part of these mountains is the Khorgo Terkhin Tsagan-Nur National Park with the freshwater lake Tsagan-Nur (White Lake), which is surrounded by lava fields formed as a result of the eruptions of the Khorgo volcano (2240 m). Now the Khorgo volcano is extinct. Its crater has a diameter of 200 m and a depth of 100 m. Other natural attractions of the Khangai Mountains include the region of Eight Lakes (Naiman-nur) and the Darkhad Basin, where there are about 200 lakes. Among them is the deepest lake in Mongolia and all of East Asia – Khubsugul (area – 2760 sq. km, depth – 262 m). The water in it is so transparent that you can see what is happening up to a depth of 20 m. Lake Khuvsgul is called the “brother” of Baikal. It was formed about 5 million years ago as a result of movements of the earth’s crust. Lake Khubsugul is located at an altitude of 1645 m. In 1992, a national park of the same name with an area of 840,000 hectares was opened on its shores. This region is called “Mongolian Switzerland”: the mountains surrounding the lake are covered with pine forests, which are inhabited by bears, deer, elk, foxes, wolves and many birds. On the southern shore of the lake in the village of Khatgal, there are many campsites. There are no roads in the vicinity of Khubsugul, so you can only travel here on horseback.
Along the northwestern border of Mongolia the Mongolian Altai mountains stretched. Here are the highest peaks of the country, covered with glaciers. A little south of Mount Nairamdal (4374 m), which is the highest point in Mongolia, is the Altai Tavanbogd National Park (area 6362 sq. km). Further north, on the border with Russia, are the Silkhemiin Nuru Nature Reserve and the Tsambagrav-Ul National Park. All these protected areas are designed to protect mountain forests, the argali, ibex, red deer, elk, stone martens, snowcocks and golden eagles living in them, as well as vast glaciers.
Between the Mongolian Altai mountains and the Khangai mountains is the valley of the Great Lakes. Here at an altitude of 743 m is the largest lake in the country – Ubsu Nur. The length of the lake from north to south is 160 km, the maximum width reaches 60 km, and the total area is 3350 square meters. km. The lake has very salty water, its salinity is 5 times higher than that of sea water. As a result, there is no life in the lake. But the fauna of the areas surrounding the lake is extremely rich. About 170 species of birds, 40 species of mammals live here, including such rare ones as the snow leopard irbis, mountain sheep argali and mountain goat ibex.
The lakes Khara-Us-Nur, Khara-Nur and Dorgon-Nur located to the south are protected by the state. On their banks in 1997 the Khara-Us-Nur National Park was created. with an area of 850,000 hectares. Most of the park’s territory is occupied by wetlands, among which are the most extensive reed thickets of Central Asia. This is a great place for bird watching. Black-throated loons, arctic loons, red-nosed pochards, dry-billed ducks, white-headed ducks, white-tailed eagle, Dalmatian pelican, great cormorant, great sand plover and egrets live in these places.
The southeastern regions of the country, extending south and east of Ulaanbaatar, down to the sands of the Gobi Desert and to the border with China, are occupied by the steppe. These are the largest steppes in the world that have remained practically unaffected by human activity, the rest of the world’s steppes are mainly used for pastures. In the Mongolian steppes about 85 km southwest of Ulaanbaatar the legendary Khustai National Park is located. The history of this protected area is inextricably linked with Przewalski’s wild horses. In the 20th century, the population of Przewalski’s horses that lived in the steppes began to decline rapidly. Animals were exterminated because of the chloroplast produced in the larynx, which was used by people as an antiviral medicine, and because of the meat. The last Przewalski’s horse was seen in the Mongolian steppes in 1967. To restore the horse population in 1977, a reserve was created here, and in 1992 a program for their reintroduction began. Przewalski’s horses were brought to the territory of the reserve from European zoos. Fortunately, the population of these animals has now been restored. Khustai National Park covers an area of 90 thousand hectares, where, in addition to Przewalski’s horses, you can see foxes, red deer and wolves.
The eastern part of the steppe zone is home to a large population of Mongolian gazelles. In addition, Ganga Lake is of interest here, where in October migrations of the whooper swan take place, the Mongol-Dagur nature reserve with many lakes inhabited by spoonbill birds and five species of cranes, the northern regions bordered by mountains, the slopes of which are covered with Manchurian forests, and the lowest place in Mongolia – Lake Khukh-Nur (Blue Lake) (552 m).
The most popular regions for hiking in Mongolia are the protected areas of the mountains Khentei, Khangai, Mongolian Altai and Gobi Altai. It is worth remembering that tourists are strongly advised not to go hiking alone, only accompanied by local guides.
One of the main attractions in Mongolia are safaris on jeeps and camels through the desert and steppe regions of the country and trips on horses and yaks through the steppes and mountains. Tourists are offered exciting multi-day caravan routes to the main natural attractions of the country. These routes take several days because the daily “norm” of distance covered by horses, camels and yaks does not exceed 25 km.
Mongolia is one of the most popular fishing destinations in Asia. First of all, the country is known for the fact that one of the largest freshwater fish in the world lives here – taimen, whose weight can exceed 50 kg. In addition, in the rivers and lakes, of which there are several thousand in the country, such large fish as lenok, grayling, whitefish, Baikal omul and burbot are found. The fishing season falls on the period from late August to late October. From June to July you can also go fishing, but this time is rainier. In order to fish in Mongolian waters, you need to purchase a license, it costs about 3 US dollars.
The most interesting and informative excursions are trips to the yurt camps of Mongolian nomads. They mainly live in the steppe and desert regions of the country and move around the territory of Mongolia in search of new pastures for livestock. During such excursions, you will get acquainted with the culture of the Mongolian people and their traditions, as well as taste the dishes of the national cuisine. Most often, such trips are combined with sightseeing of natural attractions.