Mongolia’s Top 10
While we feel it is very difficult to condense all Mongolia has to offer within a “Top 10 best destinations, sights, and things to do” list, we will attempt to show some of our favorite locations. Mongolia’s cultural festivals and changing landscape provide numerous breathtaking sights and unforgettable experiences. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order. Check them out and let us know what you like. Do something different for your holiday, something extraordinary.
The Khongor Sand Dunes
The Khongor Sand Dunes (or Khongorin Els) are located in the south of the Gobi Desert and are around 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) wide and 100 kilometers (62 miles) long. If you wish to climb these sand dunes, they are only about 80 meters (260 feet high). Once at the top, you will be able to hear why they have been given the nickname of the “Singing Dunes”. The wind blowing causes tiny avalanches which results in a resonating sound coming from the sand.
The Golden Eagle Festival
The Kazakh people in western Mongolia have been raising Golden Eagles used in hunting for thousands of years. Every October, this festival takes place for the hunters to show off their skills as not only eagle hunters, but also their skills on a horse. There is another, slightly smaller yet warmer, Golden Eagle festival that takes place in Sagsai village in September. This festival is a must for those who want to see something extraordinary. In recent years, Eagle Huntresses have been allowed to participate in the festival when the 13 year old Aisholpan became the first woman to participate and then also win the Golden Eagle Festival! Let us take you on a journey to see this festival in action.
The Black Pearl of Mongolia contains 0.4% of the world’s fresh water. The lake is 136 kilometers (85 miles) long and 262 meters (860 feet) deep. Surrounded by forests, mountains, and sometimes the occasional reindeer, you won’t want to miss this location. If you are adventurous enough to travel to Mongolia in winter, you can participate in the Ice festival which takes place on the frozen Khovsgol lake.
The Yol Valley (or Yolyn Am) is one of the most unique geographical formations located in the Gobi. Surrounded by dry desert, this green and lush valley seems to not belong here at all. Definitely try to visit the Valley in June or early July. During this time, the unique landscape of the Valley delays the frozen river from melting so you can walk on a frozen river in the middle of the Gobi Desert! The valley is brimming with small voles and other wildlife. Oh and before we forget, the valley is named after the Lammergeier vulture, or yol in Mongolian, that calls this valley its home.
The Mongolian Ger
A Mongolian ger, or yurt, is a must see for anyone travelling to Mongolia. With minimal changes in thousands of years, modern day Mongolian nomads spend their entire lives in these felt tents. While it is almost impossible to miss them while travelling through Mongolia, make sure you take the time to enter one. This will be a first-hand experience that you won’t soon forget.
Khustai National Park
Located not too far from the capital, Khustai National park is home to some of the world’s last remaining wild horses. The Takhi, in Mongolian, or Przewalski’s horse, in English, were reintroduced to this are in 1993. Since then the horses have been able to roam freely and grow in numbers! Any wildlife lover cannot miss these beautiful creatures.
Terelj National Park
Terelj national park is a great stop for those who do not want to travel far from Ulaanbaatar, but still want to see untouched nature. Terelj national park holds a number of tourist camps that allow you to either rough it, or have a luxurious stay while enjoying Mongolia’s natural beauty. Definitely don’t miss turtle rock, a rock formation erupting from the ground that resembles a tortoise or a turtle.
The Reindeer People
Located in northern Mongolia, in the Taiga close to Siberia, resides the Dukha Reindeer People. The Reindeer people, or Tsaatan in Mongolian, are a unique group of Reindeer herders that have their own language and customs. The Reindeer people have been practicing reindeer herding for centuries and instead of living in Mongolian gers, they live in tipis, much like some groups of Native Americans. In order to see the reindeer people, you must take an adventure through the forests in the north on horseback.
The Naadam festival, which takes place in July, dates back to the time of Chinggis Khaan (or Genghis Khan). In recent years, it is celebrated as a declaration of independence from China in the early 1920s. The Naadam festival is celebrated throughout Mongolia at different times in July depending on the town. The three sports of Mongolian wrestling, Mongolian Archery, and horse racing are celebrated during this time. While the Naadam festival is biggest in Ulaanbaatar, we actually recommend celebrating it in a smaller town for a more intimate approach. Check out our tour and let us know which one you would prefer.
The Tavan Bogd Altai mountains
The Tavan Bogd Altai mountains, or five saints altai mountains, are a massif of mountains located in western Mongolia. With the highest point reaching 4374 meters (14,350 feet), these beautifully snow capped mountains are a destination for true adventure seekers. Make sure to check out these mountains if you are going on our Golden Eagle Festival tour or spend days exploring the mountains on our Altai Trekking tour.
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