A visit to Mongolia offers a chance to escape modern life and immerse yourself in vast, spell-binding landscapes. This is a land of breath-taking and contrasting beauty from the rolling grassy hills of the Central Asian steppe peppered with grazing animals and white gers (yurts) to the gravel plains and sand dunes of the Gobi Desert and the snow-capped rugged peaks of the Altai Mountains. Moreover, the setting is just as impressive when night falls and the Milky Way’s billions of stars materialise with incredible clarity.

Mongolia’s pristine landscapes are rich in wildlife. To the east of the capital of Ulaanbaatar, Gun Galuut Nature Reserve and Terelj National Park offer opportunities to see the endangered Argali (wild sheep), the gray wolf, and Mongolian Marmot. To the west of Ulaanbaatar, Hustai National Park is home to Przewalski’s Horse and Mongolian Gazelle. The last truly wild population of Bactrian camels (which have two humps) live in Gobi desert in the south of the country. Birders are also drawn to Mongolia for exotic species like Demoiselle and White-naped Cranes, as well as more widespread spectacular birds like the Lammergeier and Golden Eagle.

There are strong links between this wild untamed outdoors and Mongolian culture, which has been shaped by the Mongol nomadic way of life. The Mongul clans were famously united by Genghis Khan who founded the Mongol Empire in 1206, which went on to conquer huge swathes of territory from China through Syria to Poland. Today, Genghis Khan’s image has become a modern brand for drinks, cigarettes and hotels, but his biggest legacy continues in the nomadic way of life which has remained largely unchanged in many ways. Every July Mongolians flock to the colourful Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar, which celebrates the ‘three manly sports’ of horse-riding, wrestling and archery, skills that the Mongul army used to carve out an empire twice as big as that of the Romans!

Gers (round felt tents) are also integral to the Mongolian traditional lifestyle and the Ger camps in Mongolia’s renowned national parks are a great way to get a taste of authentic nomadic life, feel connected to wild landscapes, and experience the superb hospitality that is a hallmark of Mongolian culture.

You can read about our next Mongolia departure here.

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