It is not everyday that you wake up in a ger – a nomadic tent, completely surrounded by wilderness. But in Mongolia, where more than a quarter of the population is nomadic, this is life. In Mongolia, everyday is a new adventure that takes you through rich wildlife, scenic landscape, majestic mountains and ancient settlements.
The capital Ulaanbaatar, an ancient Buddhist center turned city, is a melting pot of nomadic and modern lifestyle. It houses world-class museums and Buddhist monasteries along with Soviet-era buildings and Buddhist ruins. It is an industrialised city with hectic traffic and a vibrant nightlife and is also the world’s coldest capital. Sukhbaatar Square, Gandantegchinlen Monastery, the Museum of the Bogd Khaan, National Museum of Mongolia, Zaisan Monument and Choijin Lama Temple Museum are major attractions in the city.
The Genghis Khan Statue Complex (also known as the Equestrian Statue of Genghis Khan) is an iconic landmark of the country. The 40-meter tall stainless steel statue of Genghis Khan is the world’s tallest and largest equestrian statue. You can climb up to the head of the horse to get a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Mongolia is blessed with an abundance of nature, and a major part of the country is protected territory. Bogd Khan Uul Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve located south of the capital. It is known to be one of the world’s oldest nature reserves and is a great place for horse-riding and hiking. Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, which is famed for its picturesque alpine scenery offers a wide range of outdoor activities from hiking and rock climbing to skiing and dog-sledding. Khustain National Park is famous for its Takhi (Mongolian wild horse) population and is a great place to camp and enjoy the wildlife. Home to the two-humped Bactrian camels, Gurvan Saikhan National Park is the largest national park in Mongolia with a terrain of sand dunes of the Gobi Desert, canyons, and snow-capped mountains. The dunes of Khongoryn Els is the highlight of its other-worldly landscape. In northern Mongolia lies Khovsgol Nuur National Park known for its stunning Khovsgol Nuur (lake), which is the deepest lake in Mongolia.
Mongolia has numerous Buddhist monasteries – Erdene Zuu Monastery is perhaps the most popular of them all. This 16th-century monastery is known to be the oldest in the country and houses three temples and 108 stupas. Other notable monasteries in Mongolia include Amarbayasgalant Khiid and Khamaryn Khiid.
In addition to its unbelievable natural beauty, the country also exhibits a unique nomadic culture. Mongolia is known as the land of Eagle hunters because of the eagle-hunting tradition of its nomadic Kazakh people. To experience this truly amazing culture, visit the Bayan-Ölgii Province in the first weekend of October, during the popular Golden Eagle Festival. It is one of Mongolia’s most popular festivals where the hunters compete with each other by showing off the skills of their eagles as well their own hunting techniques. Mongolia’s biggest festival Naadam is held in Ulaanbaatar in the month of July and it focuses on the country’s three major traditional games – horse racing, wrestling and archery.
With a fascinating history, natural bounties, nomad hospitality and unique experiences, Mongolia is truly a gem of a country that is often overshadowed by its neighbor China. The rugged landscape of Mongolia is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
Mongolia’s Genghis Khan Statue is the world’s tallest and largest equestrian statue.