MONGOLIAN BASIC INFORMATION
Mongolia is truly one of the world’s last undiscovered travel destinations and the safest country to visit. It is a land where you can experience wide-open spaces, eternal blue sky, forests, deserts, crystal clear rivers and lakes, and the traditional hospitality of the nomads. Mongolia has rich and unique history dating back to the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan. it is a land of adventure, horses, nomads, and blue sky.
The Mongolian countryside is really astounding. Mongolia offers diverse landscapes ranging from mountains, trees and lush meadows in the north to the expanse of sand and rocks of the Gobi desert in the south. The country also boasts some staggeringly beautiful lakes. As most of Mongolia has little infrastructure, the visitor will see views of endless unspoiled countryside, dotted with gers and wandering herds. Combine this with the fascinating culture and you will understand why Mongolia really is a destination not to be missed.
|AREA:||1,566,000 sq km (610,740 sq mi)|
|LAND BOUNDARIES:||8,158 km, with Russia 3,485 km and with China 4,673 km|
|AVERAGE ALTITUDE:||1,580 m above sea-level|
|TERRAIN:||Vast semi-desert and desert plains, mountains in west and southwest,
Gobi Desert in southeast
|Ethnic groups:||Khalkh Mongols (86%), Kazaks (6%), about a dozen other Mongolian
|LANGUAGES:||Mongolian, Kazakh, Russian, Chinese. English is widely spoken in the Ulaanbaatar.|
|RELIGIONS:||Tibetan Buddhism, Muslim, Christian and Shamanism|
|CLIMATE:||Average summer temperature +20’C, average winter temperature -26’C, average rainfall 200-220 mm. Winter lasts from November to late April, Spring from May through June, Summer from July through September.|
|POLITICAL SYSTEM:||Parliamentary republic. President elected for four years. Present President BATTULGA Khaltmaa was elected in 2017. Prime Minister appointed by State Great Khural for four years. Present Prime Minister Khurelsukh.U was appointed in 2017.|
|LEGISLATURE:||State Great Khural (Parliament), unicameral with 76 members elected for four years. The last election was held in 2016.|
|JUDICIAL SYSTEM:||Mongolian judicial system consists of Constitutional Court , Supreme Court, Aimag and capital city courts, soum and district courts.|
|STATE STRUCTURE:||Mongolia is a unitary state and divided administratively into Aimags (21) and a capital city; Aimags are subdivided into soums; soums into bags; and a capital city into districts; districts into khoroos.|
|NATIONAL CURRENCY:||Tugrik (MNT), about MNT 2463 = USD 1 (by JAN 2017)|
|FISCAL YEAR:||January 1 – December 31|
|MAIN ENTRY POINTS:||Chinggis Khaan (airport in Ulaanbaatar ), Sukhbaatar (railway station on Mongolian-Russian border) and Zamyn Uud (railway station on Mongolian-Chinese border)|
|SEA ACCESS:||Tianjin/China (1,344 km) and Nakhodka/Russia (4,037 km)|
|PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:||December 31- January 1 – New Year 3 days,
in January/February – Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar),
June 1 – Mother and Child day,
July 11-13 – National Holiday (Naadam festival)
|TIME:||Add 8 hours to Greenwich Mean Time|
|NORMAL WORKING HOURS:||09.00-13.00 and 14.00-18.00|
|ELECTRIC CURRENT:||220 volts/50 HZ|
|WEIGHT AND MEASURES:||Metric System|
|VISA ARRANGEMENTS:||Visa shall be issued by Mongolian Embassies and Diplomatic Missions as well as Honorary consuls of Mongolia , or can be obtained at the airport at a cost of US$53 but must be accompanied by an invitation.|
If you are planning to travel in Mongolia, one of the important things to do is considering the weather and climate. Mongolia has 4 seasons and they are very different. Winter lasts from November to February, spring from March to mid-May, summer from mid-May till late August, and autumn is in September and October. The cold weather in the north can last a month or two longer than the Gobi areas. So pack your woolens if you trotting here. Mongolia can experience four seasons in a day. With more than 260 sunny days a year, Mongolia is known as the ‘Land of the Blue Sky’. Mongolia experiences extreme continental climate; it is so far inland that no sea tempers its climate. As you travel in Mongolia, keep the climate in mind.
In spring when unpredictable weather creates snowstorms intermixed with spells of wind and sun, keep in mind that the wind-chill factor: a 10-knot wind can make 0°C feel like -5°C. The maximum rainfalls occur in the taiga areas beside the northern border, especially Khentii and Khuvsgul. Humidity is generally zero and sunshine is intense.
Right time to travel is in mid-May. Early May can still see snowfall, especially in the north. June weather is good and usually dry throughout the central and southern regions. The mountains and northern areas can be cold. July is the time to see the Naadam Festival. This is also the peak tourist season. It’s a decent time to look for travel partners and get out of the city. Gobi temperatures this month can rise up to 40°C.
In the month of August there will be heavy rainfall in the northern and central areas. This weather fills up rivers and brings the lush green grass creating a picturesque view, but it can also swamp the roads with mud and attract mosquitoes. This is one of the best times to travel in Mongolia. September is another okay month. The cool weather brings respite to the Gobi and the varying colors in the forests in the north are beautiful. October is again cool and sees the occasional or rare snow bustle up north but is still fine for travel, especially in the Gobi desert. Weather patterns at this time are unpredictable. You never know one moment you’re walking in a T-shirt, the next you need an overcoat and boots, and then you are back to T-shirts.
The cold season is between November and February. The harsh weather condition with snow storms and freezing cold wind in Mongolia is called zud. Sometimes the temperature drops down to -40°C. When the weather is stable and nice, attending the Ice Festival, Camel Festival and Tsagaan Sar (Lunar New Year) will be an amazing experience. You will also get to feel how real Mongolians survive the cold winters. Mongolians, especially nomads, contemplate March and April as the worst months. After the long winter, livestock will already be thin and a lack of rain brings about their death, causing financial and psychological adversity. If the spring is harsh, staying with a nomad family at this time is not recommended.
Mongolia is a country with pristine wilderness. Its culture untouched by Western influences has preserved its nomadic heritage and the people are known for their unfaltering hospitality and warmth. Mongols have been living the same nomadic lifestyle for centuries. With their traditional gers, which are easily taken down and moved, they herd their animals across the steppe. The nomads move about 4 times a year for better pasture. Mongolian nomadic way of life is definitely one of the unique traditional life style in the world.
CUSTOMS and TRADITIONS
Mongolian culture is based on an infinite number of customs and traditions. Inside the ger, for example, visitors have to move clockwise after entering. And they are seated in the northwest section (the door always faces south). The back of the ger is the place of honor and usually reserved for special guests and elderly people. Mongols have an immense respect for their elders. Tea and food are always served with the right hand supported at the elbow by the left hand (or both hands if the dish is heavy), and received in the same manner – without touching the upper rim of the bowl. If food is offered it is considered rude to refuse it, but it’s ok to have a taste and hand it back if you’re not hungry.
As you might know, Mongolians eat too much meat including beef, mutton, and lamb. Out in the countryside vegetables are scarce and meals usually consist of boiled mutton and boiled or fried noodles with a healthy dose of fat to keep you warm in the winter. As you approach the towns, noodles may be replaced with rice. And potatoes and onions will come into the equation. Milk and dairy products are consumed in huge quantities. As a positive result of this most Mongolians have sparkling white teeth.
Terelj National Park is one of the most visited and interesting national parks of Mongolia. It is closest national park to Ulaanbaatar connected with 70 km paved road. The National Park is by its natural beauty, and famous for its forested alpine mountains and interesting rock formations.
In the national park, the Turtle Rock is an interesting rock formation looking like a turtle. This giant rock formation is a popular spot for visitors to the area.
Another spectacular place to visit in the national park is Meditation temple called Ariyabal.
Ariyabal meditation temple is situated in the scenic area of Terelj National Park, 3 km from Turtle Rock. Buddhist Monks performs meditation ritual for many years amongst beautiful and tranquil mountains. To get to the temple, you would cross the suspension bridge and climb up on 108 stairs, according to Buddhist prayer beads. This small hike is seen as a ritual to cleanse one’s sins. The temple, when observed from distance, can be seen as a beautiful white elephant and the staircase looks as if the dangling elephant’s trunk. From the top, you can enjoy the breathtaking view overlooking the Terelj National Park.
The Mongolian Government declared Hustai National Park as a Specially Protected Area in 1993, one year after the initiation of the reintroduction of the last species of wild horse project. This national park is the best place to see 100% wild horses called takhi in Mongolian. The Wild horse became extinct in the wild and was last seen in the Gobi in the late 1960s. It survived only in zoos and private parks around the world. The reintroduction program began in 1992. Horses were selected for maximum genetic diversity and gathered at semi-reserves in the Netherlands. Over a two year period, they formed socially normal herds, each consisting of a stallion and his harem of mares. Then they were flown to Mongolia from Luxembourg airport. In addition to the takhi, there are populations of marmots, steppe gazelle, deer, boar, small wild cat, wolves and lynx. The other mammal species need some patience and are more likely to be seen while hiking on foot around the reserve.
Mongolians are proud of our king’s wisdoms rather than his conquests. Chinghis Khan founded the biggest empire ever in human history during the thirteenth century. Nowadays you can see many tributes to Chinghis Khan, a man of the millennium. One of them is a gigantic statue of Genghis Khan on the bank of Tuul river. It’s the currently the highest statue representing a man on a horseback in the world. It is 40 meters tall and wrapped in 250 tons of gleaming stainless steel. The statue is turned towards East, towards the conqueror’s place of birth. It stands on a 10-metres high base that is surrounded by 36 columns representing the 36 kings Mongolia experienced during its history, from the first one, Genghis Khan, to the last one, Ligden Khan.
Visitors can ascend to the exhibition hall using an elevator at the back of the horse and then walk to the horse’s head passing through its chest and the back of its neck from where they can have an excellent panoramic view over the complex area and the scenery beyond.
The mountain looming over Ulaanbaatar to the south is the first protected mountain in the world, since 1778. Because of its religious significance this beautiful mountain has been untouched for centuries in terms of utilizing its resources and hunting animals.
This mountain is on the boundary of a steppe and forest-steppe natural zone. The mountain also marks the Southern border of Siberian forest and Mongolian forests.
The Bogd Khan strictly protected place has an area of 416 square km and the highest point is Tsetsee Gun which is 2256 meters above sea level. The Bogd Khan Mountain has over 220 species of plants, some rare animals like red deer, musk deer, Siberian deer, Siberian ibex, wild boar and many species of birds such as common buzzard, woodpecker, stork and others. The mountain is great for hiking and it is popular for its forest with larch trees, grasslands, stunning plants and its animal life. Climbing to the top of the tors of the granite cliff peak, Tsetsee Gun for splendid views is really challenging. The peak is a three hour hike away and five-six hours for the round trip hike. The mountain was registered in “the World Biosphere Reserve Network” in 1996.
Elsen Tasarkhai sand dune extend on 80 kilometres (49,71 miles) in the South of the Khugnu Khan National Park. The main road separates this sand dune into two parts, Mongol Els on the south and Khugnu Tarnyn Els on the north. You will come across the sand dunes lost in the middle of a mountainous area in the central part of Mongolia. Here you can see a unique combination of Mongolian mountains, forests and Gobi-type landscape in one location. There are many tourist camps around the sight. During the trip, you will also have opportunities to visit a local nomadic family, to ride two-humped Bactrian camel, walk on sand dunes, experience staying in a traditional Mongolian dwelling, the ger, and walk and relax in beautifully serene nature. Sand dunes is perfect for people who do not have time to make a full trip to the Gobi desert but who do not want to miss out on the chance to see sand dunes.
The most prominent historical site in Orkhon Valley is Kharkhorum, ancient capital of Mongol empire, the largest empire ever in human history. Kharakhorum, founded in 1220 by Chinghis khan, was not only the capital of the vast Mongolian Empire, but the epic center of trade along Silk Road, and a cultural melting pot bridging east and west. It was from there that the Mongol Empire governed and controlled through Asia and Eastern Europe for over 400 years. Craftsmen from Mongolia and abroad participated in the construction of the city. Highlight of construction in Kharakhorum occurred during the reign of Ogodei khan. At that time, the inhabtants of the city were mostly merchants and craftsmen who arrived to Kharakhorum from every corner of the world. Today the only information known about the rise and prominence of Kharakhorum comes from the notes and stories of travelers who visited the city during its years as the treasure of the Mongol Empire. Famous travelers and historians such as William De Rubruk, Plano De Carpini, Rashid Ad Din and Marco Polo provided marvelous descriptions of Kharkhorum. When Khubilai Khaan moved the capital of the Mongol Empire to the China, establishing the Yuan Dynasty, Kharakhorum began losing its importance. In 1379 much of the city was badly damaged during an attack by the army of Ming Dynasty. Today there are museums that show off some of the artifacts.
Chinghis khan’s choice of Karakorum as the capital of the Mongol Empire was no coincidence. The surrounding Orkhon Valley was the center of preceding nomadic empires for centuries and had enormous symbolic importance. The valley had attracted humankind since Paleolithic times some 750,000 years ago. Therefore Orkhon valley is one of the world’s most important cultural regions and recognized as a “Cultural Landscape” of the UNESCO World Heritage in 2004. The Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape is the place to visit for anyone who wishing to follow the historical path of the Mongol Empire. Orkhon valley is boasts its’ natural beauties, making it one of the favourite places among tourists. You will witness unique lifestyle, culture and rare historical memorials. Beauty of Orkhon Valley, Orkhon waterfall formed by combination volcanic eruption and earthquakes some 20000 years ago cascades down from a height 27 meters. The Orkhon, longest river in Mongolia, begins at the state worshipped mountain Suvraga Khairkhan in the Khangai mountain range. The drainage basin of the river is 132835sq.km. The river is 10-60 m wide to begin with but it becomes 120-150 m around the end and the speed of the river flow decreases. The area is ideal for fishing, horse riding, cycling and photography. The rivers have handful species of river fish such as pike, sturgeon, hucho taimen, common asp, Siberian grayling, roach etc. Scenic and untouched natural distinct spot allow good opportunities for hiking and horseback riding. There are many rocks and boulders around the river as well as some waterfalls like a small waterfall with 4-5 m height and the Orkhon (Ulaan tsutgalan ) waterfall biggest in Mongolia at a height of 26 m. The Orkhon Valley has been protected since 2006 as a National Park.
Tuvkhun temple is located on a rocky mountain hill surrounded by forests at the top of the mountain in a secluded area. The great sculptor and one of the biggest representative of Buddhism, Zanabazar, was attracted to this place at his early teen years and in 1965 ordered his people to build a small house for studying. It became a place of his for meditation and artworks. He made his famous creations in the monastery. After the burst of Galdan Boshigt khan this place was forgotten till the end of 1700s. From 1773 this favorite place of Zanabazar restored. Behind this temple there is remarkable small cave called ”Uterus of Mother” where people can slip in and slip out. This process symbolizes a re-birth of and purifying the person. Near the top of staircase, to the right of temples, are two water wells about fifteen feet from each other. One has fresh water in it, while the other has slightly brackish water. No one has been able to explain why one is brackish and one not, or for that matter, how there can be wells at all here in there solid rock very close to summit of mountain where ordinarily there would not be any underground water sources. Another name of this unique and mysterious temple is Pilgrim’s cave: it’s hidden a mountain at the over 2600meters above sea level. The small temple was heavily damaged by communists during the upheavals of the late 1930s. During the summer of 1997 extensive ceremonies were performed here and new statue of deity Gombo Makhagal (Mahakala) was placed in top of refurbished and consecrated. Several monks live at the monastery full time. Today it still keeps its mysterious and therefore attracts tourists a lot.
Eight Lakes National Park is located in the province of Uvurkhangai, in the Khangai range, and it has the typical landscapes of the Mongolian high mountains with their large forests of larches. The area of Eight lakes formed behind the volcanic eruptions that occurred all along the centuries. The park is 2400 metres (1,5 mile) above the sea level. An area of 11.500 hectares has been protected as a National Park since 1992. The lakes are located about 35 kilometres (22 miles) Southeast Orkhon waterfalls, but the track is impassable. This way is accessible only to hikers and horsemen/women who will enjoy an exceptional nature. This is the perfect destination to plan your hiking, trekking and horse trips.
Lake Ugii is a famous for its bird life. About 150 types of aquatic birds gather at Lake Ugii including scarce birds like a cape barren goose, a spoonbill, cranes and ducks. Here you will come across water bird research station. This bluish lake has an ait, where endangered migrating birds breed. Ramsar Convention has registered Ogii lake in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance for being important breeding and staging area for a variety of waterfowl. Ugii lake is also renowned for its fishing such as a perch, a luce. It is 7km long and 5km wide. The lake is 1337m above sea level and at the deepest part it reaches up to 15m. This lake fed from Khugshin Orkhon flows into Orkhon River. The lake and Khar Balgas ruins can only be reached from the direct road linking Tsetserleg with Ulaanbaatar. Delicate sand and whetstone coast, the soft wave and it is very convenient to have boat adventure. Also it is enthusiastic to swimming, having sunbath, horse and camel ridding and hiking.
Arkhangai province is famous for its many old volcanoes. These volcanoes explain the presence of the springs natural hot water that flows all year long at 1860 meters (1.16 mile) above the sea level and its water is not mixed with soil waters because it is hot. Also the spring is kept in high pressure under the ground flow rate is high, 10 liters per seconds. This natural bounty is located 27km south of the town Tsetserleg, and in the center of the Arkhangai province. Tsenkher hot springs have healing properties notably on articular diseases and nervous system’s diseases. Composition: sodium carbonate, hydrocarbonate, sulfate, fluorite, hydrogen sulfide. In a pleasant verdant wooded area, some yurts camps with equipment and baths with a less hot temperature have been set up for the travellers .There is several tourist camps which are offering for tourists indoor and outdoor baths. They transfer the hot water via tubes from and built some pools. Curative water and amazing nature featured by wooden mountains make this an excellent place for relax. Night bath is great. Sitting in the pool drinking while seeing stars at the dark sky is one of the favorite things to do in here.
Taikhar Chuluu Rock is one of the tourist attractions that is famous for its oral legends and magnificent formation. This big 20-metres (66 feet) high rock stands on a bank of Khoid Tamir River. It’s covered with 150 writings in many different languages and dating back from many different periods (runic, Sogd, Uyghur, Mongolian, Nangiad, Tibetan writings). The oldest one is the runic writing, related to Turkish period of the 6th and 7th centuries. An ovoo was placed at its top. Unfortunately, there are many graffiti on this rock and the old writings almost disappeared. This cliff was formed by separating from the river bank due to millions of years’ continual flow of Khoid Tamir River through granite cape on its northern bank. The government issued a law to protect the rock in 1994. graffiti.
Legend: A 20m high, big granite Taikhar rock has an interesting story. Once upon a time, a giant snake came out of a hole and started swallowing local people and animals. Local people asked for a help from a strong brave man named Bukhbilegt (Strong and wise. Then he fought with the giant snake and pushed it to the hole and put the big rock on its head.
The giant snake tried to come out under the hole so that Bukhbilegt put his favourite arrow and bow on the big rock, Taikhar. Then, the giant snake couldn’t move. Local people say that if you see the Taikhar rock from higher place, you will see arrow and bow. Over 150 inscriptions in various scripts including Tibetan, Turkic, Mongolian and Chinese were carved on the Taikhar rock, but most of them seem to have barely appeared as time passes.
Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (Terkh White Lake ) is freshwater lake, located near the Khorgo volcano crater in Tariat soum in Arkhangai province. Fresh water and volcanogenic Terkh White Lake, is 16 km long from west to east and 6km wide from north to south.
Khorgo dormant volcano, Terkhiin Tsagaan river and Khuduu river have been protected as a National Park since 1995. This lake was created as a result of a 4050 cm thick basaltic blockage of Terkhiin River, following the eruption of Khorgo volcano and some other volcanoes.
The highest Khorgiin togoo is located on the east shore of Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan. From its summit, has a splendid view over the whole region and the lake. Terkhiin Tsagaan has more than 10 species of fish such as Taimen, perch, lenok and pike. It’s registered in Ramsar’s Convention because many birds including swan, shelduck, duck, gull, common heron and great white egret gather here. There is a small Island with 500sq km area and 28m relative altitude, called Nuuriin Tolgoi, in the middle of the lake. About ten small rivers feed the White lake of the Terkh. Ten narrow rivers confluence to the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur.
Khorgo volcano erupted 8000 years ago. It is considered as the last erupted volcano in Mongolia. The Khorgo crater, situated at an altitude of 2.210 meters with a diameter of 20 meters and depth of 70 to 80 meters, is the most interesting at all. The Khorgo volcano is covered with basalt. The passive volcano has been protected since 1965, fully in 1997, to safeguard spectacular mountain scenery and endangered fauna and flora. About 8000 years ago volcanic lava flooded the valleys nearby which are covered today with small forests of Siberian larch and a great variety of berries and flowers. The lava created many interesting shapes and caves such as yellow dog torture cave and single person’s cave. Each of those caves associated with many interesting oral legends.
Khuvsgul lake is the Mongolia’s largest and second largest freshwater body in Asia. It constitutes 1% of all the fresh water body in the world. Its surrounding area is covered by pine trees. During the sunny summer days, it looks like a shiny blue pearl that is how locals call Khuvsgul Lake. Nearby Khuvsgul lake, many traces of ancient people were found. One of them is deer stones of bronze age. One such historical site is called Uushgiin uvur 20 km from Murun, provincial capital of Khuvsgul province. Another interesting thing about Khuvsgul lake is that it is home to the southernmost indigenous reindeer herding people in the world, the Tsaatan who originated from Tuva in Siberia. The Tsaatan’s unique lifestyle, and the taiga environment in which they live, represent one of the most distinct cultural and ecological pockets of Mongolia. Tsaatan are Mongolia’s smallest ethnic minority with less than 300 individuals living in the taiga and only couple of hundred more living in towns and cities.
Amarbaysgalant is not only famous for its beauty, but it also its religious significance. The monastery is dedicated to prince Zanabazar and built by the order of Enkh Amgalan Khan of Manchu empire. It has taken 16 years to build it, at the end of which over 50 temples were built, with as many as 6000 resident lamas. During the political purges, most of the temples and statues were destroyed. Many ruins found in the surrounding areas of today’s Amarbaysgalant monastery prove the site was once huge construction in earlier times. After three centuries, only 28 temples survived to date. It has been protected in 1943 and was a registered in the world’s cultural heritage by UNESCO in 1996. Presently, 30 monks reside in the newly restored monastery ranging in age from 7 to 90.
Baga Gazriin Stone is located in the middle of Mongolian Gobi. It is about 15 km long and 10 km wide granite stone-mountain elevated at 1768m above sea level, and 30km away to the south east of Adaatsag soum center. Wild sheep, ibexes and mammals, rare rodents are seen here. Surtiin am is one of many beautiful and eye-catching places in Baga Gazriin Stone massif. This is a narrow canyon with different trees, asp, birch, white wicker and elm trees, as well as ruin of stone temple and site of two yurts where Buddhist monks lived and meditated since 17th century. Also you can see Bolort Cave, eye treatment spa, rock images, petroglyphs, burial mounds many other sightseeing. There is a ruin of Choir monastery which was established by “Zava” Damdin, a famous ancient historical, religious and scientific researcher. This monastery had a monastery with few monks translate, print, explain and advertise books from Tibetan languages and research religious philosophy and medical science.
The 2 mountains with granite stone massifs and taluses located in Mongolian granite stone zone, Dundgove province are Ikh and Baga Gazriin Stones. Ikh Gazriin Stone covers more than 20km long area consisting of north and south parts. There are many special rocks named for their features of their shapes and figures such as, Uvgun Chinghis (Old Chinghis), Lusiin ezen (Lors of the Sea), Khaan Khatan Hoyor (king and queen), Zagasnii am (mouth of fish), Camel rock, Mother’s womb and Penus rock. There are also over 10 small caves created by the wind and rapid temperature changes including several caves of Ulziit Sumber Mountain, in the east part of Ikh Gazriin Stone. The biggest one is Toonot Cave with 27m length. An open air theatre was founded in the centre of Ikh Gazriin Chuluu in 2006 on the occasion of 800th anniversary of the Establishment of Mongolian Statehood and it stage was surrounded by sharp and flat rocks in the west, north and east sides. International Music Festival ‘The Roaring Hooves’ was organized on the stage of the open air theatre in 2007. A beautiful monument dedicated to Mongolian state honored long song singer Norovbanzad.N stands in the mountain for the memory of the great singer. 35000 hectare km area of Ikh Gazriin Stone have been protected since 2003 as Natural Reserve.
Ongiin Khiid Is the perfect destination for those who are planning to travel around Mongolian gobi. The Ongi River, in the western sum of Saikhan Ovoo of Dundgovi province, makes a good resting place to break a trip between the south Gobi and Arvaikheer. It is located in Saihan-Ovoo. Ongi Monastery was established in 1660 and composed of two temple complexes on the North and South banks of the Ongi river. At its peak, Ongi monastery grounds housed around 30 temples, 4 big Buddhism universities and over 1000 monks at a time. This monastery was one of the largest and most respected monasteries of Mongolia before its destruction by the communist authorities. During 1930s, communism spread out throughout Mongolia. As part of their ideological campaign and rise to power, Communists arrested most monks. In 1939, the monastery was destroyed completely, over 200 monks were killed, and many surviving monks were imprisoned or forced to join the Communist controlled army. Other monks escaped and became ordinary people. In 1990, after the democratization in Mongolia, some monks returned to the monastery and began their Buddhist education as young children some 60 year prior. The water of the river was diverted to supply the local mines owned by the government. The river was dried up, which forced the local population to leave the place. The monastery then seemed to be about to sink into oblivion. Nevertheless, when the communist power fell in 1990, three monks who had begun their Buddhist education in Ongiin Khiid sixty years earlier, decided to go back there. Slowly and patiently, these monks built new foundations on the old ruins in order to restore Ongiin Khiid and to revive Buddhism in Mongolia. Today one temple has been completely rebuilt and two little museums have been set up inside some yurts. We can find a collection of objects, traditional religious items, and some architectural elements of the original monastery. Ongiin Khiid also houses a cold water source, Bar Khamba, reputed to be health-giving waters, notably for “intern” diseases, often bound to digestive apparatus. According to tradition, these waters are effective only if we drink them before the sun rises.
Tsagaan suvarga or White Stupa, is 90degree of straight sandstone that consists of many colors of clay deposits. This is 65 km south west of Ulziit sum, Dundgovi province. Tsagaan suvarga is big escarpment with 200m height and 400m long. In ancient time there was a big sea in a Khevtee and Bosoo valleys of Tsagaan Suvarga. After dried up the sea this area became area with many glacis and escarpments, covered by many different sedimentary deposits. There is a cave with two doors called Khevtee and Bosoo which is home of many bats. It is quite long cave to go through.
Yol valley is more famous for its dramatic and very unusual scenery- its valley in the middle of the Gobi Desert with meters thick ice almost all year around. It’s one of the natural secret of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park and beautiful deep canyon with many rocky cliffs, has been created by many years of water erosion. Another spectacular thing about this national park is the bearded rare vulture, Yol in Mongolian, gave its name to the Yoliin Am Valley, the Gorge of Bearded Vultures. Located at a height of 2500 metres (8202,10 feet), Yol Canyon forms a gorge that is so deep and so narrow, that only two persons can pass in some places. The water forms four small waterfalls. Although the sun shines a lot in this region, the canyon remains dark, so that in the bottom, a part of the river remains nearly all year long covered by a thick layer of ice.
Very wide at the entrance, it narrows gradually into a remarkable gorge. In earlier times, the blocks of ice rarely melted, being protected from the vicious sunlight. This however has changed in recent years, partially because of the multitudes of tourists that walk on the ice. You can still see ice here in July but it is almost completely melted by August. Following the canyon to the very end, one emerges into a beautiful wide valley. Surrounding mountains are home to argali, ibex, and many birds of prey, as well as numerous small rodents particular to the gobi. A small museum marks the entrance to the protected zone and provides information on the petrified trees, fauna and flora of the Gobi. Here, travellers can discover permanent glaciers, endemic plants, and rare animals such as Siberian ibex, argalis, or bearded vultures. Snow leopards and other predators also live in the Yol Valley area.
One of beautiful sand dune in the Gobi is the Khongor Sand Dunes that extend more than 180 km (112 miles) with majestic heights of 15-30 m along the northern side of Sevrei and Zuulun mountain ranges that causes beautiful color combination with the dune. The largest dunes are northwest of the range up to 800 metres high The Khongor Sand Dunes are some of the largest and most impressive white sand dunes in Mongolia. The dunes make sound like plane engine in a windy day so it has been named as “Singing Dunes”. From the top of the sand dunes, the view of the desert is awesome. The Khongoryn River flows along the sand dunes and gives birth to oases. The sand dune change the color with each hour of one day, from yellow to silver to rise colored at dawn / sundown. Picturesque Khongor Sand dunes against a sky of blue or a full moon, with perfectly contoured shadows of ripples and undulating crests, have always been a favorite subject of photographers.
Precipitous banks, hillocks, and hardened clay soil, mostly unchanged since Cretaceous period, blaze brilliant shades of red and orange at sunset- hence the name “Flaming cliffs” as dubbed by American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews on his expeditions to the region in the 1920s. Then as now the fossilized remains of dinosaurs, who roamed our planet 230 million years ago, still litter the ground everywhere, alongside dry saxaul shrubs, which can spring to life in an instant after a burst of rain. Only in the Gobi, where the dry wind and sand sweep away any signs of current life, could such a large quantity of fossils survive millennia remarkably intact.
The third Asian expedition to the Gobi that was headed by U.S scientist Roy Chapman Andrews first discovered fossil dinosaur eggs in Bayanzag. Their findings proved to the world that dinosaurs laid eggs. Giant dinosaurs and boundless sea was once existed in this vast Gobi Desert. The majority of Gobi Desert is flowery vast steppes beautiful crags, towering dunes, salt marshes, and saline and green saxaul thickets. The Naitonal Geographic Society’s “Adventure” magazine selected the Mongolian Gobi as one of the tourism destinations of the world.
Altai Tavan Bogd has some of the most stunning scenery in all of Mongolia with towering white mountains, glaciers, deep lush valleys, and large lakes located in the west most part of Mongolia. Here, we have the highest peak of Mongolia, the snow-capped Kuiten Uul, 4374m. The largest, Pontuninii Glacier, covers 23 sq km. This stunning region stretches south from Tavan Bogd and includes the twin lakes of Khoton Nuur and Khurgan Nuur and Dayan Nuur. The park stretches along the Chinese border from the Russian border to 200 km south following the Altai Mountains, which form the borders of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.
Tavan Bogd Mountains are considered sacred to local Kazakhs, Tuvans, and Mongolians. Ancient tribes have left many artifacts, using the region for religious ceremonies. Today, tens of thousands of petroglyphs in the park are part of a World Heritage Site. In addition there are numerous Turkic Stone Men and stone burial mounds. The people living inside the park are one of the main draws. Kazakhs and Tuvan nomadic herders live inside the park and visiting them is part of most tours. The Kazakhs are the most numerous and the ones that do eagle hunting. They are known for their colorful large ger with rich embroidered wall hangings and their warm hospitality. Tuvans occupy the Tsagaan Gol valley and have different clothes, food, and language than Mongols. Tuvan men sing deep eerie long-songs using throat-singing, though very few Tuvans in this isolated pocket have mastered the art. Kazakhs live around the lake, as well as Tsagaan Salaa and Takhiltyn Havtsal (and most of the rest of the park). Those living inside the park have retained their traditional culture to a greater degree than probably any Kazakh in Central Asia. They have preserved their arts and music, and have practiced the ancient sport of eagle hunting continuously throughout the Soviet era when it was suppressed elsewhere.
Ulaagchin Khar Lake is fresh water lake and one of the most beautiful lakes of the country. We can see amazing sand dunes in the southern and northern parts of the lake. The lake is 23.9m long and 3.5m wide in average. Depth of the lake is 47m in the west 23-30m in the east and the deepest point is 57m near the Gatsaa. There are 2 big and small island called “Small and Big Avgash” in the middle of the lake. Great Avgash is quite sandy and suitable place for the roedeer for their rebirth in springs, they habitat in the mountain in the autumn. Shoreline of the lake is rocky and has a lot of different peninsulas and bays that penetrate into the lake water. On the bottom of the lake, there are sand and mud and gravel, and some water plants occur on the shallow parts of the lake. The clarity of the lake is 8m and colors are seen as green and blue emerald. Some migratory birds such as Whooper swan, Greylag goose, duck and others come to the lake in summers and other mammals such as deer, roe deer, fox, wolf, corsac fox cat, and marmot are seen near the lake. Along the shoreline of the lake, there are many eye-catching places.