If you could take a martini shaker and add a dash of vast landscapes of the Gobi, sprinkle in a twist of the snow capped mountains of Bayan-Ölgi and the dramatic gorges and lakes of Khovsgol and then add in the Ger tents of the nomad and the cry of a soaring golden eagle. Shake it all up and top it off with some of the oldest Buddhist temples and ruins, abundant wildlife and legendary hospitality… you come up with a recipe for one of the most inviting and beautiful countries in the world.
Since the fall of communism, Mongolia has done just about everything in its power to open itself up to the world. While the old traditions survive and the wild nature is still mostly intact for the adventurous traveller, Mongolia has also reached out to the West for economic and cultural ties.
Mongolia is one of the only legitimate democracies in Asia. Democracy has given foreign investors enough confidence to stick with Mongolia during hard biggest mining companies in the world. Tourism, along with mining and cashmere, has become a key feature of the economy. The poor infrastructure and short travel season have kept receipts small, but a growing network of ger camps cater to travellers seeking ecotourism adventures. Without fences or private property to restrict a traveller’s movement, Mongolia is a perfect destination for horse trekking, long-distance cycling or hiking, or more leisurely activities such as fly-fishing, yak carting or camping out under a sprawling mass of stars.
Like us, most travellers come for Naadam, the two-day summer sports festival that brings the city of Ulaanbattar to a standstill. But a trip to capture Mongolia’s unique charm will always lie in the countryside where, rather than being a spectator to the wrestling, you may find yourself making up the numbers! Outside the villages it’s easy to meet nomad families whose relentless sense of hospitality can at times be nothing short of overwhelming.
As a travel destination, Mongolia is a special place for people who enjoy culture, the outdoors and adventure. Immersing oneself in the Naadam festival, the Golden Eagle Festival and the urban culture and then heading out on the vast plains, riding horses and camping with nomad families, Mongolia offers the chance to step back in time to a simpler way of life. It is an invigorating and exhilarating place to visit, and remains one of the last unspoiled travel destinations in Asia.
For this reason I have decided to visit the country three more times the next two years. To see more information on these trips please check out the itineraries.