I must say it straight: Mongolia is really a fascinating place. It's an open country, covered with grass from one end to another. It's a terrific place to trek, and whether you're only just trying out your boots, or already experienced roaming around unpeopled areas, it's a place you'll be sure to love exploring. I've been to the country and there are some things you might want to know when trekking trips about this amazing East Asian country.
These Mongolian Trekking Trips Are Breathtaking!
Mongolia, the Land of Blue Skies, is aptly named because you'll find this country wonderfully open and beautiful. Filled with such great places to hike, you'll find their country expansive (it's twice the size of Texas!) and just an outright amazing place to explore. Plus, the treks don't matter whether you are a beginner to trekking trips or not. The people aren't exactly varied, most I've met when I was in the place, were Buddhists and nomads, but they weren't the sort that would snob you over. I've learned plenty things in my own personal excursion in the place, and so if you're contemplating on going around Mongolia and its plains and mountains, here are some things you can expect from your trekking trips in the area.
1. General Location
Mongolia is a huge place, so you have to plan where you want to go trekking. There's Central Mongolia, which is where Ulaanbataar (the capital and where the bulk of the people will be) and popular tourist destination Arkhangai province is. There's also Southern Mongolia, where the famous Gobi desert is located. There's Western Mongolia, with Tavan Bogd Mountains, if you're also eyeing to do some mountaineering along with your trekking, and world heritage site Lake Uvs Nuur. But generally, the good places I'd recommend you to trek around in would be the Altai, Lake Khövsgöl, the Eight Lakes, and Arkhangai.
2. Timing for Climate
Ideally, you'll want to visit Mongolia during May to right around September like I did. I found it was neither too cold nor too hot to enjoy any type of activity then. But if you're really pressing for an unorthodox visit, like during winter or summer, then be sure to bring appropriate clothes. During summer, you'll want to protect your skin from the sun. During winter, you'll want to shield your eyes from the bitter cold, because I've heard it gets really cold by then.
3. Locals, if you see one on the road
Half of the people in Mongolia are in cities and the other half are around the countryside, either farming or being nomadic. Considering this and that only about two million (which is a really low number considering , you'll really find the country to be open, without too many people around.) If you're lucky, you'll even find nomads wandering about along the road you're taking, but they normally never go around the usual tourist trekking routes.
4. Respecting the Locals
Even if you're paying the locals for a tour around, they're still going to be the ones taking you to these trekking spots. Respecting the locals go a long way and even doing something as meaningful as saying hello, not speaking in your own language for long periods of time in front of them, or taking whatever they offer, etc. The locals I've met also reacted well very much to open hands and humility, so try to practice that when you meet them along the road.
5. Pastimes around Mongolia
Once you're finished exploring, you can also opt to join in the pastimes done around the cities and the countries. There's horse racing, archery (brush up on your archery now!), and even wrestling if you're into that. These activities are a great way to unwind and rest your legs, before or after you trek the wide open plains.
6. Other Popular Destinations
There's simply too many places to see in Mongolia, I can't list down all of them. And with the various amounts to spend your time in, it would take too long for you to check them all out since the country doesn't really have too many means of transportation. The destinations in the country to truly explore would be the natural things and places in the country, like the lakes where you can canoe and the trek the routes. Architecture is minimal in the area, but there are places to walk to that you should try visiting as well, like the mouthful Amarbaysgalant monastery.
7. Things Around Your Trekking Trips
Walking around the routes you'll find the very occasional vendors selling cashmere garments and blankets. I bought one in Ulaanbataar before I started my trek down the Gobi desert and let me tell you, the blanket was as useful as it was comfortable. There'd be moments you need to sit down and take a good look around the area. There's also the Black Market that I visited in Ulaanbataar is where you can just about anything you want in your trek for such a low price. This includes bug sprays, which will help you fend off the insects flying around, and moist towelettes for washing on-the-go.
8. Food For Your Trekking Trips
Food. Since you'll be walking long distances in unoccupied country areas, you'll find it hard to buy food around the area. You can opt for trail food or you can opt to bring an easy to carry stove around. You can cook the fish that you can fly-fish out in the Mongolian rivers or purify the water you can get from any source around the expanse.
9. Ride Horses and Pack Your Stuff With Horses
That's right. You can ride a horse around your trekking trips for a reasonable price. In fact, most people who go to Mongolia trek around the area on horseback. Priced at around forty dollars, you'll be riding on a horse for that adventure out in the open plains for a day. You also have the option of getting a pack horse (or pack camel) to carry all your stuff for you. I did this and I found it extremely convenient especially in my time around the Gobi desert.
10. The World's Largest Campsite
You can camp in most places of your treks. Mongolia has been called the world's largest campsite for this reason. If you plan to go camping during your trekking trips around Mongolia, make sure you have with you a really warm and comfortable sleeping bag. No matter what season it is in Mongolia, it's bound to be cold, even in the Gobi desert. If you're not camping, you can also opt to stay in accommodations in Ulaanbatar, which are reasonably priced.
If you'd like to see Gobi Desert and how great it is as a location for one of your trekking trips in Mongolia, then you might want to watch this video by popular blog Goats on the Road for yourself.
Have you already been to the Land of Blue Skies? Do you have any questions you might want to ask me? Mongolia is one of the places I highly recommend to my friends for their camping, trekking, and mountaineering exploits. I really believe you'll love the place and its incredible landscapes and connection to nature. If you have something in mind, don't forget to tell us right in the comment section below! 🙂
If you're planning on trying extreme hiking, especially in areas around Mongolia, you should check this article out!
Featured image via Sky Mongolia Tour.