Close to Ulan Bator and accessible by a properly tarmacked road, the Gorkhi Terelj National Park is a verdoyant mountainous region, perfect for setting up camp for the night. During summer the landscape is Alpine, where clean, fresh air brushes the gigantic trees that cover this vast area. Huge granite boulders rub shoulders with the trees, each one appearing to resemble a human or animal form.
With mountain pastures and plunging valleys, the Gorkhi Terelj National Park is perfect for sports lovers and visitors looking for some peace and quiet. The landscape here greatly differs from the west of the country. You won't find steppeland or short grasses and the trails are rugged. Conifers, birches and firs rustle in the wind and the wildlife, unlike the rest of Mongolia, is also more 'Alpine'.
Tourism is well developed in Gorkhi Terelj - it does mean the landscape has lost some of its untouched charm, but it also makes outings a lot easier. There are lots of activities on offer; walks, treks on horseback or by foot and climbing. Gorkhi Terelj is meditative, with sublime vistas, clean air and several rock formations considered to be home to sacred spirits.
Spending a holiday in Gorkhi Terelj provides the perfect opportunity to learn about and immerse yourself in the local wildlife of the region's history. Bird watchers will spot a large number of migratory birds that nest in the park. And if you like wild flowers, then you'll love the edelweiss, that rare symbol of eternity that grows in abundance in Mongolia! Finally, archaeology and history fans have a wealth of historic sights dotted around the Mongolian countryside that they can explore. For example, on the banks of the River Terelj, you'll find some fascinating tombs dating from the Xiongnu era. These monuments were built to honour their great warriors and are the oldest graves to have been discovered in Central Asia. The great thing about a holiday in Mongolia is its appeal to history and nature lovers as well as visitors seeking a bit of adventure.
These giant granite rocks, formed over the centuries, majestically rise from the pine forest floor. Unusual in shape, they seem to take on the form of humans or animals. One is worshipped by the Mongolians as it resembles a tortoise, a sacred animal in these parts. You'll notice during a trip to Mongolia that statues of tortoises are everywhere - Karakorum is a particularly good example. The tortoise represents peace, wisdom and longevity. The park's 'tortoise' is monumental and emblematic of the reserve's fascinating formations. If you didn't know better, you'd think it had been carefully carved by a master sculptor. But no, this masterpiece was chiselled by nature itself. As the granite continues to be eroded, in a few centuries' time it will no doubt have taken on another form.
Under a clear blue sky, the rock overlooks rolling hills and valleys, a blend of green tones crossed by paddy fields and punctuated by white yurts. A landscape painting