- Encounters with locals
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Place or Religious Monument
- Archaeological Site
- Sustainable Tourism
- Unesco World Heritage
- Off the beaten track
Once I got to Karakorum, which was the country's capital during the era of Genghis Khan, there was only one thing I wanted to do: head off out onto the steppes on horseback. There's no better way of exploring Mongolia than to do it at an exhilarating gallop. My fellow guesthouse guests and I therefore took a jeep and headed off to the yurt camp from where our trek would be setting out.
After a detour to a Buddhist temple perched up in the mountains along the way, we eventually arrived at our warm, comfortable yurt. The landscape and setting were absolutely wonderful. You get a strong sense of being out in the middle of nowhere and having left civilisation far behind. Every so often on the trek we came across grazing yaks, or the odd family in the process of dismantling their yurt and preparing to move on.
However, be prepared to be as patient as the steppes are never-ending, because the way trips like this are organised can sometimes lead to unexpected situations, e.g. the horses being hard to find (they live freely, out in the open). Once you set off, the sensation of galloping across the steppes gives you an incredible sense of freedom, of a kind I'd personally never experienced before.
Hiking enthusiasts will simply adore this riverside trek.
There are a significant number of nomad campsdistributed throughout the Orkhon Valley. It's possible to buy meat and rice from the people at these camps, though they will actually try hard to simply give you these items.
Looking at first like tiny little white dots on the horizon, you'll almost always find the yurts open when you get to them and the welcome you'll receive there will be quite wonderful! However – and as with everywhere – it's always important to properly respect the Mongolian people's habits and customs, and their living environment. There's no need to overload yourself with water when doing this hike: as is the case with most rivers in Mongolia, it's OK to drink the natural water here. I didn't actually buy any at all, and I didn't fall ill.
Bat-Ölzii is the place to set out from when beginning the hike. The down-river route is also very beautiful, but it may prove too long for you if you're doing it on foot. This walk definitely offers the opportunity to really immerse yourself in and experience the Mongolian way of life. It's preferable to come here in spring or autumn. Not only are there fewer tourists at these times, but also fewer flies and mosquitoes too. This means you'll be able to enjoy and make the most of the nomadic lifestyle on offer at this UNESCO World Heritage site in complete peace and tranquillity.