- Encounters with locals
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
Having planned my holiday in Mongolia in advance, I quickly realised that it was all in vain as, due to transport problems that I'd not forseen, things weren't going to be that easy.
Karakorum was to be my departure point for a trip to the Orkhon Valley. Whether it's by Jeep or horse, travel is prohibitively expensive for solo travellers, so my plan was to find other tourists with whom I could share costs. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not...As for Karakorum, I met two Slovakians, which meant I could spend a few days touring the valley on horseback. One of the best memories of my trip.
Upon our return, we found Naadam in full swing. This festival celebrates Mongolia's independence and features a host of competitions. There's horse racing, where you'll even see tiny kids hurtling across the steppe, wrestling, archery...This is a traditional festival where the Mongolians dress up in their finest deel , sit down to plates of kushuur (meat doughnuts) and swig airag (fermented mare's milk), whilst playing games. It's a national celebration held during July that you shouldn't miss if you're there at the time.
This is a large village not far from the beautiful, legendary Orkhon River. It's a great departure point for heading out on hikes, where you can meet nomadic communities and explore a number of large, culturally fascinating sites.
Karakorum is not exceptional in itself, but it offers a welcome change of scenery, far from what we're used to and one which won't leave you indifferent.
If you're a solo traveller, stop at the Morin Jim cafe. You'll be able to meet other travellers who've returned from treks and who'll be able to offer you useful tips regarding your own plans.
As it's one of Mongolia's most popular destinations, I suggest you head to Karakorum during Spring or Autumn to fully benefit from the Orkhon Valley. You'll find some riding gear at the market, but you're better off buying equipment beforehand.