Man, I knew I shouldn't have tried that strange-looking dish at Ulaanbaatar's market. I'm hallucinating a furious horde of Genghis Khan's soldiers storming my room as I type these words. But fear not, fellow adventurers, for today I shall guide you through the vast plains and rugged mountains of this beautiful yet somewhat mind-bending country - Mongolia.
A Brief Overview of Mongolia
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of holidaying in this landlocked wonder, allow me to paint you a picture of Mongolia. Nestled between China and Russia like a last bastion of nomadic life, Mongolia boasts a rich history, culture, and tradition stretching back millennia. It's a place where horses outnumber humans, and the land itself is a character in the cosmic play of existence.
Travel Tips for the Fearless Trekker
Now that you're caught in my rhapsodic trance, let's discuss some essential travel tips for navigating the Mongolian wilds like a pro.
- Visa Requirements: Most tourists can score a 30-day visa upon arrival, but it's always best to check Mongolia's ever-changing immigration policies. Don't get caught in a bureaucratic nightmare that not even a bottle of Chinggis Gold vodka can remedy.
- Local Currency: The Mongolian togrog is your ticket to ride in this country. Stock up on cash before heading to remote areas, where ATMs are as rare as Gobi Desert rainstorms.
- Climate: Mongolia is home to the world's coldest capital city, Ulaanbaatar, where winter temperatures regularly plunge below -20C. Pack accordingly, or you'll find yourself in a Jack London novel.
- Transport: Get ready to embrace your inner nomad, as public transportation options in Mongolia are few and far between. Renting a 4x4 or hiring a guide is your best bet for traversing this country's vast landscapes.
- Language Barrier: Brush up on some basic Mongolian phrases, or prepare to mime your way through every interaction. Even the most fluent English speaker will struggle to adequately describe the ecstasy of fermented mare's milk.
What to See and Do in Mongolia
With survival tips in hand, let's explore the myriad wonders that await you in this land of blue skies and wild horses.
Ulaanbaatar: Gateway to the Mongolian Empire
Your journey begins in the bustling metropolis of Ulaanbaatar, where Soviet-era architecture meets ancient temples and modern shopping malls. Check out the National Museum, Sukhbaatar Square, and Gandan Monastery, but don't dawdle too long - the real magic lies beyond the city limits.
Experience Nomadic Life on the Steppe
Imagine vast rolling plains stretching as far as the eye can see, dotted with the occasional yurt and herd of wild horses. This is the Mongolian steppe, where you can experience a taste of nomadic life by staying with local families in their cozy gers. Share a meal of mutton and mare's milk, learn to ride a horse like a true Mongolian warrior, and surrender to the hypnotic rhythm of the day-to-day ebb and flow of life on the steppe.
Trek through the Altai Mountains
For the more adventurous souls, a trek through the Altai Mountains promises to test your physical and mental limits while offering unforgettable panoramas of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and pristine lakes. Tavan Bogd National Park is home to Mongolia's highest mountain, Khuiten Peak, and the elusive snow leopard. Just don't forget to pack your hiking boots and a firm grip on reality, lest you find yourself lost in a shamanic trance in the wilderness.
Roam the Gobi Desert
Trade your trusty steed for a camel and embark on an odyssey through the otherworldly landscapes of the Gobi Desert. Marvel at the Flaming Cliffs, traverse the Khongoryn Els sand dunes, and search for dinosaur fossils in this unforgiving yet hauntingly beautiful terrain. The Gobi is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are immense for those who dare to venture forth.
Visit the Recluse Reindeer Herders of the Taiga
For a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, journey to the remote northern taiga to visit the Tsaatan people, a small community of reindeer herders living in harmony with nature. Witness their unique way of life, as they depend on their reindeer for food, clothing, and transportation. Just don't expect Wi-Fi or gourmet cuisine - this is as far from civilization as you can get.
A Final Word of Caution
As I sit here nursing my aching head and shattered nerves, I offer one last piece of advice: Mongolia is not for the faint-hearted or the easily rattled. Embrace the nomadic way, lose yourself in the vastness of the landscapes, and be prepared for anything - including the occasional Genghis Khan hallucination. Article kindly provided by myfavouritehols.com