With its vast expanses of steppes, desert and taiga, Mongolia encompasses some of the most pristine wilderness on earth. The country boasts a population of just three million people, scattered over an area three times the size of France. And almost half live in one city: the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The rest maintain a largely nomadic existence in encampments of grey, felt yurts, or gers, where they tend horses, cattle, sheep and goats – in much the same way as their ancestors did during the age of the region’s most illustrious historic figure, Genghis Khan.
Landscapes, rather than monuments, provide the main focus for visitors here. In the north, a band of wild, pine-forested mountains and lakes line the border with Russia – the start of the great Siberian taiga – while across the south stretch the sun-scorched dunes and sand flats of the Gobi Desert . Between these two extremes lies a belt of rolling grassland, interrupted by countless hills and empty river valleys, which in the southwest rise to a range of snow-capped, glacier-encrusted summits along the Chinese border: the Altai Mountains. This thrilling scenery alone would be reason enough to visit Mongolia. But the country also preserves a unique nomadic culture. Wherever you travel, yurts sprout like exotic fungi from the great, green sea of grass, and you’ll have plenty of opportunity to stay in one, walking with local guides, or riding beautiful steppe horses.
Area: 604,600 sq km
Population: 2.8 million
Time: GMT + 8hrs
When to Go
The peak tourist season in Mongolia is short, lasting from June until mid-August. Thereafter, thunderstorms become more frequent and temperatures begin to drop. September sees more changeable weather and by October the snowline starts to creep inexorably downwards, engulfing the entire country from late December until the spring. In the depths of winter, travel is rendered all but impossible by freezing conditions, heavy snow and the total absence of accommodation outside the main towns and cities.
There are no direct flights to Ulaanbaatar from the UK. Journeys normally involve one or two changes of plane – one in a European hub, and another in the Far East – Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul being the most common stopovers. Whichever route you opt for, total travel time will be 18–24hrs. Korean Air and Air China are our preferred carriers, offering the most streamlined routes and competitive fares. Travel Within Mongolia | Most travel in Mongolia is conducted by private car with a driver and English-speaking guide who will accompany you for the duration of your trip. We only use comfortable, high-quality vehicles suitable for your planned itinerary. Domestic flights are rarely used, unless you wish to visit the Altai Mountains in the far west of the country.
While the choice of four- and five-star hotels is good in the capital, you’ll spend most of the rest of your journey sleeping in traditional felt or canvas gers. During the summer, special camps are erected for visitors, where you’ll be able to go for treks and horse rides, and visit local nomads. The gers themselves are very comfortable, with proper beds and wood burning stoves, and are beautifully furnished and decorated in traditional style. Hot showers will also be available. We choose our camps carefully, taking into account the quality of the yurts, standards of service, location and overall atmosphere.
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This was the first time that I have travelled with TransIndus, and I have to say I have been very impressed with their attention to detail, personal customer service, and care on the tour. I would certainly book with them again, and recommend to friends and family. Thank you TransIndus.Sarah read more comments