A vast ocean of soft, undulating grassland speckled with nomads camps under a big, blue sky – this is the classic image of Mongolia’s landscape. The rolling steppe of the country’s heartland, however, is only a part of the picture. In the south, the great sea of green segues into the sandflats and dunes of the Gobi Desert; while in the north, vast lakes and taiga forest of pine and spruce sprawl across the Russian border into Siberia. The far west is even more remote. Here, the ice-peaks and glaciers of the Altai mountain range track frontier with China, one of the most sparsely inhabited and far-flung regions on earth.
For centuries, these extraordinary landscapes were the preserve of nomadic herders, who moved with their flocks between summer and winter pastures. Now, thanks to a network of all-season roads and wonderful yurt camps specially created for foreign visitors, Mongolia’s most dramatic scenery may be experienced in relative comfort.
Ride Mongolian horses along the shores of Lake Khovsgol =, or make a camel trek through the perma-ice fields and singing dunes of the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Spend a day with a family of yak herders in the Khangai Mountains, and enjoy the sight of wild horse grazing the epic grasslands of Khustain Nuruu. Or join a family of eagle hunters in the Altai, before staying with Tuvan shamans at the foot of sacred Shiveet Hairhan mountain.
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