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Wild and Wonderful Mongolia

Offering a mix of culture, history and adventure, Mongolia is a really special destination for travellers. People come from all over the world to ride ponies over the vast plains, camp with nomad families, visit Buddhist temples and unravel the history of Genghis Khan.

Mongolia Ponies, Photo: Michael Foley Photography on Flickr

Ulan Bator
Ulan Bator, the coldest capital city in the world, is Mongolia’s economic hub. A chaotic city characterized by concrete and commerce, Ulan Bator contrasts with the rest of Mongolia. Many are quite surprised and put off by the city, but there are many marvelous sites to be seen, such as monasteries and museums.

One of the most notable monasteries in Mongolia is Ulan Bator’s Buddhist Choijin Lama Monastery. The site is immensely popular due to its beautiful architecture, fascinating history and extensive collection of sculptures and works of Buddhist art. Just as outstanding is the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan. This Palace is currently a museum of the last surviving monarch, containing six temples and possessions of the great Bogd Khan and his wife. Sukhbaatar Square is another popular attraction. The square is the site where the ‘hero of the revolution’, Damdin Sukhbaatar, declared Mongolia’s final independence from the Chinese. In the square is a statue of the hero straddling his horse.

Adventure Landscapes
From the Gobi desert in the south to the icy mountain ranges in the north and west to the vast Steppes, Mongolia offers an array of contrasting landscapes. These landscapes provide an enormous range of activities for every type of traveller. Here are some of the favourites:

•One can canoe, kayak, or white water raft the Kherlen River in the east.
•Mongolia’s many rivers and lakes are perfect for fishing.
•The diverse Mongolian landscapes serve as a mountain biker’s paradise.
•Camping in yurts along the Steppes is a particular favourite.
•One can hop on a horse and ride along the grassy plains. Horseback riding has been and remains to be a way of life for Mongolians. It is said that many Mongolian children learn to ride horse back even before they learn to walk!

If you’re a little less active, but still want to appreciate the outdoors, then spend some time wildlife and bird watching. Some of Mongolia’s mammals include the endangered Gobi bear, elusive snow leopard, and the ibex. White-naped cranes, raptors, and the world’s largest grouse are just a small selection of birds that soar through Mongolia’s skies.