About Mongolian Trekking
Mongolia is a trekking mecca – wild landscapes & endless horizons stretch before the craggy soles of your walking boots in this sparsely populated nomadic land without boundaries. The vast landscapes of Mongolia provide a diverse range of terrain for trekking, from the Altai Mountains out west, to forests in northern Mongolia, to hills, valleys and plains in the steppe of central Mongolia. Across the country, classic routes combine with hidden trails through remote wilderness terrain. Some trekking trips can be short, some longer, some are full-on Mongolia trekking trips, some combine with Mongolia horse riding, and others contain elements of trekking within the framework of a longer cultural overland journey. At over 1.5 million square kilometres, Mongolia is one of the least densely populated countries on earth. This means that large towns and cities are sparse, and so there is more untouched land to explore than most other countries.
Batu, based in our Mongolia office, shares his favourite trekking experience: “When I was young I went on a week hiking trip through the Orkhon Valley. This area is a personal favourite of mine due to its stunning landscape as well as the historical, and cultural, significance to the history of Mongolia.
Our trek started not too far from the waterfall and as we walked along the Orkhon river the rolling steppes turned into beautiful valleys and lakes. Little to my knowledge then, I had discovered the 8 Lakes region. As we camped by Khuis Lake, the largest in the area, slow drizzle crept in from the west giving the area a sort of mythical appearance. If Shangri-La exists, this might have been it.
The rain stopped overnight and as we packed our tents for our next push we were greeted by a flock of birds on their way to the lake for their morning feast. At the banks of Shireet Lake, we came across an elderly man, who took us to his little encampment not far away. As we sat around the campfire drinking airag he told us of his life in the Orkhon Valley and how the lakes were formed from a volcanic eruption.”
In the area you will definitely come across various volcanic rock and sediments. Some are shaped very unique, but be sure not to take any home. I know, I know, that beautiful basalt rock shaped like a horse could go quite well with your exquisite China collection. But according to Mongolian folklore, if you remove rocks in the countryside the spirits will curse you with thousand years of misfortune! So unless you are Lady Luck, please leave that rock where you found it.
Aside from many species of birds, volcanic rocks and the occasional wise old man, things you will run into in the 8 Lakes Area can vary from herdsmen with their flock of sheep and wonderful semi-boreal forest surrounding the low hills which are rich with rodents, groundhogs and if you’re lucky you might even see a deer or two. So keep your eyes on the horizon and nose to the ground for the chance to take some impressive photos!
Our Trekking Tours
Here at Goyo Travel we pride ourselves on our level of service, expertise and the quality of our tours, guides, drivers, and client safety. We take clients on many trekking and hiking tours throughout the year, and have the best guides around to join you on your journey. We provide everything from short tours with 2 or 3 days simple hiking, to 2 or 3 week plus trips, with multiple days of trekking through beautiful wilderness. You will find the trekking peaceful and enjoyable, as you get little or no phone signal or internet. It is a great chance to escape the mod-cons and be at one with nature. There truly is an endless supply of locations we can take you trekking.
Multi day hikes are fully supported by pack horses, camels and a host of staff. You can rest assured that you will be well looked after on these trips with spacious tents, comfortable roll mats and sleeping bags and liners on request. Hearty, freshly cooked meals are prepared each day by your cook and/or guide, and pack horses are used to carry all but your daily essentials, so you won’t have to worry about carrying anything too heavy. Each night a kitchen/dining tent plus a loo tent and a hand pump shower tent will be erected, ensuring you have as much comfort as possible to enjoy the down-time between treks.
For those of you heading out into the wilds on activity based trips, we pack as much fresh produce as possible from UB and your guide will top this up with local produce along the way. Meals will be a mix of simple but hearty Mongolian and western style dishes. In order to set you up for a big day, think eggs, bacon, porridge, bread and jam and to refuel in the evenings, stews, stir-fries, dumplings and soups will be on the menu. Depending on your itinerary route, you may call in at a Nomadic family for lunch and to experience traditional nomadic Mongolian culture. You may be able to join the family members in tending to animals, cooking, horse riding and playing games. If you don’t happen to pass a nomadic family on your trek, you will stop at a convenient, and a likely stunning, spot to have a picnic lunch. Water filters will also be sent on the trip for your use.
Our 5 Favourite Trekking Locations
– Western Mongolia
In western Mongolia, you will find the world famous Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. A huge, stunning landscape covering 6,362 km². Within its boundaries is Mongolia’s highest mountain, Khuiten Uul – Cold Mountain – which stands at 4,374 m, plus Lake Khoton, Khurgan, and Dayan and 34 glaciers. The protected area offers a home for many species of alpine animals, such as the Argali sheep, Ibex, Red deer, Beech marten, Moose, Snowcock, and Golden eagle. Each year, we send many clients to the Altai Mountains and surrounding national parks for some of the most stunning trekking imaginable. On our Wild West group tour, after visiting snow-capped Tavanbogd massif and Potanii glacier, you will embark on a full day hike of Mount Malchin, one of Mongolia’s highest peaks at 4,037m. It is considered a nontechnical peak, and therefore can be reached by trekkers. Following this, you saddle up for a 4-day trek through the Altai to Khoton Lake.
Another area we trek in is Tsambagarav National Park. Tsambagarav is an area between Khovd and Bayan-Olgii Province in western Mongolia and forms part of the Altai Mountain range. It has two peaks – Tsambagarav (4208m) & Tsast (4193m). The National Park area covers more than 1,110 square kilometres. Known for its stunning vistas and diverse wildlife, it contains many glaciers, rocky gorges, glacial lakes, and a 7m waterfall, in addition to deer stones, balbal (standing stones), and Kazakh and Uriankhai nomads. On our Tsambagarav Trek, we descend through the lower valleys of the park, along the Mara River, which joins the tree covered bed of the largely dry Tsetsegiin River all the way to the Hovd River.
– Terelj & Khentii
Terelj National Park covers an area of 2,864 square kilometres, and is characterised by undulating hills, interesting rock formations, a network of streams and rivers, and lush valleys inhabited by nomadic families. Beyond the main valley, first developed for tourism in 1964, the park joins the Khan-Khentii Specially Protected Area which is almost completely uninhabited by humans, but is home to endangered species of moose, brown bear, and weasel, to name but a few, and to over 250 species of birds. We love trekking in Terelj due to its natural beauty and greenery in the spring and summer months. With expert local guides and horsemen, you can spend several days trekking up the Terelj Valley by foot or by horse.
– Central Mongolia
In central Mongolia you will find stunning trekking locations such as the 8 Lakes and Hangai Hills. Nestled within the boundaries of the Khangai Nuruu National Park, south of the Orkhon Waterfall, the 8 Lakes are a beautiful area to trek out to, and around. Whether you join one of our group tours, or fancy a private trek, you won’t be disappointed as you trek through the hilly forested terrain, with lush valleys and rivers flanked by the occasional nomadic family with their gers and animals. You can also trek further north of the waterfall, into the ‘Hills of the Hangai‘. This whole area holds a very special place in both the hearts of the Mongolians and in the culture of the world. Inscribed in 1992 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it is said to be the ‘cradle of nomadic civilisation of the steppes’ and held the seat of imperial power. It is easy to imagine such an empire unfolding beneath you as you stand on the edge overlooking the elbow of the Orkhon River. Evidence of the first inhabitants date back 60,000 years and therefore there are many significant sites, such as the intriguing camel stones that date back to the 6th century.
Khovsgol is Mongolia’s northernmost province, bordering with Russian Siberia. It is characterised by mountainous terrain, larch forests, rivers and the vast lake that shares its name. Its remote and wilderness landscapes are a haven for nature lovers, where flora and fauna abound. As well as a wide variety of plentiful fish and birdlife, the area is home to endangered animals such as reindeers, moose, ibex, Argali (horned wild sheep), otters, sables, bears and deer. Within this region, there are various areas ideal for some great trekking. You have the remote north-west of Lake Khovsgol, where depending on the season you may be able to trek through pine forests to the nomadic reindeer herders. Then there is the Delger River south of the lake, with more open, green space for riding and walking and home to many nomadic families during the summer, and finally the less touristy east side of Lake Khovsgol, where you can experience some of the most remote and stunning trekking in Mongolia, with varied landscapes from mountains to meadows. We have many tours which allow you to trek in this stunning part of Mongolia, such as our Northern Trails tour. Many of these treks are by horseback, but can also be hiked by foot.