Unlock the Adventure: Why Camping in Mongolia is a Must Thing to Do

Why camping in Mongolia is a must thing to do? Simply put, it’s where unparalleled wilderness meets deeply rooted nomadic culture. This isn’t just another camping trip; it’s an adventure into the vast, open steppes and a step back into a life intertwined with nature. Ready to discover why camping here is unlike anywhere else?…

Key Takeaways

  • Camping in Mongolia offers a rich cultural experience, allowing visitors to live like nomads in traditional ger camps equipped with modern amenities, participate in daily nomadic tasks, and immerse themselves in Mongolian customs and festivals.

  • Mongolia’s diverse landscapes, including Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Orkhon Valley, and the Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes, provide campers with stunning views, opportunities for wildlife encounters, and a variety of adventure activities such as horseback riding and hiking.

  • Eco-consciousness is a must for campers, as sustainable travel practices are emphasized to minimize environmental impact, support local communities, and preserve Mongolia’s pristine wilderness and cultural heritage for future generations.

Experience the Nomadic Lifestyle

Approximately half of Mongolia’s population still lives in traditional gers, portable felt tents designed to be lightweight and well-insulated, housing multiple generations under one roof. Staying at a Mongolian ger camp offers an unparalleled opportunity to dive into the Mongolian adventure. These camps offer a unique blend of tradition and modern convenience. Imagine sleeping under the same style of tent that has sheltered Mongolian nomads for centuries, yet equipped with modern amenities like satellite dishes.

Engaging in everyday tasks such as milking cows and herding livestock allows you to participate in the nomadic way of life. These activities offer an authentic experience and a unique cultural immersion. Imagine ending your day with a communal meal of traditional Mongolian dishes, surrounded by fellow travelers in the camp’s central ger, with the evening enriched by performances such as Mongolian throat singing.

Rather than just a wild camping experience, camping in Mongolia provides the chance to live the nomadic way, even if only for a short time.

The Stunning Landscapes

Mongolia’s landscapes offer a diverse and pristine wilderness experience, with breathtaking views and unique adventures. Some of the highlights include:

  • Vast steppes, emblematic of the country’s natural beauty

  • The arid Gobi Desert

  • National parks with their own unique allure

  • Valleys with stunning scenery

These landscapes make Mongolia the perfect place for an enjoyable stay in the wilderness.

Let’s explore these picturesque landscapes in more depth.

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park

Just a short drive from Ulaanbaatar, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park offers:

  • Picturesque mountainous scenery

  • Spectacular rock formations

  • Winding rivers

  • Lush woodlands

Imagine setting up your ger camp near the Khagiin Khar glacial lake or unwinding at the Yestii hot springs after a long day of exploration.

Beyond its scenic beauty, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is also known for its unique wildlife. As you wander through the park’s taiga and mountainous regions, you might be pleasantly surprised to spot a Siberian Musk Deer, a resident of the park. Visiting this national park offers more than just stunning landscapes; it’s also about up-close wildlife encounters that enhance your unforgettable Mongolian adventure.

Orkhon Valley

Located west of Ulaanbaatar, the Orkhon Valley offers a peaceful setting for campers, with gentle green hills rolling along the meandering banks of the Orkhon River. It’s not just the serene environment that makes the valley a perfect place for camping. The valley is also steeped in rich historical significance.

Imagine setting up your camp near the magnificent Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall, with the sound of cascading water as your lullaby. Or, visit significant monuments such as the ancient capital, Karakorum, while you’re in the valley. More than merely a camping spot, the Orkhon Valley serves as a journey through Mongolia’s history, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty.

Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes

Venture into the expansive Gobi Desert, and you’ll find the towering Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes. These dunes can reach up to 80 meters in height and are nestled at the foothills of the majestic Altai Mountains. As the wind sweeps across the dunes, they create a mesmerizing ‘singing’ sound, adding a unique auditory dimension to your camping experience.

Camping near the Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes offers:

  • Breathtaking panoramic views of the desert landscape

  • Experience the dynamic interplay of colors and light at sunrise and sunset

  • A challenging and rewarding desert camping experience

Wildlife Encounters

Mongolia’s diverse ecosystems are home to a rich array of wildlife, including:

  • 139 mammal species

  • 449 bird species

  • 22 reptile species

  • 76 fish species

  • 6 amphibian species

Imagine spotting the Henderson’s Ground Jay or the White-throated Bush Chat, each with their unique adaptations and striking appearances, as you hike through the wilderness.

A trip to Khustain Nuruu National Park offers a chance to see the iconic Takhi, the wild Mongolian horse, roaming freely in its natural habitat. While the thrill of wildlife encounters can be exhilarating, it’s paramount to respect these animals. Keep a safe distance and avoid feeding them to preserve their natural behaviors and maintain the health of Mongolia’s wildlife.

Adventure Activities

Mongolia presents a wide array of adventure activities, enabling you to explore its diverse landscapes in an extraordinary manner. One such activity is horseback riding. Imagine riding through the taiga forest, the expansive Gobi Desert, or the scenic Blue Khentii Mountain. With the wind in your hair and the Mongolian wilderness spread out before you, horseback riding in Mongolia is an adventure that will remain etched in your memory forever.

For those who prefer to explore on foot, Mongolia offers ample hiking opportunities. A trek to Tavan Bogd offers panoramic views of the Potanin Glacier and Mongolia’s tallest peaks. Meanwhile, hiking in the Gobi Desert adds a unique dimension to your trekking experience, with its vast landscapes and significant paleontological sites like the Flaming Cliffs. Whether on horseback or on foot, adventure awaits at every turn in Mongolia.

Stargazing Opportunities

Mongolia’s vast, sparsely populated landscapes and minimal light pollution offer an exceptional stargazing experience. As night falls and the campfire dims, the sky above reveals a stunning spectacle of stars. Winter season often presents the clearest skies, although visibility can be affected by the full moon.

Imagine lying on the soft sand of the Gobi Desert or the cool grass of the Mongolian steppes, looking up at the night sky. You’ll see common constellations and celestial bodies such as Altan Gadaz (the north star), Doloon Burkhan (the Big Dipper), and the spectacular Tengerin Zaadas (the Milky Way).

Astro-tourism is becoming increasingly popular, with visitors engaging in night sky photography and various stargazing experiences, making Mongolia a haven for astronomy enthusiasts.

Cultural Immersion

Camping in Mongolia is not just about nature and adventure; it’s also an opportunity for deep cultural immersion. Imagine participating in the Naadam Festival, a showcase of traditional Mongolian sports, including wrestling, archery, and horse racing. Or perhaps, you’d like to be part of the Tsagaan Sar or Mongolian Lunar New Year, celebrating with traditional feasts and customs in the late winter.

Visiting significant sites like the Valley of the Amarbayasgalant Monastery, renowned for its breathtaking scenery and cultural festivities, is also an option. When staying at ger camps or visiting local families, remember to bring small gifts or money as a token of appreciation for their hospitality. Through these experiences, you’re not just a tourist passing through; you become a part of the Mongolian culture, if only for a while.

Seasonal Highlights

Camping in Mongolia is a year-round activity, with each season presenting its unique charm.

Spring camping is characterized by:

  • the shift from cold weather to more favorable conditions

  • starting in April and becoming suitable for camping trips by May

  • setting up your tent under the spring sun as the morning sun shines early

  • being surrounded by blossoming landscapes, signaling the arrival of a new camping season

However, spring camping in Mongolia requires careful preparation. To manage water supplies cautiously, consider using purification methods such as iodine drops, water treatment tablets, or boiling water. And remember to be conscientious about the environmental impact of campfires during the spring season. With careful planning and mindful practices, you can ensure a rewarding spring camping experience.

Ger Camps: A Unique Accommodation Experience

Staying in unique ger camps stands out as one of the highlights when camping in Mongolia. These traditional Mongolian gers, or yurts, offer a unique blend of traditional accommodation and modern amenities.

Whether you choose a luxury ger camp that combines traditional Mongolian craftsmanship with modern comforts or a basic ger camp that provides essential amenities and a rustic experience, a stay in a ger is an integral part of the Mongolian camping adventure.

Luxury Ger Camps

For those seeking a blend of tradition and luxury, the Three Camel Lodge in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert offers luxury ger accommodations. Handmade using traditional materials, each ger features distinctive colorful furniture and offers ample space inside, echoing the artisanal skills of Mongolian craftsmanship.

The tranquil backdrop of the Mongolian landscape, free from distractions like Wi-Fi or cell service, encourages guests to completely immerse themselves in nature. It’s a truly luxurious escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Basic Ger Camps

For a more rustic and authentic Mongolian experience, basic ger camps are the way to go. These camps provide essential amenities such as:

  • Single beds

  • Clean linens

  • A dining table

  • Chairs

  • A wood-burning stove in each ger

They also offer communal blocks for showers and flush toilets. Basic ger camps generally consist of 15-40 gers, with a large central ger or house restaurant where travelers can enjoy both European and Mongolian meals.

When selecting from many ger camps, consider the level of amenities provided in a basic ger camp, as these tourist camps cater to those seeking a more traditional and authentic accommodation experience.

Sustainable Travel

Camping in Mongolia involves more than just relishing the stunning landscapes and unique experiences. It’s also about honoring the environment and bolstering local communities. When camping, follow these guidelines to minimize your impact on the environment:

  • Follow established trails and use designated camping sites to lessen damage to fragile ecosystems.

  • Minimize topsoil disturbance to prevent soil erosion, a significant environmental issue in Mongolia.

  • Opt for eco-friendly and biodegradable hygiene products to minimize pollution and protect water sources while camping.

  • Manage waste by carrying out all garbage, including using alternatives to plastic bottles like iodine drops, water treatment tablets, or boiling water.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy your camping experience while also preserving the beauty of Mongolia.

Support sustainability efforts in Mongolia by:

  • Staying at local ger camps

  • Investing in community-based tourism to help preserve Mongolian traditions and benefit rural families

  • Engaging local tour operators for camping trips to ensure tourism benefits are distributed throughout the Mongolian community

By practicing sustainable travel, you contribute to preserving the beauty and cultural heritage of Mongolia for future generations.

Tips for a Successful Camping Trip

While camping in Mongolia promises an unforgettable adventure, it necessitates careful preparation. Here are some tips to ensure your comfort and safety:

  • Wear waterproof and comfortable boots, ensuring they are broken in before the trip.

  • Include an ultra-light rain jacket and pants that do not make noise, which can startle horses during riding.

  • Choose a fast-drying towel and biodegradable toiletries for outdoor showering.

  • Invest in quality gear, such as wind stable tents, that can withstand unexpected weather conditions like rain, hail, wind, and dust.

A successful camping trip also requires careful food handling and water management. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Purchase drinking water and dairy products from locals when possible

  • Utilize a portable water purifier

  • Store food in a cooler or car during the day

  • Use approved bear-proof storage methods at night

  • Maintain basic food handling practices such as keeping cooler food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder

  • Handle raw meat with extra care to avoid contamination

With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to a successful and enjoyable camping trip in Mongolia.

Summary

Camping in Mongolia offers an adventure that transcends the typical vacation experience. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in a unique nomadic lifestyle, traverse stunning landscapes, encounter diverse wildlife, engage in thrilling adventure activities, and immerse yourself in the rich Mongolian culture. Whether you’re stargazing in the vast steppes, staying in traditional ger camps, or practicing sustainable travel, the memories you create in Mongolia will last a lifetime. So, pack your bags, prepare for the unexpected, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Mongolia is waiting to share its treasures with you.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Is it safe to camp in Mongolia?

    Yes, it is safe to camp in Mongolia, but campers should avoid setting up tents under trees and stay away from dried riverbeds to prevent potential risks.

  • Why would anyone want to go to Mongolia?

    You should consider visiting Mongolia for its living nomadic culture, unspoiled landscapes, open hospitality, and the opportunity for unexpected adventures. Experiencing the unique lifestyle of the nomadic herders and the untouched natural beauty makes the trip worthwhile.

  • What is Mongolia best known for?

    Mongolia is best known for its diverse wildlife including the Siberian Ibex, Snow Leopard, Gobi Bear, Wild Bactrian Camel, and Przewalski’s Horse, alongside its dramatic and varied landscapes. These features make Mongolia a unique and beautiful destination for nature enthusiasts.

  • Can I camp anywhere in Mongolia?

    Yes, wild camping is legal in Mongolia, and you can camp almost anywhere. Just be cautious of where you place your tent, avoiding areas under trees to prevent potential danger during a storm.

  • What is a ger camp?

    A ger camp is a unique accommodation option in Mongolia, offering a stay in traditional Mongolian gers, or yurts, which are portable, round tents covered with felt or fabric.

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