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Mongolia honeymoon

Where to go

Central Region

Manzushir Monastery built in 1733 lies on the southern end of the Bogd Khaan National Park. At one time the monastery had 70 temples and more than 1,000 lamas. Unfortunately, the Manzushir monastery was destroyed in 1932 by the Communists. Nowadays, the only remaining temple has been restored to its former glory. A visitor to the area can enjoy the beautiful landscape, visit the museum displaying the original photos and artifacts of the temples and displays from the flora and fauna of the surrounding area touch the copper bowl that once fed 1,000 lamas, and take a hike to visit the paintings of Taras and deities on the rocks overlooking the valley.

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, the third largest protected area in the country was established in 1993. The Gorkhi-Terelj National Park borders with the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area and receives the largest number of visitors due to its natural setting and proximity to Ulaanbatar, capital of Mongolia. Terelj is named after the Terelj river and is an area of endless slopes and valleys with high-eroded rock formations, mountains covered in dense forests, and carpets of perennial wild flowers and Edelweiss. There are opportunities for adventure activities such as rafting, horseback riding, hiking, skiing, camping, and mountain biking.

The Przewalski’s horse or takhi, the last wild horse in the world has been successfully reintroduced into the wild in the Hustai National Park in Tuv aimag. The landscape ranges from grassland steppe to forest steppe. The best time for visitors to see the wild horses and other animals such as deer and gazelle is at dawn and at dusk. Within the reserve there are a number of Turkic graves and stone men (Khun chuluu), and the Ongot archaeological complex is nearby.

Mongolia

Ugiinuur lake is known as a wonderful spot for watching migratory birds as well as for fishing.

Khar Balgas or the Black ruins is the ancient capital of Uigur Khanate founded in 751 AD that ruled Mongolia from 745-854. The ruined citadel located on the banks of Orkhon river has very little left to see except for the outer walls, a stupa, and the ruler’s kagan (castle).Surrounded by extinct volcanoes the TerkhiinTsagaan lakeat an altitude of 2,060 m covers an area of 61 sq. km. The spectacular geology of Khorgo Volcano lying East of Terkhiin Tsagaan lake certainly adds to the pleasure of visiting Arkhangai aimag. Near the crater there are dozens of small caverns with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and walls. In the middle of the lake there is a volcanic island covered with bird nests made of the fragrant grass Sam khan. Horseback riding, fishing, bird watching, and other activities are all possible here.

The Orkhon Waterfall water flows for remarkable 1,120 km to the North and lies in the historically significant Orkhon Valley, UNESCO World Heritage site. The waterfall formed by combination of volcanic eruption and earthquakes some 20,000 years ago cascades down from a height of 27 meters. The waterfall is a good spot for bird watching and fishing.

Naiman Nuur or the Eight Lakes is another area worth visiting located 70 km south-west of the Orkhon waterfall. Naiman Nuur. The lakes were created by volcanic eruptions and are a part of the 11,500 ha of Khuisiin Naiman Nuur Natural Reserve.

Tuvkhun Khiid, ruins of an ancient temple partially restored, sits atop a mountain on the north of the Orkhon Valley. The temple gives a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape to which one can get by hiking or horseback riding. Zanabazar, the leader of Buddhism built the temple in 1653 where he lived, worked, and meditated for 30 years.

Kharkorum, ancient capital of Mongolia was established by Chinggis Khan in 1220 in the Orkhon valley. For 140 years Kharkhorin served as the capital of the United Mongol tribes until it was destroyed by the Chinese troops in 1391. The remains of the capital that stood at the crossroads of the Silk Road are extensive underground archaeological assets and two granite turtles that once stood at the main gate to the city. Four of these turtle sculptures used to mark the boundaries of ancient Kharkhorin, acting as protectors of the city (turtles are considered symbols of eternity).

In 1586, Erdenezuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia was built on the ruins of the 13th century capital. Vast walls of 400 m in length with 108stupas surround the monastery, symbolic of Kharkhorin. time and history were not merciful to Erdene Zuu monastery but it still carries the traces of its former glory and provides a great insight into the rich religious and cultural past of Mongolia.

Maanit Monu­ment with Turk in­scription erected in 731 BC stand tall in the middle of the steppes of Uvurkhangai. Ruins of Kharkhot, capital city of Uigur. 

mongolia

Eastern Region

The historical places are Deluun Boldog where Chinggis Khaan was born and Aurag where his residential palace was located and the “The Secret History of the Mongols” was written in 1240. There are many places of interests such as cave paintings, ruins of 13th and 14th century towns, Stone Walls of the Kidan dynasty, Khajuu bulag and Uglugchiin Kherem.

Khukh Nuuror the Blue Lake is said to be the site where Temuujin was crowned as Chinggis Khaan in 1206. There is a small plaque that marks the coronation spot, which some say was attended by 100,000 soldiers.

Khan Khentii Protected Area covers over 1.2 million ha of the rugged Khentii mountains with several peaks over 2,000 meters, 70 rivers of various sizes, including the three large ones, the Tuul, Onon and Kherlen feed from numerous springs of the Khentii range.

The peak of Tsogt Chandmani at the end of the Khentii Mountain Range is the world watershed of three huge drainage basins: the Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Inland Basin of Central Asia.

Baldan Bereiven monastery considered as one of the three largest monasteries in Mongolia was built in 1777 with more than 1,500 lamas at one time. The monastery architecturally resembles the famous Utai Gumbun monastery in Tibet.

Burkhan Haldun

This remote mountain, known as God’s Hill in the Khentii range is one of the sites mooted as the burial place of Chinggis Khaan. Over 800 burial sites have been found in the region, though the main tomb has yet to be located.

Eastern Mongolia is the least traveled place despite its rich historical significance and stunningly diverse natural settings. Dornod aimag, home to various ethnic groups such as the Khalkh, Buriad, Barga, Uzemchin, and others certainly make a colorful cultural fabric adding to the charm of this destination. The area is being targeted as the next frontier of economic development of Eastern Mongolia and as a center of culture, communications, trade, and information.

History comes to life at Khalkh Gol, the battlefield during 1939 between Mongolian and Soviet Russian allied forces and Japanese troops.

Dornod Mongol Biosphere Reserve or the Mongol Daguur Strictly Protected Area, uninhabited by humans extends for over 200 km along the Chinese border. It boasts 226 species of birds, including the endangered whooper swam, relict gull, mandarin duck, and great bustard inhabit the protected area. The protected area is home to 36 mammals, including roe deer, Mongolian gazelle, red fox, raccoon, and wolf. Established in part to protect the habitat for the Mongolian white-tailed gazelle (Procapra guttarosa) the area covers a representative part of the last great plain ecosystems where herds between 300,000 to 1 million Mongolian white-tailed gazelle roam the steppes.

Numrug Strictly Protected Area has the Manchurian flora and fauna ecologically distinct from rest of Mongolia. The protected area, with high biological diversity, is home to 44 mammals, 234 species of birds, 24 fish, 3 reptiles and 4 amphibians. Rare Usurian moose, black-naped oriole and great black water snake and the endangered hooded crane and Houbara bustard are found here along with otter, brown bear, lynx and wild boar.

The Buirlake, the largest lake in the eastern Mongolia stretching 40 kilometers is an important local fishing site where Amur carp, mirror carp, Amur grayling, lenok, khadary, burbot, whitefish, and others are found in abundance.

Huh Nuur (Blue lake) is the low­est point in Mongolia, 554 meters above sea level. The beautiful rivers of Khalkha and Numrug and Buir Nuur lake all boast rich bird life.

Sukhbaatar aimag has more 220 dead volcanoes, lakes, sand dunes, and an­cient stone monuments.

Friendly Daria­ganga is where the sand dunes of the Gobi and the grassy plains of the northern steppe converge.

There are dozens of stone figu­rines, the origins of which are yet to be discovered, close to Altan Ovoo, a wide crater topped where only men are allowed to visit. Originally Batsagaan stupa was erected on top of the mountain in 1820. According to local tradition, you should place an offering of food in the cup held in the statue’s left hand. There are also three balbals known as the king, the queen and the prince, in the north edge of town, near some hay sheds.

Shiliin Bogd mountain (1,778m) is the highest peak in Sukhbaatar aimag. The locals believe that the spirit of a man who climbs it especially at sunrise will be revived by the sacred volcano. The region is isolated yet stunning in so many ways. En route to Shiliin Bogd there is the statue of Tooroi Bandi, the “Robin Hood” of Mongolia who stole horses of local Manchurian occupants and hid them in the mountain.

Taliin Aguior the Steppe Cave is one of the largest caves in Mongolia with seven chambers to explore, the entrance of which is covered with ice till August.

There are six lakes in the vicinity of Dariganga all of which are part of the 28,000 ha of Ganga Nuur Natural Reserve. Ganga Nuur lake is the gath­ering ground for thousands of migrat­ing swans from the start of August to end of October.

Mongolia

Southern Region

Along with natural riches the aimag is endowed in coal, copper ore, iron ore, fluorspar, nephrite, jade, graph­ite, marble and chalcedony. The main branch of the economy is animal hus­bandry.

Baga Gazrin Chuluuis a granite rock formation rises up from a middle of dusty plains at the height of 1,768m. Rock carvings made by two re­vered lamas who lived in 19th century are worshipped by the locals and other pilgrims from other parts of the country. A cave with an underground lake is nestled in the heart of the mountain.

Ongiin Khiid the only monastery that survived the Stalinist purges out of nine by turning into a ware­house and shop reopened in 1990 and visited by current Dalai Lama in 1992. The monastery built to com­memorate the first ever visit of Dalai Lama to Mongolia once was used by 500 lamas.

The Duutrock inscriptions have been surprisingly well preserved in view of the fact that the 30 line poem was carved by Prince Tsogt Taij in 1636, a well-known poet of 17th century.

Dornogoviaimag is situated in the South-East of the country and borders with China on the South. The area is fa­mous for medical herbs such as liquorice, cuscuta australis, and annual, perennial species like wild leek, saksaul, elm, allium mongolicum and saltwort. The wildlife representatives are wild horse, wild ass, wild sheep, ibex, black tailed antelope, white antelope, and lynx.

Sainshandis 463 km from Ulaanbaatar city and is a key international railway hub linking Moscow-Ulaanbaatar-Beijing. The aimag has reserves of fluorspar, oil, and bituminous coal. In the 1950s, oil was extracted at the Zuunbayan soum and, at present, a plant is being built to reinstate the oil extraction.

Dornogovi is home to Noyon Khutagt Danzanravjaa (1803-56), a distinguished writer, composer, painter and healer. Sainshand has a museum with collection of gifts presented to Danzanravjaa by Chinese and Tibetan leaders, costumes used in his plays, Buddhist statues presented to him by the 10th Dalai Lama, and some of his paintings. He was also very interested in traditional medicine, so the museum has a collection of herbs.

Khamariin Khiidhas always been referred to as the energy center of Mongolia where locals believe that there is a living god. The image of the god is sewn into a carpet decorating the main hall of the monastery. The original monastery was built in 1821 by Danzanravjaa and destroyed during the religious purges. The surrounding landscape has caves for meditation where Danzanravjaa retreated with his students.

Umnugoviaimag people take tremendous pride in their land stretching nearly 2,000 km across the bottom third of Mongolia – and with many good reasons! Over 250 species of plant grow on the territory of the aimag including medicinal plants and herbs such as astragalus, gentian, flavor nitracia, cynomorium, agriophyllium, and trees such as saksaul, oleaster, populus diversifolia and elm. The rare animals include wild horses, wild sheep, ibex, wild camels, black tailed antelopes, white antelopes, lynxes, foxes, rabbits, and badgers.

While the largest aimag in the country has a popula­tion density of 0.3 persons per square km, it is home to one-quarter or 93,000 domesti­cated two-humped Bactrian camels.

In 1921, American paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews found the dinosaur eggs and put Mongolia on the map of international adventure seekers and explorers. The origin of ancient seabed, Umnugovi has a treasure package of late Crafeceous dinosaurs located in Bayanzagor the Flaming Cliffs the rocks give off orange and red colors that seem to glow at sunset. Other dinosaur fossil deposits are Nemegt, Altan Uul, Bugiin Tsav, and Guriliin Tsav. Many unique dinosaur skeletons such as “Fighting two dinosaurs” (Veloceraptor and Protoceratops), “Embryo of Oviraptorsaur”, “Infant of Protoceratops”, complete skeletons of giant carnivorous dinosaur Tarbosaurus, and eggs of dinosaurs were found here and currently are displayed at the Museum of Natural History in Ulaanbaatar.

The 100 km long Khongoriin Elsor the Singing Dunes reach as high as 800 m and create the largest accumulation of sand in the Gobi thanks to which Umnugovi won in the nomination Best of Adventure 2008 Destinations by the National Geographic Adventure Magazine.

The Yoliin Amor the Vulture’s Mouth established to conserve the regional birdlife became a favorite place to visit for its dramatic and unusual natural landscape shaped by a towering mountain gorge in the middle of the Gobi desert with thick ice all year-round.

The Gobi Gurvansaikhan Protected Area named after the mountain Gurvansaikhan (The Three Beauties of Gobi) was established in 1993 and stretches for 27,000 square kilometers making it the largest national park in the country. The protected area safeguards the Mongolian portion of a largely undisturbed part of the vast Gobi desert and provides a last refuge for representatives of the ancient terrestrial fauna of Central Asia with over 620 species of flowering plants and 38 endemic species. 52 species of mammals are found here inclusive of eight species listed in the Mongolian Red Book as endangered. Over 240 bird species occur in the area, including 34 resident species, 99 breeding species, and 70 migrants. The park is abundant with wildlife such as snow leopard, Ibex, Argali, wild asses, gazelles, different species of vultures, gophers, northern pikas, various lizards, lynx, and Mazalai, the Gobi bear.

The “Ten thousand camel” racing fes­tival organized annually during the Tsagaan Sar by residents of Mandal- Ovoo settlement also known as the Sharkhulsan with high quality camel herds reaching 14,000 is quite an at­traction. The camels race across the Gobi for 18km.

Often overlooked by visitors to Mongolia Bayankhongoraimag lies at the intersection of mountainous steppe region and the Gobi desert. With an average elevation of 1,859 meters above sea level, rocky peaks loom over changing landscapes that are ideal for archaeological explorations, bird watching, wildlife viewing, hiking and mountain climbing. Of its many peaks, canyons, and valleys, one of the province’s most revered sites is the 3,957 meter-high Ikh Bogd Mountain, the highest in the Gobi Altai range.

Other notable attractions include Bichigt Khad, a worldclass petroglyphic site, whose rock paintings date back to the Bronze age. The nearby Tsagaan Aguior White Cave is believed to be the place of the earliest human inhabitance in Mongolia, with evidence of human presence dating as far back as 700,000 years ago. Archeological richness is also evidenced by the petrified forests and fossils found throughout the aimag. Equally enticing are the estimated 300 hot and cold mineral springs of Shargaljuut offering visitors the unique opportunity to bathe in Gobi oases, while nearby bath houses and ger camps provide the necessary amenities.

Western Region

Peaceful and harmonious co-exis­tence of more than 10 ethnic groups makes up the unique fabric of Khovdaimag, prime destination for any traveler in search of ethno­graphic and cultural experience. The many man stones, deer stones, and Tur­kic tomb­stones are a strong evidence of the rich social structure of the area.

The permanently snow-capped Tsambagarav mountain at an altitude of 4,208m straddles the border between Khovd and Bayan- Ulgii aimags and is accessible from either side. While traveling in the region you can engage in activities like camping, trekking, horseback riding, and rock climbing.

The rock paintings of Khoid Tsenheriin AguI or the Blue Caves dating back 20,000 - 15,000 years ago are rightfully considered as world class evidence of the Upper Paleolithic period. Numerous symbols and animals painted with rosy and brown colors deep inside the cave depict a quietly standing stag, a buffalo with horns, oxen, ibexes, elephants, ostriches, and two-humped camels either separately or overlapping each other.

The rugged beauty of Bayan-Ulgiiaimag with its pointed mountain tops reaching for the sky and vast valleys crisscrossed with meandering streams has always stood out of the Western aimags of Mongolia. Bayan- Ulgii is the home to the second largest ethnic group – the Kazakhs with their unique culture who continue to hunt with trained golden eagles besides herding goats.

The Altai region is abundant with significant archaeological sites dating back to Paleolithic era, evidences of human habitation as far back as 40,000 and 12,000 years ago. Bronze age petroglyphs, man stones from the later Turkic period and deer stones along with khurgan or burial mounds can be found. Elaborate graves of Scythian warriors and princesses have also been discovered in this region rich in natural wonders and archaeology. The Tsagaan Salaa and Baga Oirog rock paintings depicting prominent hunting scene and livestock are important monuments of the art of the transition from ancient hunters and gatherers’ society to livestock breeding and the beginning of the classic nomadic economy in Mongolia.

The Altai mountain range stretching for 900 km across Russian, Mongolia, and China and the Tavan Bogd National park have always stood out from any other part of Mongolia. The highest mountain peak, the Khuiten Uulat 4,374 meters (14,300 feet) flanked by four other peaks along with the Potanin river, the source of a massive glacier, are commonly known as Tavan Bogd or the Five Saints. The range is home to Argali sheep, ibex, marla (large Siberian deer like elk), brown bear, marmot, fox and wolf, as well as the endangered snow leopard and lynx. Birds include saker falcons, Altai snow cocks and golden eagles. Camping out at the foothill of the Altai Tavan Bogd after a day of mountain climbing or hiking and horseback riding across the diverse terrain and being hosted by friendly Tuva people for a couple of nights is an experience you would cherish for the rest of your life.

Uvs aimag has rich ethnographic composition made up of Durvud, Bay­ad, Khalkh, Kho­ton, Torguud, Zakhchin, and Uriankhai ethnicities. The aimag is famous for historical and cultural sights such as stone figures, various types of rock drawings, including drawings of ancient sea-fauna and flora on the rocks of the Yamaat peak at 9,843 feet (3,000 m) above sea level.

National Parks such as Khan Khohii and Khyargas Nuurare home to snow leopard, wolf, and musk deer. Uvs aimag is blessed with numerous lakes and rivers that easily position the aimag as a prime ornithological destination.

The mountains play an important role in feeding the Uvs Nuur, part of the Uvs Nuur Basin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The peaks offer superb trekking routes as well as opportuni­ties for white-water rafting and kaya­king. The Khoton people, known throughout Mongolia as shamans, are the largest ethnic group. Remains of Uigur statues and relics are scattered around the area.

The Uvs Nuur, the largest lake in Mon­golia is five times saltier than the ocean and devoid of edible fish and of outlets. The lake’s surface is at an altitude of 759m that makes it the lowest point in Western Mongolia, ideal for research of global warming. There are 38 rivers that enter Uvs Lake. Ornithologists have documented over 200 species of birds around Uvs Nuur, including cranes, spoonbills, geese and eagles, as well as gulls that fly thousands of kilometers from the southern coast of China to spend a brief summer in Mongolia.

Altan Elsor Golden Sands, part of the Uvs Nuur Strictly Protected Area is another wonderful area for wildlife viewing and lies on the border of Uvs and Zavkhan aimags.

Khyargas Nuur National Park has wonderful hot springs. South of Khyargas Nuur at the end of Zavkhan river lies a freshwater lake Airag Nuur where more than 20 breeding pairs of migratory Dalmation pelicans are found every year. Khar Us Nuur or Ulgii Nuur and Uureg lakes round off the many lakes of Uvs aimag each with its own natural beauty of flora and fauna. Lastly, Achit lake the largest freshwater lake in Uvs offers stunning sunsets and sunrises and great fishing.

Zavkhanaimag is well endowed with many rivers and lakes. In addition to 808 km long Zavkhan river responsible for the aimag name, rivers like Ider, Tes, and Khun meander through the province. Lakes Otgon, Telmen, Khar, and Kholboovary in size. The eastern edge of Zavkhan aimag is the western flank of the Khangai Nuruu, the second highest mountain range in Mongolia, and a spectacular area of forests and lakes, dotted with snow-clad peaks, white-water streams and hot and cold springs of Otgontenger, Ulaan Khaalga, and Khojuul add to the natural attractions of the aimag. The wildlife is represented by the forest bear, deer, boar, musk deer, wild sheep, ibex, lynx, and antelope in mountains and black-tailed antelope in the steppe. Bird species include black vultures, golden eagle, great bustards, Dalmatian pelican and black stork.

The southern and western parts of Zavkhan present a stark contrast with its vast deserts, salt lakes and sand dunes where rain falls once or twice a year. The largest sand dune called the Mongol-Els and Borkhar-Els coexist along the meandering rivers and lush green forests and valleys.

Otgontengeruul is located 60 km east of Uliastai, third historically significant settlement of Mongolia and capital of Zavkhan aimag has been worshipped for centuries (women are not allowed to ascend the mountain). At 3,905 meters the mountain is the highest peak in Khangai range and is favored by hardcore mountaineers and alpine explorers.

Khar Nuur nestled in the western part of Zavkhan aimag is surrounded by fine sand dunes and mountains covered in dense wood. It is one of the most stunning natural scenes so inviting and remote. The same holds true for salt lake Bayan Nuurin the Bor Khyariin Els sand dunes where locals claim have good fishing.

The nature reserves jointly protect the Altai habitat home of snow leopard, argali, ibex, wild ass, Gobi bear, the wild Bactrian camel, jerboa, and antelope to name just a few.

Hiking through the Eej Khairkhan (Sa­cred Mother) Natu­ral Reserve that took more than 100 years in making is a surreal experience. The Eej Khairkhan mountain at 2,275m is located in Gobi-Altai aimag north of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area. The Nature Reserve came under state protection in 1992. For centuries, the Sacred Mother mountain was re­vered and worshipped by the locals in their belief that the mountain blessed families with children. The nine green framed stone pools and paintings of ibex, horsemen, and archers are some of the attractions for nature lovers.

Takhiin Talor the Wild Przewalski horse steppe borders with the northern section of the Dzungarian National Park. In 1996, 8 wild horses were reintroduced to the reserve and today there are more than 60.

DashpeljeelenKhiid is a small monastery built in 1990 and home to 30 lamas who perform religious ceremonies and daily praying. The monastery located in the Gobi- Altai aimag capital is an example of religious revival of the country. More than 35 spots of historical and cultural significance such as ruins of ancient cities, religious and cultural artifacts, burial grounds, etc. are spread across the 14 soums of Gobi-Altai.

Northern Region

This majestic clear-watered lake con­tains 65% of all the fresh water of Mongolia and furthermore, 1% of the world’s fresh wa­ter supply. Nine species of fish inhabit the lake, including Sibe­rian grayling and lenok. Nearby tai­ga forest, forest steppe, moun­tains, and the lake itself provide habitat for 68 species of mam­mals, including argali, ibex, elk, reindeer, musk deer, brown bear, Iynx, marten, beaver, wolf, and moose, 244 spe­cies of birds, and 750 species of plants, including 60 with medicinal importance.

Khuvsgul is the land of the Tsaatan reindeer herdsmen, a branch of the Turkic-speaking Tuvinian or Dukha ethnic group. This small group of 42 families possesses a social and material culture which has remained unchanged since the Ice Age. Shamanistic or totemic rituals and symbolism are central to the social organization of the Tsaatan. Shamanistic rituals of healing rely on rare medicinal plants and animals unique to this landscape. The Tsaatan are an archaic and ethnographically interesting nomadic groups to be found on the Eurasian continent, their lifestyles are both ancestral to all the nomadic herding cultures of Central Asia and are reminiscent of a way of life which was widespread across Europe, Asia and North America 10,000 years ago. Darkhad and Tuva people have coexisted peacefully with the Tsaatan reindeer herders sharing respect for Khuvsgullake, The Dalai Eej or Mother Sea for sustaining their livelihoods for centuries. The area is a perfect destination for vacationing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, trekking, sport fishing, and bird watching.

Mongolia’s largest river, the Selenge Gol, crosses the aimag’s north, and the Orkhon and Tuul rivers meander around the southern parts.

Uvgun Khiid monastery located in the mountains of Khugnu-Khanwas built by the medieval religious figure Zanabazar who dedicated the mon­astery to his teacher. The temple was one of his beloved sanctuaries. Dur­ing its peak, the monastery served up to 1,000 lamas. In the 18th cen­tury Ovgon-Khiid became a bone of contention between Galdan Boshigt (Western Mongolia) and Zanabazar (Cen­tral Mongolia). The former was against Zanabazar’s inten­tion to submit to the Manchus. The never-ending argument res­ulted in a war when Galdan Boshigt’s army destroyed Ovgon-Khiid.

Uran-Togoo Tulga Uul Natural Reservecom­posed of Uran uul and Togoo volcano lies west of Bulgan city en route to Khuvsgul area.

The rich vegetation and fertile soil of Selenge aimag position the aimag as the breadbasket of Mongolia. Selenge aimag produces 40-56 percent of the grain of the country. In the aimag, there are timber, match, cement, chalk, spirit, wood plants, gold and coal mines and power stations. In the south-east, the open-pit coal mine at Sharyn Gol produces about two million tons of coal each year to provide electric­ity for the Erdenet mine in Bulgan aimag.

The Amarbayasgalant monas­tery is considered the second most important in Mongolia after Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin and the most intact architectural complex in Mon­golia located in a valley 360 km from Ulaanbaatar. The monastery was built between 1727 and 1737 by the Man­chu emperor Yongzheng and dedi­cated to the great Mongolian Bud­dhist and sculptor, Zanabazar, whose mummified body was moved here in 1779. The valley is covered through­out its extent with Turkic-era graves of various geometric shapes dating to 3rd century. The area holds sacred associations for the people. In 1996 it was nominated by UNESCO as a Heri­tage Site. After 65 years the lamas or­ganized “Tsam” religious dance for the first time in Amarbayasgalant monas­tery in 2002.

Climate

Hot summers and cold winters. Average summer temperature +20C, average winter temperature -23C, average rainfall 200-220 mm per annum, the sun shines for over 200 days a year. Winter lasts from November to late February, spring from March to May, and summer from June to September.

Geography

Territory: 1,564,100 sq km, 19th and the most sparsely populated independent largest country in the world

Population: 2,754,314 people with density of 1.8 person/sq km

Geographic position: Mongolia lies in Central Asia and borders with Russia and China.

Average altitude: 1,580 m above sea level

Landscapes: Semi-desert and plains, mountains in the west and southwest, Gobi desert in the south and southeast, taiga forests and lakes in the north.

Flora

Mongolia is the region of convergence and co-existence of flora which originates both from the Great Siberian Taiga and from the Central Asian Steppe and Desert. 975 species of flowering plant out of the total 3,000 registered species are used for traditional medicine of Mongolia. Most of the plants are wild shrubs and bushes adapted to the extreme weather conditions. The flowers have a wide range of colors and shapes. However most of the flowers are smaller in size because of the small amounts of precipitation of rain in this country.

There are about 150 endemic vascular and lower plants such as Stipa mongolorum, Adonis mongolica, Betula mongolica, Atraphaxis bracteata, Calligonum gobicum, Nanophyton mongolicum, Gymnocarpus przewalskii, Silene mongolica, Potaninia mongolica, Chesneya mongolica, Astragalus gobicus, Oxytropis ulzii-chutagii and Armisia gobica. The Khangai, Gobi-Altai and Mongolian Altai regions have the most endemic species.

Leontopodium, commonly known as Edelweiss is a native plant of the Asian steppes growing at altitudes of 1,700 m above the sea level. The plant is well adapted to climatic extremes due to its deep fibrous routes and the felt-like covering of its leaves which protect it from drought, strong winds, and potentially damaging sun. The flower with white petals arranged in star like shape has medicinal value.

The most commonly found flower plant in Mongolia is Caryopteris, small shrubs with white or blue flowers that grow up to 4 meters. The aromatic leaves grow opposite to each other and when the flowers are blue they are often known by the name Blue Mist. These plants are used for making perfumes.

Fauna

With the lowest human population density of any country on earth, and with one of the highest proportions of land area classified as protected, Mongolia is a haven where plants and animals can thrive. Locally-managed nature reserves such as Gun Galuut, just an hour outside of Ulaanbaatar, boast species diversity unrivaled by many of the world’s most leg­endary national parks. Here, majestic mammals like Argali sheep and gray wolf coexist with herding families who have committed to protecting these threatened species through conservation and sustainable management. Further north, in Khuvsgul National Park, rangers and tour companies are joining forces to protect the rich aquatic diversity found in the park’s lakes and rivers through eco-tourism initiatives centered on responsible fishing.

From border to bor­der, Mongolia is a na­tion that values wildlife and cherishes na­ture. Any visit to the countryside promises an opportunity to spot animals in their natural habitat, and enjoy the bounty of Mongolia’s flora and fauna. There are 75 species of fish belonging to 36 genera and 11 families living in Mongo­lian rivers and lakes of with 10 species are of 5 families in the Enclosed Basin of Central Asia, 22 species of 11 families in the Arctic basin and 43 species of 11 families in the Pa­cific Ocean. The mammals living in Mongolia include: 14 species are animal feeding on insects, 12 species are with wings, 4 species of rats, 3 species of hares, 65 spe­cies of rodents, 22 species of carnivorous animals and 14 species of hoofed animals. Altogether, 35 mammal species have been registered in Mongolian Red Data Book.

Many species of Mammals inhabit in the Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve. Threat level of Gun-Galuut species are: Critically: Siberian White Crane, Endangered: Wild Mountain Sheep and Swan Goose, Vulnerable: White-Naped Crane, Great Bustard, Relict Gull, Lesser Kestrel, nearly threatened: Cinereous Vulture and White-Tailed Eagle, Least Con­cern: Grey Wolf and Corsica Fox. Argali mountain wild sheep (Ovis Am­mon). There are over 100 Argalis live in the Nature Reserve currently. The first Ar­gali came to the area in 1980s, but now it is known exactly where they came from. Argali live in beautiful Mt. Baits and Berkh.

Also Gray Wolf (Canus Lupus) live here, particularly at Mt Baits and Berkh. They spend the day laying in woody and bushy ravines of the mountains and hunting for domestic animals and sometimes the Argali herds at nights. Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Steppe fox (Vulpes corsac), Manul cat (Feles manul), Badger (Meles meles) and Lynx (Lynx lynx) are also seen here during daytime. Mon­golian Marmot (Marmote sibirica) occurred here for a few years ago, though, connecting to illegal hunting now this animal is facing extinction. The area is rich in small rodents such as Brown Hare (Lepus tolai), mice, etc. White gazelles (Procapra gutturosa) often come from the east to this area.

Source: www.mongoliatourism.org

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