Have you ever thought of traveling to Mongolia, or is it on your bucket list already? We can tell you: you must go! Mongolia is one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries and has one of the last surviving nomadic cultures. More pure, authentic experience is hard to find in a world where nowadays no place seems undiscovered. We travel to this amazingly diverse country in spring 2017 and here’s our list of 11x why you must travel Mongolia, RIGHT NOW!
Nomadic people & culture
Mongolians are arguably the most friendly & warmhearted people in the world. We are welcomed open-armed everywhere. It doesn’t matter that they do not speak English; they speak with their warm smiles. Mongolia’s culture – one of the world’s last surviving nomadic cultures – is world-famous. We get the opportunity to stay with nomadic families in their Ger; an adventure to never forget. Because of its beautiful open culture, Mongolia’s people make the country feel surprisingly accessible and warm (even during the cold spring!).
Untouched by modern life
Except for the big capital, Mongolia is untouched by modern life and more importantly: undiscovered by mass tourism. This will soon change, as the country is increasingly popular and infrastructure is getting better quickly. This is the place to go, now. More pure, authentic experience is hard to find in a world where nowadays no place seems undiscovered.
The feeling of being the only one
With a population of only 3 million people and a size of 1.6 million square kilometers (605k square miles), Mongolia is the least densely populated country in the world (only 1.97 people per square kilometer, or 5.1 people per square miles). We drive hours seeing nothing but limitless open space, and visit the most incredible places without other tourists around; it makes you feel like you are the only person in the world.
If you love the outdoors, Mongolia is your paradise. Nature is incredibly diverse and driving though Mongolia amazes us every minute. From the beautiful desert steppe and incredibly sand dunes in the Gobi in the south to the mountainous regions in the west, to the lakes in the north: Mongolia’s nature will never bore you.
Most tourists go from the capital to the Gobi desert in the south, or to Lake Khuvsgul in the north and they miss out on the best part of the country: the west. The more we travel west, the friendlier the people become; we drive into the Kazakh area. These people are known for their hospitality and… for eagle hunting! We visit the family of the Eagle Huntress and have the funniest experience drinking vodka – they are Muslims and cannot drink strong alcohol, so we have to finish a bottle. Not only is west-Mongolia known among Mongolians for the Kazakh people, but it is also famous for its nature. Our driver proudly tells us that you don’t have to travel all of Mongolia: all things can be seen right there, in the west. Mountains, sand dunes, and lakes: everything!
In the countryside, you will not see normal traffic jams, but traffic jams created by herds of cows, sheep, goats, horses, or camels, who are simply standing on the road. We are especially lucky during our travel since we experience moving-season. In spring all nomadic families move, with all of their stuff and life stock. There are animals everywhere. And the beauty is that nomadic people do not (need to) keep the animals together by fences, but just out in the ‘wild’. There are also many real wild animals living in Mongolia like the famous Prezwalski horse, snow leopards, yaks, and gazelles!
Adventure is out there
Traveling in Mongolia is one of the most adventurous travels we have ever done. There are no real roads, no shower, no toilets, and no electricity for seventeen days. We are totally off the grid and living the nomadic life ourselves. It is tough but amazing. We have the time of our lives!
With adventure comes wild camping, and –peeing and –pooping. Where you want and whenever you want; out in the open without anyone around you for miles. And though wild camping could be tough because of weather conditions, the starry skies are totally worth it. They say Mongolia is the land of the blue sky; to us, it is the country of starry skies.
The beauty of the season
Mongolia is called the country of the blue sky because it has over 250 sunny days a year! The summers are hot and the winters extremely cold. And in spring, the weather is everything. Literally. In the Altai Mountains in the west, you can see all four seasons from snow to sun to rain in just ten minutes. Every season shows a different Mongolia. The winter shows a beautiful white wonderland, the summer its green mountains, and spring its newborn animals jumping around happily.
Although it is the coldest capital city in the world, Ulaanbaatar – or just UB – is a lively capital with a rapidly growing population. Nowadays almost half of Mongolia’s entire population lives in UB – no wonder the rest of the land is so empty. It is crazy to think that UB is also Mongolia, as the feel is the opposite as that of the countryside. The capital attracts young people from rural areas and this makes the city feel alive!
A famous time to travel to Mongolia is during the National Nadaam Festival. Every summer this festival is celebrated as the festival of the Three Manly Sports: wrestling, archery, and horse racing. We are looking forward to returning to Mongolia one day and seeing this happening!
Are you thinking about travelling to Mongolia? Do it, you won’t regret it! If you have any questions about our trip, feel free to ask anything. And be sure to check out Indy Guide for more info on Mongolia.