Travellers are totally fascinated by the idea of Mongolia and for good reason.
The country, spanning across Central Asia and East Asia, remains relatively untouched with rural families not just surviving but thriving in one of the world’s most barren landscapes.
Here are ten reasons why Mongolia is such an intriguing destination that deserves to be at the top of your travel list.
1. The endangered two-humped Bactrian camel is native to Mongolia
The two-humped Bactrian camel is indigenous to Mongolia. The annual Thousand Camel Festival is run by a local non-governmental organisation working to protect and preserve the Bactrian camel population, which has been steadily declining over the past twelve years. At the festival you’ll get an opportunity to interact with the camels and learn first-hand about the camel herders’ nomadic lifestyle.
2. Mongolians are always ready for a guest
In a country of vast distances, communication can be difficult but it is important to maintain a sense of community. People living in the Mongolian countryside will always have a bowl of warm, salty milk tea ready for visitors.
3. Ice-cream is a favourite winter treat
In winter you’ll find street vendors selling ice-cream on the street from paper boxes. There’s no need for a freezer at -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit).
4. They have a festival dedicated to eagle hunting
The Golden Eagle Festival is held over two days every year, celebrating age-old Kazakh traditions. It begins with a parade of eagle hunters on horseback, displaying their elaborate hunting costumes and accessories. The eagles are judged for their speed and agility, as the birds are released from a cliff and swoop down to land on the arms of the hunters below. The men demonstrate their courage and horsemanship and a variety of traditional games.
5. The great Genghis Khan is Mongolia’s founding father
Genghis Khan is considered the founding father of Mongolia. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and establishing the largest empire in the world, exceeded only by the British Empire in the 19th century. In a span of just 25 years, Genghis Khan’s horsemen conquered an area larger and greater in population than the Romans did in four centuries. In short, he was a determined bloke.
6. And there’s a whopping big statue that pays him tribute
A 40-metre (131-foot) statue of Genghis Khan sits just outside Ulaanbaatar and is the world’s tallest statue of a horse.
7. Mongolia is big! But maybe not as big as you might think
You could fit the Netherlands into Mongolia thirty-seven times. It’s the world’s 18th-largest country (Iran is 17th).
8. Mongolia is home to endangered snow leopards
Snow leopards are native to Mongolia, and one-third of the world’s population lives there. Fun fact: a snow leopard cannot roar or purr.
9. It’s the land where dinosaurs once roamed
In the 1920s, fossilised dinosaur remains were found in the Gobi Desert, along with the first dinosaur eggs. Many dinosaur fossils still lie exposed today, so remember to glance down every now and then.
10. More than one-quarter of the population live as nomads
Are you ready for an adventure to Mongolia? Check out Intrepid’s small group trips for the experience of a lifetime.
Feature image by Chanwit Whanset / Shutterstock