Reasons to travel to western MongoliaThree great mountain ranges – the Mongol Altai (plus Gobi Altai), Khangai and Khentii – dominate the majority of Mongolian territory. Of these, the largest and most picturesque is the Mongol Altai mountain range.
photo by: Bayar Balgantseren
To capture great images
Western Mongolia is the ideal destination for photographers. Mystical images of Kazakh people and hunters with golden eagles will make you want to start your journey to the most remote places in majestic Mountains of Altai. Aside from portraits or lifestyle photos, photographers may shoot images of stunning landscapes and natural settings of the region. To capture the most fascinating images that could elevate your photography career, just pack your gear and head west to the Altai of Mongolia.
To meet hunters with golden eagles
Kazakhs living in Western Mongolia continue to hunt using eagles today. They use eagles to hunt foxes, wolves and hare during the cold winter months when it is easier to see the gold-furred foxes against the snow. Hunting with golden eagles is one of the most ancient traditions passed down from generation to generation by Kazakh people. Today, hunting with golden eagles is a sport and a special aspect of Kazakh culture. Every year many Kazakh hunters gather with their specially-trained eagle and challenge them in different ways.
To trek among the mountains
One of the most attractive and unusual types of the tour here in western Mongolia is trekking. In the remote but beautiful swath of untouched wilderness, travellers can feel an authentic nomadic life & tradition during this epic journey. With Bactrian camels and powerful horses to carry our luggage and team staff, we camp by alpine lakes, hike to glaciers, explore ancient burial mounds and petroglyphs that are haunting testaments to Mongolia's shamanic traditions, and experience a pristine mountain world where nomads still hunt with golden eagles.
To conquer the summits of the Great Altai Mountains
The highest peak in Mongolia – Mt. Tavan Bogd (Huiten Uul Mountain) – towers 4,374 meters above sea level, overlooking the borders of Mongolia, China and Russia. Year-round snow and glaciers on the peaks of Mt. Tavan Bogd make the mountain magnificent and require endurance and a high level of physical capability from mountaineers. The Altai Mountain range comprises dozens of snow-capped peaks of above 4,000 meters, including Mt. Nairamdal at 4082m and Mt. Malchin at 4050m, Tsambagarav at 4195m, Deglii Tsagaan at 3978m and Mt. Munkhkhairkhan at 4204m. There are summits for both professional and amateur climbers.
Horse trekking in Altai Tavan Bogd
Western Mongolia is one of the wondrous places yet to be polluted and trapped in modern technology. Nature and culture coexist in the valleys of majestic Altai Mountains, so it’s only fitting that the best way to truly encounter western Mongolia is on the back of a hearty Mongolian horse – completely natural and native.
Off-road driving among rocky canyons
When travelling between wonderful sites scattered across the vast territory of Mongolia, especially rugged terrain routes in the Altai Mountains, SUVs and 4x4s are definitely the best available transportation means. I suggest you try self-driving off-road tours among gorges between the spire and lofty mountain of Altai. Mild breezes and sounds of fresh spring will add comfort and pleasantness to your adventure.
Archaeological or petroglyph expeditions
Many archaeological findings, including rock paintings, deer stones, ancient graves, and rock cemeteries, make western Mongolia an exotic destination for archaeologists and those interested in ancient monuments. The largest collection of petroglyphs at a placed called Tsagaan Salaa features more than 100,000 images dating back 10,000 years. An open-air rock art gallery extending more than 20 kilometres along the rocky slopes of the White Water River was registered as a piece of World Heritage by UNESCO and shows a wide range of wild and domesticated animals and human activities. Beside large sites, burial graves along the route and stone men monuments from the Bronze Age near your camping sites will connect you with ancient history.
To meet throat singers in Chandmani Soum
To understand the secret of Mongolian throat singing (over tune signing) follow the route to Chandmani soum of Khovd province where everyone from 8-year-old kids to 80-year-old seniors performs this amazing art.
A method of singing multiple notes simultaneously, homes produces sounds that defy description; whether spirits of nature, the songs evoke something otherworldly and powerful. Mesmerizingly beautiful, these harmonious tunes help you understand the connection between humans and nature.
Witness a rich habitant full of wildlife
The unique nature contrast of the great lakes and mountainous area creates spectacular scenery and a habitat for a wide range of animals and plants. Wolves, foxes, snow leopards, lynxes, mountain weasels, steppe polecats, wild boars, musk deer, elk, roe deer, ibex, argali mountain sheep, Mongolian and black-tailed gazelle from the rich wildlife of the Uvs Lake area. Many rare and endangered species of birds including the Eurasian spoonbill, black stork, swan goose and white-tailed eagle are found here.
The Great Lakes Basin bordering the high Altai Mountains represents a unique ecosystem, containing some of the last remaining vast reed beds in central Asia. The sharp contrast of high mountains, the steppe and the semi-arid desert-steppe bordering the diverse wetlands creates a highly distinct landscape. The vegetation of the basin is sparse and mainly characterized by semi-shrubs and shrubs. So far, 554 species of 62 families have been recorded from the Great Lakes Basin. 18 plant species that occur within Mongolia are recorded only in the basin, 13 that are endemic to the basin and 22 that are listed in the Mongolian Red Data Book (an endangered species list) including saussurea dorogostaiskii palib, Cynomorium soongaricum and Allium Altaicum pall.