Just “showing up” is an adventure in Mongolia, and once you’ve headed out of Ulaanbaatar into the wide – open countryside, the adventure really begins – even if you’re just travelling by road.
But Mongolia is also developing quite a reputation as a destination for some truly adventurous travel. These includes hiking, mountaineering, horse and camel trekking, yak cart journeys, bicycle and motorcycle tours, quad-bike expeditions, rafting, kayaking, and paragliding. With its crystal-clear air, huge landscapes and vast horizons, Mongolia is an open invitation for physical activity.
Hardly surprisingly in a land, culture and history so dominated by the horse, the most popular of these activities – and certainly the easiest way to venture off the beaten track – is on horseback.
Camel treks, using Bactrian camels, are more focused on Mongolia’s South Gobi region.
Mountaineering and hiking are not nearly as popular and take even more organizing.
More focused on overland journeys covering longer distances, cycling – using mountain bikes – have grown rapidly in popularity. More of a novelty, yak cart tours are becoming more popular but, without the luxury of springs or rubber tyres, short – duration trips are a better choice. Kayaking and white river rafting are other possibilities but with much potential. Right now, kayaking is mostly on Lake Huvsgul and rafting along country’s many lakes, and rivers, there is nothing holding back visitors from arranging other locations.
Safety is, of course, always of paramount concern in these more adventurous activities, all the more so given Mongolia’s vast distances, scarcity of medical facilities and few helicopters. So, do travel well equipped with a GPS, satellite phone, good medical kit and a basic knowledge of first aid. The rule: have fund but don’t take any unnecessary risks.
Source: Mongolia: Nomad Empire of the Eternal Blue Sky (Odyssey Mongolia) book by Carl Robinson
Camel trekking in Mongolia
Climbing in Altai mountains
Recommended Mongolia tours