Mongolia had been on my bucket list for many years after learning about the Golden Eagle hunters and doing research on the amazing unspoiled natural beauty of this country. It is a perfect destination for nature lovers and active adventurers.
Mongolia may seem like a difficult place to get to, but it was actually easy with a non-stop flight from the US to Seoul, Korea and then an onward connection to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia (we actually spent two nights in Seoul before continuing on to get over jet lag, sightsee and experience Seoul’s food scene). Ulaanbaatar is a busy, bustling city with visible signs of ancient culture mixed with 21st-century life and recognizable global consumer brands. The Shangri-La hotel was as good as any luxury hotel in the US. After a few days of sightseeing, we flew west to the Altai Mountains area (not too far from the Russian border) and our private camp nestled in a remote mountain valley with views to a pristine lake.
Our “ghers” were roomy and comfortable and the chef prepared excellent meals. Sunny days, fresh mountain air and being in this vast space with no one else around was a wonderful experience. The highlight of our days here were the opportunities to meet with several famous golden eagle hunters and to watch the interaction between man and bird (eagles can weigh almost 15 pounds!). Traditional ways of life have been preserved for centuries and our encounters with local Kazakhs (largest ethnic minority in Mongolia) in their homes were memories we’ll cherish forever.
This trip also included a visit to the Gobi desert region and a stay at the famous Three Camels Lodge. The Gobi is actually more than just sand and desert and is a diverse region with stunning landscapes. Riding Mongolian horses and the local Bactrian camels plus hiking to the Flaming Cliffs (named because of their orange glow at dawn and dusk) was spectacular. It was here that in 1923, Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his team from the American Museum of Natural History found the world’s first nest of dinosaur eggs. In fact, the Gobi area includes sites of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of the 20th century. Flying back through Seoul on the return trip, we even took time on our 8-hour layover to visit the DMZ!
Main Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash
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"Mongolia – Untouched Beauty and Golden Eagles"