Chigertei Pastoral Scene, Altai Mountains, Mongolia

Mongolia Holidays

With just over two million inhabitants, Mongolia is the most sparsely populated country in the world and the sense of space is epic. Freed from its Soviet chains traditions are strong with Buddhism slowly reasserting itself, as is the nomadic lifestyle so alien to the socialist model. Even in Ulaanbaatar half the population still live in gers, the traditional circular Mongolian tent.

EXPLORE THE HIGHLIGHTS OF Mongolia

  • Swim in remote lakes flanked by sand dunes and snow-capped peaks
  • Drive south into the dramatic and arid Gobi Desert
  • Join researchers in the wild Altai Mountains in search of the elusive snow leopard
  • See the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in all their finery 
  • Travel during the Nadaam Festival when nomads congregate to compete in sporting events
  • Stay in a traditional ger, spending time with a nomadic family

 

  • Search for herds of Siberian ibex and argali sheep, the largest wild sheep in the world
  • Notoriously elusive are both the pallas cat and the beautiful snow leopard
  • Birdlife in Mongolia is rich including passerines, water birds and of course raptors
  • Visit Gandan Monastery - the largest in Mongolia
  • Explore Hustai National Park where Przewalski horses, once close to extinction, now run wild
  • Admire the view from the top of the huge stainless steel statue of Genghis Khan

What to expect on your Mongolian holiday

Over 70% of the Mongolian population remain nomadic and travelling across the flat open steppe you will still encounter isolated family ger (yurt) encampments whose occupants will inevitably offer you hospitality. To experience the true essence of the country, spend time travelling by the traditional mode of horseback, camel or yak. The wiry little thirteen-hand ponies will seem a little small, but their stamina is legendary - they carried Genghis Khan across Asia.

Expect remote and wild panoramic scenery ranging from lush grassy steppes to craggy desert, rolling sand dunes and soaring mountains. There are few internal flights so moving around the country is either done overland using 4x4 vehicles or via one of the few internal flights. Distances are great so expect long journeys. The further west you travel, the more remote Mongolia becomes as you approach the Altai Mountains and the border with China.

A holiday to remote Mongolia used to mean staying in basic accommodation but this is no longer the case. There is now the opportunity to stay in small, private ger camps in unspoilt landscapes with modern comforts such as ensuite bathrooms, private chef, excellent guides and a support team. Some camps work with local communities and all share the same vision, to preserve the natural environment, leaving nothing but footprints once the camp departs.

Some beyond the ordinary ideas for a Mongolian holiday

  • Visit the reindeer herders around Lake Hovsgol north of Ulaanbaatar
  • Spend a few days in the saddle riding out across the steppe staying in comfortable gers
  • Combine your time in Mongolia by travelling to China or Russia by train
  • Ride across the South Gobi desert by camel

Our Mongolia Holiday Experts

Paul, our Mongolian expert, joined Steppes Travel in 1994 and has visited Mongolia numerous times. His most recent adventure was with his son when they experienced a yak trek, staying in yurts as they travelled, as well as visiting a nature reserve where they found eagles and argali sheep. Justin, our MD, spent time riding and hunting alongside the Kazakh Eagle Hunters in 2015, something he describes as "one of the best travel experiences of my life". Jarrod our Product Director ventured west to the wild and remote Altai Mountains, in search of snow leopard and parts of the country that even Google maps have yet to discover.

Advice from our Mongolian experts

“Mongolia has a very short season for travel between July and September, so advance planning is necessary. Distances are great, and things don’t always go exactly as planned so a good dose of flexibility is needed when travelling there. That said the spontaneous events that happen when all doesn’t go according to plan are often the most magical and rewarding”

Mongolia FAQs

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How long is the flight to Mongolia?
Flights from the UK to Ulaanbaatar operate with Aeroflot via Moscow which takes approximately 10 hours or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul which takes approximately 14 hours.
Do I need a visa for travel to Mongolia?
British passport holders do need a visa for travel to Mongolia. Proof of travel insurance, as well as your accommodation or itinerary in Mongolia, is needed along with the completed visa application and your passport. Once obtained the visa is valid for up to 30 days within six months from the date of issue. 
When is the best time to travel to Mongolia?
The season for travel to Mongolia is very short with reliable weather only from mid-June through to September. During high season from June to August the climate should be warm and dry, possibly with some thunderstorms and a higher chance of rain in August. It is also possible to travel in May and September although the weather is more changeable and some of the traditional camps may be closed.
What wildlife might I see on a holiday to Mongolia?
With such vast landscapes, it can be hard to see the wildlife in Mongolia, but it is there! In Hustai National Park, around a two-hour drive from Ulaanbaatar, there are wild Przewalski horses which were once close to extinction. Throughout Mongolia, there is the chance to see small mammals such as marmot, gerbil, squirrel and Mongolian fox. Herds of Siberian ibex, deer and gazelle as well as the worlds largest wild sheep, the argali. Birdlife is extremely varied with many migratory and indigenous species including passerines, water birds and many raptors. Pallas cat is notoriously shy and hard to spot as is snow leopard which frequents the far western Altai Mountains.
What is the food like in Mongolia?
Mongolia is not a gastronomic destination and the staple cuisine is largely based around meat and milk with limited availability of vegetables or spices for local people. As a western traveller in Mongolia, you will be served a good range of western foods often including noodles, rice and pasta plus imported vegetables and fruit. Local delicacies that are certainly worth trying include mutton dumplings, noodle soups and the local tipple known as airag which is fermented mares milk.

Holidays

Mongolia - Mongolian Altai Adventure

expert led group tour

Mongolia - Mongolian Altai Adventure

There has been little change on the Mongolian steppe since the time of Genghis Khan. Life is as t...

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Mongolia - Highlights of Mongolia

Highlights of Mongolia

Experience epic landscapes, nomadic culture and diverse wildlife on this 15-day holiday showcasin...

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Mongolia - Family Mongolia

Yurt Camping & Fossil Hunting in Mongolia

With vast open spaces free from traffic and incredibly welcoming people with a strong tradition o...

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Inspiration

Kazakh Eagle Hunter, Altai Mountains, Mongolia, JW

Eagle Huntress

Eagle Huntress is a documentary about a 13-year-old girl who wishes to follow in her father and grandfathers footsteps into the world of eagle hunting. This ancient tradition has always been a male-only domain but the delightful Aisholpan and her doting father set out to prove all the doubters wrong. A fabulous watch that was nominated for best documentary at the 2017 Baftas.
Kazakh Man with Eagle, Mongolia

Watch the Eagle Hunters Train

In October each year, Eagle Hunters from across the country gather in western Mongolia to compete in the Eagle Hunters Festival. There is no doubt this is a fabulous experience, however, the month of October can be bitterly cold in Mongolia and there is little else to do away from the festival at this time. We suggest instead a visit to a private family in August when temperatures are ideal and the eagle hunters are in training. One to one time with a local family and the chance to learn about this ancient tradition.

Client Reviews

Przewalski Horse, Hustai National Park, Mongolia
"The outstanding venue has to be the Kazakh camp. You really
did feel "out of this world". The setting was magnificent, the local
families so hospitable; nothing was too much trouble. The tents and
other equipment were excellent. All contributed to one of our most
memorable travel experiences ever.
Yet again, we received excellent quality and service. With Paul's up to date, in-depth knowledge and first-hand experience we were able to put our ideas into action and he designed a wonderful trip around our interests. We have returned with some outstanding and lasting memories. Many thanks to Paul and Carole for their hard work as always"
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Mr Robert Morley May

Mongolia and China
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16 hours from UK
(via Istanbul)

Holiday Ideas in Mongolia

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