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Nomadic and Nature Travel Mongolia

Eastern Mongolia

 Land of the Rising Sun EASTERN MONGOLIA

          Since ancient times, the endless steppe of the East has been home to the Khalkha, Buryat, Zakhchin, Dariganga, Barga, and Uzemchin ethnic groups. They are proud of their land on the Dariganga Plateau, home of the legendary Chinggis Khaan.

          Delve and appreciate the beauty of Mongolia by watching the sun rise from the horizon – with horses breaking the silence of the morning with their neighs and the thundering sound of hundreds of gazelles galloping in the background Chinggis Khaan would visit this area after each of his war victories. It’s wonderful to imagine how by staring at the distant horizon, embracing the vast land with his eyes, he channelled power, wisdom, patience, and courage.

          The eastern Mongolian steppe are endless with swaying, feathery grass. The reason why generations of nomadic Mongols have preserved and protected this untouched, virgin land for future generations is perhaps because of their nomadic philosophy and understanding of nature. You could claim this is the wisdom of winning by waiting, not winning by forging ahead. These endless grasslands are a true treasure kept by nomads for humanity.

Living Treasure of the Steppe – White Gazelles

          The endless steppes of Mongolia are home to thousands of white gazelles. Biologists estimate that approximately one-third of the world’s white gazelles inhabit in Mongolia.

          Professor Kirk Olson, from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, witnessed a rare wonder in 2007, when he climbed a small hill in the vast steppe. Olson saw a herd of what he thought was a few thousand gazelles. He later told BBC: “But it was really one edge of a group that ended up being over 250,000 by one estimate.” “We were simply amazed at the sight. The image I have in my mind of seeing this massive aggregation of gazelles will always be etched into my memory. I expected that we would come across gazelles at times in large and impressive numbers, but not a couple hundred thousand in one sweep across the horizon. I had never seen that many before and that many had never been documented.”

          Mongolian gazelles are renowned for their huge herds. The average herd will have at least 300-500. Recently, a 80,000 head herd was registered. White gazelles make up the highest number of wild animals in Central Asia.

Traces of Ancient Dwellers  – Stone Statues (Kurgan Stelae)

          Stone man statues in Mongolia can be found in abundance. Turkic period stone statues can be seen in the central and western part of the country and their date go back to the 6th to 9th century, while the ones in eastern part belong to the Great Mongol Empire dating back to the 13th and 14th century. Most stone statues are located in Eastern Mongolia, particularly in Sukhbaatar and Dornod provinces.

          Generally they are images of a man holding a cup or glass in his right hand while sitting on a chair. These statues are known as the Dariganga stone statues. The men generally wear a loose deel (a traditional outfit with long, slim sleeves), with their hair tied behind their ears and a forelock, which clearly matches the accounts of foreign missionaries and messengers. The stone statues of Altan Ovoo are unique with their figures sitting on a chair, an attribute not seen in Turkic stone statues common all over the country.  

World’s largest steppe  – Menen Steppe

          The largest flat plains of Mongolia are in the most eastern part of the country. The slope of the plateau is very gradual, only about 10 m/km, making it the largest steppe in the world. The Menen Steppe is located west of Buir lake, sits at 600 meters above sea level, and is more than 90 km long and 60 km wide. Rich with pastoral grass, wolves, and rare animals, it is the last untouched steppe in the world. Be amazed at the sight of grassland a moving like an open sea.  



Horses for Courses

          Nearly 10 thousand years ago, when the nomads of Central Asia domesticated a wild horse called the Tarpan, the horse became a part of civilization. Half-wild horses that are capable of feeding themselves in the wild have created a whole culture of steppe nomads. Horses are not just a daily means of transportation, but are true companions during long journeys and their milk is used to make drinks. Mongolians consume horse meat during cold winter months. Horse manes and tails are used to make harnesses and ropes for tying up a ger.

          The Morin khuur, or horse headed fiddle, has strings that are made of horse tail hair, and there is one in nearly every Mongolian household. Mongolians believe the sound of the fiddle can rid a home of bad spirits. Horses are often praised in commonly performed songs and poems. Even the Mongolian national emblem is an image of a horse.

BURKHAN KHALDUN Mountain

          Perhaps there are only a few places that are not related to Chinggis Khaan in Mongolia. Although there are no proven records, there is also no way to deny the validity of all the legends and stories. The most revered place in the history of the Chinggis Khaan is Burkhan Khaldun mountain in Khentii province. Mentioned in Secret History of Mongols, Burkhan Khaldun mountain is located in the north of Umnudelger soum of Khentii province. Legend says that at one point the forests of this mountain hid a boy from his enemies in its depths – that boy was Temujin, later proclaimed Chinggis Khaan by Mongol tribes.  

          You may be interested in tours that will introduce you to nomadic people, their lifestyle and philosophy, as well as horse riding trips. Also, history, culture, wildflower, bird watching, and adventure tours are available.