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Introducing Central Mongolia

Roll out of Ulaanbaatar in a Russian jeep and you’ll only need to put a hill or two between yourself and the city before the vast steppes of cental Mongolia begin to unfold before your eyes. Verdant swaths of empty landscapes are sprinkled with tiny gers stretching to the horizon while magical light plays through clouds and across the valleys.

But central Mongolia offers more than steppes. Landscapes are broken by the forested hillsides of the Khan Khentii range, meandering rivers such as the Tuul and lunar-like lava fields spilling across central Arkhangai. The silhouette of a lone horseman on a hill or camels caravanning in the distance completes every perfect day.

The rivers and back trails of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park beckon the outdoor enthusiast. At Khustain National Park you can break out the binoculars and spot the reintroduced takhi horse. Alternatively, set out from Ulaanbaatar on foot, climb the holy Bogdkhan Uul to the south of the city, and camp out by Mandshir Khiid. Travelling by horse is another great way to get around the region. Travellers with more time on their hands can spend weeks exploring the ancient sites and remote areas of the mighty Khangai and its surrounding plains.

Central Mongolia’s aimags (provinces), Töv, Arkhangai and Övörkhangai, are the most visited areas in the countryside. The roads and transport are far better here than in the rest of Mongolia, and there is plenty to see, including ancient monasteries, gorgeous lakes and many national parks. The people, mostly comprising the Khalkh majority, are accustomed to foreigners, and you can expect somewhat better services than in other parts of the country.