Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) at Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in Mongolia.; Shutterstock ID 1659526936; your: Barbara Di Castro; gl: 65050; netsuite: digital; full: poi

Shutterstock / Agami Photo Agency

Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve

Top choice in The Gobi

This 670-sq-km nature reserve, only a four-hour drive from Ulaanbaatar, at an elevation of 2200m, is home to hundreds of ibexes (mountain goats), argali (big-horn sheep), gazelles, black vultures, wolves and other wildlife. There are 10 nomadic herder families living in the park, which is studded with spectacular glacial rock formations, their winter corrals built into red cliffs. Aside from the remote location, one of the reasons there is so much wildlife here is because of the water.

There are three natural springs in the park. The one near Khalzan Uul (Bald Mountain) is considered a local health remedy. Burgasan Amny Rashaan is another mineral spring a few kilometres south of Khalzan Uul. August rains form ponds in the valley to which migrating birds descend, just as the Silk Road caravans once did to rest up and hydrate before making the push further north.

Several ancient burial mounds and additional Tibetan petroglyphs (GPS: N 45°60.787’, E 108°57.201’; N 45°60.237’, E 108°55.959’; N 45°59.175’, E 108°61.397’) can be found throughout the park, but the reason it's on the tourist radar is the wildlife, specifically a healthy population of the globally threatened argali sheep. A team of international biologists have been conducting a long-term study that has partly habituated the sheep to the presence of humans, so if you spend a few days you’re almost guaranteed to see one. In recent years the Argali Project has expanded to include the ibex and been joined by the Carnivore Project and the Vulture Project. Some locals consider the natural springs near Khalzan Uul (Bald Mountain) a cure for everything from hangovers to HIV.