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MONGOLIA – Itinerary for an exhilarating winter expedition by snow and time visiting UNESCO websites – Chris Journey Weblog

Deer Stones Stoneage Carvings Mongolia in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Mongolia is a kind of nations that has been on my bucket checklist for an extended, very very long time—most likely since childhood. I made the under Mongolia itinerary a few years in the past. Just lately, I lastly had the chance to go to. Initially I deliberate for early October, when the climate would (nonetheless) be nice, however attributable to a delayed enterprise journey, it was rescheduled to late November. This meant winter time, with chilly temperatures and the danger of plenty of snow, which might render visiting the Deer Stones on the Khoid Tamir valley not possible. The opposite web site, Karakorum, is at all times accessible except there may be plenty of contemporary snowfall. Would I like to recommend stepping into winter? Proceed studying to search out out why you must and the right way to prepare it safely.

Planning a winter journey to Mongolia

A go to to Mongolia wants some good preparation particularly in winter. The main focus of my journey was on two UNESCO websites that are positioned southwest of Ulaanbaatar. I’d say that the Orkhon Valley, particularly Karakorum, can at all times be reached simply if the street is cleared commonly. The opposite locations of curiosity depend upon snowfall. The Deer Stones within the Khoid Tamir valley may be reached from Tsetserleg if there may be not an excessive amount of new snowfall; in any other case, the street is closed. For this, rent a 4×4 automobile with a driver who is aware of the right way to drive within the snow. It’s higher to be with two folks and even two automobiles and one one that can converse the native language. In summer season this journey might simply be executed solo although.

Off Road snow MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Mongolia Visa and Flights

Mongolia has a visa-free entry possibility for 30 days for lots of nationalities till the tip of 2025 to advertise tourism. Do verify together with your native embassy should you can enter at no cost as properly. I arrived on a direct flight on MIAT airways from Frankfurt. Their new B787 Dreamliner is ideal!

Because it was winter with temperatures as much as minus 26 Celsius (minus 15 Fahrenheit), I made a decision to not keep at a neighborhood camp however at a pleasant lodge as a substitute. In Ulaanbaatar I stayed on the Blue Sky lodge which has superior views. In Tsetserleg on the just lately opened Ashid Bekhi lodge. I can suggest each.

Garments for winter in Mongolia

Be certain to deliver heat clothes in layers. I purchased particular merino wool underwear which in the long run I didn’t use. I used to be in denims, sweater and winter jacket on a regular basis. Minus 26 in Mongolia feels a lot hotter than in different areas attributable to low humidity. I solely remorse not taking correct boots as my sport sneakers weren’t the only option for heat toes. Frequent sense is required and don’t underestimate the chilly!

Now let’s have a look at the daily itinerary of this Mongolian winter expedition.

Orkhon Valley Erdene Zuu Temple in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Mongolia itinerary day 1: Begin of the Mongolia winter expedition

I departed from house early morning by practice to Frankfurt. The direct MIAT (Mongolian Airways) flight from Frankfurt, which is only a four-hour practice trip from my house, was very comfy. Their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner has nice enterprise class seats. The draw back is the timing of the flight. With a day departure, it means an arrival time of about 6 AM. It was nonetheless late night again house so sleeping was troublesome however the The Blue Sky Lodge and Tower lodge let me verify in early to make amends for sleep. I slept until late morning.

After lunch, I had some free time to discover Ulaanbaatar. Though the capital doesn’t have that many locations of curiosity, a day is definitely stuffed. Simply throughout the road from the The Blue Sky Lodge and Tower lodge I explored the Chingis Khaan Sq.. I then continued to the The Superb Arts Zanabazar Museum and the Chinggis Khaan Nationwide Museum earlier than it was supper time.

Dinner in Ulaanbaatar

There’s one craft beer brewery named MB Beer Plus in Ulaanbaatar so I needed to test it out. Simply a few minutes stroll from the lodge. At minus 25 levels Celsius this brief stroll was alright in regular clothes. Their meals is nice and the beer scrumptious so I like to recommend going. After testing all their beers, simply 4, I used to be again in my room early night for relaxation as the approaching days can be lengthy ones.

Tsetserleg Road Mongolia in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Mongolia itinerary day 2: Ulaanbaatar to Tsetserleg with a go to to the Orkhon Valley

I like to recommend, particularly in winter, to begin early round 8 AM as street situations are not sure. All of the roads are well-paved although with some stretches a bit patchy. That’s, nonetheless, not the principle drawback throughout wintertime; it’s the snow. Though roads get cleared, it is going to be a troublesome drive simply after new snow and would possibly make reaching Tsetserleg in a day not possible.

It took approach over an hour to even go away Ulaanbaatar, however as soon as I used to be out it appeared to be an incredible drive. Clear skies, sunny with loads of snow however not on the roads. The views are superb the entire strategy to Karakorum within the Orkhon Valley. It’s infinite snowy steppes with snow-capped mountains within the again. Nomads have ready their winter camps and right here and there I noticed teams of horses looking for some final grass to eat.

Orkhon Valley Erdene Zuu Temple in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Finest Erdene Zuu viewpoint

It was already 2 PM after I arrived at Karakorum. Simply earlier than the town on the left, there’s a nice viewpoint of the Erdene Zuu monastery. If the climate is nice, make sure that to go to it straight as with snow, driving up turns into not possible. The following cease for the day was the Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq deep contained in the Orkhon Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Website. It’s about 20 kilometers off-road and potential provided that there may be not an excessive amount of snow except you might be with a number of automobiles. There are ditches in every single place and the tracks usually are not seen so you’ll get caught and one wants extra automobiles to tug one other out then.

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Go to Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq

The Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq is, though fairly eroded, very spectacular. The partitions are clearly seen with its defensive towers simply outdoors the partitions. Inside, there’s a well-preserved pagoda, a properly, and minor different buildings left. Khar Balgas, often known as Ordu Baliq, stood because the capital of the Uyghur Khaganate, an influential Turkic empire of the eighth and ninth centuries. Located in present-day Mongolia, it performed a pivotal function as a cease alongside the Silk Highway, reflecting its significance in commerce and diplomacy. The town, characterised by its nomadic life-style, was wealthy in cultural variety, with influences from numerous religions. Its historic significance extends to its diplomatic ties with the Tang Dynasty in China. Khar Balgas stays an enchanting web site of ongoing excavation, shedding gentle on the colourful historical past of the Uyghur Khaganate.

Orkhon Valley Khar Balgas in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

The location will not be enormous and a go to takes about an hour. With temperatures at minus 25 levels Celsius (about minus 15 Fahrenheit) that was lengthy sufficient. The solar was setting as properly so a should to get again to the street earlier than dusk.

It was one other two hours’ drive to Tsetserleg the place I arrived round 7 PM. I selected the Ashid Bekhi lodge which is a brand new and trendy lodge, a bit dear, however with the chilly climate a good selection. An area dinner I had on the Fairfield Guesthouse a block away. It began snowing within the night so the winter expedition to the Deer Stones within the Khoid Tamir valley for the subsequent day grew to become not sure.

Mongolia itinerary day 3: Mongolia winter expedition to see Deer Stones

A go to to the Deer Stone Monuments and Associated Bronze Age websites, a UNESCO World Heritage Website, within the Khoid Tamir valley was the principle objective of this journey. It might soak up summer season half a day however in winter it’s an extended day, a really lengthy one. The street from Tsetserleg to Ikh-Tamir is paved nevertheless it goes over a go with a relatively steep climb. This go does shut after contemporary snowfall which I used to be afraid of would make a go to not possible at this time. I used to be fortunate nonetheless that there was not an excessive amount of snow there and at 10 AM the go was open. As soon as in Ikh-Tamir the ultimate stretch can be about 15 kilometers off-road.

Khoid Tamir Valley of Road Mongolia in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

The primary 10 kilometers have been very easy and the final 5 might have been if I didn’t take the fallacious flip. The street follows the valley river on the left facet and earlier than the Deer Stones location there’s a mountain on the left. Behind that mountain is one other valley. In summer season one can take a left earlier than the mountain and simply drive round. In winter this was a nasty alternative. In some unspecified time in the future the street tracks have been troublesome to observe. I needed to make new tracks which ended up in a ditch and bought fully caught with the automobile.

Caught within the snow in Mongolia

After making an attempt to get out, which didn’t work, the most effective would have been to stroll to the nomad camp that was only a kilometer or two away. Fortunately, a automobile driving the identical approach noticed me and got here to the rescue. It was a police officer and he helped the automobile to get free. He stated to observe him to the Deer Stones which the place close to his home. These have been nonetheless those at Jargalantyn Am, which I additionally needed to go to, and about 7 hours away. After a 45-minute drive I discovered it was the fallacious course so I circled. The plan was to drive again across the mountain however simply earlier than it a transparent monitor to the left was seen. After a few kilometers I arrived on the vacation spot. I actually felt that wow second right here. Standing alone in the course of nowhere surrounded by snow and mountains a Deer Stone carved centuries in the past.

Deer Stones Stoneage Carvings Mongolia in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Mongolian Deer Stones historical past

Deer stones are historic monoliths present in Mongolia, relationship again to the Bronze Age, primarily between 1300 and 700 BCE. They’re characterised by their carved pictures of deer, in addition to different animals and symbols. These stones have been probably used for ritualistic or ceremonial functions, probably as markers for graves or websites of significance. The deer stones are vital archaeological finds, shedding gentle on the cultural practices and beliefs of historic nomadic societies that inhabited the area.

Deer Stones Stoneage Carvings Mongolia in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

There are a lot of deer stones within the Khoid Tamir valley. You can not miss them as they’re clearly seen within the panorama. These Deer Stones should be a UNESCO World Heritage Website. They’re fantastically carved 1000’s of years in the past. Superb colours and figures, I had a number of wow moments there. I don’t remorse going there in winter because it made this go to to the center of nowhere very particular.

There are additionally numerous burial mounds that encompass the Deer Stones. Up the mountain, there may be some rock artwork as properly however as this might be coated in snow I didn’t even attempt to discover it. After two or three hours exploring the world, it was time to go away and return.

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The outdated brown coal mine

On the best way again there may be an outdated brown coal mine. I assumed let’s test it out and make some photographs. Once I noticed a rabbit I needed to get nearer for a greater picture however didn’t see a giant nail hidden beneath the snow. It punctured my shoe and foot. Fortunately in the long run it was a clear reduce and healed in a number of days. For such occasions I’m joyful that I’ve all my vaccinations, like tetanus, updated. The very last thing I need is the necessity to discover it in the course of nowhere. I at all times carry a small med package on day journeys as properly. It saved the day.

Deer Stones Stoneage Carvings Mongolia in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

The drive again was simple and round 7 PM I used to be again on the Ashid Bekhi lodge. Had the identical dinner because the day earlier than and loved some beers within the night. Mission completed and a really lengthy drive again forward for the subsequent day.

Mongolia itinerary day 4: Again to Ulaanbaatar

The day can be lengthy so I departed Tsetserleg round 9 AM. Leaving a lot earlier would have meant driving at nighttime which isn’t advisable. The street between Tsetserleg and Karakorum was lots worse than it was two days in the past. The contemporary snow made components of the street like an ice-skating monitor. It was an extended drive to Karakorum the place I noticed that the tracks to Khar Balgas Ordu Baliq have been coated in snow. It might have been not possible to go to, so should you go to in winter, go to locations instantly whenever you see it’s potential. In Karakorum, I finished on the Erdene Zuu monastery which may at all times be visited 12 months spherical.

Orkhon Valley Erdene Zuu Temple in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Erdene Zuu historical past

Erdene Zuu Monastery, based in 1585, stands as one in all Mongolia’s oldest and most important monastic complexes. Constructed on the ruins of Karakorum, the previous capital of the Mongol Empire, it served as a religious and cultural middle. Below the patronage of Altan Khan, Erdene Zuu performed an important function within the revival of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. Regardless of durations of decline and suppression beneath communist rule, it stays an emblem of Mongolia’s non secular heritage and a key attraction for pilgrims.

The enduring view outdoors from the wall and pagodas within the snow is mesmerizing. Contained in the partitions, I saved my go to brief as temperatures dropped to minus 29 Celsius (about minus 20 Fahrenheit). Fortunately I used to be simply in time to witness a brief ceremony of the monks. After warming up contained in the temple, I continued my approach again to Ulaanbaatar. The street was with out snow.

Orkhon Valley Erdene Zuu Temple in Winter MONGOLIA in Winter UNESCO

Mongolia itinerary day 5: Flight to Beijing

The ultimate day I had an early breakfast on the Blue Sky Lodge and headed to the airport. I didn’t fly again to Frankfurt however continued to Beijing for a congress. From there I continued to Jeju Island, South Korea and some different locations which I’ll cowl in one other article.

I actually loved my long-planned go to to Mongolia. The timing was dangerous however in the long run it was an incredible expertise. Karakorum and the Erdene Zuu Monastery have been nice, however the true spotlight was the Deer Stones. They’ve superb carvings, and the setting within the snow with no person round made the go to magical. Would I return in summer season? To Mongolia, sure, however to not these Deer Stones. I’d select one other location then. In case you are into an journey, go to Mongolia in winter however plan properly! I’m positive you’ll get pleasure from it.

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Did you go to Mongolia too or do you’ve got questions? Please go away a remark on the backside of the web page. Love to listen to from you!

Click on a picture for a full display screen gallery of extra photographs taken throughout this journey. When you like to make use of any picture for business, non-public or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.

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