Visiting the Gobi Desert was one of my dreams.
So, was it as I expected?
-No! It was much better!!!
The Gobi Desert is an amazing place. It’s not just sand, there is lots of variety within Gobi. You can find there different species of flora and fauna!
Gobi also has an extreme climate, from about -40C up to +40C !
In the next days, I’ll show you more pictures of Gobi and share with you interesting facts about the desert.
Nomadic lifestyle is not only a tradition in Mongolia; it’s still alive!
There are a few countries where real nomads live and Mongolia is definitely one of them.
Nomads live in “the middle of nowhere” in gers (tents like houses), and look after their animals. They have simple lifestyle, however it doesn’t mean that they don’t use modern technologies (e.g., they may have electricity from the solar panels).
Traditionally, a Mongolian nomadic family has five types of animals, i.e., camels, cows or yaks, goats, horses, and sheep.
Maybe you’ve seen amazing pictures from Mongolia showing eagles or people holding an eagle on their arms?
It’s something typical for Mongolia.
And there is also an Eagle Festival. At the end of September or beginning of October, eagle hunters gather.
I believe, it has to be a very unique experience to go there, however, I don’t like so much the idea of hunting…
There a few large and famous festivals in Mongolia and definitely, it’s a good idea to visit Mongolia during one of the festivals.
Every July (11th-13th of July), the Naadam Festival is held in Ulaanbaatar. It’s actually a “sport festival”. You can see lots of wrestling, archery and horse racing, i.e., very traditional activities in Mongolia. If it doesn’t sound interesting to you, forget these sports – think about the festival as a short period in Ulaanbaatar when the city becomes very colorful and people wear beautiful traditional clothes! Perfect time for photographers! 🙂
I regret, that I couldn’t experience the Naadam Festival when I was in Mongolia, but I had my reasons to travel in August.
In general, I prefer to travel by myself. However, there are places where it’s more convenient, easier or simply safer to get some help from a local travel agency.
What about Mongolia? From my point of view, you can travel by yourself in Mongolia, but it’s not so easy; it’s possible but it needs some effort. There is also a problem with understanding, because not so many Mongolians speak English.
I usually, don’t give this kind of practical information on my blog, because they depend on your nationality and actually rules may change quite fast. So before traveling somewhere, it’s always very important to check the current status and all conditions (visa or required vaccinations etc.).
So why am I writing now about visa to Mongolia? Well, just to share my story with you.
I wanted to travel to Mongolia in August, a few years ago. Shortly before, I had to change my passport, so I was checking how long does it take to get a visa to Mongolia. The schedule was quite tight, but I expected to finish everything on time. Just after I got my new passport, some rules were changed and it happened that I didn’t need a visa to Mongolia any more! So I was lucky, perfect timing! 🙂 About one year later, my friend was planing her trip to Mongolia and she told me that she has to apply for a visa. I was surprised. Then we realized that rules were changed again so currently I need a visa to Mongolia.
On one the popular way for visiting Mongolia is to take a train. You can take the Trans-Siberian Railway and arrive from Russia or China. It’s also possible to take a bus from Russia or China. However, if you choose a train or a bus, then you need to arrange more visas. If you’re anyway visiting these countries, then traveling by train/bus sounds like a good idea.
You can also simply fly to the Mongolian capital – Ulaanbaatar. I was flying to Mongolia from Europe and didn’t have any problems. But be aware, that flights may be delayed or cancelled because of the bad weather, what apparently is not a seldom case.
“You don’t go to Mongolia because of food” – that’s what I read before visiting Mongolia. I don’t remember where I saw this sentence, but I remember the moment when I understood the meaning of it… 😉
To be fair – maybe, I’m not the best person for talking about food; I’m a bit picky… And I don’t eat meat – that’s something extra weird for many Mongolians.
In general, Mongolian diet is based on animal products. We can distinguish “white” and “red” food.
-“White” food consists of dairy products (often made of fermented milk) and it’s eaten in summer.
-“Red” food means simply meat, and it’s the main source of energy in winter.
Just one warning; if you visit a nomadic family, it’s very likely you’ll get some diary products made of fermented milk. They are healthy, but if you’re not use to them, your stomach may get upset…