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Adventure Guide: Mongolia
Text by Lily Stockman

Photo Gallery : Modern Mongolia | Adventure Guide: Mongolia


There's a whole lot of Mongolia to explore, and it's easy to feel as if you have the country to yourself. Slightly smaller than Alaska, the nation has one of the lowest population densities in the world: 4.6 people per square mile (2.5 square kilometers). If you've only got a week, stick to one region—the Gobi, for example. If you have ten days, tack on a second, such as Hövsgöl.

OUTFITTERS: The best way to see Mongolia is as Mongolians do: from atop a horse. Several English-speaking tour operators in the capital, Ulaanbataar, organize horse-packing trips to the far corners of the country. Try Hovsgol Travel ($1,790 for a 14-day trip; www.hovsgoltravel.com) or Nomadic Expeditions ($1,860 for a 12-day trip; www.nomadicexpeditions.com); both have led trips for more than a decade. 

STEPPE AND DESERT: The Gobi ("waterless place," in Mongolian) stretches some thousand arid miles (1,609 kilometers) from east to west along Mongolia's southern limit. Stay at the startlingly luxurious Three Camel Lodge ($70; www.threecamels.com) near Dalandzadgad, bordering Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Inside the park, you can excavate dinosaur fossils under the guidance of a paleontologist, explore walls painted with ancient petroglyphs, or ride camel-back across the dunes.

LAKES AND MOUNTAINS: The 800-plus-foot-deep (244-plus-meter-deep) Lake Hövsgöl is a picturesque diamond nestled in the golden larch forests and rugged mountains of the northern Hövsgöl Province. Support locals in rebuilding the Dayan Derkh monastery while fly-fishing for the six-foot-long (two-meter-long) taimen with Sweetwater Travel Company ($5,200 for a seven-day trip; www.sweetwatertravel.com).

WOLVES AND EAGLES: In western Mongolia, Kazakhs use trained eagles to hunt foxes, wolves, and hare in the jagged Altay Mountains. Montana-based Boojum Expeditions offers a ten-day tour of the region ($2,250 www.boojum.com) that introduces you to hunters and their families.

GETTING THERE: Korean Air flies from Los Angeles to Ulaanbaatar ($1,740; www.koreanair.com). Purchasing domestic flight tickets through Miat Mongolian Airlines (www.miat.com ) can be tricky; your best bet is to book through an outfitter.

RESOURCES: Bradt publishes the most up-to-date travel guide on Mongolia ($21; www.bradt-travelguides.com); it offers advice on selecting a camel for Gobi trekking. For a crash course in Mongolian history, pick up a copy of Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Three Rivers Press, $15).

Photo Gallery : Mongolia | Adventure Guide: Mongolia





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