Just 60 kilometers from the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar (Ulan Bator), the Terelj National Park, also called Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, is one of the biggest protected areas in the country.
Situated in the Tuv province, Terelj is the perfect place for you to witness the true nomadic Mongolian lifestyle. Stripped of modern infrastructure, the park captivates adventurous travelers who are looking for something authentic in terms of culture and environment. The good thing about Terelj is that it’s relatively more accessible compared to other nomadic regions, but still boasts a cool climate with a spectacular alpine scenery that adds to the tranquility of the place.
To maximize your experience in Terelj National Park, the best thing to do is to book an origanized tour of the area. Most of the tour operators have their offices in Ulan Bator. They can arrange day excursions and overnight trips that will include accommodation, meals, transport and activities. But this is not going to be your regular commercial tour, because aside from sightseeing, you will be staying in a traditional tent-like house called ger. During the day, you can hike through the meadows filled with colorful wild flowers like edelweiss. You can also engage in fun outdoor activities like rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking. During winter, cross country skiing is also very popular.
At the inhabited section of Terelj National Park, you will encounter a number of tourists staying in specially designated camps. But you also have the option to stay with a host family ger village. This also means that you will not get certain amenities like a hot shower. However, what you will experience is the genuine hospitality of a local family. Even if you are staying in the tourist camp, you only need to drive a few minutes and you will most likely see the locals herding sheep, dealing with wild horses and doing everyday nomadic tasks. Terelj National Park actually covers a large area, and most of it is actually uninhabited. The majority of the key attractions can be reached by hiking or by horseback. These can also be arranged by your local tour operator.
One of the major landmarks in Terelj National Park is Khagiin Khar Lake. This pristine glacier lake is said to be twenty meters deep, and is a favorite hiking destination. If you want dip in therapeutic water, make your way to renowned Yestii Hot Springs. There are two major rivers that flow through the park, and they are the Tuul and Terelj rivers.
The park is also known for its captivating rock formations located in front of lush mountains. Climbing enthusiasts are usually lured to climb and conquer some of these rock formations, which include Melkhii Khad or Turtle Rock and the Praying Lama Rock. There are many animals that roam in Terelj. Some of the wildlife that you may encounter during your exploration are wild boar, brown bears and wolves. Just make sure to put some distance between you and the animals!
In addition, there are also more than 200 bird species to keep you looking up admiringly at the trees and wonderful blue sky. Terelj National Park is also home to significant historic and religious landmarks like 100-Monks Cave, the Princess Monastery and the Aryabal Buddhist meditation center.