Mongolia evokes images of endless steppes and nomads with their herds, but is quite mountainous with alpine conditions in many parts. The country lies landlocked between Russia and China. The high peaks of Mongolia are found in the west of the country, in the Altai Mountains. Hüiten Peak (4374 m) in the Tavan Bogd Mountains is the highest, located in the westernmost tip of Mongolia on the border with China, in the Altai Tavan Bogd National Park. This area is the most remote and spectacular for hiking, with snowclad peaks, glaciers and lovely alpine lakes and valleys. To reach these and other mountains of Western Mongolia, the town of Olgii is a good starting point. Other western mountain regions good for hiking are those around the snow capped Kharkhiraa Uul (4037 m), Türgen Uul (3965 m), and Tsambagarav Uul (4202 m). From Mongolia's far western corner the Altai Mountains stretch out along the southwest of the country, ending in the mountains of Gobi Altai. These still reach up to 3000 m and border the Gobi Desert. In the far south there is some nice hiking in Gurvan Saikhan National Park.
Another major but more eroded and rolling mountain range are the Khangai Mountains in Central Mongolia. Highest peak here is the glacier capped Otgontenger (4008 m). Second highest, and more easy to climb, is Erkhet (3535 m). Both are considered sacred mountains. The Khangai Range offers a diversity of landscapes, from grassy steppes to forests, canyons, rivers, lakes and volcanic craters. It can be reached by road from the capital Ulan Bator, and there are numerous organized treks here.
North of the Khangai Mountains at the foot of the South Siberian (Russian) Sayan Range lies the huge alpine Khövsgöl Lake and National Park. There are some wonderful hiking opportunities in the surrounding mountains with great views, and along the shore.
Lowest but closest to the capital Ulan Bator, are the northeastern Khentii Mountains, on the border with Russia. It is home to another sacred mountain: Burkhan Khaldun (2800 m), associated with Genghis Khan. Finally there are some good relatively easy trekking options not far from Ulan Bator: north of Ulan Bator from Darkhan to the monastery of Amarbayasgalant; east of Ulan Bator in Gorkhi Terelj National Park; south of Ulan Bator in Bogd Khan National Park.
Best season to go hiking is summertime, from mid-May until early September, although the season is shorter at higher altitudes. There are no marked trails, and if you plan to set out independently, be prepared to carry all you need: tent, stove, food, water etc. Nomads will sometimes rent out pack horses.
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