Altan Ovoo

Altan Ovoo Naadam

 This trip takes you to the cradle of Chinggis Khan before entering the endless steppes of southeastern Mongolia. The plains are dotted with extinct volcanoes and huge herds of gazelle live side-by-side with the cattle. Highlight of the trip is the visit to the Altan Ovoo Naadam, Mongolia’s most spectacular festival, held only every four years at the foot of Altan Ovoo Mountain.

You leave the capital in northeastern direction and follow the beautiful valley of the Herlen River into the plains of Hentii. Close to Delgerhan you visit the monument of Chinggis Khan, which has been erected in 1990 to commemorate the 750thanniversary of the epic “The secret History of the Mongols”. The symbols on the side of the statue are the brands used by about 300 different clans for marking their livestock. Nearby you taste the fresh water of a mineral spring, which is said to have been the favorite drink of the Mongol court.

The next day you continue into SukhebaatarProvince and as the mountains of Hentii disappear in the background, the landscape turns into the endless steppes. You will see herds of white-tailed gazelle grazing with the cattle. Short before reaching Dariganga village, you have an excellent view of the Dariganga plains and the extinct Volcanoes dotting the plain. On the northern side of the village rises the Altan Ovoo (Golden Hill) with a stupa and prayer flags on top, which only men are allowed to visit. Nearby you visit three chunni chuluu, stone statues. You are supposed to place food-offerings in the cup held by one of the statues.

The next two days are consecrated to visit the colorful Altan Ovoo Naadam. This is the most spectacular of Mongolia’s festivals, attracting a large number of people in their finest to participate. The plains are dotted with the tents of the participants. Monks hold the opening ceremony on top of the Altan Ovoo at sunrise, followed by three days wrestling, horseracing and arrow-shooting competition, held in the plains beneath the mountain.

The next day you continue south towards the Chinese border to visit the sacred ShiliinBogdMountain. From the crater of Shiliin Bogd, you have a stunning view into China. On the way back you see the new statue of Toroi-Bandi, the Mongolian Robin Hood.

The drive back to Ulaanbaatar takes you again across the vast plains of steppes and past sand dunes.