Terelj National Park
Terelj, about 80 km northeast of Ulaanbaatar, is a deservedly popular destination. At 1600 meters in altitude, the area is cool and the alpine scenery is magnificent, and there are great opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, horse riding, rafting, swimming (in icy water), and, for hard-core extreme sports fanatics, skiing in the depths of winter. Most visited is the turtle rock and the dinosaur park.
Terelj was first developed for tourism in 1964, and 30 years later it became part of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. To the northeast, the park joins the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area (the historical “Great Taboo”), comprising over 1.2 million hectares of Tov, Selenge, and Khentii aimags. The Khan Khentii park is almost completely uninhabited by humans, but is home to endangered species of moose, brown bear, and weasel, to name but a few, and to over 250 species of birds. Parts of the tiny section of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park that has been developed for tourism are a bit touristy: some ger camps have concrete car parks, ugly electricity poles, TV antennae, and discos at night, and locals overcharge for goods and services. But I can help you easily get away from all that.
After travelling to every corner of Mongolia, I have concluded that the wildlife and beauty of Terelj exceed that of many other parts of Mongolia, even though Terelj is only 80 km from the capital city.
Suggested Horse Trekking Destinations
Surrounded by magnificent forests, not far from the lovely Baruun Bayan River, the temple was built in 1740 by Efu Dondovdorj to commemorate the death of his Manchurian wife Amarlangui. Once part of a huge monastery containing about 70 square meters of blue walls, five other temples, and a tower, Gunjiin Sum is one of the very few -- if not the only -- Manchurian-influenced temples in Mongolia to survive the centuries.
Unlike most other monasteries in Mongolia, Gunjiin was not destroyed, but rather fell into ruin from neglect, vandalism, and theft. Only the main temple, and some of the walls of the monastery, remain. Although you wouldn't know it, extensive restoration has been carried out -- and is still being carried out -- which gives you some idea of how damaged it must have been.
Gunjiin is about 30 km (as the crow flies) north of the main area where most of the tourist camps are situated in Terelj. With a guide you can hike directly over the mountains, or take the easier but longer route along the Baruun Bayan River to get there. You can reach it in a day on horseback, while hiking trekkers should allow two days each way for the journey.
Khagin Khar Lake
A 20-meter-deep glacial lake, about 80 km up the Tuul River from the tourist camps at Terelj.
Yestin Hot Springs
Located on a small tributary of the Yaagiin River, which flows north into Russian Buryatia, the springs are accessible only by horse from the Terelj area forty miles to the northwest. While overseeing the construction of Saridagin Monastery from 1654 to 1680, Zanabazar would have had ample opportunities to visit Yestin Rashaan (Yestin Mineral Springs) twelve miles to the northwest. According to tradition, Zanabazar identified up to twenty individual mineral springs here and gave very specific instructions on how they were to be used.
Water from the smaller springs, many of them just seepages, were said to affect different parts of the body: there were springs for the left or right eye, left or right nostril, left or right kidney, teeth, heart, lungs, stomach, skin, ulcers, bones, and so on. There were also larger thermal springs, around which bathing pits were dug and log bathhouses established. Bathing in the water of these springs is said to be beneficial for the whole body. The best time to use the springs is in the spring or autumn, and and for a full treatment they should be used daily for regimens of twenty-one, twenty-seven, or thirty-one days. Odd-numbered days are considered better. Also, there is one day in each month which is thought to be the most beneficial to use the springs, for example the eighth day of the eighth month, according to the Tibeto-Mongolian lunar calendar.
Currently there are two bathhouses and a small temple at the hot springs.
Transportation to/from Terelj
XUSD round-trip. Please refer to the schedule below.
Also minibus ride at 13.00 and 15.00 to Nalaekh from Terelj. You can take a bus to Nalaekh on Peace avenue from Ulaanbaatar.
Minibus from Terelj to Nalaekh at 12.00 and 14.00. Than you can take bus to Ulaanbaatar every 15 minuts from Nalaekh.
Баруун 4 замын хотын төв ордог төв зам дагуух автобусны буудлаас Тэрэлж гэсэн автобусанд суух гэсэн юм. Утас: 99844844
Use this note to get off at the correct station in Terelj:
Сайна байна уу. Би Тэрэлж Хирота жуулчны баазын буудал дээр буух гэсэн юм. хүн намайг тосох ёстой юм. Баярлалаа. Утас: 99844844
Contact me to arrange your visit!
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photos by Leena Westman and Julia Pakhomova
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