Tourist Map (22KB); Mongolia Destinations (main page)
Just a couple kilometers (1,5 mi) southwest of Ulaanbaatar (Tov province) lies world's oldest protected area, the Bogdkhan National Reserve (41,600 hectares). The first record confirming the foundation of the park dates back to 1778. At the time, the main goal of the declaration was to limit forest harvesting and hunting in the area. Today, the Reserve is a true National heritage offering great weekend escapes for both residents and visitors of Ulaanbaatar. One of the major highlights of the park is the charming landscape and wildlife diversity. It starts with green grass steppes of lower reaches, gradually switching to forest steppe, and finally to boulder fields and coniferous forest on the south, where it meets with Hentii mountain taiga forests.
If you are a fan of hiking, history, archaeology and wildlife watching, don't miss a chance to trek the area of the "Four Holy Peaks" dominated by four mountains: Tsetseegum (2260m/7400ft), Chingeltei, Songino Khairkhan and Bayansurkh. The Manzshir Khiid route will take you to the Tsetseegum mountain slopes. It starts on the southern side and is the most accessible. The trail passes through vast meadows, fields of rocky boulders, and Ovoos (pile of rocks formed by people as part of a religious ritual). Another route is called Zaisan. It offers great scenery, but is more challenging because of the steep rocks. Due to the shape and position of the "Four holy peaks" mountains, local residents believe that they carry a special holy message. Perhaps the holiness has also had something to do with the Manzhir Hiid Monastery (1750), located on the southern part of the Reserve. Before it was closed (1930), the Monastery was full of life, being a home to 350 monks, 20 temples, a school of medicine, astrology, and philosophy. Today, the Monastery is trying to revive itself. Some parts of it are already renovated, but more work is yet to be done.