Visiting Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
The Gorkhi-Terelj National park is one of my favourites, its just beautiful and stunning!
The walk up to the meditation temple is inspiring with numerous placards of wisdom along the way, for you to admire.
But believe me, you need to avoid the big resorts and the noisy tourists with their selfie sticks (yes even in 2020!).
Terelj Village and tourists
Terelj Vilage has always been one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mongolia. Gorkhi-Terelj National Park as it is close enough to Ulaanbaatar, to make it the most popular tourist destination.
Most companies include in their itinerary at least one day in the park.
Location of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park
Gorkhi-Terelj lies 60 km east of Ulaanbaatar. It is one of the very few locations which you can reach by public transportation – a bus number XO:4 starts at the Palace of Officers bus stop and goes straight to the park’s center.
The asphalt road connecting Ulaanbaatar with the park runs to an end at the settlement of Terelj.
The village features several small shops, restaurants, tourist camps and hotels. It is also the last stop for the buses coming from Ulaanbaatar.
The Vast Tourist Zone
The area between the village and the park’s entrance gate is one vast tourist zone. It is full of tourist camps and hotels and can be very crowded in summer.
In the tourist zone you can find some of the most advertised attractions of Terelj, such as the famous Turtle Rock.
The Fantastic Turtle Rock
The rock looks fantastic, and if you are fit, you may try to climb it (as well as many others in the area).
But the site is now surrounded by tourist infrastructure, so making it your top destination may turn out disappointing.
The trek to the nearby Aryabal (Aryapala) Meditation Temple is lovely, though. Just take it in the morning or late afternoon when there are fewer tourists around.
If you travel by bus, make sure to ask the driver to let you out at the right point.
The Turtle Rock lies more or less halfway between the park’s gate and the Terelj village. If you get out in the wrong place, you may be forced to trek up to 10 Km.
As you can see, I am not a big fan of the tourist zone in Terelj.
Yes, you can find suitable accommodation here. But urbanization spoils the landscape and contributes to the devastation of the area.
Still, it doesn't mean Terelj isn't worth visiting.
Where to go to escape the tourists!
If you want to experience wilderness, cross the Terelj River at Terelj Village, and head north.
The area is perfect for hiking, trekking, and horse riding.
One of the best trekking routes takes visitors to a glacial lake, Khagiin Khar Nuur. The lake lies eighty kilometers away from the tourist camps.
Do the trek in a company of an experienced guide, and carry a satellite phone with you. If you feel like going a bit further, Yestii Natural Hot springs are only 18km further.
Warning, the area is wild and has no phone reception.
Drive to Princess Lodge, Terelj
If a long hike sounds too extreme, you can instead drive to Princess Lodge. It is the most remote tourist camp in Terelj.
It is simple, yet cozy and clean. It is also an excellent place to enjoy wild nature, horse riding, and hiking.
To stay closer to civilization, cross the river and follow its flow south. The route will take you through the picturesque valley.
Nomads living here often offer homestays, horse riding trips, and even yak cart rides.
You can try to contact some of them online or upon arrival at the site.
But, in my experience, it is easier to have a tour company arrange the activities for you.
Jalman Meadows Accommodation
If you want to stay in the camp, one of the loveliest in the area is Jalman Meadows.
It offers not only accommodation but also access to a sauna, bikes, rafting, and horse riders.
It is an excellent base for a more in-depth exploration of Terelj.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park Entrance Fees
The entrance fee to the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is a bargain 3000 MNT per person.
You can pay at the park’s entrance, it’s that easy.