Rock climbing at Turtle Rock (Gorkhi Terelj NP)
Before ending this awesome Mongolian roadtrip, there was still one more adventure to undertake. The Wandelgek drove towards the Gorkhi Terelj National Park and after entering, to a site called Turtle Rock.
Gorkhi Terelj National Park
Only 55km northeast of Ulaanbaatar, the Terelj region makes up part of Gorkhi -Terelj National Park and the region offers great opportunities for walking, hiking, rock climbing, swimming (in icy cold water), rafting and horse riding. At 1600m above sea level, the area is quite cool, even in mid summer, and the alpine scenery is magnificent, and fir hard-core extreme-sports fanatics, the area offers dog-sledding and skiing in the depths of winter.
The area was developed for tourism in 1964 and 30 years later it was included into the National Park. The area has tourist shops, lots of ger camps and horse riding facilities.
However, most of the rest of the park is undeveloped and difficult to access. Attractions include Khagiin Khar Lake, a 20m deep glacial lake 80 km upstream from the tourist camps, and Yestii Hot Water Springs, natural hot springs 18 km further upstream. The park also has a Buddhist monastery that is open to visitors. Park wildlife includes brown bears and over 250 species of birds. The Tuul River flows through the park.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (Mongolian: Горхи-Тэрэлж [ɡɔrxi tɛrɛɮʃ], creek-rhododendron) is one of the national parks of Mongolia. The Terelj tourist zone has a number of “tourist camps” (Mongolian: жуулчны бааз, juulchny baaz). It is connected with Ulaanbaatar by a paved road (main road to the East #A0501 Baganuur-Öndörkhaan direction, 37 km from Ulaanbaatar city center, left turn to the branch #A24, 5 km later road crosses Tuul River and the National park territory begins). The road comes to the Gorkhiin Davaa (Mongolian: Горхийн даваа) pass. Most of the tourist camps and tourist attractions are before this pass. The road then ends at the settlement of Terelj, which features small shops and restaurants. The Terelj settlement is located in the valley of the Terelj River (Terelj Gol), approximately 66 km from the Ulaanbaatar city center. The national park tourist zone is formally in Nalaikh düüreg (district) part of Ulaanbaatar municipality, the rest of the protected zone beginning to the north of the Terelj River, is located in Mongolia’s Töv Province (Töv aimag).
A small southern portion of the park is developed for tourists, with restaurants, souvenir shops, horses and camels for rent, and tourist ger camps, many of them run by the Juulchin corporation, the former state tourism company. However, most of the park is undeveloped and difficult to access. Attractions include Khagiin Khar Lake, a 20m deep glacial lake 80 km upstream from the tourist camps, and Yestii Hot Water Springs, natural hot springs 18 km further upstream. The park also has a Buddhist monastery that is open to visitors. Park wildlife includes brown bears and over 250 species of birds. The Tuul River flows through the park.
The park has many rock formations for rock climbers, and includes two famous formations named for things they resemble: Turtle Rock (Mongolian: Melkhii Khad) and the Old Man Reading a Book (Praying Lama Rock).
Many Westerners were introduced to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park when the CBS reality television program The Amazing Race visited the park in the second episode of its tenth season.
The Wandelgek wanted to visit the area around Turtle rock to do a bit of easy going rock climbing ?.
Turtle rock, from a specific angle, really does resemble a large turtle.
The area of Terelj is strewn with large boulders and combinations of boulder collections, like e.g. Turtle Rock.
The Wandelgek was going to climb that turtle. It was quite steep but the climb went reasonably well. Above it is possible to walk between the large boulders. It feels a bit like walking into a cave without a roof and Bear Grills might suddenly jump from behind a boulder?
Amidst those boulders was a spot on top of a smaller rock where people left money. Not sure why though.
After enjoying the view the descent was a bit more difficult than the climb. Not because of the steepness, but more because of a thin layer of sand grains on top of the boulders that made it a bit slippery.
Then it was time to travel back west again towards Ulaanbaatar and the end of a fantastic Mongolian roadtrip.
But… it was NOT the end of my TransSib/Trans Mongolian travels, not even the end of my Mongolian stay. Hey!!!
But more of my non roadtrip adventures will follow in upcoming blogposts.