Gorkhi-Terelj National Park in Tuv Province

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park east of Ulaanbaatar


Exploring Terelj National Park: A Guide to Mongolia's Hidden Gem

Hidden away in the vast landscapes of Mongolia lies a treasure waiting to be discovered: Gorkhi Terelj National Park. This gem offers a diverse range of experiences, from exploring unique landscapes and encountering wildlife to immersing oneself in traditional nomadic life. So, why not join us on an unforgettable journey as we uncover the secrets of this beautiful park?

Located east to Ulaanbaatar, 50km away from the city, Gorkhi Terelj is the closest National Park to Ulaanbaatar. Beautiful green area and fascinating rock formations with numerous ger camps, five star hotels and restaurants will welcome you to the top destination for tourists in Mongolia.

The national park covers the southern part of the Khentii Mountains, North and south Gorkhi, Zaan-Terelj river basin and Tuul River source. With 2929km square area Gorkhi-Terelj National Park has a lot to offer in terms of attractions. The main attractions include Turtle Rock, Khuukhen Mountain, 100 Monks Cave, Ariyabal Temple, Bolor Cave, Gunjiin Temple and Terelj Zuun Mod.

And the most famous one is Turtle Rock and most of the ger camps and hotels surround this area. The Turtle Rock is approximately 24m tall and shaped like a turtle. There are two different myths about the Turtle Rock and both suggest the rock contains a treasure inside of it. And right beside to the rock there is a mountain called Khuukhen Uul which translates to Woman Mountain. The eerily similar shape to a woman laying down gave the name to the mountain which also has different legends about it.

You can find 100 Monks Cave or Three Friends Cave on the way to the Turtle Rock just before you reach it. The legend says monks used to hide inside this cave during the communist purge era or even before that. However, logistically the cave is nowhere near big enough to hide 100 people so the name was a complete exaggeration. And the other name was given after a movie called “Gurvan Naiz” (Three Friends) shot there in 1958.

Also on the way to the Turtle Rock you can see the Terelj Zuun Mod (Hundred Woods) right after you pass Nalaikh. This is where the fight between Galdan Boshugtu Khan and the western army (Manchurian army) took place. In this battle the famous Oirat king Galdan suffered a great defeat and later took his own life before the Manchus captured him. And because of that all the myths of places around the Gorkhi-Terelj area is connected to Galdan Boshugtu Khan in one way or another including the previously mentioned attractions.

As for Ariyabal Temple and Gunjiin Temple, people mostly attracted to the scenery. Ariyabal Temple was built in 1998-2004 for the purposes of meditation so there is not much history involved. On the other hand, Gunjiin Temple or Princess Temple has a history but only the ruins of it remained today. It was built after a Manchurian princess who was married to a Mongolian royalty Dondovdorj died in 1740 to honor her loyalty to Mongolians. In her words, she wanted to get buried under Mongolian soil even though she was a daughter of the Manchurian king.

In conclusion, Gorkhi-Terelj National Park provides just as much intriguing history as it has breathtaking scenery. You can go around and explore attractions or you can just relax and unwind in the beautiful wilderness. Also, you can try activities like riding horses and camels, air ballooning, archery, driving ATV/UTV and so on. However you choose to do so, the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park will welcome you to its terrific terrain.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Gorkhi Terelj National Park for its unique landscapes, wildlife encounters and nomadic life.
  • Choose from rental car, bus or private tour/car hire to get there.
  • Be prepared with best time to visit, what to pack and local customs & etiquette for a successful trip.

Discovering Gorkhi Terelj National Park

A beautiful view of Gorkhi Terelj National Park in Central Mongolia

Gorkhi Terelj National Park, established in 1993, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in central Mongolia. With its unique landscapes, abundant wildlife, and cultural experiences, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit. The park is located just 55 kilometers (34.18 miles) east of Ulaanbaatar, making it an easily accessible escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Terelj National Park offers a diverse range of experiences, including:

  • Exploring verdant valleys and craggy mountains in the Terelj settlement area
  • Encountering wildlife up close
  • Photographing unique rock formations like Turtle Rock, Camel Rock, and Praying Lama Rock
  • Experiencing traditional nomadic life through stays in ger camps or with a local nomad family

No visit to Mongolia would be complete without experiencing the beauty and culture of Terelj National Park.

Unique Landscapes

Terelj National Park is a feast for the eyes, with its stunning landscapes that include verdant valleys, rugged mountains, and eye-catching rock formations. The park is home to a variety of forests, populated by birch, cedar, pine, willow, larch, and aspen trees, as well as the beautiful Terelj River. These diverse landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for unforgettable adventures in national parks like this one.

One of the most iconic rock formations in the park is Turtle Rock, which symbolizes peace, wisdom, and longevity in Mongolian culture. Other fascinating rock formations include:

  • Camel Rock
  • Cave of Three Friends
  • Lenin Rock
  • Praying Lama Rock

These geological marvels, created during the Mesozoic era, offer excellent opportunities for photography and exploration.

Wildlife Encounters

Terelj National Park is home to an impressive array of wildlife, including:

  • Horses
  • Yaks
  • Goats
  • Over 250 species of birds

The park offers ample opportunities for close encounters and wildlife photography, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich biodiversity of the region. Whether it’s capturing a majestic horse galloping through a meadow or spotting a brown bear in its natural habitat, Terelj National Park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts.

The Journey from Ulaanbaatar to Terelj National Park

A public bus driving through the beautiful landscape of Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Having whetted your appetite for the wonders of Terelj National Park, let’s consider your journey from Ulaanbaatar. Rental cars, buses, and private tours constitute a few of the available transportation options, and each carries its own set of pros and cons. Choosing the one that aligns with your needs and preferences is the key.

Whether you opt for the flexibility and convenience of a rental car, the affordability of a bus, or the personalized experience of a private tour, your journey to Terelj National Park is bound to be filled with anticipation and excitement. No matter how you choose to travel, you’ll find yourself surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable experiences once you arrive at this beautiful destination.

By Rental Car

Renting a car in Ulaanbaatar offers flexibility and convenience when traveling to Terelj National Park, allowing you to explore the area at your own pace. However, it’s important to be aware of local driving conditions and rules, as the roads in Mongolia can be challenging to navigate.

Ensure your rented car is in good condition and you possess all the requisite documents and insurance. A bit of preparation and caution paves the way for a delightful journey to the enchanting Terelj National Park.

By Bus

Taking a bus from Ulaanbaatar to Terelj National Park is an affordable and convenient option for those on a budget or looking for a more eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Here are the details:

  • Buses depart daily from the center of Ulaanbaatar at Durven Zam on Peace Avenue
  • Fare: 2,500 Tugrik
  • Travel time: approximately two hours
  • Arriving at the bus station at least 30 minutes before departure is advisable to secure a seat.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenic ride as you make your way to Terelj National Park.

By Private Car or Tour

A private car hire or a guided tour, including a unique yak cart tour, to the Terelj National Park provides a more customized, comfortable experience. The local knowledge and expertise that comes with it assists in uncovering hidden gems and lesser-known attractions, maximizing your visit. Companies such as Viator, Ulaanbaatar Private Drivers, and Dream Adventure Mongolia offer private car services and tours to Terelj National Park.

Treat yourself to a tailored adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Experiencing Nomadic Life in Ger Camps

A traditional Ger camp in the middle of Gorkhi Terelj National Park

One of the most unique and memorable aspects of visiting Terelj National Park is the opportunity to experience traditional Mongolian nomadic life. Whether you choose to stay in a ger camp or with a local nomad family, you’ll gain insights into the customs and daily life of Mongolia’s nomadic people.

Ger camps in Terelj National Park offer a range of accommodation options, from basic to luxurious, providing visitors with a unique and authentic Mongolian experience. On the other hand, staying with a nomad family offers a more immersive cultural experience, allowing you to:

  • Learn about traditional Mongolian customs and daily life
  • Participate in daily activities such as milking cows or herding sheep
  • Taste traditional Mongolian cuisine
  • Sleep in a traditional ger (yurt)
  • Experience the vastness and beauty of the Mongolian countryside

No matter which option you choose, you’re sure to leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Mongolia’s rich heritage.

Types of Ger Camps

Several ger camps nestled within Terelj National Park offer a spectrum of accommodation options from basic to luxurious tourist camps. Some of these camps include:

  • Terelj Lodge
  • Jalman Meadows Wilderness Camp
  • Buuveit Camp
  • Guru Eco Complex
  • Mirage Tourist Camp
  • War Horse Journeys Camp
  • Tumen Khaan

These camps ensure visitors savor an authentic Mongolian experience.

Staying in a ger camp offers you the chance to:

  • Experience traditional ger dwelling
  • Enjoy freshly cooked food
  • Drink generous amounts of tea
  • Listen to traditional Mongolian music
  • Sing karaoke

Staying with a Nomad Family

For a more immersive cultural experience, consider visiting nomad family in Terelj National Park. You can reserve a homestay experience through various tour operators and websites that offer overnight stays with nomadic families.

Your stay will be a learning experience, understanding their lifestyle, partaking in daily activities, and experiencing traditional Mongolian hospitality. This one-of-a-kind experience deepens your understanding of the customs and culture of Mongolia’s nomadic people.

Must-Visit Attractions in Terelj National Park

A view of Turtle Rock in Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park is home to several must-visit attractions that showcase the park’s unique landscapes, cultural heritage, and diverse wildlife. Some of the most iconic attractions include Turtle Rock, Aryabal Meditation Temple, and Praying Lama Rock. Each of these attractions offers a unique experience and a chance to create unforgettable memories.

Terelj National Park caters to everyone, whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history aficionado, or simply seeking tranquility. Thus, don’t forget to add these must-visit attractions to your itinerary and soak in the beauty of this magnificent park.

Turtle Rock

Turtle Rock, one of the most famous rock formations in Terelj National Park, resembles a turtle and symbolizes longevity and wisdom in Mongolian culture. This iconic formation attracts visitors from all over the world and makes for a stunning backdrop for photos and exploration.

As you marvel at the impressive size and shape of Turtle Rock, take a moment to appreciate the power of nature and the cultural significance of this unique attraction.

Aryabal Meditation Temple

Nestled on a hillside in Terelj National Park, the Ariyabal Meditation Temple offers a serene and tranquil setting for meditation and reflection. This unique and beautiful Buddhist temple is accessible by a series of 108 symbolic steps, leading visitors on a spiritual journey as they ascend towards the temple.

Once at the summit, the breathtaking panorama of the protected zone in the valley below awaits, providing a perfect backdrop for quiet contemplation and appreciation of the natural beauty that surrounds the temple.

Praying Lama Rock

Another fascinating rock formation in Terelj National Park is Praying Lama Rock, which resembles a praying lama and is believed to bring good luck to those who visit it. Formed over thousands of years by wind and water erosion, this picturesque rock formation offers a unique backdrop for photos and exploration.

As you admire the striking appearance of Praying Lama Rock, take some time to reflect on the power of nature and the cultural significance of this captivating attraction.

Adventure Activities in Terelj National Park

If you’re an adventure seeker, Terelj National Park presents a range of thrilling activities catering to diverse interests and abilities. Some of the activities you can enjoy in the park include:

  • Horse riding
  • Hiking
  • Rafting
  • Dog sledding

There’s always a flurry of excitement waiting for you in this stunning park, with its green meadows, regardless of the season.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply looking to experience the natural beauty of Terelj National Park in a more active way, these adventure activities provide the perfect opportunity to create unforgettable memories and immerse yourself in the park’s diverse landscapes.

Horse Riding

A beautiful horseback riding trail in Terelj National Park" featuring the keyword Terelj National Park

Horse riding is a popular activity in Terelj National Park, with various routes and tours available for visitors of all experience levels. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a complete beginner, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the park’s stunning landscapes on horseback, accompanied by experienced guides who will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

To find horse riding tours, you can check with companies like Dream Adventure Mongolia and Temma Trekking Camp. Don’t miss the chance to connect with nature and Mongolian culture as you ride through the breathtaking scenery of Terelj National Park.

Hiking Trails

Terelj National Park offers a range of hiking trails, from short walks to more challenging treks, allowing visitors to explore the park’s diverse landscapes and attractions on foot. Some of the most rewarding trails include the trek to Aryapala and the Terelj National Park trek. When embarking on a hike in the park, wearing suitable attire and footwear, carrying ample water and snacks, and being mindful of the local fauna is indispensable.

With so many trails to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect route to suit your abilities and interests.

Rafting and Dog Sledding

Depending on the season, visitors to Terelj National Park can enjoy exciting activities such as rafting on the Terelj or Tuul River, or dog sledding on the frozen river during winter months. Rafting offers an adrenaline-pumping adventure through the park’s stunning rivers, while dog sledding provides an unforgettable experience as you glide across the icy landscape. Whichever activity you choose, you’re sure to create lasting memories and experience the beauty of Terelj National Park from a unique perspective.

Essential Tips for Visiting Terelj National Park

Proper planning and preparation are key before setting off for your adventure to Terelj National Park. This section offers practical tips and advice on the ideal time to visit, essentials to pack, and local customs and etiquette, all aimed at ensuring a memorable experience.

By taking the time to research and prepare for your visit, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your time in Terelj National Park and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Terelj National Park is during the summer months, specifically between June and August, when the weather is warm and the park’s attractions are easily accessible. However, it’s important to note that the summer season is also accompanied by precipitation, so be prepared for occasional rain showers.

By visiting during this optimal time, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the park’s diverse landscapes, wildlife encounters, and cultural experiences.

What to Pack

When packing for your trip to Terelj National Park, be sure to include appropriate clothing for the season, sturdy footwear for hiking, and essential items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle. Depending on the activities you plan to do, additional items like hiking boots, a swimsuit, and a camera may also be necessary. By packing wisely, you’ll be well-prepared to fully enjoy your adventure in Terelj National Park and create lasting memories.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Respecting local customs and etiquette is important when visiting Terelj National Park. This includes dressing modestly, being aware of noise levels, and showing respect for the local wildlife. When visiting nomadic families or religious sites, be mindful of cultural norms and remove your hat, sunglasses, and shoes as appropriate.

By being considerate of local customs and etiquette, you’ll not only have a more enjoyable and authentic experience but also contribute to the preservation of Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage.


Gorkhi Terelj National Park offers a unique and unforgettable adventure, filled with stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural experiences. From exploring iconic attractions like Turtle Rock and Aryabal Meditation Temple to immersing yourself in traditional nomadic life, your journey through Terelj National Park will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So why wait? Start planning your adventure today and discover the hidden wonders of this beautiful park.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Terelj national park famous?

After splitting the text into paragraphs, it looks like this: Paragraph 1: Terelj National Park is a popular destination located 55km northeast of Ulaanbaatar and is characterised by picturesque alpine scenery. It offers various activities such as hiking, rock climbing, swimming, rafting and horse riding, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

How do I get to Terelj national park?

To get to Terelj National Park from Ulaanbaatar, take the bus departing from Peace Avenue directly across from the Narantuul Hotel or rent a car and drive yourself. The cost of the bus is 2,500 Tugrik and it leaves at 4 pm, taking approximately two hours. Rental cars are available in the city center for 100-250$ per day from international car rental companies.

Why is Gorkhi Terelj National Park important?

Gorkhi Terelj National Park is a natural haven, teeming with wildlife and minerals. Its deep forests are home to boar, red deer, foxes, and more, while its skies are filled with birds of prey. It was also a renowned mining site until 1960.

What is the best time of year to visit Terelj National Park?

The best time to visit Terelj National Park is between June and August, when the weather is warm and the park's attractions are most accessible.

What type of accommodation is available in Terelj National Park?

Terelj National Park offers a variety of accommodation options, including ger camps and homestays with local nomadic families, providing an opportunity to experience Mongolian culture and nature.

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