What is the interesting to in Mongolia

Savour the serenity

Space. Glorious, mesmerising, limitless space. One of the least densely populated countries on earth, Mongolia is where the gods play golf. Endless fairways of treeless green, patterned by the shadows of clouds; lakes for water hazards; pristine air; epic silence – there is a reason that Mongolians refer to their homeland as the ‘land of the blue sky’. Occasionally the scene is tweaked by a lonely ger (yurt) of white felt: the portable homes of Mongolia’s pastoralists dot the country’s vast landscape. And when night falls, the stars come out to play. The Milky Way’s billions of stars appear so close and clear it seems like you could sweep them up in your hands.

Meet Chinggis Khan

Branded an imperialist during Soviet rule, Mongolia’s fiercest warrior is now a brand in his own right, adorning energy drinks, cigars, vodka and hotels. You might spot Chinggis Khan carved 60 metres high into the hills surrounding Ulaanbaatar as you touch down at the great ruler’s namesake airport. Near Nalaikh, a giant silver statue of the Great Khan can be seen shimmering from miles off.  In fact, little is known about the ruler rumoured to lie buried somewhere secret in Khentii, a protected wilderness area. His tented capital, Karakorum, is long vanished, a pair of lonely stele markers at today’s Kharkhorin the only trace. For a man who founded an empire stretching from Asia to Venice, the Great Khan left almost no physical legacy.

Eat the world’s weirdest breakfast

Boodog is an ancient steooking technique still used today when herdsmen find themselves far from home. An animal – usually a marmot – is sliced open and stuffed with river stones heated on a fire, creating a primeval pressure cooker (they have been known to explode on occasion). The fur is then singed off and the meat carved up to eat. If you’re lucky you might get treated to this, ahem, delicacy as the morning sun warms your ger. It’s the preserve of men, which is hardly surprising – there’s no washing-up. A posher version is the khorkhog – a goat cooked with hot stones inside a milk churn.

Marvel at Mongol warriors

Eurasia was terrorised by the prowess and potency of the Mongols 800 years ago, and their skills are by no means consigned to history. Every summer, Mongolians congregate for Naadam festivals to compete in the ‘three manly sports’: horse-riding, wrestling and archery. Children under ten race horses across 20km courses; wrestlers of all sizes hulk it out (Chinggis Khan believed it a way to keep his soldiers battle-ready); archers pierce targets with deadly accuracy. The biggest Naadam festival is held every July at the National Stadium in Ulaanbaatar, but the remote rural contests are the true bastions of grassland tradition.