Considering Mongolia for your next spring break? It’ll be a holiday like no other when you lose yourself in Genghis Khan’s grassy stomping grounds. This vast land of deserts, steppes, lakes and mountains is one of earth’s least touristy destinations, perfect for those who crave an adventure far off the beaten track.
Remote and sparsely populated, Mongolia is inhabited by friendly people whose lives are steeped in traditions that have existed for centuries. The Nadaam Festival, held nationwide in July, offers the chance to immerse oneself in Mongolian culture. For three days Mongolians challenge each other in horse racing, archery and wrestling, with each sport embellished with uniquely Mongolian flair (wrestlers wear way cool pointy hats, and the victors are expected to do the ‘eagle dance’). Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, is surrounded by the Four Holy Peaks, a popular hiking destination. Tour guides can arrange rafting, camel riding and yak caravan eco-tours. The Gobi Desert is a big draw for its wildlife, both past (dinosaur fossils) and present (wild camels, snow leopards, Prezwalsky horses). Karakorum was Genghis Khan’s ancient city, though little remains except the turtle statues that marked the city borders.