A Unique Adventure Destination: Siberia’s Altai Mountains

If you’re looking for a colorful and unique adventure vacation, look no further than Siberia’s Altai region. In the Turkic and Mongolic languages, the word Altai means the “Golden Mountain.” Once you see the area up close, you’ll understand why the name is so fitting.

Along with its rare beauty, the destination also presents unique ecology and geology. Located in East-Central Asia, the Altai Mountains are a mountain range where Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Russia come together. The natural attraction extends for about 1,200 miles from the Gobi Desert to the West Siberian Plain, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to the area’s unique geology and rare biodiversity. In fact, this region features the most complete sequence of altitudinal vegetation zones in central Siberia and offers a home to endangered animals like the snow leopard. You’ll find over 1,400 plant species, many of which an endemic, over 70 mammal species and more than 300 types of birds. Moreover, with origins dating back to Caledonian-Hercyninan times, this range has seen five glacial periods, which can be seen through the multitude of lakes and 1,499 glaciers in the region.

When visiting this region, you’ll be able to take in the beauty of this untamed land while white water rafting, horseback riding, hiking and mountain climbing. Moreover, if you’d just like to relax and clear your head, that can be found here, too. Visitors can choose to go camping or stay in one of these rustic accommodations, and also have the option to book a tour.

For a visual idea of this unusual destination, check out the gallery below.


[all images via Big Stock]

Video Of The Day: Traveler Lets People Leave Mark On His Shoes

“I’ve been to some beautiful places and done some awesome things, but the best part has been meeting all kinds of amazing people,” said the filmmaker of the above video. He had learned the valuable lesson while living in Asia for three years, but when he took a six-month trip through the Philippines, China and Mongolia he decided he’d like to visually demonstrate how the people he met left their mark on him. Using markers, he let people draw on his shoes, which took him through desert landscapes and cascading waterfalls. Watch above to see him walk through sand, snow, mud and more.

Has anyone – a helpful local, another traveler or even a stranger – ever left their mark on you while traveling? Whether literally or figuratively, feel free to share your stories below.

Transmongolia – Part Five: The Finish Line

Transmongolia: Part Five. Click above to watch video after the jump

*After an extended hiatus (we blame the whole getting lost in the desert thing) Transmongolia is back to offer even more coverage of the 2011 Mongol Rally.

The Mongol Rally isn’t a race, at least not in the official and common sense. There are no prizes for first place except bragging rights. More than anything, it’s about who makes it to the finish line and who doesn’t. It’s about arriving at the finish line and scanning a large wall-sized poster that lists who has retired [RET] and who has completed the journey in their original automobile, no matter the condition.

After crossing through the fabled Mongolia Steppe, our team finally reached the end of their 10,000 mile long journey. Emotions ran high; we experienced excitement at the thought of being stationary for a long period of time and trepidation over knowing that everyone would be heading separate ways in just a matter of days. We had made it to Ulaanbaatar, victors of the Mongol Rally.

Transmongolia – Part Five: The Finish Line

For more information about the Mongol Rally, including how to sign up for the 2012 rally or tips for entrants outside the EU, visit the Adventurist’s website – or view the Adventurists’ 2011 trailer here!

Transportation was made possible by the scholars and gentlemen at the Adventurists. No editorial content or opinions were guaranteed nor was anyone’s safety or hygiene.

New stretch of Great Wall of China found using Google Earth

A British researcher scanning through images from Google Earth has discovered a new section of the Great Wall of China.

Surprisingly, this part of the famous wall isn’t in China, but rather Mongolia. The Great Wall is actually comprised of several walls built in various centuries by several different rulers starting in the fifth century B.C., or perhaps earlier.

When Great Wall expert William Lindesay spotted what looked like a wall cutting across a remote part of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia’s southernmost region, he headed out with a team to follow along 60 miles of it. This photo, courtesy Alec East, shows the kind of terrain these modern-day adventurers had to deal with.

The wall varies in construction depending on the terrain and resources. In some parts it’s made of local volcanic basalt, while in others it’s a simple berm of sand and shrub cuttings. Lindesey believes this new portion of the wall is part of the so-called Wall of Genghis Khan, which, despite the name, is not considered a project by the famous conqueror but actually the Han Dynasty of China in 115 B.C.

Lindesay says this is the first time part of China’s defenses has been found outside of the modern boundaries of China. A journalist for the New York Times may have discovered a portion of the same wall in Russia in 2001.

Genghis Khan exhibit in Chicago the biggest ever

A new exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago spotlights the world’s greatest conqueror.

Genghis Khan brings together the largest collection of 13th century Mongol artifacts ever. The exhibition traces the career of Genghis Khan from his birth in 1162, to a noble but obscure family, through his conquest of an empire that was larger than the Roman Empire. In fact, it was the largest ever, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the gates of Vienna, and he built it in just 25 years.

More than 200 objects are on display including a Mongolian house, silk robes, weapons, and even the mummy of a Mongolian noblewoman.

The exhibition shows that while Genghis Khan was a bloodthirsty warrior, he was a clever statesman too. He established a complex and efficient form of government, a postal system, paper currency, diplomatic immunity, even wilderness preserves and laws against littering. His conquests had a profound impact on the development of Asia and Europe.

Genghis Khan runs until September 3.

Photo courtesy the Field Museum.