Orkhon Waterfall (its Mongolian name is Ulaan Tsutgalan) is located in 30km from Bat-Ulzii soum, Uvurkhangai province in the west. While you are driving to the Orkhon Waterfall, you’ll witness the volcanic area of Orkhon Valley. Volcanic eruptions were result of structural deformation and compositional differentiation of the earth lithosphere at convergent plate margins, in other word, an orogeny.
According to geologists, there were two major volcanic activities took place creating the current mountains and earth. First magmatic activity occurred at the beginning of the Paleozoic era. Its magma came from the sub-due of one plate under another place creating a magmatic activity and forming a chain of mountains. The second magmatic activity was occurred late Carboniferous to early Mesozoic.
Geological earth surface of this are comprised two types of the following rocks ;
- Granites from the cooling of the magma (composed of quartz, feldspar, potassium and plagioclases, micas)
- Basalts from a magma to the surface (composed of plagioclases, pyroxene, olivine and magnetite)
Orkhon Waterfall which is the good example of magmatic activities which water falls 25m down creating small fond in the bottom of the cracked earth. Surrounding high walls reveal clear view of magmatic accumulation or volcanic organs.
Activities in Orkhon Waterfall
After you walk to the waterfall for about a kilometer you’ll see it standing on top of the canyon. It is literally cracked down from the earth surface. The waterfall might not seem big to you but this is the biggest waterfall in Mongolia and it makes loud roaring sound which its name Ulaan Tsutgalan derived from. You can hike down to the bottom through big boulders. Hiking down might look dangerous or difficult but once you’ve tried you’ll know that was not difficult at all. It is relaxing to watch the waterfall sitting right next to it under the wall.
This area is the summer land for numerous nomadic families so you’ll encounter many animals like sheep, goats and yaks alongside with wild animals such as vultures, foxes or small jerboas. You will find numbers of tourist camps here and there. If you’re staying at a camp it would nice to pay a short visit to any nomadic family and see how Central Mongolian nomads live and herd their livestock so that you can have certain knowledge of their culture and tradition. Surrounding families of this area are all familiar with tourists and serve with whatever they have including horses. You can experience horse riding here too.
When to visit Orkhon Waterfall
The most favorable month to visit here would be August when the level of waterfall will be its full size. Also local people organizes many small or big ceremonies such as wedding or hair cutting ceremonies in the area. If you choose to visit in April, you will see frozen or melting waterfall. You can stay at a nomadic family and offer your help to the huge work of receiving baby animals. During this time you cannot stay at any camp since they start to receive tourists around May.
At any time carry your water with you and sun cream or hat too. If it’s windy, you should put your scarf or muffler on.