Where to Go Next: Mongolia
Windswept dunes, undulating grasslands, sparkling lakes surrounded by towering peaks, the widest sky this side of Montana—is it any surprise that Mongolia is drawing adventurers in search of the raw beauty of a new frontier?All but closed to Westerners until 1990, when the fall of Communism and the country's first democratic, multiparty elections ushered in a new era, today the country is enjoying new growth—and developing more opportunities for travelers. Culturally sensitive tour operator Nomadic Expeditions has done much to lead the way, particularly since last year's launch of luxury ger at its camp in the Gobi Desert, Three Camel Lodge, which has upped the comfort ante in a country known for challenging travel. Guests can now sleep in cozy tents of latticework and felt, and interact with nomadic Kalkah families who live much the way their ancestors did. Of course, Mongolia's rapid development also means change: work has begun on a 1,650-mile highway that will cut through the hinterland and bring industry to the Kazakh, Durbat, and Buryat peoples. It won't be finished until 2010, so this is the time to go. After all, where else can you spend the day hunting game with eagles or watching horse races jockeyed by children, then retire beside a campfire listening to the sounds of hoomi throat singers?Nomadic Expeditions 800/998-6634; www.nomadicexpeditions.com; 13-day trips for two from $6,300.