Field Trip 2023: Mongolia


Malte Giesenow © Copyright: M. Giesenow


+49 241 80 96461



Off to the steppe - Physical Geography Excursion to Mongolia

Malte Giesenow & Frank Lehmkuhl




The excursion will begin and end in Ulaanbaatar. Arrival and departure have to be self-organized. You have the option to come earlier or stay longer in Mongolia if you want to.


10-12 students from RWTH Aachen University. Students from our partner University GMIT in Mongolia will also attend.


Max. 500 € + individual travel costs


The excursion will be in English. You have the possibility to write your protocols either in English or German.

Registration is possible from 28.11.2022 to 02.12.2022 via RWTHonline.



Mongolia is a large country. It is four times bigger than Germany but has only 3 million inhabitants, making Mongolia one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.

  traditional yurts Copyright: © Malte Giesenow

Leaving the hustle and bustle of the capital Ulaanbaatar behind, you will encounter yaks, yurts, and nomads who search for new pastures with their animals as the seasons change. There are altogether 60 million livestock in Mongolia that move freely through the vast steppe landscapes, arid deserts, and mighty mountainous regions, in almost perpetual sunshine.

Mongolia is a landlocked country with borders solely with Russia and China. Mongolia relies heavily on these two countries. A big proportion of the GDP (gross domestic product) and almost 90 % of the exports consist of mainly unprocessed mining products, such as coal, gold or copper. Thus, mining plays a prominent role in Mongolia.


Focus of the excursion

The high importance and use of mining has visible ecological as well as social impacts. This excursion aims to analyze mining as a whole. Beginning with geological and physical-geographical/ geo-ecological preconditions as well as the socio-economic factors and their impact on landscape and environment.

The main focus during the field trip is the physical geography of Mongolia, i.e., the (geo-) ecological framework (climate, vegetation, soil) as well as geomorphological processes on the earth's surface caused by water, wind, ice and snow. Furthermore, an important part of the excursion is the human impact and the discussion about sustainable cultural and landscape development. In particular, we will look at the formation and change of vegetation, soils, and surface forms, and the processes involved, from current perspectives such as climate change and human influence.

  Baganuur – open pit coal mine for Ulaanbaatar´s power supply Copyright: © Malte Giesenow

Important Information

Mongolia is an incredibly exciting and varied country with a fascinating culture, great people and impressive landscapes. However, it is important to mention that many things that are self-evident from a European point of view, are different in other places of the world, such as Mongolia.

Traveling through the countryside is arduous. Many of the roads are unpaved which has an impact on the length and comfort of travel. We will sleep in yurts on the countryside and in hotels or hostels in the city. On the road we will eat together with nomads, and therefore have no influence on the menu. The food mostly contains meat, which comes directly from the livestock. Especially in the countryside the concept of not eating meat is mostly unknown. Of course, it is possible to join the excursion as vegetarian but you are responsible for finding suitable food on the spot. Also, there are usually no toilets or running water in the countryside. It is also part of the excursion to go on hikes over pathless terrain, which requires good shoes and a certain level of endurance.

We therefore point out that the excursion to Mongolia is only suitable for physically fit people who are ready to forego the comfort of toilets or showers for the duration of the excursion. If you have any questions, please contact Malte Giesenow an E-Mail ().



We will meet in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. First, we will visit our partner university GMIT near Ulaanbaatar, and tour and open-pit lignite mine, Baganuur (see Fig. 2) which provides energy for the capital. Afterwards we will travel to the countryside for about 10 days. We will start in the north. Near Darkhan and Erdenet, landscape development will be the main focus, and we will visit a large open pit copper mine. After that we will continue our journey to Lake Khuvsgul which is also referred as "the little brother of Lake Baikal". From there we will continue south to the Khorgo volcano which dominates the surface landscape. From there we will head back to our starting point. On the way back to Ulaanbaatar, we will take a break in Karakorum, former capital of the Mongolian Empire.