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adventure travel trip to Mongolia
  • Jul 9-22, 2015
  • Duration 14 days
    Group Size 6-12
    Land Cost $4,350 Details
    Single Supplement $900 Details
    Lodging 2 stars-3 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Ultimate Mongolia with Naadam Festival

    The amazing Naadam Festival plus the Gobi Desert, Lake Hovsgol, Yol Valley and more

    Day 1      Arrive Ulaan Baatar

    Arrive in Ulaan Baatar and transfer to your centrally located hotel. The rest of the day will be free to relax or explore the city. Evening dinner with the other group members. Consider arriving a day or two early to rest up after a long flight and adjust better to the local time.

    Meals: Dinner
    Lodging: Ramada Hotel or similar

    Ulaan Baatar
    Day 2      Ulaan Baatar City Tour

    This will be your day to acquire a good background of the cultural, religious, and natural history of Mongolia. You will tour Ulaan Baatar, including a visit to Gandantegchinlen Monastery, the largest and most significant monastery in Mongolia, and one of Ulaan Baatar’s most interesting sights. Built in the mid 19th century, it is the only monastery where Buddhist services continued during the communist years, and the temples are thronged during religious services. Also tour the Megjid Janraisig Temple, the most important part of the monastery. This temple, also known as Avalokiteshvara Temple, was built in 1911-1912 to celebrate the end of Manchu domination in Mongolia and, it is said, to have cured the great and revered Bogd Gegeen Khaan from blindness. The Janraisig statue at 25 meters (87 feet) in height and 20 tons in weight, is inside the temple. Visit the newly-renovated Museum of National History. The museum displays exhibits on the geography, geology, botany, fauna, and paleontology of Mongolia. Among the treasures on display are 800 objects from the lower Cambrian Age (500 million years ago) to the Quaternary Age (10,000 to 15,000 years ago), including fossils of vertebrates, plants, leaf prints, dinosaurs, and mammals. The specimens of dinosaur skeletons and bones vary in size from a few inches to over 100 feet tall, and several are found only in Mongolia.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ramada Hotel or similar

    Ghenghis Khan monument in Ulaan Baatar
    Day 3      Naadam Festival

    Witness the great Naadam Festival. There's nothing else like this anywhere on earth! Watch wrestling, archery, and horse racing among the crowds of locals who are reveling in the competition. Wonderful costumes, wonderful pageantry -- from the opening dancers and musicians and throughout the games. This is THE national event of Mongolia.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ramada Hotel or similar

    Attend the Naadam Festival
    Day 4      Moron / Hovsgol Lake

    After an early breakfast at the hotel, fly into Moron, the center of the Hovsgol province. From Moron, you will be driven to the base camp at Lake Hovsgol (approx. 70 miles). With an area of 1,012 sq. miles lying near the Russian border, Hovsgol is Mongolia’s largest freshwater lake. It is more than 800 feet deep and more than a mile above sea level. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. Overnight at the Ger base camp. Each ger sleeps 4 to 6 people, but a private ger can be requested (not guaranteed.)

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    Base camp at Lake Hovsgol
    Day 5      Hovsgol Lake Hiking and Wildlife

    After breakfast at the camp you will have a full day to explore the breathtaking shores of this beautiful lake.  There is ample opportunity to discover the local nomadic lifestyle. You can plan hiking and photo ventures along the shorelines, which are excellent habitats for wildlife and birds. 

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    Hike along the shores of Hovsgol Lake
    Day 6      Hustai National Park

    This morning, you will take the flight back to Ulaan Baatar and immediately head out on the drive to Hustai National Park (approx. 62 miles), the site of a unique re-introduction of Przewalski's Horse (Equus Przewalskii), called "takhi" by the locals. It became extinct in the wild in 1969 and since 1992, has been successfully re-introduced in Hustai from zoos around the world. This has been an international effort monitored by the Foundation for the Przewalskii Horse, based in the Netherlands and MACNE (Mongoian Association for Conservation of Nature and the Environment.) The park extends through the Khentii Mountains and includes the western edge of the Mongolian steppe. It contains large patches of birch and aspen forests and visible remains of Neolithic graves. Other wildlife found here include red deer, the wolf, and Mongolian gazelle. Overnight at a Ger Camp.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    Drive to Khustain Nuruu National Reserve for a look at the Przwalski Wild Horses
    Day 7      Karakorum

    After breakfast at the camp, transfer to Karakorum (approx. 80 miles). Situated on the banks of River Orkhon, the site of the imperial capital, Karakorum was chosen by Genghis Khan in 1220. The city, capital of the largest land empire the world has ever known, served as a supply point for the Mongol armies and was a cosmopolitan and multi-cultural place in its time. Today almost nothing remains of the once-great city, but the sense of its grandeur and importance can still be felt by the visitor. Karakorum was located on trade routes and was surrounded by walls with four gates, each with its own market. The nearby Erdene Zuu Monastery was the first Buddhist monastery built in Mongolia, constructed using stones and bricks from the ruins of the ancient city in 1586. During the communist purges of the 1930s, many of the temples in the monastery complex were destroyed, but the remaining temples and stupas are some of the best examples of Mongolian Buddhist architecture. Erdene Zuu is now both a museum and a functioning monastery. Also visit Shanh Hiid, the local active Buddhist temple, which, along with the Erdene Zuu, is the only monastery in the region to have survived the 1937 purge. Overnight in a Ger at the Karakorum base camp. 

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    The golden stupa at Erdene Zuu monastery
    Day 8      Ugii Lake & Elsensen Tasarkhai

    In the morning, drive out to Ugii Lake with stops at several eighth century Turkish monuments in the Orkhon Valley. These monuments are dedicated to the Turkish Princes Kul Tegin and Bilge Khan, brothers who were famous for their military bravery. Continue on to Ugii Lake, one of the largest fresh-water lakes in Mongolia, known for its migratory birdlife such cranes, ducks, geese, and pelicans and for its variety of fish.

    After a lunch break, drive to Elsen Tasarkhai, stopping to pay a visit with a nomad family and learning how they live and make dairy products. You may even have a try at drinking fermented mare's milk.  Overnight at a Ger Camp

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger Camp

    Learn about nomadic lifestyles
    Day 9      Terelj National Park

    Today you drive to Terelj National Park via Ulaan Baatar where you see Turtle Rock and visit the Temple of Meditation. There is horse and camel-back riding available in the park.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    Meet a bactrian camel
    Day 10      Gobi / Yol Valley

    In the morning, you will fly to the Gobi Desert, one of the most famous and exotic areas in the world. The Gobi occupies about one-third of Mongolia and consists of sand dunes and dry mountain ranges. As one of the harshest environments on earth with extreme temperature and seasonal changes, the Gobi is surprisingly full of wildlife such as white and blacktail gazelles, wild ass or “hulan” in Mongolian, wild camel or “havtgai”, antelopes, ibex, and argali sheep, the biggest wild sheep on the planet. The majority of Mongolia’s population of bactrian camels live in this area, and you can take a camel ride if you like. Upon arrival, transfer to the base camp at the Gobi. You may visit the Yol Valley National Park for a morning trek with opportunities to photograph the stunning landscape, “Gobi Glacier”, and intriguing wildlife. Yol (Lammergeyer) Valley is the narrow canyon of river that flows through Zuun Saikhan Mountain (alt. 9,236’). Its gorge has sheer rock walls, and, during the rainy season, rain falls at the summit of the mountain and flows down into the sheer canyon to form waterfalls. A small museum marks the entrance to the protected zone and provides information on the petrified trees and flora and fauna of the Gobi. Return to base camp for dinner and overnight. 

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    Admire the vast and austere Gobi desert
    Day 11      Khongor Sand Dune

    After breakfast, drive to Khongorinn Els Sand Dunes, the largest sand dunes in Mongolia. These dunes lie in the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. The drive takes you through incredible desert scenery with flat, stony plains; outcrops of vegetation; hills of interesting rock formations; and herds of wild antelope racing across the plains.  The roads are flat and fairly even, so the drive will take only around four hours. The dunes are also known as "Singing Sand Dunes" due to the shifting sand blown by the wind, causing a sound that sounds like someone singing. Visit a camel breeding family, with the option of riding a camel through the dunes. You also visit a beautiful oasis near the dunes for excellent photo opportunities.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger Camp

    Stay in a homey and surprisingly-comfortable ger
    Day 12      Flaming Cliffs

    In the morning, you'll make the drive to Bayan Zag, also known as the Flaming Cliffs, to explore the Gobi “Cemetery of Dinosaurs” and the trail of Roy Chapman Andrews. You will also stop at the Petrified Forest, where you will find the remains of mammals, in particular, the skeleton of a hornless rhinoceros, the largest known mammal in the world. Overnight at a Ger Camp.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ger

    Bayan Zag, or Flaming Cliffs
    Day 13      Bogdo Khaan Winter Palace

    After breakfast at the base camp, fly back to Ulaan Baatar. En route to the hotel, visit the Bogdo Khaan Winter Palace Museum. The Bogdo Khaan Winter Palace is the home of the last Mongolian King, Javzun Damba Khutagt VII. The museum contains a number of Buddhist artworks and the private collection of Bogdo Khaan, composed of gifts from rulers and kings from all over the world. The artworks displayed here were made by the top Mongolian, Tibetan, and Chinese master-sculptors of the 18th and 19th centuries and represent the gods of Buddhist pantheon. If you did not have time on your earlier trip through Ulaan Baatar, visit the Museum of National History.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Ramada Hotel or similar

    Spend some leisurely time exploring the city
    Day 14      Onward

    In the morning, transfer to the airport for your departure flight.


    NOTE: On this wide-ranging trip, participants' endurance and patience may be tested by difficult roads, transportation, and uncertainties like hot, cold, wet, or dry weather, but we have great faith in the local company and guides whom we employ.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: None

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