Day 1 – Aug 5, Thursday
Arrive in Mongolia
We will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to the hotel Shangri-La, the most luxurious hotel in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. (Check-in time begins after 12 pm).
After some rest, we’ll have lunch at a local Mongolian restaurant specializing in BBQ. Then, we’ll visit the Gandan Tegchenling Monastery which dates back to 1838, the monastery was the center of Buddhist learning in Mongolia. Next, we’ll visit the National History Museum of Mongolia recognized as one of the leading museums in Mongolia.
At 6pm, we’ll experience a traditional Mongolian concert played by the Tumen Ekh Ensemble. After the concert, we’ll have a relaxing dinner before heading back to our hotel.
Hotel: Shangri-La, 5-star hotel, Ulaanbaatar
Note: If jet lag is a factor for you, we advise you to arrive one day early.
Day 2 – Aug 6 Friday
Gobi & the Yol valley
In the early morning, we’ll fly to Dalanzadgad, the capital of South Gobi (1.5 hour flight) and then we’ll continue by car to the Yol Valley (Vulture Canyon). The Yol Valley is nestled between the beautiful peaks of Gurvansaikhan, a mountain range made up of 3 peaks which are named the Three Beauties. After arrival in the valley, we’ll take an easy hike through the canyon. The national park is home to many wild animals such as Siberian ibexes, Argali, snow leopards, lynxes, foxes, wolves, and especially the Lammergeiers, a mountain dwelling vulture with a wingspan of 10 feet. On our way in or out of the park we will visit the local Natural History Museum where dinosaur eggs and fossils, petrified trees and a snow leopard are on display. Then, we’ll drive to our ger camp (yurt camp) and have lunch.
After some rest and relaxation, we’ll meet with some local archers to learn about the craft of archery and, after a short lesson, get a chance to shoot some bows ourselves.
Overnight at ger camp Gobi Nomad Lodge – Super Deluxe Gers with private bathrooms.
Driving Distance: 2-3 hours
Day 3 – Aug 7, Saturday
The Khongor Sand Dunes
Today we’ll drive to the Khongor sand dunes, one of the most spectacular sites in the country. We’ll pass through vast desert badlands that span enormous distances, where remote mountains line the horizon. The Khongor dunes rise on average about 300 meters in height (328 yards) and are one of the largest moving bodies of sand in the world.We’ll try camel riding on two-humped Bactrian camels– they’re actually very comfortable to ride as they walk slowly and gently, and you’ll be well supported sitting comfortably in between the humps.
Overnight at ger camp Gobi Nomad Lodge*
Driving Distance: About 4 hours
NOTE: At camp tonight, some gers have private bathrooms others have shared, those who book first will be allotted the few which have private bathrooms. Many ger camps only have shared bathrooms but we have chosen as many with private bathrooms as possible. Due to the nature of travel in Mongolia, everyone will have to work with shared bathrooms from time to time.
Day 4 – Aug 8th Sunday
Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs
Today we drive to Bayanzag, known as the Flaming Cliffs due to their red color. This area is also called the ”Cradle of Dinosaurs” where the first ever nest of dinosaur eggs was discovered in 1922. This site is famous around the world for archeologists who study the remains of dinosaurs who lived here 60 million years ago. You can walk where dinosaurs once roamed and observe saxaul trees and other classic desert vegetation.
On our way to Bayanzag, we’ll stop to view the Khavtsgait Petroglyphs dating from the Bronze age (4000-3000BC). Here you’ll see drawings and depictions of antelope, ibexes and mountain sheep as well as galloping horses, hunters, a rare depiction of a camel, wheeled carts and rudimentary gers all sketched on these walls over 5000 years ago, truly something to behold!
After lunch at our ger camp, we’ll have a cooking class where you’ll learn how to cook one of Mongolia’s most traditional meals, Buuz, which is a style of steamed dumplings. If there’s a clear sky, we’ll witness a glorious sunset at the Flaming cliffs.
Stay in ger camp Gobi Trip. Rooms with private bathroom.
Driving Distance: About 4.5 hours
Day 5 – Aug 9th Monday
Ongi Temple Ruins
Today we’ll drive to the Ongi temple. Ongiin Khiid temple is a complex of ruins from two monasteries called Barlim Khiid and Khutagt Khiid. There are plenty of interesting ruins to explore here, one of the monasteries was rebuilt recently.
Today, we’ll learn how to build a Mongolian ger, the traditional accommodation and most suitable dwelling for this nomadic culture. Plus we’ll also learn how to play some traditional Mongolian games.
Overnight at ger camp Secret of Ongi with shared public bathrooms only.
Driving Distance: About 4 hours
Days 6 & 7 – Aug 10-11th, Tuesday & Wednesday
Orkhon Valley & the Ulaan Tsutgalan Waterfall
Today we will drive to the Orkhon Valley, registered as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2005. This river valley is known as the cradle of Mongolian civilization holds many of Mongolia’s ancient monuments within its basin. Near here is the Orkhon Waterfall which marks the halfway point of the Orkhon River. The Orkhon river is Mongolia’s longest river running about 1,120 km to the north before it joins the mighty Selenge River. The Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions about 20,000 years ago. It cascades from the height of 22 meters and is 10m wide.
On Day 7, we’ll drive to the Orkhon waterfall and visit a nomadic family. The family compound includes yaks, horses, sheep and goats. Here we’ll learn more about nomadic daily life such as milking yaks and mares. We’ll also enjoy an authentic cooking class learning how to make the famous Mongolian BBQ dish, Khorkhog. After, we’ll try a horseback ride for about an hour or so.
Overnight at ger camp Talbiun. Gers with public shared bathrooms for 2 nights.
Driving Distance: Day 6, 7 hours; Day 7, 3-4 hours
Day 8 – Aug 12th Thursday
Kharkhorin and Erdenezuu Monastery
Today we’ll drive to ancient capital city of Kharkhorin. In 1220 the great Genghis Khaan declared it as the capital city of his vast Empire. We’ll visit the museum of Kharkhorin and the turtle rock sculptures which surround Kharkhorin.
After we’ll head to Erdenezuu – the 1st Buddhist monastery in Mongolia which was established in 1586. Today, Erdenezuu monastery still shows its glory with collections of many priceless religious objects and beautiful Mongolian arts. The complex boasts a massive square wall and includes 17 separate temples. We’ll have the privilege of meeting the head monk of Erdenezuu monastery to discuss and learn more about the Mongolian-style of Buddhism.
Overnight at ger camp Secret of Silk Road with private bathroom.
Driving Distance: About 2.5 hours
Day 9 – Aug 13th Friday
Khustai National Park with the Wild Horses
Today we’ll head to Khustai National Park. The park lies in the foothills of southern Khentii mountain range where it’s possible to see wild horses called Takhi in Mongolia but known as the Przewalski horse to the larger world. The wild horses have been reintroduced successfully to their homeland after 40 years of near extinction and survive now in nature completely on their own. We’ll meet the ranger of the National park to learn more about the area, the wild horses and the other wild animals who live here.
Stay in ger camp Khustai with public shared bathrooms.
Driving Distance: About 5 hours
Day 10 – Aug 14th Saturday
Attend the Mongol Nomadic Show & Mini Naadam Festival
Today we’ll be transported to the Mongol Nomadic camp where we’ll attend the Mongol Nomadic show demonstrating traditional Mongolian nomadic life. The show welcomes visitors by showing Mongolian customs, making dairy products, making felt and playing national games.
After lunch, we’ll watch a short version of the famous Mongolian Naadam festival which includes archery, wrestling and horse racing. The mini-Naadam will start with Mongolian song and playing of the Morin khuur horse fiddle.
After our entertainment we’ll drive back to the capital Ulaanbaatar for an overnight at the Blue Sky Hotel.
Driving Distance: About 2 hours
Day 11 – Aug 15th Sunday
Murun & Khuvsgul Lake
Today we’ll fly to Murun city the capital of Khuvsgul province and have lunch at a restaurant here. After lunch, we’ll visit the local market.
Then, we’ll drive to Khuvsgul lake, the deepest and purest lake in Mongolia. Known as the Blue Pearl of Mongolia, it borders Siberia and boasts magnificent landscapes and views. Here we’ll embark on a lakeside trek. On the way to Khuvsgul lake, we’ll stop to see the ancient burial field, Deer Stones “Uushigiin Uvur” the most clearly depicted deer stones in Mongolia. These deer stones were aligned from north to south in a single column. A deer, an arch, a shield, a horse, a knife, the moon, the sun and a mirror figured belt were engraved on the stones.
After, we’ll head to our ger camp for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Ger Camp Ashihai or similar. Rooms with private bathroom.
Driving distance: About 2.5 hours
Day 12 – Aug 16th Monday
Leisure day at the Lake
After much exploration, you’ll welcome this free day to rest and explore the Khuvsgul lake area. We’ll take an hour-long boat ride on the lake followed by lunch.
This afternoon we’ll visit a single mom who has her own small handicraft business at Khatgal village.
Stay in same ger Ashihai camp as the night before.
Driving Distance: 1 hour
Day 13 – Aug 17th, Tuesday
Fly back to UB
After breakfast we drive back to Murun and take a flight back to the capital. In town, we’ll have a chance to visit the Young Women’s Association to compare the lives of women in the city to nomadic tribal life. We’ll have some free time to do some last minute souvenir shopping or perhaps pop into the Mongolian National Art Gallery right near our hotel, followed by lunch.
Tonight we’ll have our final celebratory dinner nearby our hotel where we’ll stay for our final night.
Stay 5-star Best Western Tuushin Premier.
Driving Distance: 1.5 Hours
Day 14 – Aug 18th, Wednesday
Transfer to the airport for your departure.
Transportation:Mongolia is a country with unique destinations and road conditions are often rugged. Locals often drive wherever they want creating crisscross tracks in every direction making it difficult to find the main road in order to navigate. Our ground partner will supply us with excellent drivers who have many years of experience on these dirt roads and their vehicles will be well-equipped to handle this driving style. If you’ve ever been on safari in Africa, driving between ger camps is not dissimilar.
Food: You will be pleasantly surprised by the food available in Mongolia. This is partly because your expectations might be low, but also because, contrary to popular belief, Mongolian food is more than just mutton. In Ulaanbaatar, there’s a range of great local and international restaurants. In the countryside, while the choice and ingredients are more limited, there are some traditional culinary specialties you will truly enjoy and savor.
Ger camps have set menus and traditional cuisine is served but often with a twist or refined to suit Western tastes. Russian influences are stronger than Chinese, although both feature prominently. A growth in organic farming has led to an increase in availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. We like to vary meals during the trip – lunch may be with a nomadic family, at a roadside cafe, or a picnic.
We can cater for all dietary needs – vegetarian, vegan, dairy & wheat-free., etc.
About Doogli, our Guide: Dorjsuren Tagtaanyam was born in Mongolia and grew up in a nomadic family in the Western part of the country. She studied in Ulaanbaatar and graduated from the National University of Mongolia with a degree in Linguistics. In 2006, she began her career in tourism as a tour guide and later established her own tourism company in 2012. Doogli (her nickname) has lived in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia since 2005.