This Overland Trip takes you across Mongolia to the Gobi Desert, Khongoryn Els, Karakorum, Hustai Nuruu Takhi – horseback riding, trekking and more! Highlights of Mongolia is a wonderfully combination of geographical, historical and community-based tourism highlights all neatly blended together into an itinerary with the conscious traveler in heart. As you begin your journey southwards to the highlights of the Gobi Desert, you loop your way to the Ancient Capital of the Mongols while balancing time with our community-based network located within the pristine region of Terelj National Park.
Day One – Arrival (D – Overnight at a 3 Star Hotel): Upon your arrival, our guide will pick you up and transfer to the hotel where you can relax after a long journey before starting the city tour around Ulaanbaatar. In the afternoon, you will journey around the city visit the highlights that include the Gandan Monastery, the National Historical Museum, Sukhbaatar Square and the Mongolia Parliament. It’s going to be a great day for stretching your legs before your evening’s welcoming dinner at a fine restaurant.
Day Two – Overland Trip to Baga Gazrin Chuluu (B, L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): In the morning we will start the overland journey to Baga Gazriin Chuluu where you will have an opportunity to explore a region filled with amazing granite rock formations as well as the ruins of Khukh Burd Sum Temple (200 kilometers). Along our journey we will visit a nomadic family where you will have a hot nomadic lunch before arriving at the Ger Camp located at Baga Gazriin Chuluu. Upon arrival, we will begin our exploration of the location, the cliffs and ancient petroglyphs sites before returning to the camp for dinner.
Day Three – Overland Trip toTsagaan Suvraga and Ulaan Suvraga (B, L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): After breakfast, you will continue the trip to Tsagaan Suvraga ger camp where you will have your afternoon lunch. After lunch, we will j ourney to Tsagaan suvraga and Ulaan Suvraga cliffs; the sheer slopes facing east are amazing. From a distance, it seems to be the ruins of the ancient city as the cliff walls reach a height of 30 meters and spanning 100 meters in length. Without a drop of water in the region, these cliffs were formed over thousands of years by the Gobi Desert winds.
Day Four – Overland Trip to Yoliin am (L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): In the morning we will drive to the “Khanbogd“ tourist camp in South Gobi. After lunch, you will start the excursion to Yol Valley (Vulture Canyon) National Park. The area is an oasis, attracting wildlife from the area all around with water, good grazing, and sheltered canyons. The wonder of this beautiful valley is the river of ice stretching across the canyon floor, which survives the desert heat well into the month of August every year, better known as the Gobi Glacier. A hike down the valley offers us a great opportunity to observe wildlife, and enjoy the cool waters of the stream that emerges from under the glacier. In the evening back to camp and have a dinner and overnight in the gers.
Day Five – Overland Trip to Khongorin Els (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger Camp): In the morning you will begin your overland drive to the internationally famous Khongor Sand Dunes that stretches an extraordinary length of 180 kilometers by 15-20 kilometers wide. The huge sand dunes are apart of the desert zone, which makes-up 2.7% of the Mongolia’s territory. Upon arrival at the desert camp, you will have a late lunch before we begin our exploration the towering dunes on foot. The rugged desert plants of the Gobi at the edges of the sands are beautiful in their own sculptural way, and if the breeze is blowing just right, we may hear the dunes singing to us.
Day Six – Overland Trip to Bayanzag (B, L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): After breakfast we will journey to Bayanzag that is internationally famous for the discovery of dinosaur fossils, dinosaur eggs and hatchlings, of the Cretaceous Period. Bayanzag is also famed for its’ red sandstone cliffs which take on a beautiful red and orange hues during sunset, and its Sculptural Saxaul trees that grow in the arid rocky soil.
In 1921, the American Explorer, Roy Chapman Andrews had made the internationally famous Paleontological discoveries of the last century in Bayanzag. Since then, hundreds of archeological expeditions have come to this remote desert location in search of dinosaur eggs with a diameter between 10 to 15 centimeters; eggs found in Mongolia were the first ever discovered in their record size. Upon arrival in Bayanzag, we will visit a desert camp nearby where we will have lunch before starting the excursion that will last until the evening dinner at one of Mongolia’s top eco-lodges known as Three Camels Eco Lodge.
Day Seven – Overland Trip to Visit the Largest Monastery Ruins in Gobi Region (B, L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): After breakfast we will begin our overland drive to Ongi Monastery where we will have our lunch near the monastery at a local desert ger camp. Then you will start your trekking excursion to the ancient ruins of Ongi Monastery. The Ongi Monastery was the largest monastery throughout the Gobi Desert Region that didn’t survive the repression of 1930s to which it was completely destroyed, and around 300 monks were killed by revolutionists.
Day Eight – Overland Trip to Orkhon Waterfall (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger Camp): After breakfast, we will say our goodbyes to family before continuing the journey to the Orkhon waterfall. Ulaan Tsutgalan, a waterfall on the Ulaan River, cascades from an impressive height of 20 meters and has a width reaching is 10 meters, and extends for 100 meters from the Orkhon River. The Orkhon River flows through basalt rocks from Gyatruu Range to Karakhorum.
On the way we will stop by Arvaikheer town for lunch before reaching the ger camp located near the Orkhon waterfall. Today you will have a wonderful opportunity to pull out your camera during the 10-15 kilometer round-trip trek to waterfall and back – before returning in the evening for dinner at the camp.
Day Nine and Ten – Overland Trip to Tuvkhun Monastery and Hot spring (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger Camp): After breakfast we will continue our overland travel to Tuvkhun Monastery that is located on the peak of Undur Shireet at an altitude of 2312 meters above sea-level in-between Arkhangai and Uvurkhangai Provinces. It was established by Zanabazar, the first religious head of state, in 1654 and erected on the south slope surrounded by steep angle rocks ranging 20 meters high with 14 small temples. In 1680s at this location is where he created the famous letter “Soyombo”, and the temple has enjoyed state protection since 1998 and has been registered by UNESCO as a world heritage site “The most wonderful valuable object” in 1996. After having a picnic lunch near the monastery, you continue your overland travel to Arkhangai Province which is commonly referred to as the ‘horse breeders’ paradise’ as its pastures are geographically rich in vast green fields and clear river valleys. Some travelers and locals refer to Arhangai Province as to be comparative with Switzerland with its amazingly beautiful mountains, cliffs, rapid rivers, and green forests. Tonight and tomorrow you will enjoy the natural bounties of Tsenher Hot Springs where the hot spring water flows out of the ground at 82° C and overnight at the ger camp.
Day Eleven – Overland Trip to Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongol Empire (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger Camp): After breakfast, you will start driving to the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire known as Karakorum and Erdenezuu Monastery that was established within its protective walls. Karakorum was established in 1220, and served as the capital of Mongolia for 140 years and the capital of the Mongol Empire for 32 years. Erdenezuu Monastery was the first Buddhist monastery erected at the initiative of Abtai Sain Khan in 1585. Stay overnight at camp.
Day Twelve – Overland Trip to to the Ancient City Ruins and Lake Ugii (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger Camp): After breakfast, today you will continue the journey to Lake Ugii renowned for its birdlife, along the way we will visit the ancient city ruins of “Uigur, Khoshoo Tsaidam”; Turkish relics as well as Chilin Monastery. Upon arrival at camp which locates along the Lake Ugii, you will enjoy a bit of hiking and bird watching. The lake itself, is approx. 27 square kilometers of fresh water, and is home to various types of fish and birds. More than 150 types of rare and near rare birds dwell around the lake Ogii. Here you can watch 178 varieties of 16 species of birds such as the Pelicans crisps, Ciconia nigra, Cygnus Cygnus, Cygnus Berwick, Answer indices, Cygnoides, Anas Formosa, Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Haliaeetus albicilla, Grus vipio and Otis tarda.
Day Thirteen – Overland Trip to Internationally Famous Hustain Nuruu Protected Reserve (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger Camp): Before your breakfast you have opportunity to participate in milking animals, if you wish. Afterwards, we will begin the 198 kilometer overland trip to Hustain Nuruu Protected Reserve towards Tuv Aimag (Central Province). After having lunch at camp, you will visit the Khustai Park’s information center that displays all kinds of flora and fauna of the Hustain Protected Reserve. For the rest of the afternoon till dinner will be spent at Hustain Pike to see the internationally famous “Przewalski” wild horses (Takhi) in their natural habitat – 5 kilometer drive from the camp.
Day Fourteen – Saddling Horses and Prepping an Ox Cart (L,D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast, you will drive to Terelj National Park. Upon arrival in the Terelj Village, our local guide will greet you with either an ox cart or horses. From here you will begin your 3 kilometers horseback travel with the crossing of the Terelj River and continue northwards through an incredibly stunning mountain river valley to your first nomadic family. Upon arrival you will dismount and enter into Mr. Chuluunhuu’s Ger where you will be greeted with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. During your stay, Mr. Chuluunhuu will show you the techniques of how to saddle a horse and prepare ox cart to which you will have time plenty of time to refine your skills and continue practice it yourself afterwards. Tonight you are going to have a fun filled time learning how to play a variety of Mongolian traditional games with sheep’s bones (shagai) after a heartwarming nomadic dinner with the family. Nights in the Park are amazing, before retiring to your Ger for evening, it’s a great opportunity to just enjoy a bit of star gazing and take in the fresh air – which is always great for a deep and relaxing sleep.
Day Fifteen – Horseback riding through forested mountain (B,L,D – Overnight in Ger): Eat well as soon after your breakfast, you will begin the 24 kilometer horseback adventure through forested landscapes over to an open and picturesque green plain where Ms. Amarjargal’s family will prepare and serve you with a much deserved hot nomadic lunch and tea. Ms. Amarjargal, a locally well known and talented local nomadic seamstress (she sews much the traditional garments for the local nomads), will teach you how to tie a bridle as well as how to make Mongolian patterns for traditional garments which will be followed by a wonderfully hot nomadic dinner and traditional tea with the family.
Day Sixteen – Tether Livestock and Traditional Knots (B,L,D – Overnight in Ger): Today after breakfast, you will continue traveling for 9 kilometers to the next family with a local nomadic guide. Upon arrival at Mr. Bold’s family, they will prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Later that afternoon, you will be shown how to properly tether livestock together as well as how to make a button by cotton or silk for traditional garments before your evening dinner with the family and retiring for the evening to your Ger.
Day Seventeen – Ulaanbaatar, Shopping and an Evening show (B, L, D – Overnight at Hotel): After breakfast, nomadic family will take you to the Terelj village by ox cart where you will get on bus back to UB city. After checking in the hotel, there will be plenty of free time for shopping. In the evening, we will all gather to have our farewell dinner after the Tumen Ekh Folk Art Concert.
Day Eighteen – Ulaanbaatar (B): Breakfast at the hotel and departure.