Discounts for Group sizes: (4-7) $1274 p.p., (8-11) $1075 p.p., (12+) $1008 p.p.
For those truly wishing to see the diverse spectrum of culture and geographic landscapes that Mongolia possesses from the internationally famous Gobi Desert and its massive sand dunes to open vast valley from south to north and east to west, Mongolia’s Highlights program is perfect for all intrepid travelers and adventurers. This program covers a broad range of spectacular geographic and cultural highlights that include: Gobi Gurvan Saihan National Park, Vulture Canyon, Gobi Desert, Khongorin Els Sand Dunes, Bayanzag’s Paleontology, Waterfall, Ulaanbaatar City and more! This is a genuine adventure that combines the best of on and off the path travel, community based tourism, etc., for those who crave none stop exploration, immersion and adventure.
Day One – White Cliff (B, L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): In the morning we will start the overland journey to the White Cliff (Tsagaan Suvraga ger camp) where you will have your afternoon lunch. After lunch, we will journey 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 Two – Yoliin am (B, L, D – Overnight at Ger Camp): In the morning we will drive to the “Khanbogd“ tourist camp in the 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 Three – 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 Four – 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 Five – 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. After your meal, the afternoon excursion into the ancient ruins of Ongi Monastery where you will be transported back in time some 300 years ago. 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 Six- 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 Seven – Tuvkhun Monastery and Hot Springs (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 Eight – Travel to Mr. Erdenebileg Nomadic Family (B,L, D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast at the hotsprings we’ll start our short journey for approx. 60 kilometers to our our nomadic family, Mr. Erdenebileg, where we’ll have our afternoon lunch. For the rest of the afternoon you will have plenty of time to take it easy and enjoy experiencing nomadic lifestyle before the evening dinner with the family and overnighting in a ‘real nomadic ger’.
Day Nine– Travel by ox cart to Taikhar Rock (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast, you will have time to rest up or experience aspects of nomadic lifestyle before lunch with family members. Afterwards, you will start traveling to Taikhar Rock by ox cart for about 20 kms round trip; Taikhar Rock is 18m high cliff of granite. This granite was formed by separating from the riverbank due to millions of years’ continual flow of Khoid Tamir River through granite cape on its northern bank. Over 150 inscriptions in various scripts including Turkic, Uyghur, Mongolian, Tibetan, Manchu and Chinese were engraved on the cliff, but most of them seem to have barely appeared as time passes. About 70 of them are in Mongolian script and the 15th-17th century’s Mongolian state officials’ name such as Khuukhai Dayu of Oirad, Tsogt Huntaij of Kalkh can be read. According to local legend/myth; there was a wide valley on the way to Zag Baidrag River after climbing over Khangai range. It is believed that a giant snake passed the valley crossing over 3 open canyons of Eg Mountain pass moving along the Khangai range until it reached the site of current Taikhar Chuluu and then fell into a hole under the cliff. After that, a well-known local wrestler knowingly covered the hole with a massive cliff, currently known as Taikhar Chuluu.
Around Taikhar Rock, you can try riding the camp’s yak if you want, it typically costs about 3000-10000 tugrug depends on distance you ride. In the evening you return back to family and have a nomadic dinner before your retire in the family’s extra Ger.
Day Ten – Travel by ox cart to next nomad family (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast, you will begin your 18 kilometer ox-cart ride towards the next nomadic family. Upon arrival at the Mr. Batdelger’s nomadic family, you will be served a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Afterwards, you ‘may’ learn how to make dried curds and fermented mare’s milk if they are already producing it – as well as helping out family to putting animals in a pen. In the evening you will have a nomadic dinner with the family before your retire in the family’s extra Ger.
Day Eleven – Horseback riding to Duut Nuur “Lake Racket” (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast, your host family ‘may’ show you the basics of milking mares, catching horses by rope and training them. After lunch, you will begin your 10-12 kilometers round trip by horse towards the Lake Racket which translates in Mongolian as Duut Nuur. On the way, you will pass by the legendary military general Mr. Demid’s memorial monument where locals show their respects by celebrating Rural Naadam Festival every five years. Duut Nuur is favorite pond for water birds, at least 10 different species of 50-60 birds which are swans, cranes, gooses, shell ducks etc., pass through.In the evening you will have a nomadic dinner with the family before your retire in the family’s extra Ger.
Day Twelve– Horseback riding to next family and play traditional games with family (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast, you will start a 15-kilometer horseback ride towards the next nomadic family. As soon as you reach the nomadic family of Mr. Nerguibaatar, they will prepare and invite you to a much welcomed nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Afterwards, you will have a rest of day – you can go out swimming in the river or enjoy if the locals are fee, ‘you may’ try learning the traditional game ‘shagai’ with family members or you can help hostess by pulling calves while she is milking cows before you retire for the night.
Day Thirteen – Horseback riding to Tangad Five Trees (B, L, D – Overnight in Ger): After breakfast, you ‘may’ learn the methods of cutting mane and tail of horses with assistant of host. Typically nomads prepare their horses by cutting tail and mane before the special celebration like Rural Naadam Festival. After lunch, you will start a 16 kilometer round trip by horse towards the Tangad Five Trees. According to legend, there were five brother lamas used to meditate and heal locals at temple. But during the revolution in the early 1900s, those brotherhoods were executed and temple was completely destroyed. After the revolution, these five trees were grown at the exact place where lamas used to meditate. Therefore locals show respect to these trees and say their wishes during their visitations. In the evening time, you will return the host family and have a farewell dinner before you retire for the night.
Day Fourteen – Departure (B): After breakfast, a local driver will arrive to pick you up and you will start the 80-90 kilometer overland trip back to Tsetserleg. Our local driver will help you to get on at 1400pm bus to Ulaanbaatar City or drop you at local guesthouse if you prefer to stay overnight in additional night in Tsetserleg.
- All breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
- Herder guide service on route
- Horse riding, trekking according to itinerary
- Bottled water on route
- Private vehicle which stated on itinerary
- 7 nights at tourist camp
- 6 nights in extra ger of nomadic families
- English speaking guide on route
- National park fees
- International airfare
- Travel insurance
- Gratuity to guide and driver
- Alcoholic beverages