This tour offers a comprehensive introduction to this varied, ancient and extraordinarily beautiful country Mongolia, exploring the regions that many other tours do not cover. Traveling overland in safari style, you will visit the ancient capital at Karakorum, where you will visit the legendary 15th century Erdene Zuu monastery. You will then visit the vast expanses of the Gobi Desert, where you will explore the glacial canyon of Yolyn Am, and the red cliffs of Bayanzag, where the world’s richest deposits of dinosaur fossils are found. You will also visit Hustai National Park, where Takhi wild horses inhabit with other wildlife in the wilderness.
Landscape and cultural sightseeing blend easily in Mongolia – you will have the chance to visit families of nomads, remote Buddhist monasteries and traditional events, and to take part in horse-riding or guided walking if you wish – there are also endless opportunities for photography.
Day 01 Arrival in Ulaanbaatar, transfer to hotel.
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, meet your guide at the airport after custom formalities and transfer to the hotel.
Day 02 ULAANBAATAR
After breakfast check out from the hotel and meet your English speaking tour guide then drive out of the town and head south toward the Gobi Desert. The scenery gradually changes into steppe and hills, and very beautiful. Lunch at Mandalgobi town. Continue the drive to the Tsagaan Suvarga, which can be translated as White Stupa – a beautiful white cliff formation in the Gobi steppes. Arrive and enjoy hiking and photography at the White Stupas.
Check into Ger camp, dinner and rest. BLD
Day 03 MIDDLE GOBI TO THE GOBI: Yoliin Am gorge, hiking in glacial gorge. 4hr drive
Today we drive to the beautiful Gobi Gurvan Saikhan Park in a drive that 4hours, stopping for photography. Eagles overhead scour the desert for prey, while below families of nomads gather for felt-making, or stand in groups beside their livestock at the scattered wells. Your route passes the 'Three Beauties', the final peaks of the range, and then cuts through the range itself. Enjoy walking in the Yolyn Am Gorge with sights of wildlife. Transfer to Ger camp near the Gorge, dinner and rest.
Yoliin Am (Vulture’s Gorge) is one of the natural secret of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park and beautiful deep canyon with many rocky cliffs, has been created by many years of water erosion. Very wide at the intrance, it narrows gradually into a remarkably beautiful gorge. A spring 3 km long winds its’ way through the valley and in July, freezing into a thick corridor of ice that stretches along a considerable distance. In earlier times, the blocks of ice rarely melted, being protected from the sunlight. This, however has changed in recent years, partially because of global warming. You can still see chunks of ice here in summer, but it is almost completely melted by the middle of August. Following the canyon to the very end, one emerges into a beautiful wide valley. Surrounding mountains are home to many rare wildlife such as Argali wild sheep, Ibex, and many birds of prey, as well as numerous small rodent endemic to the Gobi. A small museum marks the entrance to the protected zone and provides information on the petrified trees, fauna and flora of the Gobi. The visit to the canyon is enjoyed most when done on foot (1.5-2km one way).
Overnight in Ger camp. BLD
Day 04 THE KHONGOR SAND DUNES & OASIS
This morning we take a drive to the Khongor sand dunes – Mongolia’s largest and most beautiful sand dunes that stretch over 200km in the arid Gobi Desert. The drive to the dunes at Khongoriin takes some 3-4 hours, passing through vast desert badlands that span out into the furthest distances, where remote mountains line the horizon. Lone gers and nomads on camelback hang suspended in the mirages, whilst the desert floor is strewn with a range of colourful rocks and unusual minerals. This is the Gobi at its stark best - there are many opportunities to stop and take photographs of the landscapes and people. Arrive and check into Ger camp. Then visit the sand dunes, climbing and photo opportunities and enjoy a short camel ride at sunset.
Transfer to the Ger camp, dinner and rest.
Day 05 KHONGOR SANDS TO THE BAYANZAG FLAMING CLIFFS. 3-4HR DRIVE
Free morning at the beautiful sand dunes. Then transfer to a Ger camp near the Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs, rest, and have lunch. Watch the documentary about the Flaming Cliffs & its’ importance – it’s the place where American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews found dinosaur eggs for the 1st time. Then we visit the Bayanzag by foot or car. Enjoy the wilderness and unique nature formations. Explore around for dinosaur remains and walking in the rich saxaul forest. You can even find real dinosaur bones and eggs yourself! Watch the inspiring Gobi sunset over the Flaming Cliffs in the evening.
Bayanzag is a valley once covered with the Gobi saxual trees, and is now a beautiful combination of the Gobi landscape, red earth cliffs, sands and the strong saxaul trees. In the 1920s American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews made Bayanzag world famous (or vice versa) as he found nests of dinosaur eggs – the first ones the world has seen, as well as well-preserved fossils many unknown dinosaur species from here during his big expedition in Asia. Some of his findings are still displayed in the Natural History Museum in New York (it’s documented that his findings were loaded onto the backs of 70 camels!). The name Flaming Cliffs was claimed to be given by Mr. Andrews himself due to fact that the earth cliffs looked incredibly beautiful and red during sunset and sunrise.
Transfer to the Ger camp, dinner and rest
Day 06 ONGI MONASTERY RUINS. 3HR DRIVE
Breakfast, then start heading to the north toward the ancient capital Karakorum. Enjoy the views of the Mongolian Gobi steppes, break the journey at the Ongi monastery ruins, transfer to Ger camp and have lunch. Visit the Ongi monastery ruins that once represented the biggest settlement in Southern Mongolia with over 1000 monks but was destroyed during the 1930s communist purges in Mongolia. Enjoy some optional hiking in the evening.
Dinner and rest at the ger camp
Day 07 ANCIENT CAPITAL KARAKORUM. 5-6HR DRIVE
This morning we head to the north through the green grasslands of Central Mongolia with a visit to a nomadic family, where we will see how the nomads make dairies including Airgag – the famous Mongolian fermented horse milk drink. Have picnic lunch on the way and reach Karakorum village in the early evening. Visit the Karakorum museum and learn more about the Orkhon River Valley – a UNESCO World Heritage site in Mongolia. You may wish to enjoy optional horse riding in the Orkhon river valley. Transfer to ger camp, have dinner and rest.
Karakorum is the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire; whose ruins lie on the upper Orhon River in north-central Mongolia. The site of Karakorum may have been first settled about 750. In 1220 Genghis Khan, the great Mongol conqueror, established his headquarters there and used it as a base for his invasion of China. In 1267 the capital was moved to Khanbaliq (modern Beijing) by Kublai Khan, greatest of the successors of Genghis Khan and founder of the Mongol Yüan dynasty (1206–1368) in China. In 1235 Genghis Khan’s son and successor, Ögödei, surrounded Karakorum with walls and built a rectangular palace supported by 64 wooden columns standing on granite bases. Many brick buildings, 12 shamanistic shrines, and two mosques were once part of the city, which also was an early centre for sculpture, especially noteworthy for its great stone tortoises.
After the fall of Mongol Yuan Dynasty in Beijing, the Mongol royals were back to Karakorum. And in the 1400s Chinese Ming soldiers burnt Karakorum twice. Later in the 1500s the city was partially rebuilt but was subsequently abandoned. However, in 1586 a Mongol prince started building Erdene Zuu monastery, which today remains only as a museum, was built on the city site.
In 1889 the precise location of Karakorum was discovered by two Russian Orientalists working in the area, and in 1948–49 the ruins were explored by members of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. Among their discoveries were the site of Ögödei’s palace (in the southwestern part of the city) and the remains of a late 12th- or early 13th-century Buddhist shrine.
Dinner and rest at the ger camp.
Day 08 KARAKORUM TO HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK. 3-4HR DRIVE
After breakfast we visit the legendary monastery Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Central Mongolia founded in 1586, Museum of Karakorum and its surroundings such as the Turtle Rock and the Phallic stone etc. Lunch at the Ger camp. Then we drive to Hustai National Park, where the Takhi wild horses inhabit with other wildlife in wilderness. Arrive and visit the national park info centre and take some hiking to view the Takhi wild horses and their little foals.
Dinner and rest at the ger camp.
Day 09 HUSTAI TO ULAANBAATAR. 2HR DRIVE
Breakfast, we then drive to Ulaanbaatar for 2hrs and upon arrival visit the Gandan Monastery – housing an impressive 26m tall gilded Buddha Statue, and then the National Museum of Mongolia. Lunch. Check into the hotel. Afterwards you will have some free time to visit cashmere/souvenir shops etc. At 6pm there’s traditional folk concert followed by farewell dinner.
Day 10 Depart Ulaanbaatar
Transer to aiport and fly back home or extend your trip to China & Tibet.