- Duration 18 days
- Difficulty 4/5
- Group Size N/A
30 June – 17 July, 2019
Mongolia, land of Genghis Khan, land of expansive vistas, land of gers (felt tents) a country of nomads where hospitality is unsurpassed. Buddhism and shamanism, throat singers and contortionists, archers and wrestlers, wildlife, horses and exciting ethnic groups: we will immerse ourselves in it all.
On the expedition we will explore the nature and wildlife of the Gobi Desert from the backs of camels, trek in the mountains looking for elusive and rare animals and ride for days with the Kazakhs learning the traditional ways of the nomads. The Kazakhs, just one of the ethnic groups of semi-nomads are known for their relationship with trained golden eagles which they use for hunting. It is a total sensory overload, one that we intend to completely indulge in.
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Single Supplement: USD N/A
Arrival: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Departure: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Arrival Time: 30th June, 2019
- Land transportation as indicated in the itinerary.
- Accommodations in a standard room at hotels and gers, tents or family stays in the countryside based on double occupancy.
- Sleeping bags, expedition style tents and mats.
- Airport arrival & departure transfers.
- Meals throughout the expedition.
- All entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary.
- English-speaking guide throughout your stay.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water.
- International airfare.
- Personal laundry and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary.
- Travel insurance.
- Medical evacuation costs.
- Excess baggage charges.
- Visa fees.
- Any other services not mentioned as included.
A Day 1, June 30th: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar
Upon arrival at the airport, we transfer to our hotel, the Blue Sky in downtown Ulaanbaatar. Time at leisure until we meet for a welcome dinner and briefing at one of the city’s fine restaurants and have our first real taste of Mongolian cuisine.
B Day 2, July 1st: Ulaanbaatar to Bayan Ulgii
We fly to the westernmost province of Bayan-Olgii and to the city of Olgii, in this province bordering on China and Russia. The majority of the population is Kazakh and more popularly known for using golden eagles to hunt. Upon arrival we meet our local drivers and transfer to Altai Sum 125 km west of the capital. The Kazak woman are skilled in embroidery and their homes are beautifully decorated with uniquely designed tapestries particular to each family. Here we will be using tents and or own communal gers.
C Day 3, July 2nd: Riding with eagle hunters
Our day will be spent riding with eagle hunters into the Hoid Bardam Valley. Surrounded by rocky landscapes and crisp mountain air, the Kazakh hunters demonstrate the different techniques and tools used in golden eagle hunting. Eagles are caught from the wild and used for hunting for about 10 years then released back into the wild. We will also learn how the Kazakhs train their birds and take care of them. We will eat local food and stay near nomadic families using our tents and communal gers.
D Day 4, July 3rd: Riding with eagle hunters
Today we ride with the hunters in a different direction from yesterday, visiting a Kazakh herder family. There will be more time to interact with the eagle hunters to see different techniques and gadgets they use for hunting. We will assist the family in their daily chores of herding and looking after their yaks and sheep. We will again stay in our tents and communal gers.
E Day 5, July 4th: Riding with eagle hunters
Continue riding with the eagle hunters towards Buyant river valley going over a high mountain pass. Overnight in tents and communal ger on the river bank.
F Day 6, July 5th: Mt. Jargalant & Hovd
Today we will drive to Hovd city and then on to Mt. Jargalant. This is an extension of the Mongolia Altai mountain range located in the Khar Us Lake Depression. The diversity of wildlife at the site is very rich as the habitat varies from high mountain tundra to alpine meadows and arid steppe. Here we spend time with the local people and stay in gers and tents.
F Day 7, July 6th: Mt. Jargalant
Following a ranger for the day we will be trekking in the area looking for wildlife. Many stories of snow leopard encounters are told by the local people and naturally we will be on the look out for these elusive cats. Again we will be staying in gers or tents.
G Day 8, July 7th: Mt. Jargalant
Today we will drive through saiga land to Durgon lake to the south-east of Mt. Jargalant and its sand dunes. Saiga antelope are critically endangered antelope that originally inhabited a vast area of the Eurasian steppe. Tonight we will stay in a combination of tents and gers.
H Day 9, July 8th: Hovd City
The morning will be spent visiting Tsenkher cave with its 40,000 year old rock paintings. After a picnic lunch we will transfer back to Hovd city. This city established in the 17th century is on the banks of the river Khovd. Unlike any other region of Mongolia, agriculture is practiced around the city. Hovd is unique for its diverse ethnic makeup and there are at least 7 different ethnic groups in the area. We will interact with and photograph the different groups of people and then overnight in a local hotel.
A Day 10, July 9th: Ulaanbaatar
In the morning we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar from the Gobi. We plan an afternoon visit to Gandantegchinlen Monastery. Built in 1840, it is the center of Mongolian Buddhism and was the only working monastery during the entire communist period. The monastery comprises a complex of buildings on the hillside northwest of the city. In the past it was one of the main Buddhist centers in Asia having two dozen chapels and famous for its library collection of religious documents. In the evening we will attend a traditional Mongolian music and dance performance. Khoomii or ‘throat’ singing is fascinating to watch and always very popular with our guests. Dinner will be in a local restaurant and we will overnight in the Blue Sky Hotel.
A Day 11, July 10th: Mt. Pre-Naadam Day
This morning we will walk around the central stadium where the Naadam festival is held the following day to watch rehearsals and the Naadam archery competition that would have already started. Later in the day we will visit the National History Museum located in downtown Ulaanbaatar. This museum offers an excellent introduction to Mongolia’s history from pre-historic times through to the 13th century Mongolian Empire and on to the democratic movement of the early 1900s, which overthrew the Communist regime. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight in the Blue Sky Hotel.
A Day 12, July 11th: Naadam opening ceremony
Today we will attend the Naadam Festival. Competitions range from wrestling, archery to horse racing. Naadam is Mongolia’s age-old festival and an occasion for large feasts and family reunions. We will end the day by visiting the finish line outside of Ulaanbaatar for addition actions.
J Day 13, July 12th: South Gobi
In the morning we fly to the Yol Valley in the south of the Gobi Desert for wildlife viewing opportunities in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Here we can observe the massive lammergeiers, wild argali sheep and Siberian ibex clambering with uncanny skill along steep rocky ledges. The Yol Valley is named after the Yol or Lammergeyer, one of the largert vultures that dwells on the high cliffs of this valley. We will be staying in a Ger camp in the Dalanzadgad Valley.
K Day 14, July 13th: Hongoryn Els
In the morning we will drive to Hongoryn Els, Mongolia’s prized sand dunes, known as the ‘singing-sands’ and explore the mountain ranges of Bayan Dalai and Zoulen. Here we search for goitered gazelles, Mongolian wild ass (Hulan) and Pallas’s sandgrouse. Sundowners and photography back at the dunes before our overnight in traditional gers.
K Day 15, July 14th: Camel trekking
In the morning we will return to the dunes to meet our nomadic camel herders. We will be trekking along the sand dunes all day. For miles and miles you will only see dunes and appreciate the camel caravans similar to the ones used during the Silk Road period. We will camp in tents near a saxaul tree grove.
L Day 16, July 15th: Flaming Cliffs
In the morning we will continue our trekking through the dunes to meet up with our support team to drive back to our original ger camp in the Dalanzadgad valley.
In the late afternoon we will drive to the legendary Flaming Cliffs. The Cliffs are a red sandstone escarpment stretching above the desert where the first dinosaur eggs were found in the early 20th century. Each year rain and wind expose more of the underlying earth and reveal more fossils. New and exciting discoveries are frequently made. After a picnic dinner at the cliffs we return to our ger camp for the night.
A Day 17, July 16th: Ulaanbaatar & Hustain Nuruu National Park
After breakfast, we fly back to Ulaanbaatar. We drive to Hustai National Park where the once critically endangered Przewalski’s horse now thrives. After the last individuals disappeared from the wild in Mongolia in the late 1960s, genetically pure animals were bred in captivity and have been reintroduced into three distinctive habitats across Mongolia. Dinner and overnight at the local ger camp in Hustai National Park.
A Day 18, July 17th: Departure
After one last taste of Mongolia this morning we transfer to the airport for our return flights home.
Discover the world with an experienced traveler
Photographer | Owner | Trip Leader
Pete and Reneé have spent a lot of time in Mongolia they were even at the first ever Kazakh Eagle Festival. They have travelled extensively across the country with special government permissions, where necessary, to photograph sensitive subjects. They have stayed (often) with locals in the middle of the Gobi desert in their felt gers, been ice-fishing in the depths of winter in the Darkhad Depression, been caught in a tremendous sandstorm, come within meters, on foot, of a wild wolf and trekked with camels to the Flaming Cliffs. Pete’s most frustrating moment was driving alongside running wolves being mobbed by ravens but, at forty degrees below zero in the harsh winter the jeeps windows were frozen shut and he was unable to photograph!