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This trip encompasses the many stunning highlights of the world famous Gobi desert and the lush, green surroundings of Central Mongolia. Driving south from Ulaanbaatar, you will pass through the Middle and Southern regions of the desert, allowing you to experience the vastness of this special landscape. Among the rolling sand dunes and hills, activities include riding two humped Bactrian camels through the desert, visiting a Nomadic family, as well as enjoying the spectacular sunrises and sunsets that are on offer each day. Included is a trip to Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park, known for its iconic sand dunes, ice canyon, flaming cliffs, limestone formations, as well as many geological & archeological sites.
After wandering around Gobi, we will then head north to Central Mongolia. Here you will enjoy spectacular and lush greenery, swimming in waterfalls, as well as many famous cultural sites. Highlights include the ancient capital Khar Khorin and the Erdenezuu monastery.
The richly historic Orkhon river basin is the cradle of Central Asia’s unique nomadic Culture which has developed in harmony with the natural landscape and social environment since prehistoric times. There are a variety of historic sites and ruins, including monuments, monasteries and temples which are outstanding in universal value within this cultural landscape. The Orkhon Valley bears an exceptional testimony of the existence of human beings in Central Asia.
Basic (As Per this itinerary – Western Style amenities will be available on most days)
Departure Time & Place
Tour departure times can be flexible, however 8 am on the morning of departure is recommended. The driver and guide can pick you up from the airport, train station, or your accommodation to suit your requirements.
Ulaanbaatar to Baga Gazriin Chuluu (230km)The tour begins at 8am with the drive to first destination in the Middle Gobi province. Baga Gazriin Chuluu is a range of granite hills surrounded by the desert. It is believed Chinggis Khaan grazed his horses here. These hills are a good place for scrambling and hiking. We stay in a nomadic family ger camp.
Tsagaan Suvarga (240km)Today’s drive will be on the paved road. After packing up the camp site, will be driving to Tsagaan Suvarga – a formation about 30 meters tall and 100 meters long and shaped very strangely, as a result of wind and water erosion over thousands of years. From a distance, it can be mistaken for the ruins of an ancient city. Lunch will be in the town of Mandalgovi city.
Yoliin Am Valley (180km)Today we will be entering South Gobi Desert - Umnugovi province. After having breakfast, we will start the drive to Dalanzadgad city where you can have a shower, and guide will restock supplies with some fresh food. Lunch will be in a local restaurant, and we then continue to Yoliin Am (“vultures mouth”), which is a deep and narrow gorge in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in Southern Mongolia. Yoliin Am is notable for a deep ice field. This ice field reaches several meters thick by the end of winter and is several kilometers long and can sometimes remain frozen throughout the summer. Camping and supper will in the Valley.
Khongoryn Els (220km)Driving on this day can be adventurous, because the road is unpaved. We will start driving at 8am after breakfast. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the gorgeous canyon, and then continue to the last destination of the day. Khongoryn Els. These dunes are the largest accumulation of sand in the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. The spectacular dunes are bordered by lush green vegetation supported by the Khongoryn Gol river, which is fed by underground sources from surrounding mountains. Stay in a ger camp run by the local community, including a shower.
Khongoryn ElsTake the opportunity to relax and truly appreciate the surrounding landscape. You will spend the day camel riding for the day, hiking, sand sliding or hanging out with a local nomadic family. There will also be an opportunity to enjoy a shower and cold drinks from the bar/restaurant as well as a night safari tour, where we will see some of the local wildlife.
Bayanzag (150km)Your destination on this day will be the aptly named “Flaming Cliffs”. The adventure across the vast desert landscape will continue, this time across what was a prehistoric sea bed. The flaming cliffs are a dream for fossil hunters. They were named by American adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews who found the first fossils here in 1920. The Bayanzag area is great for hiking and hunting for fossils. Stay in a family ger camp.
Arvaikheer (Capital of Ovorkhangai) (300km)Early morning start at 7am after breakfast. A day to take stock in this unique city, with free time to explore the market, museum, as well as enjoy a beer while reflecting on the desert experiences. Lunch and dinner will be in a restaurant in the town, while accommodation will be in a local guesthouse.
Ulaantsutgalan Waterfalls (200km)Be ready for a refreshing swim in the waterfalls. ‘Red Flows’ is the English translation for this river. The area was formed by volcanic activity that dates back 20,000 years. This location is amazing for trekking, fishing, relaxing, and indulging your inner photographer if the weather is right for the day. Accomodation will be in a family guesthouse.
Khar Khorin- Tuvhun Monastery (130km)After breakfast, we begin the 130km drive to the next destination of Khar Khorin, the local town that was once the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire built by Chinggis Khan in the 13th century. Visit the magnificent Erdene Zuu monastery, Khar Khorin museum, as well as some of the rock monuments in the town. Lunch in a local café. After big day of exploring the town and its incredible history, enjoy dinner at a local family home.
UlaanbaatarReturn to Ulaanbaatar with nothing but fond memories, enjoying a Mongolian lunch on the way and one last day in the wild! The driver will take you to your accommodation. Enjoy rest of your travels!
✔️Transport (Tour Distance covered – 2100 km)
✔️Accommodation at family run guest house and nomadic family Gers
✔️3 Meals a day (Breakfast-9 Lunch-10 Dinner-9)
✔️Entrance fees/Local Taxes
✔️Horse & camel riding 1 hour each
❌Alcoholic & soft drinks
❌Any other personal expenses or additional services
Pricing NameStartEndGroup (Min-Max)Pricing
We will be cooking our meals on portable stoves. We will have to stock up on food provisions in the cities, so even that will limit some of your options.
All included meals will be prepared from fresh local produce. The majority of the shopping for food will be done before the trip departs, and fresh goods, such as meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, will be bought en-route during the trip from supermarkets, local shops and markets. Breakfasts will generally consist of breads and cereals, if time allows a warm breakfast may be prepared. Many lunches will be provided en-route and will be light meals such as sandwiches and/or salads or local restaurants. All evening meals will be freshly-prepared hot meals, and will consist of a variety of continental and local dishes. Our GUIDE will organize the meal preparation and lead the way here.
Please note that snacks, soft drinks and alcohol are not included in the tour, so please bring your own. You’ll be able to stock up on supplies at the several small towns where we stop for breaks along the way.
Mongolia is a country of extreme weather conditions. Depending on the time of year you go you should pack accordingly. The summers are very warm, but packing a warm layer or two would be very useful at any time of year, as in both the city and the countryside the evenings can get a little chilly.
Pack your favourite books for the long drive and a notebook to record your thoughts as you look out over the endless, sun-drenched Mongolian wilderness.
It is a good idea to include small gifts in your packing list, as you will inevitably be visiting local nomadic families in the county. It is polite to offer them some small gifts to show your gratitude in return for their hospitality.
Educational gifts for the nomadic children would be a good idea. Colouring books, crayons, colouring pencils, any children books and school stationery. You can buy all these from the department store in Ulaanbaatar after you arrive.
Other suggested gifts for the families are
Tea towel or fridge magnet from your home country and a head torch are very useful.
Sunscreen, long and short underwear, comfortable footwear, lip balm, sanitary hand wipes, sunglasses, prescription medications (if needed), rain gear & a hat
If you forgot something essential, don't worry. You can buy everything you need in Mongolia’s Department Stores and travel shops.
Vegetarian meals and other dietary requirements can be catered for but need to be specified prior to arrival.
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is still possible for you to enjoy Mongolia. There are more vegetables being grown in Mongolia today than there were 10 years ago, but Mongolians eat meat, so that is what is mostly available. We will go out of our way to find veggies, but the selection will be limited.
In the countryside it's going to be as rustic as it gets. There are very few paved roads in Mongolia, and most of those are not in great shape, so much of the driving will be done on tracks, which are really nothing more than paths through the steppe that people have driven over many times to pack the dirt down. Tracks are NOT for fast travel, they constantly change because of being washed out by the heavy rains or because they get too beat-up, so the going is slow and far from being smooth. Please consider that travelling in the countryside of Mongolia can be quite remote. There are often no paved roads so driving can be bumpy and can take a little longer than you might be used to. Also, given the remoteness, western style comforts may not be available.
Most of the vehicles we will use are very basic 4-wheel drive vans and jeeps because of the harsh terrain. These vehicles may not look like much, but they are rugged and when they do break down it's fairly easy to repair them which out on the steppe is important!
Russian Van: Steel Russian vans with seats facing each other, ideal for adventure seeking travelers (max 6 people) No seat belts & air conditioner in the van. (Most affordable option)
Japanese Van: Family type van with comfortable seats and air conditioning (max 3 people)
Land Cruiser: Comfortable speedy ride with air conditioning (max 2 people)
Accommodation is very basic in the countryside; you will be sleeping in tents or in the gers of local families. As nomads do not have their own running water supply we may not be able to have a daily shower and going to the bathroom means using some place just outside of camp (nomadic families rarely dig a pit toilet since they move so often).
Western style and luxury options are available in some parts of Mongolia in the form of Tourist ger camps. Ger camps have comfortable beds, hot showers and western style amenities. These are not included in the price quoted in this itinerary. However, if you think that you would prefer to have access to these western style comforts then please let us know and we can adjust the quote for your itinerary.
Once you are in the countryside exploring Mongolia it is our preference to stay with local nomadic families if they have an extra Ger. Gers will be shared by 5 people when we stay with a local family. As a Mongolian company we prefer to support these families financially, and help support their livelihood. We are sure this resonates with our travelers who enjoy engaging with their culture and way of life on the steppe. As well as directly supporting local herders, you can experience this rich traditional way of life first hand. On some nights we will be camping under millions of stars at our favourite camping spots, though if you’d prefer to camp more often you’re more than welcome to pitch a tent every night. All necessary camping equipment will be included in the tours.
For the invitation letter we will need the following information:
- Full Name
- Passport #
- Clear scanned copy of your passport
- Name of the City & Country where you are applying for your visa.
- Date of arrival & departure from Mongolia
In some cases, if there is not a Mongolian embassy in your country, it is possible to apply for permission to obtain a visa on arrival at Chinggis Khan International Airport. We can also help you to arrange this if you provide us with similar information as above.
Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions regarding your visit Mongolia via email at firstname.lastname@example.org