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This trip encompasses the many stunning highlights of the world famous Gobi desert, as well as the lush, green surroundings of Central and Northern 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 the 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 the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park, known for its iconic sand dunes, ice canyon, flaming cliffs, limestone formations, as well as many geological and archeological sites.
After wandering around the Gobi, we will then head north to Central Mongolia. Here you will enjoy spectacular and lush greenery, swimming in freshwater lakes and waterfalls, as well as many famous cultural sites. Highlights include the ancient capital Khar Khorin, the Erdenezuu monastery, as well as visiting Khustai National Park to catch a glimpse of the Mongolian wild horses.
Northern Mongolia is the perfect destination for those who enjoy outdoor activities and wildlife. Lake Khuvsgul, which contains 65 percent of all the freshwater in Mongolia, is ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The surrounding mountains and forests are perfectly suited for wildlife observation, as they provide a habitat for more than sixty species. The Uran-Togoo Tulga Natural Reserve is also a great place to observe the variety of bird life and mammals, as well as explore the various hiking trails. Northern Mongolia is also home to the famous Tsaatan Reindeer people, an ethnic group that has remained virtually unchanged since the Ice Age.
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 ChuluuThe 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. On the way to Baga Gazriin Chuluu, we will have a picnic lunch at Zorgol Khairkhan Mountain. The mountain is venerated and revered by the locals, who believe it is the home of a great, benevolent spirit. First will be camping, but depending on the weather we may stay in a nomadic family ger camp. (L D included)
Tsagaan SuvargaToday’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 (the capital of Dund-govi province) (B L D included)
Yoliin Am ValleyToday 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. (B L D included)
Khongoryn ElsDriving 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 on 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. (B L D included)
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. (B L D included)
BayanzagYour 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. (B L D included)
Arvaikheer (Capital of Ovorkhangai)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 hotel. (B L D included)
Ulaantsutgalan WaterfallsBe 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. Accommodation will be in a family guesthouse. (B L D included)
Tuvhun Monastery - Khar KhorinAfter 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. (B L D included)
Tsenher Hot SpringsThis easy day starts at 9am. Start driving to Arkhangai province to relax in the hot springs. There are a mixture of outdoor and indoor pools, with men and women bathe separately. Warning: during rainy season access to the hot springs may not be possible if the river is flooded. Instead of the hot springs, you may just stay in the mountains or with a family camping near the river. Entrance to the Hot Spring is included but additional services such as pools and spas are extra. (B L D included)
Great White lakeThe day starts with the drive to Tsetserleg town, where the guide will buy fresh food for the upcoming days. Visit Arkhangai Museum, and have lunch in the Fairfield Cafe run by the local community. Then continue to Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, a volcanic lake ringed by stark rocky mountains. On the way we will take you to Chuluut River and the Khorgo Volcano. There are many natural highlights to explore in this area. Accommodation will be at a family ger camp. (B L D included)
Great White LakeYou can wander along the shoreline or hike up into the volcanic mountains for amazing views. Have a relaxing day to yourself. Washing and laundry services might be available at one of the camps - please ask your guide for the details of extra services. Stay at a family ger camp. (B L D included)
Enroute to Khuvsgul ProvinceAfter early morning breakfast, start driving towards Khuvsgul province and camp on the way (there is also the option to stay with a local family if it is raining). (B L D included)
Khuvsgul LakeFirst stop of the day will be Murun town, capital of Khuvsgul. Stock up on food from the local market, then continue to the lake. Arrive at Lake Khuvsgul which is known as the Dark Blue Pearl among beautiful mountains. There are 96 rivers and streams that flow into the lake, including the Egiin River, which then joins the Selenge along its eventual path to Lake Baikal. Lake Khuvsgul is 136 km long and 36 km wide, 262 meters deep, and located at an altitude of 1645m above sea level. Taiga fauna and flora, as well as the Tsaatan people, who practice reindeer breeding, are among the main attractions. The lake is on an important migration route for birds from Siberia, thus facilitating marvelous opportunities for bird watching. Accommodation will be at a local ger camp. (B L D included)
Khuvsgul LakeTake the opportunity to relax and truly appreciate the surrounding landscape. We will take you boat riding on the Sukhbaatar boat for about an hour before lunch. After lunch you will start the 5km hike in the mountain range. If you feel tired, you are welcome to stay and relax in the peaceful surroundings. Dinner will be made by a local family local. (B L D included)
Khuvsul LakeAfter breakfast, the horse trek will start, and continue for 5 hours, with a picnic lunch, and a visit to the Tsaatan people camp. Horse riding will be along the lake and on certain trails. Accommodation will be at a family ger camp. (B L D included)
Selenge RiverAfter a hearty breakfast, the trip will begin at 7am. We have a long drive to our Selenge river camping spot. Picnic lunch will be prepared by the guide. The final destination, the Selenge River is one of the most lush and beautiful parts of Mongolia. The Selenge River is a major river in Mongolia, which flows into Lake Baikal and has a length of 992 km. Camping will be by the river. (B L D included)
Amarbaysgalant MonasteryAnother early morning starts at 7am after breakfast. Drive through the town of Erdenet, the third largest city for a lunch break, and then continue to Amarbayasgalant Monastery which is one of the three largest Buddhist monastic centers in Mongolia. The monastery was established and founded by the order of the Manchu emperor Enkh-Amgalan Khan to serve as a final resting place for Zanabazar. Today, 28 temples remain. The monastery and the beautiful scenery of the mountain range, just north of Amarbayasgalant, is always a favourite with travellers. Stay in a local ger camp. (B L D included)
Travel back to UBReturn to Ulaanbaatar with nothing but fond memories, enjoying a Mongolian lunch on the way and one last day in the wild! (380km drive) The driver will take you to your accommodation. Enjoy the rest of your travels! (B L included)
✔️Transport (Destination 3300 km)
✔️English speaking Tour Guide
✔️Accommodation at family run guest house and nomadic family Gers
✔️Most meals (Breakfast x18 Lunch x19 Dinner x18)
✔️Camping & cooking equipment
✔️Entrance fees/Local Taxes
✔️Mineral water/tea/coffee/Complimentary Water Bottle (non plastic)
✔️Horse & Camel Riding 1 day each
✔️Boat hire at Lake Khuvsgul
❌Alcoholic & soft drinks
❌Any other personal expenses or additional services (Hot Spring 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