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Have you ever imagined living in a winter wonderland, walking through sculptures of ice on a lake that looks as if it was made of the purest glass? If this is your dream, then come and join us in March 2019 for the world-famous Lake Khuvsgul Ice festival. When Mongolia’s biggest lake world freezes over it is truly a spectacle! Join in the ice competitions, witness the spectacular traditional dress and take in all the natural beauty of this breathtaking frozen wonderland! 

Bactrian (Two Hump) Camels are some of the most unique and truly remarkable domesticated creatures in the world. Mongolia is famous for its use of these two humped beasts, using them for transport, wool and milk. Once each year, in the wilds of the Gobi Desert, the camel herders of Mongolia come together to show of the best of the best. Join us to watch the annual Gobi Camel Festival; experience camel races, camel polo, feats of agility and control as well as the beauty of Mongolian culture. You will see the care and attention these men and women give these animals as they are crucial to life out in the desert. You will also get to witness the beautiful simplicity of Mongolian herder culture; the slow and melodic beat of the desert dictates the day to day actions of these incredible people. Traditional costumes, food, music, and tradition will be at your fingertips! Join us and come on this adventure of a lifetime to one of the most unique festivals in the entire world. 

The Kasakh minority in the west of Mongolia still practice the ancient tradition of hunting of Golden Eagles. Each winter, Ulaanbaatar hosts the Eagle hunters in a spectacular one day festival. Watch as Eagles land on their master’s arm while he is riding a horse at full speed, and other incredible competitions.

 Domestic Flights

Transport:  Russian Van: Steel Russian vans with seats facing each other, ideal for adventure seeking travelers (max 6 people)

Highlights: 

  • Lake Khuvsgul Ice Festival
  • Thousand Camel Festival
  • Eagle Festival
  • Ulaanbaatar City Tour
  • Camel Riding in the Gobi Desert
  • Horse riding at Khuvsgul Lake
  • Ger stay & cultural experiences
  • Meeting Nomadic people as well as Reindeer herding Tsaatan tribe

 

Accommodation: Traditional Ger Camps & family guesthouses

During your time in Ulaanbaatar you will stay at Meg’s Guesthouse in dorm room and double and single room accommodation. Meg’s Guesthouse is located centrally in Ulaanbaatar, walking distance from many attractions and amenities.  As a Mongolian company we prefer to support Nomadic families financially and help support their livelihoods. We are sure this resonates with our travellers who enjoy engaging with their culture on The Steppe. It is therefore our preference to stay with these families if they have an extra Ger. As well as directly supporting local herders, you can experience this rich traditional way of life first hand.

Basic (As Per this itinerary – Western Style amenities will be available on most days)

● Mongolian Domestic Flights – this tour requires domestic flights to Western Mongolia. Two important pieces of information regarding this

1. You must carry your passport with you on Domestic flights in Mongolia

2. Domestic flights in Mongolia have a luggage restriction of 10kg. It will cost you USD$2/kg for excess baggage. You will be able to leave any excess baggage in Ulaanbaatar before departing on your domestic flights

Itineraries

Day 1.

(March 1st). Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

We will organize a driver to meet you the airport and drive you back to Meg’s Guest House in central Ulaanbaatar where you will spend your first night in dorm room accommodation. You can spend the day doing as you wish; recovering from your flight or doing some exploring around central Ulaanbaatar. No meals included on this day.

Day 2.

(March 2nd) Flight to Khuvsgul Lake

After Breakfast, transport to airport for domestic flight. Flight takes 1.5 hours. Khuvsgul Lake- is known as the Dark Blue Pearl among beautiful mountains. This is the perfect place to have a vacation, kayaking, canoeing, hiking and horse trekking. Located in the northernmost province, it is the largest tributary stream of Lake Baikal in Russia - 96 rivers and streams flow out of the lake, among them the Egiin River, which then joins the Selenge along its eventual path to Lake Baikal. Lake Khuvsgul is 136km long, 36 km wide, 262 meters deep and is located at an altitude of 1645 meters above sea level. Taiga Fauna and Flora, and the Tsaatan, reindeer herders are the main attractions. The lake is the important migration route for birds from Siberia, thus facilitating marvelous opportunities for bird watching

Day 3.

(March 3rd) Ice Festival

After hearty breakfast, start the Ice Festival, short drive across the frozen lake. The festival is held at Khar-Us on Khovsgol Lake, Organized yearly on the frozen Khuvsgul Lake by National Park rangers and local residents. A respite from the confinement of the winter months. Just like the other festivals, it starts with Opening ceremony of the Ice Festival. The event schedules include skating marathon, ankle bone game ( shagain harvaa) and other traditional games. Camp fire after dinner, enjoying the bright stars in the night sky.

Day 4.

(March 4th) Ice Festival

The festival features a gathering of local residents and nomadic reindeer herders, and performances by shamans, musicians, and sportsmen. Competitions include ice sumo, a horse-drawn sleigh race, ice skating races, tug-of- war between local teams, and a Russian Jeep race on the ice. Many traditional games are played on the sidelines, and this is an ideal venue for visitors to join in the fun and games with local people.

Day 5.

(March 5th) Eagle Festival

Early morning flight to Ulaanbaatar. Have breakfast in the town’s finest breakfast place. Eagle Hunting starts at 11am and is one of the most noble and awe-inspiring unions of beast and man. Get an inside look at this truly ancient and wonderful art. Kazakhs have a tradition of hunting on horseback with trained steppe eagles. The trainer wears a heavy padded glove on the right arm on which a hooded eagle perches, until its little leather hood (tomega) is removed and it sees its quarry, a fox or squirrel, and within moments it plummets and seizes it. A well-trained eagle flies back to his masters saddle when other horses approach. Accommodation at Meg’s Guesthouse

Day 6.

(March 6th) Gobi Desert - Camel Festival

After Breakfast, transport to airport for domestic flight. Flight takes 1.5 hours. Attend the opening ceremony of the festival and parade of camel riders. The day’s competitions include “best looking couple on camelback” and “most adorable male and female camels,” as well as a camel polo match that takes place in the central square. There’s also an exhibition of paintings by local children who participate in the drawing contest called “Camel– My Friend” After the festival, drive to Tugrugiin Shire, a steep valley with rock formations and And dinosaur bones visible on the walls. Rare remains such as baby dinosaurs’ skeletons in fossilized eggs and dinosaurs skeletons that died in combat were found in Tugrugiin Shiee by explorers.

Day 7.

(March 7th) Gobi Desert - Camel Festival

The competition begins with a race of mature camels followed by the racing of the two-year-old camels. For your own enjoyment, you may place bets on the camels. The first three camels in each group are awarded the gold, silver and bronze medals. In the afternoon, one of the most awaited competitions begins. This is called "The Camel Relay", a competition consisting of catching, taming, training and, finally, loading a camel with an actual ger. There are several groups with five members, each of which have different roles in the contest. The closing ceremony takes place late in the afternoon when the winners will be presented with their trophies. Visit Bayanzag “Flaming Cliffs”, famous for its dinosaur fossils, eggs and the special Gobi tree, the “saxaul”. In 1922 American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews found the first dinosaur eggs as well as numerous fossil skeletons of dinosaurs that lived 70-80 million years ago.

Day 8.

(March 8th) Flight back to Ulaanbaatar- City Tour

After early breakfast, head to Dalanzadgad airport to depart for UB. Exploring the wonderful city of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding area unique to Ulaanbaatar. You will visit following places: - Gandan Monastery - Sukhabaatar Square - National History Museum - Tour Guide will take you to the Mongolia Traditional food restaurant which is included in the tour price. You will visit Bogd Khaan Winter Palace,Zaisan Memorial, Gobi Cashmere Factory, and the Ger district (informal urban settlement). Your city tour will finish around 6pm. We suggest you also attend the National Music and Dance Ensemble which starts at 6pm. You will spend the night at Meg’s Guesthouse Breakfast and lunch included on this day.

Day 9.

(March 9th) Depart Ulaanbaatar

We can organize a driver to pick you up from Meg’s Guesthouse and drop you off at the airport or train station in time for your departing flight or train. Breakfast included.

✔️Transport (Tour Distance covered – 800 km)
✔️Domestic flights
✔️Airport transfers
✔️Tour Guide (English speaking)
✔️Accommodation at family run guest house and nomadic family Gers (8 nights)
✔️3 Meals a day (Breakfast-9, Lunch-8, Dinner-7)
✔️Entrance fees/Local Taxes
✔️Horse & camel riding 1 hour each

❌Travel insurance
❌International flights
❌Alcoholic soft drink drinks
❌Any other personal expenses or additional services

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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 info@megmongolia.com

9 Day Winter Festival – March 1st-9th 2020PDF version includes all the trip information, itinerary and prices.