South Gobi and Central Mongolia trip timed with the famous Naadam festival featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery.
The Gobi Desert is a dream destination for many travelers! Imagine: Explore Ulaanbaatar, then fly into the South Gobi Desert to explore the world's largest sand dunes, the majestic 'flaming cliffs,' go for a camel ride, and then fly back to Ulaanbaatar to visit Mongolia's largest festival, the Naadam festival!
The Naadam festival means "games," also given the name "eriin gurvan naadam" meaning "the three games of men" – Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery. The festival is held from July 11 to 13 at the National Sports Stadium. There is an elaborate ceremony before the games begin. During the festival, the wrestling really draws in the crowds. There is no any age or weight restriction, but no women are allowed compete. The objective is to pin your opponent to the ground with your elbow or knee, no part of the body is allowed to touch the ground besides your feet and hands. The winner is awarded the title of Avarga (Giant, or Titan). The horse racing event is very different from western horse racing; they take place are cross-country, cover 10 to 20 miles, depending on the age of the horses, and as many as 1,000 horses can participate. The jockeys are children between the ages of 5 and 13, and training for the event begins many months in advance. The winning jockey is praised with the title of "tumny ekh" or "leader of ten thousand." The archery events are held between groups of ten men and women, and each participant is supplied with four arrows. There are hundreds of targets or "surs," and each team must hit at least 33 of them. The winners are declared the National Marksmen or National Markswomen. Some kind of version of these games have been going on for centuries.
What's on this trip?
- 5 nights in Ulaanbaatar (2 nights at the beginning, 2 nights at the middle and 1 night at the end of trip)
- 3 nights South Gobi ( Yol Valley, Singing Sand Dunes and the Flaming Cliff)
- 1 night Gorkhi Terelj National Park
- 1 night in Hustai National Park
- 2 nights in Khogno Khan Reserve with excursion to Kharkhorin-the ancient capital
- Trip timed with Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar.
- 5 nights hotel and 7 nights in yurts.
- Trip includes hiking and nomadic family visit. Camel ride and horse ride are optional and costs extra.
Is this trip right for you?
This trip involves some long day drive (4-5 hours) on deserts and gravel road conditions. Facilities in the ger camps are limited. You need to use shared toilet and shower in the ger camps. There are limited choices of food once outside Ulaanbaatar. Tourism infrastructure, facilities and professionalism are still underway.