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Mongolia Gobi Desert with Naadam Festival

12 days 11 nights

Code MCT164-2

Category Mongolia Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-16 Person
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Trip Starts From Ulaanbaatar
  • Trip Ends At Ulaanbaatar
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Ulaanbaatar Hustai National Park Baga Gazariin Chuluu Tsagaan Suvarga Yol Valley Hongoryn Els Bayanzag Gorkhi Terelj NP 13th Century Complex
Dates & Prices


For many, Mongolia is the land of Chinggis Khan but it's much more than that. Bordered by Russia in the north and by China from all three remaining sides, Mongolia is the world's second largest landlocked country after Kazkhastan. With very little arable land but vast grasslands with snow-capped mountains in the north and the west and the famous Gobi Desert to the south, Mongolia is an exotic destination for the travelers. Still more than 30% population live nomadic or semi-nomadic life in the ger camps and ride horses. Majority of the population are of Mongol ethnicity and practice Tibetan Buddhism.

The Naadam Festival and the Gobi desert are the highlights of this trip. First, we explore the local attractions of Ulaanbaatar and join the Naadam festival for two days (11th and 12th July). Naadam festival of Ulaanbaatar is the largest festival of Mongolia. Naadam means 'game' and the festival showcases three popular traditional sports of Mongolia: wrestling, horse racing, and archery. There will be an elaborate opening ceremony on the first day (11th Jul) followed by wrestling, archery and horse racing. Horse racing field is in the outskirt of the city.

After the festival, we visit Hustai National Park where the major attractions are the wild horses called Przewalski horses or takhi by locals. Now, we travel overland to the Gobi desert- a dream destination for many travelers! We spend five days exploring the vast Gobi desert, hiking the granite mountain rock faces and cliffs polished by erosion over thousands of years and massive sand dunes, the majestic 'flaming cliffs' where many dinosaur eggs and skeleton were found and experiencing the nomadic lifestyle. We will have opportunity to meet the local nomadic families and experience their hospitality. The trip also offers opportunity for optional activities such as double-hump camel riding and horse riding. 

We will take flight back to Ulaanbaatar and visit the Terelj National Park with forested alpine mountains and gigantic rock formations. We also visit the gigantic Chinggis Khan Statue complex and the 13th Century Camp- the two latest addition to tourist attractions of Mongolia not to be missed.

Trip Cost 

US$ 2950 per person on double occupancy basis.
US$ 590 private room supplement.
Price does not include the international airfare.

Trip Date

9-20 Jul, 2019.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Meet the group today

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar on your own. Let us know if you need any help with international airfare booking. After clearing immigration and custom, meet your guide and driver at the arrival gate and transfer to the hotel in the city (11 miles, 35 minutes).

Take rest to recover travel fatigue. If you arrive in time, join the group over dinner at 6 p.m.

Overnight: Blue Sky Tower Hotel
Meals : Dinner
Day 02~Sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you for sightseeing of Ulaanbaatar. The first stop will be at the Gandan Monastery that is the largest and most famous functioning monastery in Mongolia; here you may experience the monks in worship and see the impressive Golden Buddha Statue of Migjid Janraisig.

Next, visit the Chinggis Khan Square, in the central square of the city. The center of the square has an equestrian statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar, one of the leaders of Mongolia's 1921 revolution and actually the square was named after him from 2013 to 2016.The square also features monuments of Chinggis Khan, as well as to Ögedei Khan, and Kublai Khan in the square's north side and in front of the government palace called Saaral Ordon.

Now, visit the National Museum of Mongolia, located in the west side of the palace. The museum exhibits prehistory, pre-Mongol empire history, Mongol empire, Mongolia during Qing rule, ethnography and traditional life, and the twentieth-century history of Mongolia 

The other two attractions nearby are Bogd Khan Palace Museum and Zaisan Memorial. The Bogd Khan Palace Museum is one of the few Ulaanbaatar historical attractions not destroyed by the Soviet and Mongolian communists. It used to be a winter residence of the last Bogd Khaan of Mongolia, Javzandamba. Among the museum's exhibits are sculptures by Mongolia's first Bogd Khaan Zanabazar, the famous Taras. The museum has 21 invaluable sculptures of Taras.

The Zaisan memorial lies in the foothills to the south of Ulaanbaatar. It was built by the Russians as a monument to Soviet soldiers fallen in World War Two. A tiled mural lies within a huge concrete ring, which is raised about 5 m above the ground. Zaisan is a popular tourist attraction and one of the highlights of Ulan Bator due to the fantastic views it offers over the city. 

In the evening, enjoy Deeltei Mongol Festival in Chinggis Khan Square that comprises the folk art concert, parade-show by people in the traditional dresses, circus performance, ankle-bone shooting contest and fair of Mongolian national clothes, Mongolian ger - national dwelling, handcrafts and carvings.

Overnight: Blue Sky Tower Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Join the opening ceremony of Naadam Festival Celebration

Today we spend a full day at the Naadam Festival Opening Ceremony. We get to observe the elaborate opening ceremony which consists of local dancers, athletes, horse riders and musicians. The festival celebrates Mongolia's independence and its rich cultural heritage with a festival of sports and revelry in Ulaanbaatar. The distinctly Mongolian feel and flair of the Naadam Festival make it a wonderful spectacle, a joyous time, and an intriguing cultural event. Colorful ceremonies and parading soldiers kick off the celebrations.

There also will be the first round of wrestling, archery and ankle bone shooting competitions. Until now, wrestlers are only men but you can see both male and female archers.

Overnight: Blue Sky Tower Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~ Attend the festival in Khoidoolo and afternoon travel to Hustai National Park

Following breakfast, we check out hotel as we travel to Khui Doloo to see the horse racing and then we go to Hustai National Park for overnight stay.

Khui Doloo is the site for the horse racing which is the major part of Naadam Festival. The horse racing is cross-country type and the race course is 10 to 20 miles long and the horse complete the course based on their age. The youngest horse runs the shortest distance. Interestingly, the jockeys are children and youths between 5 to 13 years old. There is a lot of singing and music during the race.

Afternoon, we travel to Hustai National Park (40 miles). After we settle into our ger, our guide and driver will take us for a short ride in the park to explore the wildlife. Of course, the only main attraction here are the herds of wild horses, called Przewalskii’s horses (Equus przewalskii). Locals call them "Takhi". It became extinct in the wild in 1969 and, since 1992, has been successfully re-introduced in Hustai NP from zoos around the world. This has been an international effort monitored by The Foundation for the Przewalskii Horse, based in the Netherlands and MACNE (Mongolian Association for Conservation of Nature and the Environment).

The national park boasts rolling steppe mountains with rather large patches of birch and aspen forests. There are also visible remains of Neolithic graves. In addition, red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wolf (Canis lupus) have increased quite a bit during the last few years, as well as Mongolian gazelle. Species existing in Hustai but rarely seen include Lynx, Argali Sheep and Roe Deer.

Overnight: Moltsog Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Baga Gazarrin Chuluu

Your Gobi adventure begins today. We have a long day road trip to Baga Gazriin Chuluu (150 miles-5 hours)- a picturesque mountain at an elevation of 5, 743 ft. in the Granite Belt of Mongolia. The erosion polished the rock faces of the cliffs over thousands of years. Some of the lateral entries of the canyon are not very accessible, but most of them offer wonderful hiking trails in this rocky maze. 

The area is abundant with wild sheep, ibexes and rare rodents. Visit Surtiin Am- a narrow canyon with varieties trees, asp, birch, white wicker and elm trees, as well as ruin of stone temple and site of two yurts where Buddhist monks lived and meditated since 17th century.  

Depending on available time and interest, you may visit Bolort Cave with rock images, petroglyphs and burial mounds. There are also ruins of 17th century Choir monastery where monks used to research religious scriptures, ancient medicines, translate Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and publish. The stone inscriptions by the monks who lived here in 19th century can be still seen here.

Overnight: Erdene Ukhaa Ger camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Tsagan Suvarga

Continue travel to Tsagaan Suvarga (131 miles, 5 hours). This stunning area has 198 ft. high and 1312 ft. long white limestone formation created over thousands of years by natural wind.

You can spend one or two hours hiking around. It is well worth the climb to the top as it provides you with excellent views of the wonderful rock formations created by the wind.

If you have time, visit an interesting 230 ft. long cave-  Khevtee Bosoo Agui (Lime and Stand Cave). Other attraction nearby is Del uul (Back Mountain) for seeing rock drawings of Bronze Age. This is considered to be largest site of Rock drawings in Central Asia.

Overnight: Tsagaan suvarga Ger camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Travel to Yol Valley

After breakfast, we leave for Yol Valley in South Gobi (168 miles, 6 hours). This picturesque place is nestled between the beautiful peaks of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountain in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. An ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley, and its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that sometimes persist as late as July. 

You can take a hike through the valley that leads to the habitat of indigenous vulture-like Lammergeiers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks, and Argali mountain sheep. You can also rent horse for $7 or $8 (includes the lead) for hiking to the canyons.

Check into the ger camp and balance of the day is at leisure.

Overnight: Gobi Mirage Tourist Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Hongoryn Els (The Singing Sand Dunes)

After breakfast, we proceed on a scenic drive to Khongoryn Els (125 miles, four hours) with occasional stop for photography.

You will have time to settle into your ger and take rest before you proceed for exploration of the sand dunes. If you are not exhausted of a long drive, you can attempt climbing the sand dune wall. The view from the top is definitely rewarding!

Khongoryn Els or Khongor Sand Dunes are some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia. Also known as the Duut Mankhan (Singing Dunes – from the sound they make when the sand is moved by the wind), they are up to 984 ft. high, 7.5 miles wide and about 62.5 long. The largest dunes are at the northwestern corner of the range. From afar the dunes look painted on the south horizon in front of those gorgeous granite mountains. There is also a beautiful green oasis known as Seruun Bulag near the Khongor River.

Next we visit a nearby nomadic family and experience the traditional Mongolian hospitality with sour cheese and yak milk tea. You can rent camels and explore the area around. Each summer, they bring their livestock to graze on pasture close to the Khongoryn River and offer camel rides and some of them also offer basic ger accommodation to tourists. Visiting such a family offers unique insights into the local way of life. (Camel ride costs $7 or $8 which is not included in the tour package).

Overnight: Gobi Erdene Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Bayanzag- the Flaming Cliffs

After breakfast, we leave Hongoryn Els for Bayanzag. It's a long day drive today and can take up to 5 hours but it's a scenic drive through the vast land. We will occasionally stop for photography and to watch the birds and the animals of the area.

We check in our camp, wash and change and after lunch, we drive to visit the Flaming Cliff. The place was named as 'Flaming Cliffs' by Roy Chapman Andrews, an American explorer who searched throughout the Mongolian Gobi Desert and found dinosaur skeleton and eggs for the first time in Asia. The red cliff gleams with sunlight and can be seen from far away. We will take a short walk on the ridge of the cliff and look for the pieces of Dinosaur bones. We will drive little further to see the saxaul trees that contributed the name Bayanzag. Bayanzag means rich in saxaul.

Overnight: Mongolian Gobi Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Gorkhi Terelj National Park

After an early morning breakfast, you are transferred to the airport in Dalanzadgad (75 miles, 2 hrs.).Upon arrival at the airport, meet your driver and you are transferred to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. This unforgettable excursion will take you to features such as unique rock formations, scenic valleys, a winding river, and restful groves of trees. Many nomads live in the park itself, where they find lush grazing land for their animals. You will take a tour in the park and visit the notable rocks called "The Turtle rock", and "Monk reading a book".

You will visit the Aryabal meditation center located inside the mountains to learn more about Mongolian Buddhism. Check in your ger camp and tour to Terelj National park on foot or rent a horse which costs less than $10/hour.

Overnight: Terelj Lodge Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11~Chinggis Khan Statue and 13th Century Camp

After a leisurely morning breakfast, we retrace our drive back to UB.

On the way, we will stop to visit the giant statue of Chinggis Khan which stands 40m high. The statue is the landmark of the area and can be spotted from far away.

You have a free afternoon today.

Overnight: Blue Sky Tower Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12~ Depart Ulaanbaaar

Transfer to the airport in time for flight back home or extend your trip.

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • 4 nights five star hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
  • 7 nights traditional ger camp accommodation with shared toilet and shower (Upgrade to en suite ger for 5 nights is available for additional $150 on double occupancy and $ 210 on private single basis).
  • All meals as listed in itinerary.
  • All entrance fees.
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary.
  • Transportation by 4WD vehicle.
  • Internal airfare (South Gobi-Ulaanbaatar).
  • English speaking local tour guide.
  • Daily supply of drinking water.

Trip Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Items of personal nature such as drinks, tipping, laundry, phone etc. 
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events such as flight cancellation, delays, inclement weather, personal health etc.
  • Optional additional activity cost.
  • Excess baggage charge, airport taxes and fee.

Trip Difficulty Level

This is a moderate graded trip and so travelers with average health condition can join this trip but must be prepared for long drive on unpaved roads. We use 4WD vehicles for all transfers and tours and there will be occasional stops on a long day drive. The trip offers some optional activities such as camel riding, horseback riding, sand dune hiking etc. 

Although, no extreme adventures are involved, this is also not a luxury trip. You should be willing to walk, hike and prepared for long drives on varying road condition. Outside Ulaanbaatar, roads are unpaved, so they are bumpy and can be dusty as well. Please bring the pollution mask to protect your nose and mouth to avoid inhaling the dust.

You have four nights' deluxe hotel accommodation and seven nights traditional Mongolian ger (tent) accommodation with shared toilet and shower. On additional payment ($150 on double sharing and $210 private single), you can request for upgrade to en suite ger for five nights only. There are also limited choices of foods once you are outside Ulaanbaatar.

Although the trip is physically not challenging, some degree of physical fitness level is expected. The more physically fit you are, the more you will enjoy the trip. If you do not lead an active life, please start soft training 2-3 months prior to the trip. Engage yourself in hiking, jogging, swimming, cycling or aerobics for 25-30 minutes a day. Avoid using elevators or use bicycles instead of car if it's a short ride.


In Ulaanbaatar, we will use a good conditioned minibus which is usually Hyundai County or Toyota Coaster or similar. In South Gobi and other areas where roads are mostly unpaved, we use 4WD vehicles such as Mitshubisi Delica or Land cruisers.


  • Mitshubishi Delica
  • Toyota Landcruiser
  • Coaster Bus


Our tours are led by experienced local Guides who are proficient in English and have good knowledge on history, culture and religion of Mongolia. Guides in the different cities can be different persons.

Climate and weather

The weather is mild, generally dry throughout the central and southern areas. It can be still cold in the northern mountainous areas. The temperature in the steppe averages around 66°F, and may fall to 50°F, or below, at night. In the Gobi, temperatures in summer average 85-95°F, however, the nights can get quite cool. In the mountains temperatures will be lower with the increase of the altitude. July and August receive rains in the northern and southern areas but the rain is brief and doesn't affect the tours.
The winter begins at October and lasts through April and is not the best time to travel to the north.

Passport and Visa:

Remaining validity of your passport must be at least 6 months on the last day of the tour. Please, also make sure you are not running out of blank visa pages for entry and departure seals. American citizens don't need visa for Mongolia for up to 30 days.

Booking and payment schedule

A deposit of US$ 300 on land plus is requested along with booking application and passport photocopies.  The balance and final payment is 90 days prior departure. The payment schedule may vary with customized and private trips on case to case basis. Balance payment by credit card attracts additional 3 to 3.5% fee. Credit card holder also must be the traveler.

Cancellation and refund

Notice of cancellation and refund request must be received in written form. Cancellation fee structure has been listed below.

90 days prior departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee).
60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
Less than 30 days: 100%.

If airfare cancellation fee is subject to the airline policies.


Your accommodation in Ulaanbaatar City will be in Blue Sky Tower which is centrally located and ensures all modern amenities and comfort. Rest of the places, we sleep in nomadic style ger camps with basic facilities. The gers are made of a latticed wood and covered with felt and canvas layers. The gers are well furnished with colorful wood framed furniture and heated by the wood stove. Dining hall and western style toilet are located in the main building. Hot water may be available only certain hours of the day as they are heated in a tank.

At least for five nights, you can request for upgrade to en suite ger (Cost $150 on double occupancy basis and $210 private single ger). Two places in middle Govi, there are no en suite gers. 

Staying in ger camps gives an experience of the lifestyle of Mongolian nomadic culture.

Blue Sky Tower, Ulaanbaatar

  • Blue Sky Tower, Ulaabaatar
  • Blue Sky Tower Guest Room
  • Blue Sky Tower Swimming pool

Ger Camp Accommodations

  • Ger Camp
  • A typical Mongolian Ger
  • Ger accommodation


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