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Mongolia: South Gobi & Lake Khovsgul

11 days 10 nights

Code MCT167

Category Mongolia Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-10 persons
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Trip Starts From Ulaanbaatar
  • Trip Ends At Ulaanbaatar
  • Accommodation Hotels and ger camps
  • Type Tours
  • Season May to September
  • Destination Ulaanbaatar South Gobi Hongoryn Els Bayanzag Khovsgul Lake Khuvsgul Lake
Dates & Prices
Please, contact us for the price and the dates for this trip


This trip features the two major attractions of Mongolia; the Gobi Desert in the south and Khuvsgul Lake in the north. You will get to take a camel ride in the dunes, take a hike on the shores of the lake, meet the nomadic families, and try the local cuisines.

You will spend the first two days in Ulaanbaatar, recovering travel fatigue and visiting its attractions. You will visit a Buddhist monastery, a former palace, and the natural history museum. Next, we fly to the South Gobi, where we hike the vultures' canyon, climb the world's most massive dune wall and look for the Dinosaur eggs and bones in the Flaming Cliff. While in the Gobi, we visit a nomadic family and learn about their lifestyle. The majority of the Mongolian population lives in ger tent (or yurt) made up of felt. The family usually treats visitors with fermented milk and Mongolian tea. Here, we can also take an optional camelback ride.

We return to Ulaanbaatar, and after spending a night there, we take another flight to Muron in the north and take a four-wheel drive to the beautiful Lake Khovsgul. Lake Khuvsgul, known as “The Dark Blue Pearl,” it's Mongolia's most extensive and second-most voluminous freshwater lake in Asia and contains 1% of all the freshwater in the world! Khovsgol province is also home to the southernmost indigenous reindeer herding people (Tsaatan) in the world.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Ulaanbaatar.

US citizens don't need a visa for Mongolia to stay up to 90 days. After clearing immigration and custom, meet your guide and driver at the ground transportation area, and transfer to your hotel in the city. (25 minutes). Check-in hotel and rest of the day at leisure.


Overnight: Ramada Hotel
Meals : Dinner
Day 02~Sightseeing of Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you for sightseeing of Ulaanbaatar. The first stop will be at the Gandan Monastery. This 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 on the west side of the palace. The museum exhibits prehistory, pre-Mongol Empire history, Mongol Empire, Mongolia during the Qing rule. The museum also displays 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. The Russians built it as a monument to Soviet soldiers fallen in World War Two. A tiled mural lies within a large 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.  

You will have a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. 

Overnight: Ramada Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Fly to South Gobi (Dalanzadgad Airport) and then drive to Yol Valley and the Gurvansaikhan National Park

(1.5 hours flight, approximately 2 hours driving).
This morning you fly over the vast steppe to the Gobi Desert, Mongolia’s southernmost province of semi-arid desert. Meet your local guide and driver upon arrival and then transfer by a 4WD vehicle to the Yol Valley in Gurvansaikhan National Park, situated in the lap of the Altai Mountains. On the way to the lodge, you will stop to visit the local Natural History Museum for an insight into flora and fauna of the area.

Check into your ger tent accommodation. We will spend today and the next two days exploring the vast Gobi. It is the habitat of the Bactrian Camels, Argali mountain sheep, Golden Eagles, Jerboas- which resembles the Kangaroo rats, Saker Falcons, and more. You may also take a scenic hike through the valley to discover the habitat of the indigenous vulture-like Lammergeyers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks, and Argali mountain sheep.

This valley is nestled deep within the hills and is a haven to get away from the desert heat. Some areas of the valley are in the shade. So the enormous blocks of ice deposited in the winter take time to melt away, and we may still see them in some places. The canyon is broad at the entrance and narrows gradually into a remarkable gorge. You will get to see wild animals such as ibex and wild sheep and the vulture. You can hike on foot or go horseback or camel riding around the area to the gorge. (Horseback ride costs US$ 5-7 with the lead).


Overnight: Gobi Mirage Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Drive to Hongryn Els (Singing Sand Dunes)

Approximately 4 hours by 4WD.

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

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

Khongoryn Els or Khongor Sand Dunes are some of the largest and most spectacular dunes in Mongolia. Also known as the Duut Mankhan (Singing Dunes – from the sound they make when the wind moves the sand), they are up to 984 ft high, 7.5 miles wide, and about 62.5 long. The largest ones are at the northwestern corner of the range. From afar, the dunes look painted on the southern 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 them. Each summer, they bring their livestock to graze on a pasture close to the Khongoryn River and offer camel rides. Some of them also provide basic ger accommodation to tourists. Visiting such a family provides insights into the local way of life. (Camel ride costs $7 or $8-does not include in the tour package).

Overnight: Gobi Erdene Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Drive to 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 is visible 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 a little further to see the saxaul trees that contributed to the name Bayanzag. Bayanzag means rich in saxaul.

Overnight: Gobi Mongol Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Flight back to Ulaanbaatar

Early morning breakfast and then transfer to the Dalanzadgad Airport (2 hrs. drive and 1.5 hrs. flight). Upon arrival at the airport, meet your driver and then transfer to your hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

The balance of the day is open to pursuing your interests.

Overnight: Ramada Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Flight to Murun and by 4WD to Lake Khovsgul

(It is a 1.5 hours flight to Muron and a 4-hour drive to Lake Khuvsgul).
We’ll have a 90-minute flight to Muron in the north. Muron is the headquarters of the Khuvsgul Province. We meet the local guide and driver at the airport and proceed on a four-hour drive through the vast Mongolian prairie land, into the forested mountains, and finally to Lake Khuvsgul. It is Mongolia's largest freshwater lake, known as the "Dark Blue Pearl" of Mongolia, which is amidst pristine nature, beautiful forests, mountains, meadows, abundant with bird species, and orchids.

Overnight: Ashikai Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Khovsgul Lake

We will spend the next two days walking, hiking, and horseback riding in the area surrounding the lake and the nearby mountains, and visit local nomadic families. Walking and hiking are easy to moderate, perhaps two to four hours on dirt roads and trails. The lakeshore provides habitat to many animals, including moose, ibex, bear, reindeer, horses, and yaks. Optional boating or kayak trip is available upon request.

Overnight: Ashikai Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Khovsgul Lake

It is one more leisurely day in Lake Khovsul with optional walking and hiking tours.

Overnight: Ashikai Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Flight back to Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, you will return to Muron for your afternoon flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel, and the rest of the day is open to pursue your interests.

Overnight: Ramada Hotel
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11~ Depart Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in time for a flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Four nights 4* Ramada Hotel or similar and six nights Ger Camp.
  • Ten breakfasts, ten lunches, and ten dinners.
  • All in-tour airfares Ulaanbaatar-South Gobi-Ulaanbattaar-Muron (Lake Khuvsgul)-Ulaanbaatar.
  • Sightseeing admission fees.
  • Transportation by 4WD vehicle.
  • English speaking tour guide.
  • Daily supply of bottled water.

Trip Does Not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, internet, and other personal expenses.
  • Optional additional activity cost (Horse riding, camel riding, etc. are optional activities and does not include the price).
  • Excess baggage charge, airport taxes, and fees.
  • Single room supplement.

Note on the itinerary

We try our best to adhere to the plan, but you should take it as a general guideline or scope of activities rather than an inflexible schedule. Depending on the local conditions or time factor; itinerary order can change from the exact sight to see to the correct city or village for overnight stops. But we will still maintain the total quality of the tour. Our guide and driver are flexible and will do their best to help you enjoy the trip at your pace.

Trip Difficulty Level, Road, and Transport

This is an easy to moderate plus graded trip, rated three on a scale of 1-5 (1 being easy and five5 severe). So, all travelers in general good health can go on this trip. That said, be prepared for long day drives on bad roads. The tour involves such mild adventures like camel riding, horseback riding, dune hiking, and boating. Drives can be four or five hours long, with occasional stops. Road conditions vary. We use 4WD vehicles for all transfers and tours.

Although no extreme adventures are involved, this is also not the trip for luxury and leisure seekers. But any discomfort will be more than rewarded by a great experience. You should be willing to walk and hike, in addition to the long day drives on dirt and rocky roads. 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. This trip requires some degree of physical fitness. The more physically fit you are, the more you will be able to enjoy the journey. If you do not lead an active life, please start soft training two or three months before 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 a car if it's a short ride.

We use 4WD Mitsubishi Delica van, which is right in Mongolian terrain. There will be a maximum of four passengers per vehicle on a group tour.


You have 4-star deluxe hotel accommodations with all modern amenities in Ulaanbaatar. Once you are away from the city, you will sleep in the traditional style tourist ger camps with shared toilet/shower which are usually in the main building.

Tourist ger camps are close to attraction sites throughout the country, where visitors can experience and feel a nomadic way of life. It is a portable round felt house perfectly suited to the Mongolian nomadic lifestyle. The GER consists of a wooden frame carrying a felt cover. Traditionally furnished with beautifully painted wood-framed beds and furniture, the lodge is built in a traditional architectural style. There will be 2-3 twin-size beds, provided with foam or futon style mattresses and blankets or quilts. They also offer towels but limited and so you may want to bring your own. The bedsheets and blankets are generally clean, but as they are hand-washed in cold water, sometimes, we can see stains. Some travelers bring their sleeping bags and bed sheets but not required. Some travelers said the mattresses were hard and also the pillows. So, please consider bringing an air pillow.

There will be a fireplace with a chimney in the center of the ger. If it rains, the nights can be cold, and you may want to request firewood for the evening and morning.

There will be 4-5 toilets and shower rooms in the camp which you share with other guests. They are in a convenient location outside your ger. You must bring a flashlight with spare batteries as you may need them to walk to the bathroom in the dark.  The water in the shower is solar heated. If it's a cloudy and rainy day, water may not be warm enough, and we request your understanding.

Some camps have a few en suite gers (yurts), which you can book with an additional fee of $50 to $100 per person. But sometimes it's not worth as due to harsh climate conditions and inadequate maintenance, they may not be in the best health and may have plumbing issues. Flush speed is also not so good.

Ramada Hotel, Ulaanbaatar

  • Ramada Hotel, Ulaabaatar
  • Ramada Hotel Room
  • Ramada Hotel

Ger Camp Accommodations

  • Ger Camp
  • A typical Mongolian Ger
  • Ger accommodation


As a growing capital city of Mongolia, there are many modern Italian, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Latin American, and Mongolian restaurants in Ulaanbaatar. These available restaurants serve western and eastern standard meals or traditional Mongolian cuisines. Most of the old-style restaurants serve Russian food, and this type of food is common in the tourist camps in the countryside. Small local restaurants and cafes serve Mongolian food such as buuz and khuushuur (steamed and fried beef, mutton dumpling) and others.

While in Ulaanbaatar, you will have a western-style full buffet breakfast at your hotel. There will be lunch and dinner arranged in tourist class restaurants in the city, which can be Asian or western styles. In tourist ger camps, we have limited choices, but they are adequate. Usually, breakfast includes bread with butter, cheese, jelly, eggs, pancakes, and cereals with milk. There also will be some fresh fruits. For lunch and dinners, you will have soup, some appetizers, rice items, noodles, dumplings, and chicken or pork, or beef.  There will also be vegetable dishes. If you have a special dietary requirement, please let your guide know in advance.

If you have an early morning flight, there will be a breakfast box for you. There are some long day drives, and maybe we don't reach camps in time for the meal. You should bring some food, energy bars, etc. to munch on the way but you can buy them in Ulaanbaatar and Dalanzagdag town in South Gobi.

Please be informed that Mongolia is not the destination for fine dining!

Guide & staff

Our tours are led by experienced local guides who are proficient in English, with ready knowledge on history, culture, and religion of Mongolia. Guides in different cities can sometimes change.

Passport and visa

The remaining validity of your passport must be at least six 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 a visa for Mongolia for up to 30 days.


Best Time to visit Mongolia

June to September is the best time to travel to Mongolia. The weather is mild and generally dry throughout the central and southern areas. It can still be cold in the northern mountainous regions. 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 chilly. In the mountains, temperatures will decline with the rise in altitude. It can rain in July and August across the northern and southern areas, but the rain is brief and doesn't affect the tours. Winter begins in October and lasts through April, so this is not the best time to travel to the north.

Climate and Weather

Mongolia is in the Northern Hemisphere temperate zone. Situated at an average altitude of 1500 m (4,920 ft.) above the sea level separated from the oceans, surrounded by high mountain chains that are blocking the wet winds. Mongolia has an extreme continental climate. While the winter continues long with cold temperature but summer is short and warm. Winter lasts from November to late April, Spring May through June. Summer continues from July through to September. The highest day time temperature in Ulaanbaatar ranges from 70-80 degrees F. And at night, it drops to 55-55 degrees F.  Temperature in South Gobi is few degrees higher than in Ulaanbaatar, so, at some point, you can feel the heat.

In Mongolia, there are 250 sunny days a year, often with clear cloudless skies. Therefore Mongolia is known to the world as a country of "Blue Sky." However, July is a raining month, and the chance of precipitation is more than 50%, but the rainfall is usually light or moderate and often comes with a light thunderstorm. So, please, be prepared with wet weather clothing. Mongolia is also humid during this time of the year. The relative humidity ranges from 80-90% during July.

Packing suggestions.

Here are the general packing suggestions. You may or may not want to bring all, so; please use your best judgment. You can carry a large, flexible bag instead of a sturdy suitcase with plastic liner as it needs multiple loads and unloads from the cars. We travel on varying road conditions and mostly on a gravel road while in South Gobi. Make sure your bag is waterproof, though.

Personal Backpack
While the car transports the main luggage, you may still want a small backpack for your items such as a camera, wallet, snacks, medicines, cosmetics, etc.

Morning and evenings are cold and can be chilly. But days are generally warm, and at times you may feel hot and humid, particularly in the Gobi. There is also a good chance of rain, and so you need to be prepared with wet weather gear. For the evening and morning, you will feel the need for a light jacket, fleece, or light sweater.

During a typical day, when you leave your hotel or camp, you may choose to wear a light cotton shirt or t-shirt, a pair of long pants. If you are starting early, surely, you may want to wear a fleece or light jacket on top of your t-shirt. The trip doesn't involve any significant hiking, so light but waterproof walking or jogging shoes should work. But make sure your shoes are well-broken in and that you wear thick cotton socks to prevent blisters.
Cotton shirts and blouses absorb moisture and can leave you shivering if the temperature drops or if you are hiking and stop to rest. Some travelers prefer polypro, as the polypro tends to absorb odor more readily. You may find that you want a light pair of sneakers or rubber flip-flops to walk in at day’s end in the camps. Don't forget to pack some pollution masks that prevent you from inhaling dust when you are traveling in the desert.

Headlamp Or Flashlight
When you are camping in the South Gobi or the in the Lake Khuvsgul, headlamp or the flashlights are very useful. Electricity is nearly unavailable, or it goes off at night, and if you need to go to the bathroom, it will be helpful. Bring spare batteries.

Footwears. Our trip involves some hiking, and there are opportunities for camel and horse riding experience. Make sure your shoes are right for these activities, and they are well-broke. 

You also need rubber slipper for use during camping.

Binoculars and Cameras. You should carry Binoculars and Cameras as there are opportunities to see birds and animals.

Photography Equipment.  Mongolia is a paradise for photographers! Please bring a good camera with powerful lenses and spare batteries.

You will have a detailed packing list with the final trip dossier that we will send 8-10 weeks before departure.


Tukrig is the national currency of Mongolia. The exchange rate is approximately 1900 Tukrig for the US $1. Most banks and the larger hotels in Ulaanbaatar will be able to change the major currencies, although US Dollars are the most widely accepted. It is also possible to change traveler’s checks and get cash advances on your credit card. American Express, VISA, and Master cards are the most widely accepted in significant tourist centers. In Ulaanbaatar, one of the most centrally located banks for both traveler's checks cashing and credit card advances is the Trade and Development Bank. You are also able to change money at your hotel in Ulaanbaatar, but once you leave Ulaanbaatar, money exchange facility is almost nonexistent.  So, when you travel outside Ulaanbaatar, please bring enough local money to buy drinks (beer, soda, etc.), souvenirs, or tip the luggage helps or for the horse or camel rides.
Many shops and restaurants only accept local currency, be sure to exchange your money upon arrival. Exchange rates are better outside in the street.


Tipping is optional, but it has been now a practice due to the influence of tourism. Your guide and driver are the staff you need to tip. There is no definite structure for tipping, but US$ 5 per person per day to the manual and $2-3 per person per day to the driver should make a decent trip. Other staff such as the hotel bell desk, camp boys and girls who help with your luggage, etc. will be happy with some loose changes but it's not an obligation.


Photography is not allowed inside the monasteries and museums. There will be signs posted, or your guide will let you know when photography is not permitted. Some monasteries charges fee for the camera and your trip cost does not include them. If you do not plan to take pictures, you can just put your camera inside the backpack when you enter the monuments. We do not encourage you to do so, but they rarely ask if you have a permit or not while taking pictures. You also have to pay a camera fee is at the culture program house. But you are least likely to be checked if you had paid the cost for the camera.


The Mongolian telephone system is in the process of being modernized but still lacks many of the services we rely on elsewhere. Dialing Mongolia is relatively simple, although it may take several attempts. Mongolia's national code is '976'. Making international telephone calls from Ulaanbaatar is relatively easy. Most hotels have International Direct Dial Facilities. Alternatively, you can make calls from various telephone exchanges around the city. The 'Central Post' Building located on the southwest corner of Chinggis Khan Square is the largest telephone exchange.

Cheaper calls are available if calling from other telephones in the city, i.e., offices & hotels, especially between 22.00 and 07.00 weekdays, 17.00 and 07.00 Saturdays and all day Sunday. The extensive telephone exchange on Chinggis Khan Square has the facilities for you to send faxes and emails.

Your hotels in Ulaanbaatar also have Wi-Fi in the room and common areas. If you bring a quad-band GSM unlocked phone, you can buy a local sim and use it while you are in Ulaanbaatar. But once you are away from the city, the phones are not reliable.

Vaccinations and Health Concerns

There are no particular immunizations required unless you are coming from a yellow fever infected area. You must consult with your physician for the appropriate vaccination you want to take. Other than the updated routine vaccinations, CDC recommends Hepatitis A and typhoid, which you can get through contaminated food or drinks while you are in Mongolia. Some travelers consider taking Hep B, which you get through sexual contact or contaminated needles. You may also want to consider rabies as stray dogs are common, and you may come in contact with other animals.

In Asia, please avoid untreated water as much as possible; visitors can buy bottled water or purify on their own. Stomach upsets are likely to be the most common cause of illness in travelers. Drinks or salads can contain ice or have ingredients washed in unsafe water. The standard of care in hospitals varies, but there are traveler’s clinics in Ulaanbaatar. Medical insurance is essential. For traveler’s health advice, visit the websites:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Traveler's Health Info.

Travel Health, Public Health Agency of Canada.

Electricity, plugs, and sockets

In Mongolia, the standard voltage is 230 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets used are of type C / E.

Please, check the label in your appliance if you can use it in Mongolia. If it does not, you will need a voltage converter. Also, bring a set of an International adapter.


The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects maybe 5.7 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Other than the Travel trade professionals, tour guides, hotel front desk staff, others do not speak English. So some basic knowledge of Mongolian Language will be helpful. Here is a resource on learning some primary Mongolian language.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We also suggest you enroll in the US government's SMART program to get updated about the travel conditions of the countries you are traveling to.


Travel Insurance

While we plan and do our best that your trip goes as planned. But there are always chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather conditions, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage, etc. It may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip, putting your hard-earned travel investment in jeopardy. It's also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation, or medical transportation when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High's tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses. We strongly recommend that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.


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