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Mongolia: The Land of Nomads


10 days 9 nights

Code MCT165

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
  • Destination Ulaanbaatar South Gobi Hongoryn Els Bayanzag Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Mongolia Hustai National Park Karakoram
Dates & Prices

Overview

This trip is ideal for the first time visitor to Mongolia that covers Ulaanbaatar, South Gobi, Gorkhi Terelj National Park, Hustai National Park, and the Karakoram.

You will spend the first two days in Ulaanbaatar, recovering travel fatigue. And visit its attractions that include 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. Majority of Mongolian population lives in ger tent (or yurt) made up of felt. The family welcomes visitors with fermented milk and Mongolian tea. Here, we can also take an optional camel back ride.

Gorkhi Terelj National Park, located near Ulaanbataar, is renowned for its unique rock formations, beautiful open fields, mountains, and even some glaciers. We will also take a detour to the famous statue of Chinggis Khan. Next, we visit Hustai National Park, where we will watch the wild horses and other wildlife and birds. The final destination in this trip is Karakoram- the ancient capital of Mongolia where we visit Erdene Zuu Monastery made up of the remains of the former capital. 

The trip involves flights between Ulaanbaatar to South Gobi, and we travel by 4WD vehicle between the towns. The roads are bumpy, particularly in South Gobi.

Trip Cost 

US$ 2698 per person. ( Jul 10 trip costs $ 2798)

US$ 470 Private Single Room/Tent supplement.

Note:

The trip dates don't work for you? Select your travel date for a private trip. 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Ulaanbaatar.

US citizens don't need a visa for Mongolia for a 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 or Holiday Inn
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. This monastery 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 the square was named after him from 2013 to 2016. The place 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 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 statues of Taras.

The Zaisan memorial lies in the foothills to the south of Ulaanbaatar. The Russians built the monument to commemorate Soviet soldiers fallen in World War Two. A tiled mural lies within the solid 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.

 

Overnight: Ramada Hotel or Holiday Inn
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Fly to South Day 03~By flight to South Gobi.Hike 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.

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, and so the iceblocks don't melt away until summer, sometimes. It is vast 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$ 8-10 with the lead).

Check into your ger tent accommodation. Today and the next two days, we will explore 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 snow cocks, ibex, yaks, and Argali mountain sheep.

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

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

You will have time to settle into your yurt and take rest before you proceed for exploration of the dunes. If you are not exhausted of 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 dune is 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 take a look inside their traditional dwelling. The family treats us with camel cheese and yak milk tea. You can rent a camel and explore the area around. Each summer, they bring their livestock to graze on a pasture close to the Khongoryn River and offer camel rides. Visiting such a family provides unique insights into the local way of life. (Camel ride costs $8-10 not included in the trip cost).

Overnight: Gobi Erdene Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Travel to Bayanzag (The Flaming Cliffs)

After breakfast, we leave 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 the name Bayanzag. Bayanzag means rich in saxaul.

Overnight: Mongolian Gobi Ger Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Fly back to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Early morning breakfast and then you transfer to the Dalanzadgad Airport (2 hrs. drive and 1.5 hrs. flight).

Upon arrival at Ulaanbaatar airport, meet your driver and travel to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. This unforgettable excursion will take you to features such as unique rock formations, scenic valleys, a winding river, and quiet 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.

On the way, we will take a detour to Chinggis Khan statue, which stands 40m high. The figure is the landmark of the area and draws the attraction from far away.

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
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Travel to Hustai National Park

After leisurely morning breakfast, we retrace our drive back to UB and continue further to Hustai National Park, renowned for the successful reintroduction of the wild horses.

After we settle into our yurt, 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 Przewalski'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. It 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. Also, red deer (Cervus elaphus) and the 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: Mongol Nomadic Camp or Moltsog Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~ Karakoram-The ancient capital

(175 miles, 5 hrs.)
After breakfast at the tourist camp, drive to the Karakorum, the symbolic ruins of the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire. On the way, you may stop for an optional camel ride (costs $5-7 with the lead) in the dunes of Mongol Els. Mounted on the double hump camel, you can wander about the dunes and visit the nomadic camps in the area.

In the Karakorum, we will visit Erdene-Zuu Monastery-the oldest of all the monasteries of Mongolia. The monastery was built in the 16th century and consist of 108 stupas. The monastery was made of the remains of the ancient Mongolian capital.

Next, we will visit the Karakorum Museum and see the Great Mongol state period, Stone Age, Bronze Age, Ancient state period halls.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Travel back to Ulaabaatar

It's a long day drive today (6-7 hrs.) but we will have stops on the way for photography and to stretch the legs. Upon arrival in UB, check into the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure. 

Overnight: Ramada Hotel or Holiday Inn
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Depart Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, our service ends. Transfer to the airport in time for the flight to your next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Three nights in a four-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar (double occupancy basis).
  • Six nights in yurt (Ger) accommodation with shared toilet and shower outside Ulaanbaatar
  • All meals, as indicated in the itinerary.
  • All entrance fees.
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary.
  • Transportation by a 4WD vehicle.
  • Internal airfare Ulaanbaatar-South Gobi-Ulaanbaatar
  • English speaking local tour guide.
  • Daily supply of drinking water.

The trip does not Include

  • International airfare.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, and other personal expenses.
  • Cost of optional activities such as horse riding, camel riding, etc.
  • Excess baggage charge, airport taxes, and fees.
  • Single room supplement.

Trip Difficulty Level

All travelers with an average health condition can go on this trip but must make up mind for some long day drives on loose gravel roads. The trip involves some hiking and some optional activities such as camel riding, horseback riding, etc. In South Gobi, each day you drive from four to five hours with the occasional stops for pictures and nature call. Once outside the city, the roads are unpaved. So, we use a 4WD van.

Although no extreme adventures are involved, this is also not the trip for luxury and leisure seekers. You should be willing to walk, hike, and prepared for long day drives on dirt 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.

Although the trip is physically not challenging, some degree of physical fitness level will help you enjoy the journey. If you are not leading an active life, please start soft training 2-3 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.

What is it like staying in a Ger Camp?

While Ulaanbaatar has modern buildings, more than a half population of the country live in the traditional yurts-called gers. A yurt has a main structure of latticed wood, and then it's covered with felt and canvas layers. Each ger has two or three beds, a side table, and chairs and provided with mattresses, pillows, and comforters. Usually in the center is a Bukhari style chimney for the heating. The dining hall, toilets, and showers are in the main building separately, and often, there are enough bathrooms for everyone. They have a western-style flush toilet. Each camp has a few en-suite gers that you can book on an additional cost. Hot water supply may be available only in the morning and evening as they heat the water in a tank.
Staying in ger camps gives an experience of the lifestyle of Mongolian nomadic culture.

Transportation:

All ground transportation will be by 4WD vans. 

Guides:

An experienced English speaking local Mongolian guide will lead you on tour. He or she will be a college graduate and certified by the tourism authority. Your guide will be knowledgeable about the history and culture of the area. He or she will help you check-in hotels and camps, flights, buy the necessary permits, coordinate transfers, and books meals for you.

Best Time to visit Mongolia

June to early September is the best time for travel to Mongolia. The weather is mild, generally dry throughout the central and southern areas. It can be still 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 cold. 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 in October and lasts through April and is not the best time to travel to the north.

Passport and Visa:

Your passport must be valid at least for six months beyond your return date. Also, make sure you have one blank visa page for Mongolia for arrival and departure stamps. If you are traveling to other countries in this trip, please, allow two dedicated visa pages for each country.US citizens don't need a visa for Mongolia a stay up to 90 days for tourism purpose. For a visit for more than 30 days in a single trip, register with Mongolian Immigration within seven days of arrival. Failure to register will result in a fine of $100-$300 – even if you extend your stay due to circumstances beyond your control.

Candian passport holders also don't need a visa for Mongolia for a stay up to 30 days for tourism purpose. List of countries and regions that have visa-free entry to Mongolia for tourism purpose.

http://mongolianembassy.us/visafreecountries/#.WxluI-4vzDc

Booking and payment schedule
We request a deposit of US$ 300 along with a booking application and passport copies. The final payment is 90 days prior departure. The payment schedule may vary with customized and private trips on case to case basis. Credit card payment attracts an additional 3.5% fee. Credit card holder also must be the traveler.

Payments made within 90 days prior departure may be subject to a late fee and are required to make through wire transfer or cashier’s check.

Cancellation and refund
If you have to withdraw from the trip, we request a notice in written form, by email or fax. The following cancellation fee will apply.

  • Ninety days before departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee).
  • Sixty-Eighty-nine day's before departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Forty-five days to Fifty-nine days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Thirty days to Forty-four days before departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than thirty days: 100%

Accomodation

Accommodation

You have 4 star deluxe hotel accommodations with all modern amenities in Ulaanbaatar. Outside Ulaanbaatar, you will sleep in the ger camps. Ger camps are closely located to attraction sites through the country, where visitors can experience and feel 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 provide towels but limited and so you may want to bring your own. The bed sheets and blankets are generally clean but as they are hand-washed in cold water, sometime we can see stains. Some travelers bring their own sleeping bag 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 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 located in a convenient location outside your ger. It's very important that you bring a flash light with spare batteries as you may need them to walk to the bathroom at dark. The water in the shower is solar heated. If it's a cloudy and rain day, water may not be warm enough and we request for your understanding.

Some camps have a few en suite gers (yurts) which can be booked on additional $50 to $100 per person, but sometime it's not worth as due to harsh climate conditions and poor maintenance, they may not be in the best condition and may have plumbing issues. Flush speed is also not so good.

Ramada Hotel, Ulaabaatar

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

Ger Camp Accommodations

  • Ger Camp
  • A typical Mongolian Ger
  • Ger accommodation

 

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