Mongolia’s sublime beauty reveals itself in endless expanses of steppe and sky and an age-old nomadic culture that joins the people with the land. Journey through this remote, seldom-travelled region of Asia, from sprawling Ulaanbaatar to green, grassy plains where wild horses roam. Discover the country’s surviving Buddhist heritage on visits to historic temples and monasteries; walk across the rocks and sands of the sweeping Gobi, which conceal troves of dinosaur fossils; and get a taste of traditional Mongolian life at a horse and yak farm.
- Tour many of Ulaanbaatar’s historic sites
- Enjoy the scenery of Khustai National Park
- Learn about Lama Buddhism from a head monk
- Visit family-owned farms
- Explore historic monasteries
- See Western Gobi’s biggest sand dunes
TRAVEL STYLE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC JOURNEYS
Greater exploration, insider access, and the freedom to roam – all without sacrificing comfort.
SERVICE LEVEL: UPGRADED
Quality accommodations and more inclusions than on other G Adventures tours, like meals, private transport, and activities.
PHYSICAL RATING: 3 – AVERAGE
Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.
TRIP TYPE: SMALL GROUP
Small group experience; Max 14, avg 12
AGE REQUIREMENT: 12+
All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
DAY 1 ULAANBAATAR
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.
DAY 2 ULAANBAATAR
Enjoy a morning tour of Mongolia’s bustling capital. Visit Gandan Monastery, one of the country’s most important Buddhist sanctuaries, and wander the rooms and temples of Bogd Khan’s Winter Palace, the former home of Mongolia’s last king. Climb up to the Zaisan Memorial, a Soviet Era monument which commemorates Russian soldiers killed in World War II, and take in sweeping views of the city from the hilltop. Later, admire the world-class collection of fossils at the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs, dedicated to preserving Mongolia’s paleontological heritage.
DAY 3 ULAANBAATAR/HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK
Travel by 4×4 to Hustai National Park, where some of the Earth’s last wild horses roam. The takhi or Przewalski’s horse native to these grasslands had nearly vanished from the wild, until the species was reintroduced here as a result of a successful captive breeding program. Meet with park staff to learn about the takhi reintroduction project, and keep an eye out for these stocky, coffee-coloured horses that have never been domesticated. Settle into a ger tonight, a round, felt-covered tent with basic furniture. We will stay in traditional Mongolian lodgings like gers through day 12 of the trip.
This trip covers a lot of ground and we will do so in 4×4 vehicles but there is a lot of driving on some very rough and unmaintained roads. A large part of Mongolia’s appeal is its wild, untouched nature and, as such, accommodation and infrastructure can be very basic in nature. As such, hot water and electricity can be uncertain. Mongolia is a country which is very different to anything you will have experienced before and while this means it is not the easiest place to travel, this is also what makes it so special.
DAY 4 HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK/KHARKHORIN
Drive to the city of Kharkhorin and onward to nearby Karakorum, Mongolia’s ancient capital. Here, Genghis Khan established his headquarters in the early 13th century. Explore the remains of the Erdeni Dzu Monastery, considered Mongolia’s earliest centre of Buddhism, and meet with the head monk to learn about the communist purges that decimated much of the country’s Buddhist heritage. Later, visit the Karakorum Museum, which houses an impressive collection of artifacts from the 13th and 14th centuries as well as a scale model of the ancient capital.
DAY 5 KHARKHORIN/TSENKHER
Arrive at Tsenkher in the afternoon, the site of natural hot springs surrounded by serene, forest-covered hills. Popular with tourists and locals alike, these springs have long been known for their therapeutic benefits. Take a soak in one of the outdoor pools, or choose the privacy of an indoor bath.
DAY 6 TSENKHER/ORKHON VALLEY
Drive to the breathtaking Orkhon Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site that encompasses rolling hills and pastureland, traditional pastoral societies, and archaeological remains. Set out on a hike to the lofty Tuvkhun Monastery, founded by the Mongol Buddhist leader Zanabzar in the mid-17th century. Explore the monastery’s wooden temples, integrated with a natural system of caves, and enjoy beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and surrounding pine forests.
DAY 7 ORKHON VALLEY
Immerse yourself in traditional Mongolian culture on a visit to a local family’s goat and sheep farm. Learn about daily life from the family and see how they make some of their food. Then, sample some of their products, including curd and yogurt. Later, enjoy a hike to a picturesque waterfall before returning to your ger camp for a traditional Mongolian barbecue, prepared over hot stones.
DAY 8 ORKHON VALLEY/ONGIIN KHIID
Today, we make our way to the Gobi, one of the world’s largest deserts, which covers much of the southern part of Mongolia. Visit the ruins of Ongiin Khiid, a complex of Buddhist monasteries and universities which were tragically destroyed during the communist purges. Tour the site and learn about the monks who have returned here in recent years, bringing new life to the complex.
DAY 9 ONGIIN KHIID/BAYANZAG
Venture to the Flaming Cliffs or Bayanzag, a rust-coloured sandstone landscape where a vast amount of dinosaur fossils have been found. Spend time exploring the dramatic crags and canyons.
DAY 10 BAYANZAG/KHONGORYN ELS
Drive to the spectacular sand dunes of Khongoryn Els in the western Gobi, popularly known as the “singing sands.” Clamber up the wave-like peaks for stunning views of the golden landscape, and listen for the musical sound the dunes produce when the wind blows over them.
DAY 11 KHONGORYN ELS
Spend time with a desert nomadic family today on their farm. Gain a greater understanding of how they survive in the harsh environment of the Gobi. Witness their simple, and incredible way of life while the group learns how they build a ger (yurt). Afterwards, enjoy free time at camp before witnessing a demonstration of archery, one of Mongolia’s national sports in the evening. Learn the basics of this time-honoured tradition during a hands-on lesson.
DAY 12 KHONGORYN ELS/YOLYN AM
Drive through the magnificent gorges of the Altay Mountains to the Gurvan Saikhan National Park, a vast protected area that comprises canyons, sand dunes, and steppe. Stop for a hike in rugged Yolyn Am, the “valley of the eagles,” keeping an eye out for ibex, gazelles, argali sheep, and countless species of birds. Later, pay a visit to the Yolyn Am museum, where you can admire a collection of dinosaur bones and eggs.
DAY 13 YOLYN AM/ULAANBAATAR
Catch a flight back to Ulaanbaatar. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner accompanied by a memorable performance of traditional Mongolian song and dance.
Depart at any time.
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Dinosaur Museum Visit, Ulaanbaatar
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Erdene Zhu Buddhist Monastery Visit, Kharkhorin
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Goat & Sheep Family Farm Experience, Orkhon Valley
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Nomadic Family Desert Experience, Khongoryn Els
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Archery Lesson & Show, Khongoryn Els
Your Wellness Moment: Tsenkher Hot Springs Visit, Tsenkher. Arrival transfer. Ulaanbaatar city tour. Visit Khustai National Park. Visit the archaeological museum. Soak in hot springs. Hike to Tuvkhun Monastery. Orkhon waterfall hike. Visit Hoshuu and Ongiin Khiid monasteries. Flaming Cliffs excursion. Gobi desert excursion and dune hike. Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park excursion. Folklore show with dinner. Internal flights. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Images courtesy of G Adventures
GADV – AMENG