Nomadic Mongolia waits for you in this tour in the heart of the nomadic life. From family to family, you will start your tour by the green Orkhon Valley, before going deeper in the remote area of Naiman Nuur. Then you'll go towards South, where the track disappears to give place to a legendary spot : the Gobi Desert, and the arid majesty of its lunar landscapes, with its towering rocky formations, frozen canyon and sand dunes.
itinerary.day 1Arrival at Ulan Bator and visit of the city
Arrival at the airport, meeting with our driver. Transfer to your hotel, settling in, and rest.
Appointment at 12 o'clock at your hotel with your guide. He will take you in the restaurant of your choice.
Let's immerse ourselves in the heart of the Mongolian history, in the wonderful National History Museum. Three floors of a rich, glorious, violent and noble past, from prehistory to Soviet period, including the creation of the great Mongolian Empire by Genghis Khan.
At 18 o' clock, Mongolian traditional show at Tumen Ekh: folkloric dances, contortion, and of course khoomi, the overtone singing.
itinerary.day 2Ulan Bator - Khogno Khan National Park
Ulan Bator - Khogno Khan
Visit of Gandantegchinlen Monastery. In the morning, lamas get together to pray. They will answer your questions at the Mongolian Buddhist Centre.
We arrive at the splendid rocky formations of Khogno Khan. Discovery of the park : semidesert steppes, taiga, stunning rocky formations, 80-kilometre (49,71 miles) long sand dunes, are characteristic of this arid area nicknamed "Mini-Gobi".
Pony trek until Erdene Khambiin Monastery. "Monk Erdene's Monastery" dates from 17th century and was built in the mountain. Zanabazar built it in honour of his teacher, monk Erdene.
Visit of the sand dunes of Elsen Tasarkhai.
itinerary.day 3 - 5The former capital and lands of nomadism
Khogno Khan - Kharkhorin
Journey to Kharkhorin, the former capital of Mongolia. The legendary city of Genghis Khan was founded in 1220 and was one of the stages of the silk road. The Mongolian Empire was governed from this city, until Kubilai Khan set up the capital in Beijing. Today, there are only a few vestiges left of the former capital.
Visit of Erdene Zuu Monastery, built in 1586 by a nomad prince. The Chinese and Tibetan-inspired buildings are surrounded with 108 sacred stupas. Visit of the Museum of Kharkhorin.
Kharkhorin - Orkhon valley
We definitely leave the tarred road to taste the joys of the track. We drive along the splendid landscapes formed by the canyons and the green steppe, then we arrive at the home of breeders who will host us in the heart of Orkhon Valley.
Visit of Tovkhon Monastery. Vehicles can't go until the top of Öndör Ulaan Hill and we will walk until there to discover Tovkhon Ermitage, where Zanabazar, the first religious leader of Mongolia, created the Soyombo alphabet. The monastery is located 2312 metres (1,44 mile) above the sea level and from that place we'll have a wonderful view on the whole Khangai range. We'll picnic in exceptional surroundings, facing Orkhon Valley.
Visit of Ulan Tsutgalaan falls, white flood flowing on the black stone, transformed in rainbow by a short sunray... These 16-metres (52,49 feet) falls are just magic ! They were formed 20.000 years ago, as a result of a unique combination of earthquakes and volcano eruptions.
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Stay at herders' from the valley. During your stay, you will discover their way of life and you will be proposed many activities, such as milking, making traditional dairy products, or rounding up the animals with a horse.
You will also attend the preparation of a Mongolian barbecue that you will enjoy with yours hosts.
itinerary.day 6 - 7In Naiman Nuur mountains
Orkhon valley - Naiman nuur
We go deeper in the Khangai mountains. The track is harsh, notably because of a pass located 2800 metres (1,74 mile) above the sea level. We reach the very remote Naiman Nuur National Park, "eight lakes", where we'll see many forests of larches and, as the name suggests, many lakes.
This area can be very cool and it's not unusual to have snow in June or in August !
Peaceful day breathing fresh air in this altitude area. We hike in the park discovering its splendours and arrive near Lake Shireet, probably the most beautiful lake of the area. Back to our host family's to benefit the simple pleasures of life, such as drinking a cup of tea with milk or playing ankle bones.
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Stay with breeders living in this mountainous area, with whom we'll share moments of their daily life.
itinerary.day 8Let's hit the road to Gobi desert !
Naiman nuur - Arvaikheer
Day of transition between two ecosystems. We leave the green mountains of Khangai to go towards Gobi. We drive across the green steppe and reach Arvaikheer, the capital of province, where we stop to get fresh supplies at the local market.
Arvaikheer - Ongi monastery
We arrive in the sum of Saikhan Ovoo. West Saikhan Ovoo, some mountains located along the Ongii River, are the perfect place to rest between Northwest of Mongolia and Gobi Desert. In the bends of the river, we can see the ruins of two monasteries, Barlim Monastery on the Northern bank, Khutagt Monastery on the Southern bank.
Let's discover this site, best known as Ong lamasery, and the museum. In 1937, the Soviets almost completely destroyed the homes and monasteries where one thousand lamas were living. In 2002, some lamas came back and began to rebuilt the monastery, with few resources but much enthusiasm.
itinerary.day 9Flaming cliffs and dinosaurs
Ongi monastery - Bayanzag
Last day of track before reaching Great Gobi and its "Three Beauties", the three highest peaks of this part of the Gobi-Altai range : Baruun Saïhan, "the Western Beauty" ; Dund Saïhan, "the Middle Beauty" ; Züün Saïhan, "the Eastern Beauty", the highest (2846 metres, 1,77 miles).
Visit of the cliffs of Bayanzag, today best known as "flaming cliffs", owing to their ochre red colour, where is located the "cemetery of dragons". The cliffs and the saxaul forests that surround them are the evidence of the time when Earth was still inhabited by huge creatures : dinosaurs. Palaeontologist Roy Andrews Chapman was the first man to discover in 1922 some bones and eggs of dinosaurs that we can see today in the Natural History Museum of Ulan Bator and in other museums in the world.
itinerary.day 10 - 11Riding a camel among the dunes
Bayanzag - Khongor sand dunes
We ride towards west of the park to reach Khongor sand dunes, "light bay sand". These dunes extend at the foot of the "Three Beauties".
Visit of the dunes of Khongor. These dunes are the most spectacular ones of Mongolia, they extend on more than 180 kilometres (111,85 miles) long and 20 kilometres (12,43 miles) wide, and have an average height of 80 metres (262,47 feet), the hightest one being 120 metres (393,70 feet) high. From the top, the view on the desert is quite amazing. From this place, it's also possible to hear the moving masses of sand, hence the name of "singing dunes". Beyond the dunes, the steppe extends for as far as the eye can see.
Camelback hike. Camelback hiking in the Gobi Desert is an unforgettable experience. The nonchalant animal will take us with its peaceful gait along the dunes and the Khongor River, "light bay", that flows alternately on the surface and under the ground. We'll go until a small oasis at the foot of the dunes, where some bushes grow, such as saxaul. Camels are very fond of saxaul and Mongolians think it's the most precious wood.
We will walk until the top of a dune and will have a wonderful view on the desert. Far away, we will see the peaks of the Three Beautiful and, if we listen carefully, we might hear the song of the dunes.
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We'll stay with a Bactrian camels' breeder for two nights. It's a unique chance to discover their authentic way of life and their legendary hospitality.
itinerary.day 12Hiking in the canyons
Khongor sand dunes - Dungenee canyon
Journey on the track towards east of "the Three Beauties" to reach the area of canyons.
Stop at Dungenee Canyon. We leave the vehicle to start our first magic hike along the river that flows between huge canyons.
Dungenee canyon - Yoliin am canyon
itinerary.day 13Return flight to the Mongolian capital
Yoliin am canyon - Dalanzadgad
30-kilometres (18,64 miles) journey until Dalanzadgad, the capital of the province, where we'll embark for our return flight to Ulan Bator.
Arrival in town and transfer to your hotel where you can rest a few moments.
Rest of the day free. With our guide, you can go and shop in the centre of the city.