An Epic Journey Through Mongolia

Enjoy this epic adventure through Mongolia. From Chinggis Khaan Square to camel riding through the desert landscape and experiencing a nomadic homestay in the beautiful Tsenkher Valleys, this trip will take travellers on a thrilling journey through Mongolia while gaining an understanding of the country’s remarkable past.

Day 1: Arrival

Arrive into Ulaanbaatar, where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. At 2pm, if you are not too tired from your long flight, you may like to meet in reception for a walk across the Chinggis Khaan Square to visit the excellent Museum of National History where you can gain an understanding of Mongolia’s remarkable past – a worthwhile introduction to your stay in Mongolia. Alternatively, if you decide to rest this afternoon, meet in reception at 7pm where we will take you to dine at our favourite restaurants and your guide will run through the plan for tomorrow.

Stay: Shangri- La Hotel

Day 2: Ulaanbaatar - Dalanzadgad - Yolyn Am

Transfer to the airport for the short flight south to Dalanzadgad. Travel across the desert to your first ger camp. If there is time today, visit the petroglyphs at Khavsgait. A short scramble up a steep scree slope brings you to a cluster of rock drawings with views across the plains. You can see the (now dry) snow melt-water channels running across the desert.

Return to camp for dinner and your first night sleeping in a “ger” (the traditional Mongolian felt tents), the design of which has changed little over the centuries.

Stay: Three Camel Lodge

Day 3: Yolyn Am - Khongoryn Els

Rise early to visit Yolyn Am. Here you may see argali sheep and ibex picking their way across sheer cliffs and even a lammergeyer soaring above looking for carrion. With it’s high walls, it will feel cooler as you travel deeper into the canyon and as it narrows, you may see ice that hasn’t melted yet from the winter. From here, travel west through the mountains, keeping your eyes peeled for Ibex and other wildlife.

Settle into your camp with a view of some of the highest dunes in Mongolia.

Stay: Private cabin, ger camp

Day 4: Khongoryn Els - Camel Riding

After breakfast drive to a camel breeder’s family where you can enjoy traditional nomadic hospitality in their ger, learning more about the life of camel breeders and the camels themselves before heading off for a Bactrian trek across the desert landscape. Later this afternoon, hike to the top of the dunes for a sunset view before sliding back down to hear the ‘singing’ sound that they are famous for.

Stay: Private cabin - Ger camp

Day 5: Khongoryn Els Naadam

Today you will have a chance to watch (or for the adventurous, even participate) in one of Mongolia’s oldest and most famous traditions. The “three manly sports” wrestling, horse racing and archery make up the Naadam games. This small local Naadam will give you a close up experience of a Mongolian Naadam in a breathtaking location. It will feel like being at a village fete with locals providing food to try.

You might like to wash down a few buuz (steamed dumplings) with a cup of airag (fermented, alcoholic mare’s milk). Once the festival has come to an end, return to your comfortable gers for the night.

Stay: Private cabin - Ger camp

Day 6: Khongoryn Els - Bayanzag

Today head across the vast desert plains to Bayanzag – known as the ‘Flaming Cliffs’ – for a walk in this stunning location. Later this afternoon, you will have a chance to try your hand at some traditional Mongolian games. These range from puzzles to board and dice games. This fascinating tradition is a hidden gem of Mongolian culture and you will have the opportunity to learn and participate in all manner of games.

Stay: Three Camel Lodge

Day 7: Bayanzag - Ongiin Khiid

Today you will begin your journey out of the Gobi northwards to the central Mongolian Heartland. Tonight you will stay next to Ongiin Khiid (monastery). Take a look around the ruined monastery site including the small ger museum and the rebuilt temple. There is a spring which is said to have healing properties. You might like to relax with a paddle in the wide river which runs through the complex or climb one of the surrounding hills to get a good view of the whole complex.

Stay: Twin ger - Ger camp

Day 8: Ongiin Khiid - Orkhon Valley

After breakfast, travel further northwards towards the small soum of Khujirt. There is a small eco camp here on the banks of the Orkhon River close to the former capital Kharkorin, which you will visit tomorrow. There is a telescope at the camp to get an even closer look at the star in the clear night skies. Afternoon to relax in this peaceful location.

Stay: Twin ger - Ger camp

Day 9: Kharkhorin - Erdene Zuu Monastery

After breakfast, head 40km north to the ancient capital of Kharkhorin. Arrive at Erdene Zuu Monastery in time for the morning proceedings and hear the monks chanting in the beautifully decorated Tibetan style temple.

Visit the revamped and informative local museum (or the cafe with wifi!) before taking a drive up to the Monument of the Three Empires and the somewhat quirky, and aptly named ‘Fertility Stone’. Visit the local market to stock up on supplies before travelling onwards to the beautiful Tsenkher valleys, where you will stay with a nomadic family. The facilities are comfortable but basic – the gers are equipped with beds and washbasin, but washing facilities will be limited to the river an the toilet will be the families long-drop. The family who will welcome you into their home and lives.

Stay: Shared ger - Nomadic homestay

Day 10: Tsenkher Valleys homestay

Today you have time to relax or indulge in outdoor pursuits – and experiencing the daily life of your hosts. Perhaps they will teach you how to milk their livestock or to make traditional Mongolian food. They will welcome your help herding or collecting dung for fuel.

This afternoon ride to the hot springs at a local ger camp, where you can also have a shower. Return to your hosts for some home cooked food. If you haven’t already had it before, hopefully you’ll have a chance to eat ‘khorkhog’ – a traditional Mongolian feast of lamb and vegetables cooked over a fire in a pot with hot stones, which sears and cooks the meat from the inside.

Stay: Shared ger, Nomadic homestay

Day 11: Tsenkher Valleys - Chuluut Gorge - White Lake & Khorgo Volcano

Say goodbye to your nomadic hosts and drive west, stopping in the town of Tsetserleg where you can visit the market and pick up any supplies you may need. Drive across rolling hills stopping at the Bronze Age “deer stone”, sacred forest and the dramatic Chuluutin Gol Gorge. Continue to tonight’s ger camp in a valley east of White Lake, surrounded by mountains and an imposing volcano. The area is home to traditional yak herding families, their way of life unchanged for centuries in many ways.

You have two nights by the stunning lake.

Stay: Twin ger - Ger camp

Day 12: White Lake & Khorgo Volcano

This morning, take a walk from the camp along the local nomad trail over the back of the mountains to see White Lake from above, before walking down to the shore. There is a small beach at the lake so there might be a chance for a bit of sunbathing or swimming in the clear (but cold!) water. Alternatively there may be the chance to head off on horseback. This afternoon, climb to the summit of the volcano and walk around the crater rim.

Stay: Twin ger - Ger camp

Day 13: Drive from White Lake to Jargalant

Set out into the hills of Arkhangai province northwards into Khovsgol province and to Jargalant. Travel around the eastern shore of White lake realising just how vast the lake is, before commencing on a drive into the beautiful Jargalant valley. Stop for a lunch time picnic in one of your drivers spellbinding locations before arriving at Jargalant ger camp in the early afternoon. Take a walk around the small dusty town of Jargalant, visit the tiny museum – measure yourself against one of Jargalant’s residents who was once the tallest man in the world, have a tea in the small guanz, or visit the small ger making workshop where most of the parts are still made by hand. As the sun sets enjoy a thermal bath at the ger camp.

Stay: Twin ger, ger camp

Day 14: Jargalant - Muron

The road north to Muron is one of Mongolia’s less travelled routes and takes you through some stunning territory. Beautiful valleys and high mountain passes make for wonderful panoramic views. If there is time and you are not too tired, visit the market town of Muron, the administrative capital of Khovsgol Aimag, before heading to your camp on the Delger river for a sundowner over arguably one of the most beautifully situated ger camps in Mongolia.

Stay: Twin ger - Delger ger camp

Day 15: Muron - Khatgal - Lake Khovsgol

This morning you might like a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Delger Muron river before setting off after breakfast, north to Lake Khovsgol. Visit the ancient Ushigiin Uver deer stone site. If you did not visit Muron, last night, there will be time to have a little look around today. Visit the local market and stock up on any drinks, snacks or souvenirs which may be required for your three nights at the lake.

It is about an hour and a half’s drive along the new road to Khatgal village on the shore of lake Khovsgol. Take a stroll around the little port before taking a boat across to the remote ger camp on this least-visited east side of the lake. Settle into the camp, perhaps have a dip in the icy waters and a hot sauna, before relaxing with a drink overlooking the sunset across the water.

Stay: Twin ger - Ger camp

Day 16: Lake Khovsgol

With two full days here, there is plenty of time to explore the area, hike up the peninsula, try horse riding, maybe kayaking, and if you are feeling brave take a dip in the lake!

Decide with your guide how you would like to spend your time – you can be as relaxed or adventurous as you like and we should even be able to arrange a yak ride for you!

Stay: Twin ger - Ger camp

Day 17: Lake Khovsgol

Spend the whole day by the lake at leisure. The camp has a wonderful sauna which, followed by a swim in the icy lake is about the most refreshing experience on the planet. If you want to get out on to the lake, your guide can arrange for you to hire a local boat. Hikes from the camp into the surrounding hills both on horseback and on foot provide breathtaking views. For the photographer this place is a playground with subjects including lush green forest, the crystal clear lake and brilliant opportunities for wildlife photography. However the real draw of the area is the peace and quiet. There is no better place to relax towards the end of your Epic Journey.

Stay: Twin ger, Eco Camp

Day 18: Khovsgol - Muron - Fly to Ulaanbaatar

Leave your eco camp after an early breakfast. Make your way back to Muron and on to the airport for your flight back to Ulaanbaatar.

Enjoy your afternoon at leisure to shop for cashmere and other Mongolian products. The State Department Store has everything under one roof, and we can direct you to nearby fair trade stores which sell unique products from local artisans. Meet back at the hotel by 5.30pm to go to a concert of traditional Mongolian music and dance including throat singing.

Stay: Shangri-La Hotel

Day 19: Gandan Monastery and Chinggis Monument

Today, there will be a guided visit to Gandantegchinlen Monastery where you might see monks chanting their morning prayers. Head east out of the city to visit the giant Chinggis Khan Equestrian Monument at Tsonjin Boldog. At the base of the statue, you can try on traditional Mongolian costumes and tour the numerous portraits of the Khan lineage, before climbing to the horse’s head for a panoramic view over the surrounding landscape towards Chinggis’ birth place.
Return to Ulaanbaatar in time for a concert of traditional Mongolian music and dance including throat singing. Your guide will accompany you to one of our favourite restaurants for your farewell dinner.

Stay: Shangri-La Hotel

Day 20: Depart

Transfer to the airport for your journey home.

Itinerary

Duration Description Overnight
Day 1: Arrival Shangri- La Hotel
Day 2: Ulaanbaatar - Dalanzadgad - Yolyn Am Three Camel Lodge
Day 3: Yolyn Am - Khongoryn Els Private cabin, ger camp
Day 4: Khongoryn Els - Camel Riding Private cabin - Ger camp
Day 5: Khongoryn Els Naadam Private cabin - Ger camp
Day 6: Khongoryn Els - Bayanzag Three Camel Lodge
Day 7: Bayanzag - Ongiin Khiid Twin ger - Ger camp
Day 8: Ongiin Khiid - Orkhon Valley Twin ger - Ger camp
Day 9: Kharkhorin - Erdene Zuu Monastery Shared ger - Nomadic homestay
Day 10: Tsenkher Valleys homestay Shared ger, Nomadic homestay
Day 11: Tsenkher Valleys - Chuluut Gorge - White Lake & Khorgo Volcano Twin ger - Ger camp
Day 12: White Lake & Khorgo Volcano Twin ger - Ger camp
Day 13: Drive from White Lake to Jargalant Twin ger, ger camp
Day 14: Jargalant - Muron Twin ger - Delger ger camp
Day 15: Muron - Khatgal - Lake Khovsgol Twin ger - Ger camp
Day 16: Lake Khovsgol Twin ger - Ger camp
Day 17: Lake Khovsgol Twin ger, Eco Camp
Day 18: Khovsgol - Muron - Fly to Ulaanbaatar Shangri-La Hotel
Day 19: Gandan Monastery and Chinggis Monument Shangri-La Hotel
Day 20: Depart

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation
  • Dinner on arrival and breakfast on departure
  • All meals (Days 2 – 7)
  • Domestic flights (as specified
  • Transfers
  • Water in vehicles
  • Activities per itinerary
  • Entrance fees
  • Festival fees
  • English speaking guided tours
  • 24 hour emergency contact

Not Included

  • Visas
  • International airfare or trains
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance (please note that travel insurance is mandatory for all Lightfoot Travel holidays)
  • Private excursions
  • Laundry
  • Telephone calls

Map

From USD21,600 for 2 guests on a double/twin sharing basis. If travelling during Naadam in July, there will be a supplement of USD620 per person

Notes on our prices

  • This price guide provides you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your holiday.
  • Prices are generally based on two people travelling together (unless stated otherwise) on a shared room basis.
  • Prices can fluctuate depending on season, standard of accommodation, excursions selected (private versus shared) etc.
  • This basic structure works very nicely, but don’t forget that Lightfoot Travel can provide a range of experiences and we tailor-make each itinerary based on your travel requirements. Get in touch to start planning your perfect trip with your own travel consultant.