Overland All Mongolia Tour 2021

Mongolia Traverse

The Gobi Desert & Lake Khuvsgul

  • OVERLAND TOURS
  • SPRING TOURS
16 Days
1 Flights
Not Child Friendly

This overland style trip is the best way to get acquainted with Mongolia and the different aspects that make up the traditional Mongolian ways of life. We start in the Gobi desert, then head north to an area known to the Mongolians as “the paradise of the horse herders”. The trip finishes up on the shores of Khuvsgul Lake, one of the world’s largest freshwater sources.

Recommended months for Overland All Mongolia Tour are June, July and August. Contact us for more details.

Itinerary

DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN ULAANBAATAR, BAGA GAZARIIN CHULUU

  • Dinner

Land in Ulaanbaatar airport. Upon arrival, meet the local guide and driver, board the vehicle, and head straight into the northern fringes of the Gobi Desert. After approximately three hours, arrive in Baga Gazariin Chuluu, or in English – the small place of the stones, a marvelous geological oddity, characterized by impressive rock formations. If time permits, get to enjoy a short evening hike to see the sun setting over the stunning rock formations. Then, set in for a first night in the cozy yet simple Mongolian version of a lodge, consisting of traditional felt-made dwellings the nomads of Central Asia often refer to as yurt, and the Mongolians call- ger.

DAY 2. IN THE DEPTH OF THE GOBI DESERT

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Begin the day with a visit to Delgeriin Choir Monastery. Historically, Baga Gazariin Chuluu was the setting to one of Mongolia's most important monasteries, headed by Zava Damdiin, a religious leader, philosopher, and artist. Unfortunately, the original monastery was destroyed during the anti-religious purges of the 1930s, led by the communists, and Zava Damdiin Rinpoche himself was executed in 1937. However, in the year 2000, a young and promising lama (monk) was recognized as Zava Damdiin's reincarnation, and in 2005 he re-established a monastery in the historical site where his predecessor's temple once thrived. After visiting the temple, board the vehicle and continue the road trip to Dalanzadgad, the administrative center of the South Gobi Province. Once a remote desert town, it today serves as the center of logistics for the developing mining industry. Over the last decade, massive exploration operations have revealed an abundance of precious metals and minerals in the Gobi Desert. Thus, the once peaceful desert is being trampled by excavators, monster trucks, and massive drills- all hoping to make a quick fortune. Luckily, most of these mines are far from the eye. Still, their environmental impact can be seen and felt throughout the massive desert. From Dalanzadgad, take another one and a half hours' drive to the 'Gobi's Beauties' Nature Reserve. Once at the reserve, head to the 'Vulture's Valley'- a beautiful oasis at the foot of the 'Three Beauties' Mountain range. As the sun's rays do not reach the small stream at the creek's basin, it is kept frozen during the beginning of summer (until early July). Hence, the place is commonly dubbed as the 'Gobi Glacier.' Take a leisurely hike along the beautiful stream, and, if lucky, get to see some of the wildlife inhabiting the reserve. In the afternoon, set in the camp at the mid of the vast desert plains.

DAY 3. YOLIN AM - KHAVTSGAIT PETROGLYPHS – KHONGORIIN ELS

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

This morning, embark on the five-hour drive through the Gobi's typical cold desert landscape - so-called because the Gobi receives its moisture in the form of snow - to the mighty Khongoriin Els Sand Dune. En route, pause by Khavtsgait, an ancient place of worship marked by tremendous petroglyphs. This is also a magnificent viewpoint over the desert's expansive plains. Arrive at the dune in time to climb its mighty walls of sand and explore the towering dunes on foot. If the breeze is blowing just right, one might hear the dunes beautifully sing. The wild desert plants at the edges of the sands are beautiful in their own sculptural way, and the small creek running along its northern face creates fantastic photographic opportunities. At dusk, drive to the camp by the dunes.

DAY 4. KHONGORIIN ELS – BAYAN ZAG

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Check out the camp and drive to the place known to westerners as The Flaming Cliffs. Bayan Zag (Rich with Saxaul) is famed for its red sandstone cliffs, which take on beautiful red and orange hues during sunset. The area is also recognized as one of the world's largest dinosaur graveyards. In 1921, the American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews discovered at Bayan Zag some of the most astonishing Paleontological findings of the last century, ending an ages' long debate on whether dinosaurs have been reptiles or mammals. Arrive at the site around lunchtime and spend the afternoon exploring the cliffs on foot while waiting for the sunset to set the cliffs ‘aflame'; if weather permitting, of course. After sunset, drive to the camp for the night.

DAY 5. BAYAN ZAG - ONG MONASTERY

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Board the vehicle for the long drive north, out of the arid Gobi Desert. In the early afternoon, arrive at Ong Monastery, nestled by the Ong River. Though the monastery is relatively small in size nowadays, the site's name refers collectively to a cluster of monasteries, temples, and Buddhist universities that were thriving here during the 18th and 19th centuries, serving as one of the largest Buddhist centers throughout the country. Unfortunately, like most religious institutes in Mongolia, the entire complex was destroyed during the anti-religious purges of the 1930s. It is believed that some 200 monks were executed during these purges, and the surviving monks were forcibly conscripted to the Mongolian People's Army. However, in recent years, local communities and various religious institutes' efforts have resulted in reconstructing the main stupa, leading to its inauguration back in 2004. Arrive in the afternoon at the camp and take a hike through the ancient complex to appreciate its massive scale and witness the ongoing restoration works.

DAY 6. ONGI MONASTERY - THE ORKHON VALLEY

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Complete the drive out of the desert and reach the Mongolian steppes. Here there is a great variety of birds of prey, including vultures, eagles, and falcons, always on the watch for a meal. While driving up north, the scenery gradually shifts from arid steppes to the fertile green grasslands typical to the Khangai Mountains, Mongolia's second-largest mountain range. After lunch, head into an area dominated by volcanic scenery along the Orkhon River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape, the valley has served as the center of several kingdoms and empires that ruled much of Central Asia for centuries. The UNESCO committee states: "Collectively, the remains in the site reflect the symbiotic links between nomadic, pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centers, and the importance of the Orkhon valley in the history of central Asia." (UNESCO website). Disembark the vehicle by the dramatic canyon formed by the mighty Orkhon River, Mongolia's longest river, and enjoy some time at leisure by the beautiful Red Waterfall. Late in the afternoon, arrive at the ger camp nestled deep within the Orkhon Valley.

DAY 7. THE ORKHON VALLEY - THE RED WATERFALL - TUVKHON MONASTERY - KHARKHORIN

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

After breakfast, drive to one of Mongolia's most impressive monasteries for a three and a half hours' hike (of which, one hour of rather extensive ascend uphill). Located at the top of a high hill offering a fantastic view over seemingly endless pine forests, Tuvkhon Monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most revered religious leaders. After descending off the towering hill, board the vehicle, and embark on a drive onto Kharkhorin. Built by Chinggis Khan about 800 years ago, Kharkhorin, better known as Karakorum, was famed throughout Asia as the Mongol Empire's Capital. Within the walls of this spectacular city, kings were chosen, laws made, and the fate of the next city to be conquered was determined. In the afternoon, visit the Karakorum museum. This museum holds a permanent display of the various archeological discoveries found in the area, including a 3D model of how the city looked like during the Mongol empire's reign. Then ascend to a small hill overlooking the nowadays small town. Explore the Monument of Empires, erected to commemorate the 800th
anniversary of Chinggis Khan's coronation, depicting the stories of three of the largest steppe-empires formed here, at the Orkhon River Valley. After enjoying the sunset over the sacred Orkhon valley, set in the camp for the night.

DAY 8. KHARKHORIN – TSENKHER HOT SPRINGS

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

In the morning hours, visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area. After lunch, leave Kharkhorin and embark on a drive to the region referred to by Mongolians as the ‘horse herders' paradise' for its lush green meadows and crystal-clear streams. Drive through thick pine forests to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at approx. 80˚C. Spend the night enjoying a revitalizing soak in the mineral hot water.

DAY 9. HIKING AROUND TSENKHER

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Today take a short drive to the trailhead for today's hike. The hike is a truly enchanting walk up a stream, hopping from one boulder to another to the top of a hill for a fantastic view of the surrounding valleys. In this part of Arkhangai, the wildflowers are plentiful. In addition, it is likely to see families cutting hay for winter fodder for their animals. From here, hike back down through a thick pine forest to the vehicle, and then take the return drive back to camp to enjoy another night of soaking in thermal water pools.

Day 10. Tsenkher Hot Springs – Tsetserleg - Chuluut Canyon - Nariin Gechgiin River

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Drive out of the hot springs and pass through Tsetserleg, the provincial capital. Here, take an easy walk to the seven-meter tall statue of Lord Buddha to enjoy the view over the town considered the most charming regional center throughout the country. Then pause by the local market (closed on Sundays) and embark on the drive west. In the afternoon, arrive at the hundred-branches-tree. Though this strange-looking tree has been burnt in recent years during a shamanic ceremony, the site is still considered holy and is worshiped by local people. The thousands of Khatags - silk-made pray scarves - hanging on the trees in the forest are a vivid testimony to the site's religious significance. From here, take a short walk to a good observation point for the Chuluut Canyon before another short drive to the camp for the night.

DAY 11. HIKING TO KHORGO VOLCANO AND THE WHITE LAKE – JARGALANT HOT SPRINGS

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Spend the first part of the day hiking to the top of Khorgo Volcano for a view over its perfect crater. Then, continue hiking from the volcano through basalt fields studded with pine trees. En route, stop at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon, and end the hike at a pilgrimage site on the shores of Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. Late in the afternoon, drive north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful roads, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks. Finally, end the day in a camp not far from Jargalant Soum to enjoy a relaxing evening in another open-air thermal water pools.

DAY 12. JARGALANT HOT SPRINGS - MURUN

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Continue driving along the breathtaking road crossing the Tarvagtiin Mountain Range, separating Arkhangai and Khuvsgul provinces. From time to time, stop for a walk through carpets of flowers or for a visit with one of the many nomadic families setting their gers by the crystal clear streams running through the fertile meadows. This is a perfect place for them to graze their large herds. Pause at Dzun Lake, a beautiful alpine lake, before arriving in Murun, the capital of Khuvsgul Province. If time permits, visit the local market before setting in the simple yet cozy hotel for the night.

DAY 13. MURUN - LAKE KHUVSGUL

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

From Murun drive to Erkhil Lake. A wide variety of waterfowl pause here on their long journey from the Siberian tundra to southern Europe and Africa. Take a hike along the lake's shores to watch the birds, and submerge in the serenity of this little-visited site. Back in the car, take a short drive to an ancient burial site of a civilization that inhabited these plains back in the Bronze Age. The unique tombstones they have left behind are beautifully carved with reindeer motifs and other symbolic artifacts the dead are meant to take with them on their journey to their next life. Board the vehicle and continue the ride to Lake Khuvsgul, arriving at the camp on the lake's shores in the afternoon. Set in the camp, and if time permits, take a first easy hike through the thick forest and along the beautiful lake, honorably dubbed by Mongolians as the Mother Lake.

DAY 14. HORSEBACK RIDE AND HIKE TO KHYASAA

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Drive to the motor road's end for a beautiful (and somewhat challenging) three-hour hike. After a one-and-a-half hours' steep climb, arrive at Khyasaa (Mongolian for "sheer cliff") for an unparalleled view over the lake, which happens to be one of the world's largest freshwater lakes. The trail passes through pine forests, grasslands, and beautiful carpets of flowers. At trek's end, back by the lakeside, enjoy a picnic lunch before driving back to the camp for an afternoon horseback riding trip to the foot of the massive mountains surrounding the lake. In the evening, revert to the camp for a second night by the lake.

DAY 15. BY FLIGHT TO ULAANBAATAR

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

After breakfast, take the approximately three-hour drive back to Murun. Here, board the flight to Ulaanbaatar. Once in the Mongolian capital, head to the city center. Pass by a shantytown inhabited by those who were once nomads but have since neglected their traditional lifestyle in the hope of finding a little fortune in the city. The cityscape quickly changes into expansive shopping malls and brand-new residential complexes, shifting again to the scenes of the city center, where modern high-rises are quickly built amidst soviet-era blocks. Check-in the hotel and take a tour of the city center. Begin with the National History Museum, which holds a permanent exhibition on the different civilizations that have inhabited the territory of Mongolia from prehistoric times to the present. This exhibition includes a significant display of objects from the era of the Great Mongol Empire. Then take a walk through the central square. Right at the heart of the square see the figure of D. Sukhbaatar, one of the heroes of the communist revolution of the 1920s, boldly raising his arm towards the statue of Chinggis Khan, the nation's forefather whose name was not allowed to be mentioned during the 70-year communist reign. From here, it is a short walk to the drama theater to attend an impressive folk concert featuring some traditional Mongolian art forms. After a farewell dinner, drive back to the hotel for the last night in Mongolia.

DAY 16. DEPARTURE FROM ULAANBAATAR

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

After breakfast, drive to Chinggis Khan Airport for the international flight out of Mongolia.

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Dates & Pricing


1st August, 2022–16th August, 2022

  • $2,334 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $220 Single Room Supplement

All prices for Mongolia Traverse Tour are in US dollars and per person based on twin share occupancy

Rates for private tours:
2 travelers – USD3,267/ person
4 travelers – USD2,838/ person

  • Prices are valid for payment by wire transfers. Payment facilitated by credit cards would incur a supplement of 3.8%.
  • Mongolian Ways Ltd. reserves the right to change the Mongolia Traverse tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.

Upgrades (for an ensuite ger- some would have toilets and shower, some just toilets within the ger; limited availability). More information on accommodation in Mongolia.

Ulaanbaatar: Best Western Premier 5-stars +USD81/ person (2 nights)
Yolin Am: Deluxe Ger +USD53/ person (1 night)
Khongorin Els
: Deluxe Ger +USD74/ person (1 night)
Ongiin Khiid: Deluxe Ger +USD50/ person (1 night)
Kharkhorin: Deluxe Ger +USD24/ person (1 night)
Tsenkher Hot Springs
: Wooden Hotel +USD108/ person (2 nights)
Lake Khuvsgul
: Wooden Hotel +USD135/ person (2nights)


Additional Information


Inclusions
  • Accommodation as per program
  • Domestics flights
  • Meals as indicated in the program (full board basis)
  • Drinking water
  • Private 4WD vehicle
  • Local English speaking guide
  • All entrance fees as per program
  • All transfers

Exclusions
  • Travel expenses to/from Mongolia
  • Travel Insurance
  • Mongolian visa
  • Excess Luggage
  • Gratuities
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Anything not clearly mentioned in the program

Accomodation
  • 2 nights in 4-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar
  • 12 nights in ger camp

Note: The listed hotels on Overland All Mongolia Tour are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.


Testimonials

Philip Dickman

Good day, Sugara. Thank you again for the part you played in helping to make my trip to Mongolia the best tour I have ever had. Within a year or so I hope I can return to Mongolia for a longer tour, again under the auspices of Mongolian Ways.

Philip Dickman, Canada

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