Day 1. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar
Land in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital. After immigration formalities, meet the local guide and head to the city center through the outskirts, reflecting the rapid development the city is going through over the last two decades, alongside the country’s transition from socialism into a free market economy. New residential complexes and shining shopping malls are being built amid rusty shanty towns inhabited by those left behind the traditional nomadic lifestyle to pursue a more convenient life as city dwellers. Arrive in the center and check-in at the hotel to recuperate from the flight (note: check-in at 14:00. Early check-in is subject to room availability and supplemental fees). In the afternoon, take a first orientation tour of the city, visit the National History Museum, and the city’s main square, surrounded by prominent buildings with typical soviet architecture. End the tour by attending a traditional Folk Concert. After a welcome dinner in one of the finest restaurants in town, revert to the hotel for the first night in Mongolia.
Day 2. Ulaanbaatar - Baga Gazarin Chuluu
Today, leave the Mongolian capital city and head down south to start our Gobi Desert Tour. Located in the Central Gobi, Baga Gazarin Chuluu (The Small Place of Stones) is a marvelous geological oddity, characterized by impressive rock formations rising from the desert steppe. During the last decade, lams have been at work reconstructing a monastery within the formation that was formerly one of Mongolia’s most important religious centers. Dating from the 15th century, the monastery was destroyed in the 1930s during the communist purges. As the area is quite rich in water sources, many nomadic families spend the summer here, and it is a great opportunity to visit nomads and learn about their unique way of life. Overnight in a ger camp- 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.
Day 3. Baga Gazariin Chuluu – Tsagaan Suvraga
Begin the day with a visit to the temple, joining the monks for their morning puje- the chanting of Tibetan scripts as a form of prayer. We then continue our journey south, heading to Tsagaan Suvraga. While in Mongolian language the name refers to a ‘white stupa’, this is yet another interesting geological phenomena of colorful sandstone, hinting on the rich mineral deposits hidden within the deserts soil- the trigger for the current Mongolian gold rush which have sparked the recent rapid economic development. Arrive at Tsagaan Suvraga in the afternoon, and hike to a beautiful vantage point for a view over the colorful mounds. Overnight in a ger camp by Tsagaan Suvraga.
Day 4. Tsagaan Suvraga – Dalanzadgad – Yolin Am
Dalanzadgad, the capital city of 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 in the Gobi Desert an abundance of precious metals and minerals. Thus, the once peaceful desert is being trampled by excavators, monster trucks, and massive drills- all in the hope of making a quick fortune. Luckily, most of these mines are far from the eye, but their environmental impact can be seen and felt throughout the massive desert. Upon landing in Dalanzadgad, meet the driver and embark on a 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 usually), and 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. Overnight in a ger camp.
Day 5. Yolin Am - Khavtsgait Petroglyphs – Khongoriin Els
This morning embark on the five hours’ 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 day’s ultimate destination in time to climb these 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 rugged 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 ger camp by the dunes.
Day 6. Khongoriin Els – Bayan Zag
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 Roy Chapman Andrews discovered at Bayan Zag some of the most critical 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 a third night in a Mongolian ger.
Day 7. Bayan Zag - Ong Monastery
Board the vehicles for the long drive north, out of the arid Gobi Desert. In the early afternoon, arrive at Ong Monastery, nestled by the Ong River banks. Though nowadays the monastery is relatively small in size, 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. Like most religious institutes in Mongolia, the entire complex has been destroyed during the anti-religious purges of the 1930s, led by the communist party. 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. In recent years, local communities and various religious institutes’ efforts have resulted in the reconstruction of 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 preservation works. Overnight in a ger camp.
Day 8. Ong Monastery - The Orkhon Valley
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 changes 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). End the drive 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 9. The Orkhon Valley - The Red Waterfall - Tuvkhon Monastery - Kharkhorin
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 up-hill). 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. Fleeing the Manchu Emperor, the Zanbazar built the monastery in this hidden place, using a natural system of caves and amid small wooden shacks. After descending off the towering hill, board the vehicles, 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 were determined. In the afternoon, visit the Karakorum museum. This museum holds a permanent display of the various archeological discoveries found in the area, compiling a picture of how the city looked 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 empires that were formed here, at the Orkhon River Valley. After enjoying the sunset over the sacred Orkhon valley, set in the camp for the night.
Day 10. Kharkhorin - Elsen Tasarkhai - Khustai Nuruu
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 5 hours’ drive to Khustaiin Nuruu Strictly Protected Area (SPA). The SPA was established as part of a unique project to reintroduce the world’s last surviving wild horses back to their natural environment. On the brink of extinction during the last century, only a very few Takhi or Przewalski’s horse were left in zoos around Europe. This graceful steppe horse was returned to Mongolia, and today, thanks to this special project, two herds again roam the Mongolian steppes. After exploring the nature reserve, check-in the ger camp at the reserve’s boundary.
Day 11. Khustai Nuruu – Mongol Nomadic - Ulaanbaatar
Today drive back in time, to a place that recreates the lives of Mongolian nomads at the beginning of the 20th century. This was when Mongolia gained its independence from the Qing Dynasty and established itself as a reemerging nation under a living god-king. See here a demonstration of how the nomads lived their lives during this era, and learn about the life and traditions of this nomadic-based culture which retains its old traditions to these days. After lunch take the approximately one-hour drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival back in the capital city, visit the Zanbazar Fine Arts Museum. This museum holds some of the best-known Mongolian works of art, including the well know ‘One Day In Mongolia’ painting, painted by B. Sharav, and considered to date as a true masterpiece. The museum also holds unique religious and other historic artifacts. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a visit to Zaisan Hill, for a view over the city at night. Overnight in Ulaanbaatar.
Day 12. Departure from Ulaanbaatar
After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Chinggis Khan International Airport for the departing flight out of Mongolia.
Dates & Pricing
9th September, 2021–21st September, 2021
- $1,811 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $230 Single Room Supplement
21st September, 2021–3rd October, 2021
- $1,811 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $230 Single Room Supplement
All prices of Gobi Desert Tour are in US dollars and per person based on twin share occupancy
Rates for private tours:
2 travelers – USD2441/ person
4 travelers – USD2140/ person
- Prices 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 Gobi Desert 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/ [email protected] share | +USD72/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
Khongorin Els: Deluxe Ger +USD74/ [email protected] share | +USD74/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
Ongiin Khiid: Deluxe Ger +USD50/ [email protected] share | +USD58/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
Kharkhorin: Deluxe Ger +USD34/ [email protected] share | +USD42/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
- Accommodation as per program
- 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
- Travel expenses to/from Mongolia
- Travel Insurance
- Mongolian visa
- Excess Luggage
- Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
- Anything not clearly mentioned in the program
- 2 nights in 4-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar
- 8 nights in ger camp
Note: The listed hotels on Gobi Desert Tour are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.
True to their reputation, Mongolian Ways has lived up to and exceeded the standards of tour guiding....an excellent team, personable, helpful, and extremely well humored. A thoroughly well-planned tour, and the best few night's sleep I have had in a long time.Sebastian Strassburg, Germany
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