DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN ULAANBAATAR, BAGA GAZARIIN CHULUU
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. BAGA GAZARIIN CHULUU – TSAGAAN SUVRAGA
Begin the day with a visit to Delgeriin Choir Monastery. Historically, Baga Gazariin Chuluu was the setting of 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 prominent 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 Tsagaan Suvraga. While in the Mongolian language, the name refers to a 'white stupa,' this is yet another interesting geological phenomenon of colorful sandstone, hinting at the rich mineral deposits hidden within the desert soil- the trigger for the current Mongolian gold rush, which has 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 3. TSAGAAN SUVRAGA – DALANZADGAD – YOLIN AM
From Tsagaan Suvraga, drive to Dalanzadgad, the capital city of South Gobi Province. Once a remote desert town, it serves today as the logistics center for the developing mining industry. Over the last decades, 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 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. Continue driving past Dalanzadgad for another one and a half hours 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). Hence, the place is commonly dubbed the 'Gobi Glacier.' Take a leisurely hike along the beautiful stream and, if lucky, get to see some of the wildlife inhabiting the reserve, thriving on the abundance of freshwater amid the arid desert. Overnight in a ger camp.
DAY 4. YOLIN AM - KHAVTSGAIT PETROGLYPHS – KHONGORIIN ELS
Embark on the five-hour drive through the Gobi's typical cold desert landscape 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. Finally, 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 5. 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 adventurer 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 were reptiles or mammals. Arrive at the site around lunchtime and spend the afternoon exploring the cliffs on foot while waiting for the sun to set the cliffs' aflame'; if weather permitting, of course. After sunset, drive to the camp for the night.
DAY 6. 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 the monastery is practically gone nowadays, the site's name refers collectively to a cluster of monasteries, temples, and Buddhist universities 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 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. 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 preservation works. Overnight in a ger camp.
DAY 7. 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 8. 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 uphill). Located at the top of a high hill featuring a fantastic view over seemingly endless pine forests, Tuvkhon Monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, Mongolia's most revered religious leader. 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 was 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 formed here, at the Orkhon River Valley. After enjoying the sunset over the sacred Orkhon valley, set in the camp for the night.
DAY 9. 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 five-hour 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, only a very few Takhi or Przewalski's horses were left in zoos around Europe during the last century. Finally, this graceful steppe horse was returned to Mongolia. 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 10. 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. Attend a demonstration of the traditional nomadic lifestyle during this era, and learn about the customs of this nomadic-based culture that retains its unique way of life to these days. After lunch, take the approximately one-hour drive to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival in the capital city, 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 11. 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, 2022–19th September, 2022
- $1,811 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
- $230 Single Room Supplement
21st September, 2022–1st October, 2022
- $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/ person@twin share | +USD72/ person@single occupancy (1 night)
Khongorin Els: Deluxe Ger +USD74/ person@twin share | +USD74/ person@single occupancy (1 night)
Ongiin Khiid: Deluxe Ger +USD50/ person@twin share | +USD58/ person@single occupancy (1 night)
Kharkhorin: Deluxe Ger +USD34/ person@twin share | +USD42/ person@single 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
- PCR/COVID tests, or any tests that might be required for international or domestic travel
- Expenses that might incur due to the results of COVID tests before, during or after the tour
- 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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