China & Mongolia Gobi Desert Tour 2021

The Two Sides of the Gobi Desert

The Gobi Desert

13 Days
5 Flights
Child friendly

The Gobi Desert, one of the world’s largest deserts, spans over the territories of China and Mongolia. The name alone ignites the imagination of adventure seekers- towering sand dunes, double-humped camel caravans, and nomads living in far-flung arid lands in their traditional gers (yurts). This trip features the best the Gobi Desert has to offer, on both the Mongolian side, and on the Chinese side of the international border that divides the desert. Join us on a once in a lifetime journey across the shifting sands, camel trails, and other secrets this magnificent desert keeps hidden.

Recommended months for China & Mongolia Gobi Desert Tour are September and October. Please contact us for more details.

Next Departures

  1. 6th September, 2022 Book
  2. 20th September, 2022 Book
  3. 9th October, 2022 Book
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Day 1. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

  • Dinner

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 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 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 ✈ Dalanzadgad – Yolin Am

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

After early breakfast, leave the hotel and drive back to the airport for the short domestic flight down to the Gobi Desert. Land in 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. In the afternoon, set in the camp at the mid of the vast desert plain, and get ready 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 3. Yolin Am - Khavtsgait Petroglyphs – Khongoriin Els

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

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 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 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 5. Dalanzadgad ✈ Ulaanbaatar – Terelj National Park

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

This morning drive back to Dalanzadgad Airport for the flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Once back in the Mongolian capital, board the vehicle for the one-and-a-half hours’ drive to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. The park is famous for its unique rock formations, rolling grasslands, and the mighty Terelj River that runs through it. Upon arrival in the park, pause by the Turtle Rock, a symbol of wisdom and longevity to the Mongolians. Take another short drive to the trailhead for an easy hike through a beautiful forest and along a clear stream to the entrance of Ariabal Buddhist Retreat. After visiting the temple, head to the camp in the park’s vicinity.

Day 6. Terelj National Park – Ulaanbaatar ✈ Baotou – Ordos

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

Begin the day with a half-day hike through the park, ascending to a beautiful vantage point for a view over the marvelous rock formations and deep valleys. Arrive back in the camp for lunch before leaving the park and drive to Ulaanbaatar’s airport, from which board an afternoon flight to Baotou. Landing in Baotou, the industrial heart of Inner Mongolia, and by no means a place one would want to stay at, take the two and a half hours’ drive to Ordos. Arrive in Ordos rather late in the evening, and set in for the night.

Day 7. Ordos – Alxa Zuqi

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Not far out of Ordos, visit the Mausoleum of Ghengis Khan. Despite the fact that the great Mongol leader found his death somewhere on the way back home after yet another successful military campaign in China, most historical facts show there is no chance his remains are actually buried where the Chinese government has decided to erect an impressive monument to commemorate the forefather of the Mongol nation. Today this somewhat memorial hall, somewhat shrine serves as a center for a cult of Inner-Mongolians which worship here the great Khan as if he is a god. Then make for Alxa Zouqi, a small town with a large Mongolian population, on the edge of the Badain Jaran Desert. On arriving at Alxa Zouqi, go to explore the local Mongolian Buddhist Temple and the street where items made of jade or other semiprecious stones can be bought. Overnight in Alxa Zouqi.

Day 8. Alxa Zouqi – Kulat-U

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Heading towards the desert, on a highway full of trucks carrying exports into Mongolia and returning with loads of Mongolian coal, we reach our lunch stop. We leave our bus here and get into four-wheeled-drive vehicles that will take us to the heart of this remote desert. The Badain Jaran Desert is home to the world’s highest sand dune, rising to some 500 meters, and offers challenging drives as well as marvelous landscapes of sand seas extending to the horizon. We stay the night in the small settlement of Kulat-U beside a small salt lake. Overnight in a simple guesthouse at Kulat-U.

Day 9. Kulat-U – Soumin Jaran

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

In the morning we visit the small Mongolian temple next to the salt lake. We then continue our exploration of the desert, and at about lunch time we reach the area of more than 150 lakes that dot the yellow dunes. We climb to the top of the dunes for a marvelous view over several lakes and stop at Yinderitu Lake, whose waters are believed by the locals to cure a sick person from stomach diseases. Another short drive through the dunes brings us to Soumin Jaran, a beautiful lake with a beautiful Mongolian temple beside it. We visit the temple, now inhabited by only one monk, and stroll along the lake shore. Overnight in a simple guesthouse at Soumin Jaran.

Day 10. Soumin Jaran – Alxa Youqi – Zhangye

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

We leave Soumin Jaran and drive almost to the top of one of the highest dunes in the area for a spectacular view of the lakes and the seemingly endless seas of sand. From here we take a 2½-hour hike to Nuritu Lake. After a quick lunch there, we ride on two-humped camels to a point from where we can enjoy marvelous views over desert and lakes. We then take to vehicles to drive out of the desert. En route we visit the wall of singing sand and the brave can have a quick bathe in Bor Tulguu Lake. We leave the dunes and stop at the small local museum to learn more about the desert and its surroundings. Back on a solid asphalt road after three days of crossing the dunes, we reach the small settlement of Alxa Youqi. Here we say farewell to the drivers of the four-wheeled-drive vehicles, as we hop back to our vehicle and take the afternoon drive to the city of Zhangye, where we enjoy a much-needed shower and comfortable accommodation of a four-star hotel.

Day 11. Zhangye- day excursion to Binggou and Dan Xia

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

We drive out of Zhangye and on to Bing Guo. Located at the foot of the Qilian Mountains, this lovely valley consists of marvelous sandstone formations. We take a short hike down the valley and climb up to an observation point for a breathtaking view over this unique landscape. We then continue to Dan Xia, a spectacular mountain with somewhat psychedelic patterns of colors in the rock. If weather permit, we wait for the sun to set over Dan Xia, enhancing the shades and shapes of this bizarre natural phenomena. We then take the one and a half hours’ drive back to Zhangye.

Day 12. Zhangye ✈ Beijing

  • Breakfast

This morning we drive to the small airport by Zhangye. From here we take a flight to either Xian or Lanzhou, where we will connect on to the evening flight to Beijing. Arrive in Beijing airport, and transfer to our hotel by the airport (using the hotel shuttle services), where we spend our last night of the trip.

Departure from Beijing

  • Breakfast

This morning return to Beijing airport (again, using the hotel shuttle services) for the international flight out of Beijing.

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Dates & Pricing

6th September, 2022–18th September, 2022

  • $3,829 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $448 Single Room Supplement

20th September, 2022–3rd October, 2022

  • $3,829 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $448 Single Room Supplement

9th October, 2022–21st October, 2022

  • $3,829 Per Person (For a group of 6 or more)
  • $448 Single Room Supplement

Rates for China & Mongolia Gobi private tours:
2 travelers – USD5188/ person
4 travelers – USD4365/ 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 the China & Mongolia gobi tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.

Upgrades for twin share (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 +USD41/ [email protected] share | +USD66/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
Yolin Am: +USD53/ [email protected] share | +USD72/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
Khongorin Els
: +USD74/ [email protected] share | +USD74/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)
Terelj National Park
: +USD34/ [email protected] share | +USD52/ [email protected] occupancy (1 night)

Additional Information

  • Accommodation as per program including breakfasts
  • Domestic and regional flights: Ulaanbaatar/Dalanzadgad/Ulaanbaatar/Baotou-Zhangye/Lanzhou/Beijing
  • Meals as indicated in the program (Full Board basis, excluding meals in Beijing)
  • 4WD vehicles in Mongolia and in Badain Jaran, vans or busses in China
  • Bottled water throughout the trip
  • Local English speaking guides
  • Badain Jaran travel permit
  • Entrance fees for all sites indicated in the program

Accommodation in Mongolia, out of Ulaanbaatar, with no attached showers and toilets. Accommodation in Badain Jaran with no attached showers and toilets.

  • International airfare to Ulaanbaatar, and from Beijing
  • 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 tourist visa
  • Chinese tourist visa
  • Excess luggage
  • Gratuities
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Anything not mentioned in the program

  • Ulaanbaatar: Chinggis Khan Hotel 4*
  • Yolin Am: Gobi Discovery I ger camp
  • Khongoriin Els: Gobi Discovery II ger camp
  • Terelj National Park: Terelj Lodge ger camp
  • Ordos: Tulip Inn Taihua Hotel 4*
  • Alxa Zuoqi: Alashan Hotel 4*
  • Badain Jaran: Local families, or simple and basic guesthouses
  • Zhangye: Dinghe International Hotel 4*
  • Beijing: Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport 5*

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

  • 4WD vehicles in Mongolia and Badain Jaran
  • A/C coach/minivan in China

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