A full and contrasting tour alternating hiking and discovering, between large steppes and Mount Khangai, where you will hike for 9 days from Tsenkher hot springs to Naiman Nuur National Park, through Orkhon Valley and the arid majesty of Gobi desert.
Day 1Arrival in Ulan Bator and visit of the city
Arrival at the airport, meeting with our driver. Transfer to your hotel, settling in, and rest.
Appointment at 12 o'clock at your hotel with your guide. He will take you to the restaurant of your choice.
Let's immerse ourselves in the heart of the Mongolian history, in the wonderful National History Museum. Three floors of a rich, glorious, violent and noble past, from prehistory to Soviet period, including the creation of the great Mongolian Empire by Genghis Khan.
At 18 o' clock, Mongolian traditional show at Tumen Ekh: folkloric dances, contortion, and of course khoomi, the overtone singing.
Day 2Let's go to Mini-Gobi
We arrive at the splendid rocky formations of Khogno Khan. Discovery of the park : semidesert steppes, taiga, stunning rocky formations, 80-kilometre (49,71 miles) long sand dunes, are characteristic of this arid area nicknamed "Mini-Gobi".
Walk until Erdene Khambiin Monastery. "Monk Erdene's Monastery" dates from 17th century and was built in the mountain. Zanabazar built it in honour of his teacher, monk Erdene.
Visit of the sand dunes of Elsen Tasarkhai.
Day 3Discovering the former capital and relaxing in the hot springs
Journey to Kharkhorin, the former capital of Mongolia. The legendary city of Genghis Khan was founded in 1220 and was one of the stages of the silk road. The Mongolian Empire was governed from this city until Kubilai Khan set up the capital in Beijing. Today, there are only a few vestiges left of the former capital.
Visit of Erdene Zuu Monastery, built in 1586 by a nomad prince. The Chinese and Tibetan-inspired buildings are surrounded with 108 sacred stupas. Visit of the Museum of Kharkhorin.
Arrival at Tsenkher hot springs, where you can lounge in the hot springs of the camp.
Day 4 - 6Hiking in the mountains of lower Khangai
Tsenkher hot springs - Khangai Mountain
We start our 9-day hike. First, we'll walk from Tsenkher hot springs until Orkhon Valley, then until Naiman Nuur National Park. We'll have the logistics vehicle during the first five days of the hike. During the last four days, the hike will be a self-sufficient hike and we'll have only pack yaks to carry the equipment.
Since Tsenkher hot springs, we walk across a plain to climb the first pass on a tree-filled trail. Then we walk on a path through a forest of larches in this particularly pleasant, slightly hilly area. We reach the Tsenkher River, where we have lunch.
We go on walking on the Western bank of the river, before turning on our left. We climb a second pass, where we'll have a break near an ovoo.
We walk down toward the Tsetserleg River and we make a long lunch break along its banks. Swimming is possible, especially in June, July, and August. After our break, we leave for 3-hour walking along the river. We turn to our left and go over a pass, before walking down towards a lush valley, where we set up our camp.
We find again the valley crossed the day before and go back several kilometers before turning on the left and finding a tree-filled area. Many breeders live in the area and we met many herds of yaks and nomadic settlements. Slight difference in height in the late morning, before crossing a vast plain where we have lunch.
We go on walking in the valley, then cross the river and pass a small hill, near which we camp.
Day 7Arrival in Orkhon Valley
Khangai Mountain - Tovkhon monastery
Visit of Tovkhon Monastery. Vehicles can't go until the top of Öndör Ulaan Hill and we will walk until there to discover Tovkhon Ermitage, where Zanabazar, the first religious leader of Mongolia, created the Soyombo alphabet. The monastery is located 2312 metres (1,44 mile) above the sea level and from that place we'll have a wonderful view of the whole Khangai range. We'll picnic in exceptional surroundings, facing Orkhon Valley.
After this visit, we come back down and have lunch nearby the nomads' winter camps. We can see in the surroundings some petroglyphs dating back from the Age of Bronze.
In the afternoon, after passing a last hill, we come back down towards the green Orkhon Valley and the place called Ongoistiin Guur, where we will cross the canyons of Orkhon. We will drive, by jeep, until our local guide's camp.
Day 8Hiking in the valley
Orkhon valley - Uuragt Valley
Visit of Ulan Tsutgalaan falls, white flood flowing on the black stone, transformed in rainbow by a short sunray… These 16-metres (52,49 feet) falls are just magic ! They were formed 20.000 years ago, as a result of a unique combination of earthquakes and volcano eruptions.
We go on walking in Orkhon Valley. We reach the Baga falls, near which we have lunch. Then we walk through the areas of Uuragt, Unit, and Khöshigt, where we set up our camp.
Day 9 - 11Self-sufficient hike in Naiman Nuur National Park
We start the self-sufficient part of our hike. We hike in a valley surrounded by the Khangai chains. We reach the small Lake Tsagaan Azarga, where we camp tonight.
We walk along Khangai Valley. We walk through a tree-filled area, walk up towards the pass of Khangai Nuruu. Picnic. We go up the gorges of the Khokh Davaa River, before reaching the Naiman Nuur National Park. First, we visit Lakes Doroo, Khaya and Khuis, then we set up our camp on the banks of Lake Bugat.
Visit of the several lakes of the area : Lakes Bugat, Khaya, Doroo, Khaliut, Khuis, and then Lake Shireet where we set up our camp.
Day 13On the way to Gobi
Let's discover this site, best known as Ong lamasery, and the museum. In 1937, the Soviets almost completely destroyed the homes and monasteries where one thousand lamas were living. In 2002, some lamas came back and began to rebuilt the monastery, with few resources but much enthusiasm.
Day 14The flaming cliffs of Bayanzag
Visit of the cliffs of Bayanzag, today are best known as "flaming cliffs", owing to their ochre red colour, where is located the "cemetery of dragons". The cliffs and the saxaul forests that surround them are the evidence of the time when Earth was still inhabited by huge creatures: dinosaurs. Palaeontologist Roy Andrews Chapman was the first man to discover in 1922 some bones and eggs of dinosaurs that we can see today in the Natural History Museum of Ulan Bator and in other museums in the world.
Day 15 - 16Camelback in the dunes
Visit of the dunes of Khongor. These dunes are the most spectacular ones of Mongolia, they extend on more than 180 kilometres (111,85 miles) long and 20 kilometres (12,43 miles) wide, and have an average height of 80 metres (262,47 feet), the highest one being 120 metres (393,70 feet) high. From the top, the view on the desert is quite amazing. From this place, it's also possible to hear the moving masses of sand, hence the name of "singing dunes". Beyond the dunes, the steppe extends for as far as the eye can see.
Camelback hike. Camelback hiking in the Gobi Desert is an unforgettable experience. The nonchalant animal will take us with its peaceful gait along the dunes and the Khongor River, "light bay", that flows alternately on the surface and under the ground. We'll go until a small oasis at the foot of the dunes, where some bushes grow, such as saxaul. Camels are very fond of saxaul and Mongolians think it's the most precious wood.
We will walk until the top of a dune and will have a wonderful view of the desert. Far away, we will see the peaks of the Three Beautiful and, if we listen carefully, we might hear the song of the dunes.
Day 17Magical hike in the canyons area
Khongor sand dunes - Dungenee canyon
Journey on the track towards the east of "the Three Beauties" to reach the area of canyons. Stop at Dungenee Canyon. We leave the vehicle to start our first magic hike along the river that flows between huge canyons.
Day 18The great white stupa in the desert
We travel in one of the emptiest areas of Mongolia. Between rock desert and semi-arid steppes, we reach the white stupa, Tsagaan Suvarga. For centuries, this 30-metres (98,43 feet) high, abrupt, stupa-shaped mountain, is honoured by the Mongolians. The traveller will be surprised by the sumptuous lunar landscapes that evoke the end of the world, and by the many fossils. This area was totally covered by the sea a few million years ago.
Day 19The granite formations of Baga Gazriin Chuluu
Visit of Mountains Baga Gazriin Chuluu, where we'll observe stunning granite rocky formations eroded by the violent elements of this area. In the 19th century, two respected lamas lived here, and we still can see their inscriptions in the rock. According to the legend, Genghis Khan too is supposed to have lived in this wonderful area where it's pleasant to walk.
Day 20Back to the Mongolian capital
Back to Ulan-Bator. Last herds of wild horses crossing the road outside our dumbfounded eyes, last yurts smoking far away, the steppe will be with us until the last moment.
Arrival in town and settling in at your hotel, where you can rest a few moments.
Rest of the day free. With our guide, you can go shopping in the centre of the city.