This 3-week tour will make you cross the country from one end to the other : from the Northern woody lakes to the sand dunes of Gobi, including the central great steppe, you'll enjoy the most lovely landscapes and natural wonders of Mongolia. A human adventure in the heart of Mongolia.
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 in 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 2Going to Amarbayasgalant Monastery
Visit of Gandantegchinlen Monastery. In the morning, lamas get together to pray. They will answer your questions at the Mongolian Buddhist Centre.
We take the road towards Amarbayasgalant Monastery. It's the most important monastery of Mongolia, it was built in the 18th century in the memory of the first Bogd Gegeen Zanabazar who was at the head of the Mongolian religion. Located North of the province of Selenge, the monastery enjoys exceptional surroundings.
Visit of Amarbayasgalant Monastery.
Day 3Going to the natural park of extinct volcanos
Amarbayasgalant - Erdenet
Visit of Amarbayasgalant Monastery.
We cut across wheat fields and large cultures and reach Erdenet. It's one of the most important economic centres of the country. It has one of the largest open-air mines of the world (copper mine).
Erdenet - Uran Togoo national park
Journey to the Uran Togoo National Park.
Uran Togoo is known the most beautiful and visited volcanos of Mongolia. A dormant volcano today, it was very active 25 to 20 million years ago. At this exact location we can find an abundant flora and fauna made for an exceptional site for nature's lovers. The lava that was present here thousands of years ago left a very rich soil that allows growth for a wide variety of plants.
Day 4A bit of history on the road to Khovsgol
Uran Togoo national park - Baibalik ruins
Hiking on the sleeping giant Uraan Uul, to enjoy the view on the volcanic area.
Let's hike on a very beautiful path through the woods, mostly made of Siberian larches before reaching the crater. There, numerous insects, species of birds and trees are visible. The inside of the crater itself is covered by thick vegetation and a small lake at its center.
Let's discover Baibalik. Its 2000-years old walls still defy time, they're the accounts of this intellectual centre dating from the Uyghurs dynasty.
Day 5 - 7Khovsgol, little Mongolian Switzerland
We arrive at Lake Khövsgöl, one of the natural wonders of the world. This mountain covers an area of 2760 square kilometres, and its water is so pure that we can drink it ! It's surrounded with many peaks culminating at more than 2000 metres and covered with forests of pines and lush meadows where yaks and horses graze !
We go towards East and the green small valleys of Alag Sar, and spend the night in a small yurts camp.
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Let's start a beautiful story… With local breeders and their yaks, we leave for our 2-days hike or pony-trek in the tree-filled valleys of Alag Tsar. Following the peaceful tempo of the cart, we discover this land of nomadism. In the heart of summer, the area is flowered and we will move literally on a carpet of edelweiss, while at West, we will see on the opposite bank the peaks culminating at 3000 metres that bathe in the crystal water of the lake.
In the evening, with the breeders, we will put up the yurt that we carried, in which we will spend the night.
Day 8Let's go for the central steppes !
Moron - Zuun lake
A journey towards the centre. The track passes through many passes, we go deeper in remote valleys, and the landscapes quickly change. The passes are more than 2000 metres above sea level. Landscapes get more and more lovely and photo opportunities more and more numerous.
Camping on the banks of Lake Zuun, magnificently nestled in the heart of the steppe.
Day 9 - 10The great white lake of Mongolia
Zuun lake - Terkhiin Tsagaan national park
Road to Khorgo – Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur Natural Park that is located 2060 metres (1,28 mile) above sea level. This lake, called "the great white lake", and its whole volcanic surroundings, are the emblematic area of the province of Arkhangai. The waters of the lake are full of fish and it's possible to fish if you wish.
Hiking along the banks of the lake. We go towards Southeast where Khorgo Volcano reaches its highest point at 2240 metres (1,39 mile). (Easy) ascent of the volcano. From the top, we enjoy a splendid view on the lake and the surrounding hills. Nearby the volcano, stunning lava flows form an original landscape never seen up to now.
Day 11Relaxing in Tsenkher hot springs
Day 12 - 13Wonderful Orkhon Valley
Tsenkher hot springs - Tovkhon monastery
Journey to Orkhon Valley. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the valley is a land of nomadism and many breeders set their summer camp there.
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.
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.
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Stay at herders' from the valley. During your stay, you will discover their way of life and you will be proposed many activities, such as milking, making traditional dairy products, or rounding up the animals with a horse.
You will also attend the preparation of a Mongolian barbecue that you will enjoy with your hosts.
Day 14The former capital of Genghis Khan
Orkhon valley - Kharkhorin
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.
Day 15Let's go for a legendary desert !
Kharkhorin - Ongi monastery
Day of transition between two ecosystems. We leave the green mountains of Khangai to go towards Gobi. We drive across the green steppe and reach Arvaikheer, the capital of the province, where we stop to get fresh supplies at the local market.
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 16On the land of dinosaurs
Ongi monastery - Bayanzag
Last day of track before reaching Great Gobi and its "Three Beauties", the three highest peaks of this part of the Gobi-Altai range : Baruun Saïhan, "the Western Beauty" ; Dund Saïhan, "the Middle Beauty" ; Züün Saïhan, "the Eastern Beauty", the highest (2846 metres, 1,77 miles).
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 17 - 18Among camels breeders
Bayanzag - Khongor sand dunes
We ride towards west of the park to reach Khongor sand dunes, "light bay sand". These dunes extend at the foot of the "Three Beauties".
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 hightest 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 19In the area of canyons
Khongor sand dunes - Dungenee canyon
Journey on the track towards 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 20Return flight to the Mongolian capital
Yoliin am canyon - Dalanzadgad
30-kilometres (18,64 miles) journey until Dalanzadgad, the capital of the province, where we'll embark for our return flight to Ulan Bator.
Arrival in town and transfer to your hotel where you can rest a few moments.
Rest of the day free. With our guide, you can go and shop in the centre of the city.