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Wild Eastern Mongolia and the Gobi Desert

This 13-day journey will take you deep into the Mongolian wilderness, where you’ll experience a nomadic travel lifestyle, staying in ger camps throughout the East Gobi. Much of your time will be spent on the steppes - vast tracts of grasslands inhabited by gazelle and ibex - but your travels will take you to the edge of Siberia to Khan Khentii, where you’ll have the chance to hike and horseback ride. On this trip, you’ll visit remote communities and traverse the landscapes Genghis Khan called home - your nights spent in ger camps to allow you to truly appreciate the vastness and beauty of this little-explored region. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Spend time in Ikh Nart Nature Reserve staying in a ger tent, close to the elements
  • Enjoy wildlife spotting and bird-watching in Khentii Province
  • Fish and hike around the beautiful Onon River region
  • Ride horseback around the Khan Khentii Mountains, where Genghis Khan’s tomb is reputedly located
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. You’ll be met at the airport by your guide, then transferred to your hotel. After check-in, you’ll be briefed about your upcoming journey and enjoy dinner with your guide and the rest of your travel party. In Ulaanbaatar, we recommend staying in the modern, international-class Blue Sky Hotel, which offers luxurious accommodation in the heart of the city.

Day 2

Travel deep into Mongolia today on the Trans-Mongolian Railway to the East Gobi. Watch the landscape change from the grassy plains of the steppes to the more arid topography of the Gobi Desert. Alight from the train in Shiveegobi and drive around 35 miles to Red Rock Valley, located inside Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. Here, you’ll spend the night in Red Rock Ger Camp, where ger tents are set in a rocky plain where mountain sheep and ibex graze.

Day 3
Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

Spend the day exploring this corner of the vast Gobi Desert, home to wildlife such as Mongolian gazelles, wild donkeys, cinereous vultures and lynx cats. The reserve is the subject of various conservation and research initiatives and expeditions conducted here are always respectful of Gobi’s ecosystems. The park is especially important for migrating birds, with more than 120 different bird species spotted in the park. Spend another night in the Red Rock Ger Camp, enjoying a close connection with the spectacular Mongolian wilderness.

Day 4
Eastern Steppes

Travel by 4X4 to the Eastern Steppes today, heading north to the Herlen River and onwards to Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve. This relatively small reserve is composed of steppes, grassland, rivers and mountains, and home to a wide array of birds and mammals. Spend the afternoon visiting the marshlands and spotting swans and cranes. Spend the night in another ger camp, enjoying the serenity of this remarkable location.

Day 5
Eastern Steppes

Continue east into Khentii Province through the city of Öndörhaan and onwards into Dornod, Mongolia’s easternmost province. The landscape will continue to change the farther east you travel, until you arrive in the far-flung Toson Khulstai Nature Reserve. This is the natural habitat of various exotic animals, including Mongolian gazelles, Siberian marmots and white-naped cranes. Tonight, join the ger camp in the reserve, where the darkness of the steppes will afford you unforgettable views of the stars. This secluded camp offers wide-open 360-degree views of the largest remaining intact grasslands in the world.

Day 6
Eastern Steppes

Enjoy a full day of hiking the steppes today. The protected areas of Dornod are perfect for wildlife safaris and you’ll get to see the nomadic Mongolian gazelle en masse as they graze in the plains. In the wetlands, you’ll see white-naped and Siberian cranes and possibly wild boars, depending on your luck. After taking the 4X4 to various premium hiking spots, you’ll return to the ger camp for the evening, enjoying a traditional Mongolian meal with your traveling party.

Day 7

Drive north today to the Onon River. From flat grasslands to more rocky, mountainous terrain, you’ll reach the Hangai Region on the edge of Siberia. A tributary of the Amur River, the Onon makes up part of the longest free-flowing river on the continent and you’ll check into a ger camp on its fertile banks. The area here is known as Ölziyt Hairhan and is considered sacred by local communities.

Day 8

Explore the riverbanks of the Onon with a full day of hiking today. This region is inhabited by the Mongol Buryat - cow herders who live in log cabins. It may be possible to meet with a Buryat shaman, still an active part of the Buryat lifestyle. Enjoy the tranquil scenery of the Onon River and the mountains and birch forests of its banks before returning to your ger camp for the night.

Day 9

Today, hike to the nearby Dadal village, the reputed birthplace of Genghis Khan, and a center of important conservation work. If you have the opportunity, try some of the local bread, considered among the best in the country. Return to your ger camp in the evening.

Day 10

Today you’ll make your way to Öglögchiin Wall - “Almsgivers’ Wall” - at the border of Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area. This expansive protected forest is three times as big as Yellowstone National Park in the US, and the Khan Khentii Mountains are believed to hold Genghis Khan’s tomb. Visit the Baldan Bereeven monastery ruins. In the park, you can have lunch with nomads before settling into a ger camp. Alternatively you can continue on closer to Ulaanbaatar to the Terelj Resort, which offers an onsite spa and five-star facilities.

Day 11

Spend the day hiking the forests of Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area, exploring the terrain around the nearly two-mile Öglögchiin Wall and spotting different species of wildlife, from moose to wolves. In this part of Mongolia, tourism is tightly regulated, so use your final day within the park to appreciate this rare and unique travel experience. Return to your hotel or your ger camp for the night.

Day 12

Today you’ll make your way back to Ulaanbaatar, which is a full day’s drive. Check back into your hotel and enjoy the final night of your journey at your leisure. You might want to browse Narantuul Market for some local handicrafts or antiques as a keepsake of your Mongolian adventure. For dinner, find an authentic Mongolian restaurant or enjoy five-star service at the Blue Sky Hotel.

Day 13

After breakfast, we’ll transfer you to the airport in time for your departure flight.


Suggested Accommodations

The Blue Sky Hotel

The Blue Sky Hotel

This five-star contemporary hotel is situated in the city’s business district and more interestingly in Ulaanbaatar’s tallest building. The hotel, decorated in a classic European style, has many top quality facilities including an indoor pool, gym, wellness centre, sauna and a business centre. There are many services on offer to make your stay as comfortable and convenient as possible such as 24-hour room service, car rentals, currency exchange, laundry services, luggage storage, safety deposit boxes and a 24-hour front desk. Diners will be spoilt for choice with the Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and western food on offer at the hotel’s restaurants. The rooms feature free WiFi, flat-screen TVs with cable channels, en-suite bathrooms with a bathtub and shower facilities as well as a minibar luxury toiletries, hairdryers and slippers.

Ger Camp, The Terelj Hotel

Ger Camp

Stay in a low impact ger camp, in the heights of the Tuul River Valley, run by the principles of ecotourism. The camp is located in Jalman Meadows, next to Jalman Mountain, a vast meadow beside the Tuul River, which in the summer blooms with a profusion of wildflowers. This conservation area is within the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area, and stretches right up to the Russian-Siberian frontier. The camp is accessible from Ulaanbaatar by 4WD (approximately 3 hours) or by bus (approximately 3.5 hours).

The camp can accommodate a maximum of 30 guests in double occupancy tents. It prides itself on being a camp that is non-destructive towards the local environment and people. The camp contributes to local communities by creating employment based on traditional livelihoods. Local people work for the camp providing the provision of yak carts, packhorses, horse riding and labor. The camp is made up from fully collapsible ger tents, long drop style toilets which allow for natural decomposition, a cozy candle-lit library, portable hot water showers and a separate waste disposal unit. Some of the camp’s electricity is produced from solar panels and windmills. The hotel-camp can be relocated leaving no more effect on the land than a local nomadic family campsite would.

The Terelj Hotel

The Terelj Hotel provides a luxurious base from which to explore the wonders of the Mongolian outdoors in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, one of the most carefully protected parklands in the country and part of the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area, an expansive, virtually uninhabited wilderness. Terelj Hotel is only 43 miles north of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, near to the birthplace of Mongolia’s Great Unifier Chinggis Khaan (Ghengis Khan). The hotel itself boasts just 52 elegant suites, overlooking views of the Mongolian larch trees in front of the hotel or the Tereji River and surrounding mountains. The rooms are spacious with separate living areas and marble bathrooms. Rooms are well-appointed with classic furniture and quality upholstery, the sumptuous bedding comprises layers of Egyptian cotton and Mongolian cashmere blankets. Traditional Mongolian and local artworks are displayed throughout the hotel and guest suites. Hotel facilities include a spa, Jacuzzi, pine sauna, steam room, swimming pool, fitness center, winter movie theater and ice-skating rink and complimentary WiFi. Dining options include Morin Khuur, serving refined Mongolian cuisine paired with wines in an exquisite dining hall decorated with antique Mongolian saddles and artifacts; a restaurant overlooking the river serving western delicacies, as well as Argali serving burgers, steak and over 70 different whiskeys; a café with fresh coffee and French pastries; and a lounge bar.

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From Travelogues
Our General Manager Victoria Hilley loves Mongolia for its of being totally remote - no roads, big sky, and endless miles of desolate beauty.
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