Journey beginning and ending at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Available: 2018-06-01 to 2018-06-09 starting from $2764 AUD
Available: 2018-06-09 to 2018-06-17 starting from $2764 AUD
This vehicle based roundtrip is the one Mongolia classic which brings you to some of the most famous sights around the country. Yol Valley, Flaming Cliffs and Hongor Sands in South Gobi. And Karakorum and Högnö Khan Mountain in central areas.
This journey will bring you to both desert steppe and mountain areas of the Gobi. A string of ger camps are dotted along its route. The Gurvansaikhan Mountains is an extension into the Gobi of the Altais. We will see the massive Hongor Sands, and Flaming Cliffs at Bayanzag. The visit to will be on the site of the capital of the Mongol Empire, where now Erdenezuu Monastery is located.
This trip runs with a minimum of two passengers, maximum is 11 passengers. This is a journey in relative comfort, a round trip which makes use of the best and rather large ger camps available along the entire route. Orkhon Valley is the cradle of Mongol civilization, Karakorum. Then follows a drive into the Gobi across the semi-arid Gobi steppes. The trip often operates in reverse.
Day 1 – Depart Ulaan Baatar and travel to Högnö Khan Mountain
After a morning visit to Gandan Monastery, the center for Buddhist revival in Mongolia, we leave Ulaanbaatar and head west. We have a picnic lunch en route, once we come onto the open grasslands. Then we continue our journey to Högnö Khan Mountain and will arrive at the camp before dinner time.
Day 2 – To Erdenezuu & Karakorum
Today we explore the Högnö Khan Mountains. We visit the small and recently rebuilt Erdenekhamba Temple. It is also possible to hike a short way to the ruins of Övgön Monastery, located in a green oasis hidden in the mountains. We stay a second night at the ger camp near Högnö Khan Mountain.
Day 3 – To Orkhon Valley via Erdenezuu & Karakorum
In the morning we drive 2 hours to visit Erdene Zuu Monastery – Mongolia’s first Buddhist monastery established in the late 16th century. Within its 400 by 400 meters long walls, it once housed 62 temples and 1000 monks were performing religious duties. Today only the three oldest temples remain and about 40 monks are in residence. At once a museum and a fully functioning monastery, Erdene Zuu is still one of the most fascinating sites of Mongolia. Usually we will be able to see the prayers. On a hill outside the monastery sits an interestingly shaped rock – a reminder for the monks to remain celibate. We also visit the Karakorum Museum, by far the best museum outside of Ulaanbaatar, which chronicles the history of the Khan Empire and displays many artifacts from the ruined city.
Day 4 – To Ongiin Monastery
We drive south for the full day. The landscape slowly changes, vegetation becomes sparser as we make our way into the Gobi. The spectacular ruins of Ongiin Monastery are located in a rocky desert landscape alongside the Ongi River near the district center of Saikhan Ovoo. Usually, the Ongii River is just a dry river bed. We will stay at the Secrets of Ongi Ger Camp for the night.
Day 5 – To Bayanzag
After breakfast we explore the extensive Ongi Monastery ruins before driving half day to Bayanzag. We will come through ‘forests’ of Saxaul trees. This salt-resistent little tree grows in sandy deserts from Egypt to Mongolia. In Middle Asia it usually grows scattered, only here in northern Central Asia does it often form ‘saxaul forests’. On arrival we visit the so-called “Flaming Cliffs”, a name coined by American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, whose expedition found the first ever fossilized dinosaur eggs in the 1920s. Red and orange hues come together to create an awe-inspiring sight. Home to ancient dinosaur fossils, the Bayanzag area is an exciting destination. We spend the night in a comfortable ger camp.
Day 6 – To Hongor Sands
In the morning we visit the so-called “Flaming Cliffs”, a name coined by American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, whose expedition found the first ever fossilized dinosaur eggs in the 1920s. Red and orange hues come together to create an awe-inspiring sight . Home to ancient dinosaur fossils, the Bayanzag area is an exciting destination allowing you to get up close to massive dinosaur remains. We continue east for 150km through the mountains and reach Hongor Sands, located in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, in the afternoon. We visit the large dunes, whose beautiful shapes best come out in the evening light.
Day 7 – To Gurvansaikhan Mountains
We travel eastwards along the Gurvansaikhan Mountains for half the day. The Gurvansaikhan range, literally ‘three beauties’ named for its three sub ranges, is an extension of the Altai deep into the Gobi dessert. The highest peaks reach up to 2.800 m above sea level.
Day 8 – Gurvansaikhan Mountains
We go on a full day excursion to the Yol Valley, the central part of which forms a deep ravine, which is often covered with ice and snow until early summer. Bird watching is rewarding here as you are sure to see the Bearded Vulture, also known as Lammergeier, soaring high above the ravine. Yol is actually the Mongolian name for this large bird. There are also several species of Rose Finch, and usually also the Wall creeper (Tichodroma muraria). We return to camp for lunch and continue on to Muhar Shivert. This area is famous for its rocks that look like various animals, and have some winter ice left in the end of the canyon.
Day 9 – Tour ends Ulaanbaatar
We transfer to Dalanzadgad airport and take a flight to Ulaanbaatar by domestic airline (1½ hours). Upon arrival you are transfered to the hotel.
Local English speaking guide, all meals outside Ulaanbaatar, all overnights in ger camps. Domestic flight one way. All surface transport and entrance fees. All ger camps bar four offer attached facilities.
A Mongolian English-speaking local guide will accompany you at all times. Plus one driver. Additional language guide (French/Spanish/German) is possible to order.
Imported drinks. International flights or train tickets. Transfers and hotel overnights in Ulaanbaatar.
To enquire, feel free to contact Globetrotter via the following link and we will be sure get back to you as soon as possible!