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The Western Mongolia Unveiled

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18 Days / 17 Nights
General Description

A long, memorable 18 day – 17 night journey back-in-time to discover Western Mongolia starting from the ancient capital of Karakorum, where Gengis Khan founded his Empire, travelling through volcanoes, old monasteries, spectacular cliffs and gorges, the rocky scenery of the Gobi desert and the White Lake, the most beautiful in the country, before reaching the modern capital of Ulaanbator. In between, you will climb spectacular dunes harbouring small and large rivers at Mukhart Oasis then traverse the Great Depression region to rest by the shore of Khyargas Lake. Uvs province, in the far north west of Mongolia, will amaze you with a scenery of dreamy snow capped mountains and salt and fresh water lakes.
In Olgi, meet the Kazhak muslim people of Mongolia’s most western area, before having the thrills of your life eagle hunting in the Altai mountains.

Code

MON_FA_001

Itinerary

Day 1

Karakorum (360 km 5 hours driving)

(-/L/D)

Today we will set off for a driving day to Karakorum (also called Kharhorin).

Karakorum is the site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Genghis Khan. The founding of Karakorum started on the ruins of Turug and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khangai Mountains in 1220 by the Genghis Khan’s order. It was completed 15 years later during the Ugedei Khan’s reign. The town was a very cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant place.

The silver tree, part of Möngke Khan’s palace has become the symbol of Karakorum.

The highest peak of its prosperity was from 1220 to 1260. The specific feature of this stage is that Karakorum existed as the great capital of the Euro-Asian Empire with Mongolia as its core and as the centre of politics, economy, culture, religion, intellect, and diplomacy and the prominent tie of international relations.

Overnight.

Between 1260 and 1380 Karakorum lost the status of the Great Mongolian Empire and became the capital of Mongolia. When Khublai Khan claimed the throne of the Mongol Empire in 1260, as did his younger brother, Ariq Boke, he relocated his capital to today’s Beijing. Karakorum was reduced to the administrative centre of a provincial backwater of the Yuan Dynasty.

In 1368, the rule of Mongolian Yuan Dynasty collapsed and the centre of Mongolian government was shifted to its homeland after 110 years since Kublai Khan moved the Empire capital to China in 1260. It gave Karakorum a chance to prosper again.

In 1388, Ming troops under General Xu Da took and destroyed the town.

Today nothing is left from this legendary city.

In 1580, when Abtai Sain Khan together with his brother, lord Tumenkhen, visited the 3rd Dalai Lama and expressed their wish to build a temple in Mongolia, he advised them to reconstruct one old temple in Karakorum. The temple in Takhai ruins that was restored in 1588 according to the Dalai Lama’s recommendation is the Main Zuu temple of Erdene Zuu monastery.

Now Erdene Zuu Monastery is all that remains of what once was a huge monastery of 100 temples and about 1.000 lamas residing there. We will explore the grounds of Erdene Zuu Monastery surrounded by its massive 400 m X 400 m walls. We will be guided around the 3 remaining temples: Dalai Lama, Zuu of Buddha and Lavrin Temple.

Another place we will visit will be Karakorum Archaeological Museum. It is a small museum but housed in a modern well-run building with good lighting and display cases with clear English labels. The exhibits include dozens of artefacts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries which were recovered from the immediate area, plus others that were found from archaeological sites in other parts of the provinces, including prehistoric stone tools. You’ll see pottery, bronzes, coins, religious statues and stone inscriptions. There’s also a half-excavated kiln sunk into the museum floor. Perhaps most interesting is the scale model of ancient Karakorum, which aims to represent the city as it may have looked in the 1250s, and is based on descriptions written by the French missionary William of Rubruck. Another chamber exhibits a most recent addition, a Turkic noble tomb with wall paintings and artefacts, including gold items and jewellery. There is a short video of actual burial site.

We will also see the Turtle Rock and the Phallic Rock, visit little market behind walls exposing local arts by locals.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 2

Tsetserleg & Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (220 km about 5 hour)

(B/L/D)

In the morning we will reach Tsetserleg, capital city of Arkhangai province. It is a lovely little town surrounded by forested hills. Here we will visit the Buyandelgeruulekh Monastery, the town main functioning monastery and the nice little Museum of Arkhangai located in Zayaiin Gegeenii Monastery. From the museum we will walk hill upward to a small abandoned monastery and enjoy the beautiful view we have from there over Tsetserleg and the surrounding hills.

We will eat lunch in a local restaurant. In the evening we will reach Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes of the country. The lake is surrounded by extinct and craterous volcanoes, and was formed by lava flows from a volcanic eruption many millennia ago. As a result of the volcano eruptions the landscape is covered with black volcanic rocks.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 3

Khorgo- Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park

(B/L/D)

Today we will relax around the White Lake (also named the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur). We will make an excursion to the top of Khorgo Uul Volcano and we will pass the gorges that lead from Tariat to the volcano.

The volcano crater is 200 m wide and 100 m deep and is covered with trees at the back and around the opening of the crater. To the south of Khorgo there are numerous basaltic “gers” formed during the cooling of lava; some of the gers have gates and upper holes and reach 1.7 m high.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 4

Mukhart Oasis (500 km 8-9 hour)

(B/L/D)

Today we will continue our driving to Zavkhan province to Mukhart Oasis. Several sites of the sand dunes harbour small or big rivers. The most interesting one is Mukhart River arises beneath the sand dunes and flows throughout the desert and finally join Zavkhan River. We will climb dunes and hike around the river. There has been eco-friendly project led by a researcher who initiated tree planting some years ago. Now the river is surrounded by trees, bushes and a heaven for animals.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 5

Senjit Rock & Ulaagchinii Khar Lake (25 km)

(B/L/D)

Today we will drive to Senjit Rock, the stone gate that has a shape of granite rocky arch located on a top of hill. In ancient times the rock used to be solid but the strong wind carved the gate into today’s formation over millions of years. The size of the gate is 6m in width, 3.5m in height and a nature beauty of the area and stands on 2773 meter above sea level. On your right hand side, you will have a first glimpse of Bor Khyariin Els. Bor Khyariin Sand Dunes are about 180 km long, 15 km wide, and 300-meter high. Sand dune has few passages and offers a beautiful panoramic view on the surrounding area. All along the sand dune a river Khungiin flows in length of 200 km and is a vital life source to desert people and their cattle.

Embedded in the sand dunes belt there is Ulaagchinii Khar Lake is located to west side around 1000 km from Ulaanbaatar capital city. The lake is surrounded by huge sand dunes in the north and mountain hills in the southern shore. Beautiful a view.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 6

Airag & Khyargas Lakes (300 km about 7-8 hour)

(B/L/D)

The Great Lakes Depressions is a region that stretches out from Uvs to Khovd aimag over about 40.000 square kilometres. The Great lake depression is a semi-arid desert region delimited westward by the Altai Mountain Range. In spring, melting snow from the Altai Mountain ends up in the depression’s lakes. Being deprived of outlets to the sea, those salt lakes become giant evaporating points.

Later during the day, we will reach Khyargas Lake which is famous for having the least number of mosquitoes at any time of year, and its banks are like a pleasant seashore. On east shore of the lake we will visit 5 to 6-meter-long 20-meter-high white cliff called Khezuu Khad by locals. Spring time many migratory water birds nestle and breed.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 7

Ulaangom (250 km)

(B/L/D)

After having driven through half of Mongolia, we will relax at the lakes in the morning. Will have chance to swim. After lunch we will drive to reach Ulaangom town of Uvs province. Uvs province in the far north west of Mongolia is a spectacular region of permanently snow-capped mountains, glaciers, torrential rivers, salt-water and freshwater lakes, sand dunes and a fantastic variety of animals and plants.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 8

Uureg Lake & Achit Lake (200 km)

(B/L/D)

Today we will head for Uureg Lake, which lies close to the Russian border and Siberia. It is a large, beautiful slightly salt-water lake surrounded by glorious mountains and some snow-capped 3000 meters plus peaks. The mouth of the valley leading into the lake is lined with nomad’s summer gers. The scene is breath taking and so are the people. Before reaching the lake we will cross the Ulaan Davaa Pass, enjoying the views of the red mountains and sprawling valley floor. Sunsets and sunrises in this dramatic scene can be stunned. They make us feel as if we are the only people on earth or as if we have reached the edges of the viable world. From here we will drive to Achit Lake. Achit Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the province. It is on the border of Uvs and Bayan Ulgii provinces, and is an easy detour between Olgii and Ulaangom.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 9

Olgii (90 km)

(B/L/D)

Today we will reach the most western aimag of Mongolia, Bayan-Olgii. Unlike the rest of Mongolia, which is dominated by Khalkh Mongolians, about 90% of Bayan-Olgii’s population are Kazakh, almost all of them Muslims.

Olgii, capital city of the aimag is a Muslim influenced ethnically Kazakh city. It is home to a mosque.

Olgii’s mosque and madrasah (Islamic place of learning) is worth a quick look, especially on Friday at lunch time when weekly prayers are held, though you may not be allowed inside. The mosque holds the offices of the Islamic Centre of Mongolia. Its unusual angle is due to its orientation to Mecca.

We will spend the afternoon strolling around in the aimag centre. We will visit the museum that has some interesting displays and gives a good overview of Kazakh culture. We will also pay a visit to the mosque.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 10/11

Khoton & Khurgan Lakes (200 km)

(B/L/D)

From Olgii we will drive further westwards into the direction of Khoton and Khurgan Lakes. The lakes are second largest and clearest of all lakes of Mongolia. Average depth is 26 m and deepest reaching 58 m and located at an altitude slightly over 2.000 meters’ altitude. Both lakes are connected by wide natural channel. The landscape around the lakes is a breath taking and picturesque, with snow-capped Altain Mountain Chain. On the way we will stop at some ancient Gokturk’s stone monuments (1500-2000 years old) near Biluut Hill.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 12

Overnight in Eagle Hunter family near Sagsai village (150 km)

(B/L/D)

Today we will live a life of a Kazakh eagle hunter! We will be follow our eagle hunter and his bird on horseback for 3-4 hour treks through the Altai Mountains looking for prey. The rest of the time we will be interacting with the family members (Kazakh people tend to have large families) and experiencing their daily life. Kazakh people are known with their warm hospitality so prepare to feel greatly welcome in their home.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 13

Namarjin Valley & the Tsambagarav Mountain (150 km)

(B/L/D)

After breakfast we will set of for Namarjin Valley. On the way you will have excellent views of Tsambagarav Mountain (4200 meters), one of Mongolia’s most glorious snow-capped peaks. We will also drive along several Kazakh settlements and a beautiful turquoise lake. The grassland in this valley is covered with a carpet of alpine flowers. The whole day we will explore the region of lush valleys, dozens of little lakes and permanently snow-capped peaks.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 14

Khovd, Khar Us Nuur National Park, Tsenkheriin Agui (200 km)

(B/L/D)

We will arrive by lunch Khovd, capital city of Khovd Provinve. Sangiin Kherem is the Mongolian name for the remains of the Manchu fort in the Northern part of Khovd city, Mongolia. The fort was built in the 18th century, and later became the seat of the Manchu amban and his office. The fort has a quadratic layout; the walls are made of clay. There were gates at the east and west and watch towers at the four corners. The fort’s walls were surrounded by water ditches, with wooden bridges to access the gates. The remaining walls are 3 metres high and 1.5 metres thick, oriented at the four corners of the earth, each side was 0.33 km. According to Russian Geographer M. V. Pevtsov, who visited the city in 1878, the height of the walls back then was 4.5 metres. The southern portion of the fort was occupied by the Manchu amban, treasury, offices, and military barracks. The eastern part was occupied by commercial firms, a Chinese Buddhist temple and a mosque. Since the year 1912 when city Khovd was liberated from the Manchu administration and the fort was taken by force, the citadel declined. From Khovd we will drive along Khar Us Lake and reach later in the evening the Tsenkheriin Agui (also known as Khoid Tsenkher). Caves are known for their cave paintings, dates from 20.000 years ago. Interesting is that both mammoths and ostriches are depicted on the walls, proving that both lived in Mongolia up to approximately 15,000 years ago.

The cave has numerous passages to explore. The largest cavern (12 by 18 meters) is about 15m high. We will make a short trekking in the cave’s area.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 15

Altai (400 km)

(B/L/D)

Today we will reach Altai, capital city of Gobi-Altaï Province. Altaï is nestled between the mountains of Khasagt Khairkhan Uul (3579m) and Jargalant Uul (3070m). We will overnight somewhere past Altai.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 16

Bayankhongor (400 km)

(B/L/D)

Our next stop will be Bayankhongor. Bayankhongor town is the capital city of Bayanhonger province.

Bayankhonger encompasses three major geographical zones. The city is located in the central grass steppe zone, but to the north there are the Southern slopes of the Khangai Mountain Range with its lush forest zone and to its south there is the Gobi Desert.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 17

Khogno Khan National Park & Elsen Tasarhai (380 km)

(B/L/D)

Khogno Khan Mountain is an impressive massif in the open steppes. Not far from here runs the Tasarkhai Els, a 100 km long sand dune.

End the afternoon we will hike in the region of Khogno Khan Mountains, walk up the mountain and enjoy the incredible view over the plains, the sand dune and grasslands. We will also visit the nice little Ovgon Monastery.

Overnight.

Accommodation:

in Mongolian Ger

Day 18

Ulaanbaatar (260 km)

(B/-/-)

We will drive back to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. Our team will take you directly to your hotel. You may enjoy the free afternoon to catch up all the places you haven’t visited yet. In the evening we will have a farewell dinner and share some unforgettable moments of the trip.

 

Accommodation:

N/A

End of services —

The program may also be subject to changes based on traffic, weather or other events beyond our control. In this case we will take care of evaluating the necessary changes together with the travelers. 

Highlights

Live the life of the Kazakh eagle hunters of the Altai region.

Try the Mongolian hospitality by sleeping in their nomadic tent, the Ger.

Experience the glacial landscapes of the Altai Mountain Chain.

Cross the Ulaan Davaa Pass, enjoying astonishing views of the red mountains and valleys.

What you need to know
Included
Not included
  • Licensed English speaking local guide
  • All the transfers in any destination as specified in the itinerary on a private basis
  • Meals as specified in the itinerary
  • Admission fees
  • Any VISA (which must be arranged for Non-ASEAN citizens)
  • International Air tickets
  • Domestic and International Insurance Surcharge
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses such as drinks at meals
  • All other accounts which are not mentioned in the above inclusion.
  • Optional tour available on spot
Map

Pricing

As the hotels have different seasons that vary from hotel to hotel, the tour price will be on request, and the final amount will be calculated at the time of booking, according to the travel dates chosen and according with the number of participants.

 

Prices are per person on request in US Dollars

Private tour
Join tour

Price on request

 

Price on request

 

Policy

Travelers can cancel the tour before the deadline of cancellation; charges will be applied according to the cancellation deadline. The date of cancellation is the date in which the written communication od cancellation is received by the company.  Charges are a percentage of the total tour price per person, including surcharges but excluding any amendment charges and any insurance payment.

Cancellation Fee
Children

15 to No show 100 % charge

24 to 16 days 50 % of the tour price

29 to 25 days up 10 % of the tour price

30 days up no charge

Child from 1 – 5 year: Free of charge if sharing bed with parents

Child from 6 – 7 year: charge 50% of adult price if sharing bed with parents

Child from 8 – 9 year: charge 90% of adult price if using extra bed/mattress in parents ‘room 

Child from 10 year up: adult rate

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