A journey into Central Mongolia, the nomadic heartland of the country. It is an area of diverse landscapes and natural beauty. Experience nomadic life first hand in Gurvanbulag and Khogno Khaan Reserve, ride a camel across the dunes at Elsen Tasarkhai, visit the Chinggis Khan’s ancient capital at Kharakhorum, before heading to the nomadic heartlands of the Orkhon Valley. Take a dip in the Hot Springs at Tsenkher Valleys and and watch the wild takhi horses at Hustai National Park before returning to UB. Stay in a mixture of comfortable ger accommodation at some of our favorite camps and nomadic homestays.
Ulaanbaatar – Khar Bukhiin Balgas – Nomadic community in Gurvanbulag – Khogno Khaan Reserve – Kharakhorum – Tsenkher Hot Springs – Orkhon Valley – Hustai National Park – Ulaanbaatar.
You will be picked up from a pre-arranged Ulaanbaatar location at a time to suit you – we suggest leaving around 9:00am to make the most of the day. Jump in the vehicle with your guide and stop off at Gandan Monastery – enter the temples, including that of the Migjid Janraisig with it’s huge golden Buddha statue. In the old temple complex listen to the chanting ceremonies which happen mid-morning. Afterwards, board the vehicle again and head west for 280km to Gurvanbulag. On the way you will stop briefly to visit Khar Bukhiin Balgas, interesting remains of am ancient fort used by nomadic tribes dating back to 10th century.
Upon arrival you will have a chance to do some hiking or horse riding in the surrounding hills and visit the sand dunes nearby or you can stay behind and take ‘shagai’ ankle bones game lesson with the locals. You can also try your hand at archery with the traditionally made Mongolian bows and arrows, your guide and driver will be delighted to teach you and join you in an archery competition. After dinner settle into the high end eco-lodge, the community owned Gurvanbulag Ger Camp camp and enjoy your first night sleeping in a gerLD
In the morning visit locals in their gers and experience the nomadic hospitality and their way of life. Sample milk tea, homemade diary products such as yogurt and dried curds, or perhaps try your hand at preparation! Spend today enjoying the tranquility of the open countryside, you can be as active as you wish, hiking, milking animals or sharing stories with the nomads over the home-made vodka or ‘airag’ – fermented mare’s milk.
In the afternoon hike with your guide around 6km to the nearby sand dunes for some great photo opportunities and perhaps dune sliding. Return to the nomads’ gers in the evening to enjoy a traditional feast of khorkhog – mutton and vegetables seared and steamed with red hot stones from the fire. After dinner enjoy the show of horse catching by skilled locals, who will use “urgaa” the traditional wooden lasso to catch untamed horses that were never ridden before – and try teach them riding for the first time. Afterwards it’s back to the eco-lodge nearby and will settle to your gers for the night. BLD
Today you head to the nature reserve of Khogno Khan, where you can explore the Buddhist temple of Erdenekhamba, that is set in the idyllic location at the foothills of the sacred Khogno Khan mountain. Visit the lower temple complex of Uvguun Khiid, see the reconstructed temples, prayer-wheel and look around the ruins. Then we recommend taking the 45 minute hike up to the older ruined temple complex in the hills – the scenery is fantastic, and depending on time of year, wildflowers may be in abundance. Head back down to the valley floor, you will be staying tonight in the Khognokhaan ger camp. BLD
After leisurely breakfast drive a short distance to a family of camel herders. Enter their ger and experience local hospitality and tea while your camels are being prepared. Then, after a brief instruction, head off on the double humped bactrian camel ride across the outcrops of sand dunes of Ikh Mongol Els for 1-2 hours.
After the lunch at the herder’s family ger say goodbye to your hosts and journey 90km west to the ancient Chinggis Khan’s capital of Kharakhorum, where you will be staying in a characterful ger camp. In the evening, depending on the availability, we hope you will be able to enjoy a performance of traditional music and dance – either at the ger camp where you are staying or at a nearby camp down the road.
Today your first stop will be Erdene Zuu Monastery which is the largest and first Mongolian Buddhist temple complex built on the ruins of 16th century Kharakhorum city. Go in time to hear the monks chanting, which takes place mid-morning. Take a guided tour around the main temples, and walk around the grounds.
Afterwards have lunch at the ger camp and in the afternoon visit the interesting local museum, the local market, the Monument of the 3 Kings overlooking the Orkhon River, and the fertility stone on the edge of town, and finally the local felt cooperative workshop and witness the felt production process.
Tonight stay in our favourite ger camp located near Kharakhorum.
Up early for the drive to Tsenkher Valleys, we suggest setting off around 8am. Most of the drive is off-road, but the scenery is amazing with rolling steppe and mountains in the background. On arrival enjoy lunch and hike in the surrounding hills and forests to discover pools and steams of hot springs. You will know you are near natural sources geothermal water by distinctive the sulfuric smell. In the afternoon soak in one of the pools at the ger camp that you will be staying at and relax enjoy the natural warm bath.
In the morning drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Orkhon Valley. The valley, located at the heart of Mongolia is the cradle of nomadic civilizations that have lived on the Eurasian steppe such as Huns or Mongols it is, their ancestral land. On the way stop at the Temeen Chuluu – ancient Bronze Age burial stones. Then continue to the Uurtiin Tokhoi Canyon. Mongolian for “Eternal Elbow”, this is a steep cliff bordering a right angled bend of the river. The cliff offers a marvelous view over Orkhon Valley. You may do these things before arriving at camp, or later in the afternoon – all very flexible. Today you will also visit nomadic yak herders – in their gers. Get an exclusive opportunity to watch, milk or even ride this docile animal of the highlands. If not comfortable doing that, ride in a traditional cart pulled by one of those humongous creatures.
In the afternoon, after picnic lunch, your guide can take you for a 2-hour trek up into the Khangai hills, or alternatively you can go for a shorter walk in the valley near the camp. You will be rewarded with amazing photo opportunities and scenery. In the evening enjoy dinner in your camp and settle into your comfortable ger for the night.
After breakfast jump in the vehicle for the journey back east for a long drive to Hustai. You will have picnic lunch on the way, perhaps near Elsen Tasarkhai sand dunes, and upon arrival rest a bit at the ger camp where you will be staying overnight. The camp located at the entrance to the National Park. At dusk, drive in to the park to see the wild Takhi (Przewalski) horses – this is the time when they gather to drink at streams so you have a better chance of seeing them up close, and in accessible areas. You may want to combine the trip with a longer walk in the park – in which case you should leave a little earlier. Discuss your preference with your guide. Afterwards head back to camp for dinner and your last night in a ger.
In the morning drive into the park again to watch the plethora of wildlife. Your guide will communicate with the park rangers to find out the location of the animals – large herds of deer, takhi horses, foxes or even wolves can be spotted, and as a side attraction there are also ancient monuments worth seeing. After returning to the camp attend a short presentation in the camp’s information center to learn about Hustai National Park and wildlife that can be found there. After lunch drive back to Ulaanbaatar, where you will be dropped at your hotel or location of your choice.
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Discounts: Booking early or last minute? Traveling in a larger group or with children? We have a number of discounts available so see below if you qualify. NB: Only one discount per trip / group.
Tailoring your tour: we are always happy to craft a journey in Mongolia that is tailor made to your specific interests and wishes. Please contact us for details.
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Your guide and driver will pick you up at a prearranged Ulaanbaatar city location, confirmed with you in advance. It can be your accommodation, Chinggis Khan airport or the train station. Meeting time will be confirmed in the predeparture email that you will receive after the booking has been made.
How to locate your guide / driver?
Your guide or driver will hold a welcoming board with your name(s) and Tour Mongolia logo shown for ease of identification. Don’t forget to let us know your hotel name, accommodation address, flight or train number and carriage numbers (if train) in advance, so we know when and where to pick you up!
Problems and emergency contact information
In case of an emergency, or if you are unable to locate your guide or driver, please call (+976) 9905 9466 or (+976) 9909 8467. (24h)
For all other inquiries and tour services please contact our office team on (+976) 11 35 46 62.
A relaxing and eye opening journey into the heart of Mongolia. Well paced, without rushing between places and too much driving. The highlight is definitely the nomads – experiencing the unchanged ways of life on the steppe was amazing.
Orkhon River Valley is a wonderful place, I am glad I joined this tour. Thank you!