erdenezuu-monasteries

Mongolian Odyssey

Introduction

The most classic of all our journeys in Mongolia. It combines some of the major sights around the country. It will take you to both desert steppe and mountain areas of the Gobi.  We will visit the site of the ancient capital Karakorum, located in the Orkhon Valley – the cradle of Mongol civilization. Erdene Zuu, the first and one of the biggest monasteries of Mongolia is located here. In the South Gobi we will explore the famous Flaming Cliffs, the majestic Hongor Sands and the Yol Valley in the Gurvansaikhan Mountains, which mark the extension of the Altai Mountains deep into the Gobi. This journey is completely vehicle based and provides relative comfort, as this route has a string of better than usual ger camps.

Trip Details
Mongolian Odyssey
9 Days / 8 Nights

Trip Details

Itinerary

Day 1: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: Högnö Khan Mountain

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 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

We continue southwest for 150 km through the mountains, and keep our eyes peeled for spectacular wildlife. The snow leopard, and its main prey species, the Siberian Ibex and the Argali sheep all inhabit this area. We reach Hongor Sands, located in the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. In the late afternoon or evening we visit the large dunes, whose beautiful shapes best come out in the evening light.  In June the sunset is very late, after dinner time.

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:  To Yol Valley

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 (Gypaetus Barbatus), 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 Wallcreeper (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 it has some winter ice left at the end of the canyon.

Day 9:  To Ulaanbaatar

We’ll be transferred to Dalanzadgad airport and take the flight to Ulaanbaatar by domestic airline (1½ hours). Upon arrival you are transferred to the hotel.

Itinerary Map

mongolian-odyssey-map
Tour Dates

DATES ex. Ulaanbaatar: 2018

  • GKM01: 01-09Jun (Friday/Saturday)
  • GKM02: 09-17Jun (Saturday/Sunday)
  • GKM03: 23June-01July (Saturday/Sunday)
  • GKM04: 01-09July (Sunday/Monday)  Naadam avl
  • GKM05: 12-20July (Thursday/Friday) Naadam avl
  • GKM06: 20-28July (Friday/Saturday)
  • GKM07: 06Aug-14Aug (Monday/Tuesday) Danshig avl
  • GKM08: 14-22Aug (Tuesday/Wednesday)
  • GKM09: 25Aug-02Sep (Wednesday/Thursday)
  • GKM10: 02-10Sep (Sunday/Monday)

Private departures:

This is a fixed dated departure intended for independent international travelers to join.  On request, and if available, the trip may operate on any day, at an additional cost of USD 400 per trip for groups from 2 to 4 people (No supplement charge for 5 or more travelers). Group discounts are available on request for groups of 6 and more.

When booking this trip as a private departure you may request to stay in camps, that offer gers or cabin houses with attached WC/bath. This is possible for all nights, except at Ongiin Monastery, where such an option is unavailable. Also, instead of staying two nights at Högnö Khan Mountain, we will stay in Karakorum, which reduces the visitation time at Högnö Khan.  Additional costs are USD 580 per person (7n). Moreover there is the option to upgrade to the award-winning Three Camel Lodge, near Bayanzag in the South Gobi for 1, 2 or 3 nights. Subject to confirmation!

Private departures may further be customized, adding days at Hongor Sands and Ongiin Monastery ruin, even adding a trek supported by pack yaks across the Hangai Mountains for several days or visit the Orkhon Valley with Tövkhön Hermitage. It is also possible to add Hustai National Park to this trip, provided the trip is private.

For private trips additional language guides (French, Spanish, German, etc.) are available. Please enquire!

Prices

PRICE ex Ulaanbaatar:

USD 2100 per person (min 2 members)

Single ger supplement: USD 320

Private trip supplement:

USD 400 per trip (2/4 persons)

Including:

English speaking guide, all meals outside Ulaanbaatar, all nights in ger camps in

shared double throughout the journey. Domestic flight one way. All surface transport and entrance fees.

Excluding:

Imported drinks. International flight or train tickets. Transfers and hotel nights in Ulaanbaatar.

Practicalities

Practicalities:

Transport:

This journey is totally vehicle supported. A one-way domestic flight is included. In June and September there are no daily flights to/from Dalanzadgad, so the trip may reverse.

Accommodation:

We will stay in ger camps for the entire trip, in double occupancy. The gers are furnished with beds, stools and a table and a wash basin. There is a restaurant in every camp and separate shower and WC facilities for males and females, which are shared by all guest’s at camp.

Meals:

The meals will be provided in the ger camp, or as packed lunches

Staff:

A Mongolian English-speaking guide and a driver will accompany you at all times.

What our guests say

We appreciate your feedback about our tours and services.

  • Living the mongolian way

    Great place to stay and experience mongolian way of living, no tv, wifi, phone. Just nature and great company of the staff and livestocks of mongolia. The toilet is a hole in the ground covered by a shed. It is clean, but can be smelly to those used to city life. Not hot water supply, inform the staff that you like to hot water half an hour earlier so that they can boil it over camel dung 🙂

    5 star rating

    joycel
  • Living the mongolian way

    Great place to stay and experience mongolian way of living, no tv, wifi, phone. Just nature and great company of the staff and livestocks of mongolia. The toilet is a hole in the ground covered by a shed. It is clean, but can be smelly to those used to city life. Not hot water supply, inform the staff that you like to hot water half an hour earlier so that they can boil it over camel dung 🙂

    5 star rating

    joycel

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