Limited to 18 travelers Join Julie Bruce for a remarkable tour of this beautiful land. Tour Highlights: Nomadic Herders, Gobi Desert, Dinosaur Fossils, Staying in “yurts”.
September 1-19 2018 ( 19 days)
LAND TOUR: $7,595 Canadian/person Starts and ends in Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia
AIRFARE: approx $1,900 Canadian. Departing Vancouver BC to Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia ( & returning from Ulaan Bataar Mongolia) including arrival & departure transfers if arriving & departing on our group tour dates.
NOTE: You do NOT have to come to Vancouver to join the tour please contact us for a quote to depart other cities
Open to the Western world only since the fall of Communism in 1990, the ‘Land of Blue Sky’ is one of the few places on earth where travellers can tread on undiscovered ground and explore with a true sense of adventure. This is a unique, remote destination with stunning landscapes of rugged gorges, open grasslands and sandstone mountains – which has not even been touched by mainstream tourism. Mongolia is one of the most sparsely-populated countries in the world – and one of the most isolated. Mongolia seems like the end of the earth – outside Ulaanbaatar you begin to wonder if you haven’t stepped into another century, rather than another country! Our tour begins and ends in Ulaanbaatar, where nearly half the entire population of the country lives! Outside the capital we stay in comfortable, traditional felt tents known as “gers” (what Westerners call “yurts”) and visit with several groups of still-nomadic horse-, sheep- and camel-herders. We learn about how Genghis Khan created the largest land empire in the history of the world from this unlikely place and we follow in the footsteps of Italian explorer Marco Polo. In the Gobi Desert we ride camels in the otherworldly landscape, learning about its diverse wildlife – including the huge numbers of dinosaurs that lived here until 60 million years ago. This tour is a very authentic experience for the adventurous at heart as we have some long days of driving to explore this vast land, some of it off road in our 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Outside Ulaanbaatar our accommodation is in basic but clean and functional “yurts”, putting us in touch with the nomadic way of life still lived by many of the rural population. Mongolia is one of the best kept travel secrets and a most rewarding destination for both lovers of culture and the adventurous.
UPDATED AT: April 6, 2017 ( PLEASE NOTE NEW DEPARTURE DATES)
DAY 1 SATURDAY September 1
Our group flights fly from Vancouver, crossing the International Date Line to arrive in Ulaan Baatar the next day
DAY 2 SUNDAY September 2
Those taking international flights organized by Royal Heights Tours arrive in Ulaan Baatar and transfer to our hotel.
First of 3 nights in Ulaanbaatar. Bayangol Hotel or similar. No meals.
DAY 3 MONDAY September 3
ULAANBAATAR + City Tour
This morning is free for you to relax. Our afternoon tour of Mongolia’s modern capital takes us to the Gandan Monastery with its 26-metre-high gold-covered Buddha statue (Gandan is the largest and most famous functioning monastery in all of Mongolia); the Genghis Khan Monument on Sukhbaatar Square (dedicated to the revolutionary hero who declared independence from China in 1921); the National History Museum where we see artifacts from Mongolia and Central Asia from the Stone Age to the present; the Bogd Khaan Winter Palace Museum (the only imperial palace to survive the Communist revolution, and a great place to learn about life in Imperial Mongolia); Buddha Park; and Zaisan Hill for a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the city.
Second of 3 nights in Ulaanbaatar. Bayangol Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner
DAY 4 TUESDAY September 3
Excursion On the steppes (grasslands) outside the capital we visit the 40-metre-highGiant Genghis Monument and learn more about the visionary but ruthless founder of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century. Gorkhi Terelj National Parkis a stunning mountain river valley incorporating parts of the Khentii mountain range. Here age-old nomadic families still survive by making traditional garments and livestock hardware, as well as playing shagai (a traditional Mongolian game played with sheep bones.) The park is home to many of Mongolia’s endangered animal species – wild mountain sheep, cranes, swans and many others. We take a horse ride to see some of the extraordinary rock formations before returning to Ulaanbaatar for the night.
Third of 3 nights in Ulaanbaatar. Bayangol Hotel or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 5 WEDNESDAY September 5
ULAANBAATAR – MONGOL ELS SAND DUNES
This morning we drive west across central Mongolia to Mongol Els, a unique area of forest and sand dunes. After lunch at our ger camp we take a camel ride through the sand dunes. We visit a local nomadic family where we have an opportunity to experience their way of life, their culture and traditions.
Overnight near Mongol Els. Bayangovi Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 6 THURSDAY September 6
MONGOL ELS – KARAKORUM
This morning we take a short drive to Karakorum, the ruins of the 13th Century capital of the Mongol Empire. This was Genghis Khan’s launching point for his great military campaigns of conquest and an essential stop on the Silk Road. We visit the great Buddhist Erdenezuu Monastery, which was the first built in Central Mongolia. It was established in 1586 AD, contained 62 temples, and housed more than 1,000 monks. This was Mongolia’s largest and historically most significant religious and cultural centre. It continued in use for more than 300 years and, while it suffered greatly from political desecration in the 19th and 20th centuries, it is now being carefully restored. We also visit several temples with excellent examples of Buddhist Thangka paintings dating back to the 16th Century. Later we visit the Karakorum Museum and learn about the Great Mongol state period, as well as the Stone and Bronze Ages. Overnight at our tourist camp by the Orkhon River. The present-day town of Karakorum has a population of about 9,000 people, so it is fairly large by Mongolian standards.
Overnight near Karakorum. Munkhtenger Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 7 FRIDAY September 7
KARAKORUM – TERKHIIN TSAGAAN LAKE
Today we drive further west to natural volcanic Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (the “Great White Lake“) Although the lake lies at the foot of tall hills, it is still located at 2,060 metres (1.28 miles) above sea level. This area is quite surreal, with its amazingly clear waters and long sandy beaches. Stargazing here in the evening is quite literally an other-worldly experience.
First of 2 nights near Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. Maihan Tolgol Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 8 SATURDAY September 8
TERKHIIN TSAGAAN LAKE + KHORGO VOLCANO
A national park was established here to project the spectacular mountain scenery and endangered species of flora & fauna. The surrounding Khangai Mountains reach 3,000 metres above sea level. Over a comparatively small area here there are a dozen or so extinct volcanoes. Khorgo Volcano is an amazing landscape of lava tubes and craters just waiting to be explored and marveled at. We ride horses to explore the area, which is also a good spot for bird watching. We visit a local horseman’s family to learn about this still-vital Mongolian way of life. Dinner tonight is an authentic Mongolian barbeque, prepared in the traditional way with hot stones.
Second of 2 nights near Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. Maihan Tolgol Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 9 SUNDAY September 9
TERKHIIN TSAGAAN LAKE – TSENKHER HOT SPRINGS
This morning we cross the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach “the paradise of the horse breeders”, an area known for its lush grasses and wide valleys. Once again we will be amazed by the ever-changing landscapes and the beauty of the surrounding mountains. Along our way we stop at Tsetserleg, a small village nested in mountains among larch trees. We’ll buy fresh supplies at the local market and visit the Zayan Gegeen Museum. Our destination this afternoon is the natural Tsenkher Hot Springs in the Delger River Valley, a region of once-active volcanoes which still provide a number of excellent and refreshing hot springs. They flow directly from the mountains, reaching temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius and have been known for generations for their healing powers. This afternoon we will be free to enjoy this natural spa, to relax in a hot pool or to hike up to the source of the spring. Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit today.|
Overnight near Tsenkher Hot Springs. Shiveet Mankhan Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 10 MONDAY September 10
TSENKHER HOT SPRINGS – TUVKHUN MONASTERY
Today we drive to the Orkhon Valley, which is a United Nations World Heritage site. The valley is a land of nomadism and many breeders set up their summer camps here. Tuvkhun is one of the most beautiful monastery complexes in Mongolia, situated at Shireet Ulaan in a forested area of the Khangai Mountains. The first religious leader of Mongolia, Zanabazar, founded the site in 1653 and lived, worked and meditated here for 30 years. He also created the Soyombo alphabet. Several pilgrimage sites have grown up around the temple and hermit’s caves. One sacred place is said to be Zanabazar’s boot imprint. Tuvkhun Monastery consists of a stupa, prayer wheels and 14 temples.
Overnight near Shireet Ulaan. Talbiun Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 11 TUESDAY September 11
TUVKHUN – ONGI TEMPLE RUINS
Today we drive to the ruins of 17th Century Ongi Temple, a large monastery atBari Yonzon Hamba on the banks of a river. At its height the monastery had about one thousand monks. Like so many religious sites in Mongolia, Ongii was destroyed during the “Stalinist” period during the 1930s. Along the way we enjoy the vast steppe of the country. These wide, flat grasslands are typical of much of Mongolia and led to the Mongols becoming such great horsemen.
Overnight at Secret of Ongi Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 12 WEDNESDAY September 12
ONGI TEMPLE RUINS – BAYANZAG
Today we drive to the stunning Bayanzag “Flaming Red Cliffs” of sandstone, made famous in the 1920s through a number of Mongolian and American dinosaur expeditions here.
Overnight near Bayanzag. Gobi Tour Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 13 THURSDAY September 13
BAYANZAG – SOUTH GOBI DESERT
It’s a bit of a bumpy ride but the amazing desert “badlands” scenery of rock formations, vegetation, wild antelopes and two-humped camels is well worth every kilometre on our way to the Khongor Sand Dunes. The “Singing Sand” dunes (the sand makes musical noises as it’s moved along by the wind) are the largest and best in Mongolia, towering up to 300 metres tall.
First of 2 nights in the Gobi Desert. Gobi Erdene Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 14 FRIDAY September 14
KHONGORIIN ELS SAND DUNES EXCURSION
The sand dunes here change colour with each hour of the day, from yellow to silver to rose-colored (at dawn and sundown). Today we ride camels to explore the Khongor Sand Dunes. The two-humped Bactrian camels are very comfortable to ride as they walk slowly and gently. You will be well supported by the humps, sitting comfortably between them. Our camel man will lead you safely through the sand dunes. We visit a camel herding family to learn about their way of life, their culture and traditions.
Second of 2 nights in the Gobi Desert. Gobi Erdene Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
DAY 15 SATURDAY September 15
KHONGOR – EAGLE VALLEY
Our drive today takes us to Yolyn Am Gorge National Park (known as “Eagle Valley”), which sits deep in the desert hills, cool and sheltered from the heat. Some of the valley is so deep that large, solid ice fields (glaciers) remain in it year-round. The wildlife here is stunning and includes the enigmatic snow leopard. These areas are situated in Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Parkwhich also encompasses the “Three Beauties” peaks and the most easterly points of the Altai Mountains. We include a visit to the Gobi Museum.
Overnight near Eagle Valley. Gobi Mirage Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 16 SUNDAY September 16
EAGLE VALLEY – SOUTH GOBI
Today we drive to the escarpment of Tsagaan Suvarga, which seems to be the ruins of an ancient city but is in fact natural white rock formations eroded by the wind over thousands of years. They are about 60 metres (200 feet) high and 400 metres (1,300 feet) long. Southwest we visit another rock formation called Ulaan Suvarga, the “red stupa”.
Overnight at Tsagaan Suvarga Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 17 MONDAY September 17
TSAGAAN SUVARGA – MIDDLE GOBI
Today we drive to Baga Gazriin Chuluu, a 15km long by 10 km wide granite massif in Dund Gobi Province. The highest point is Tahilgat Mountain at 1,758 metres in the Northwest part of the stone massif. We visit the ruins of an ancient temple.
Overnight near Baga Gadzrïn Chuluu. Bayanbulag Tourist Ger Camp or similar. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.
DAY 18 TUESDAY September 18
BAGA GADZRÏN CHULUU – ULAANBAATAR
This morning we drive back to the capital across the steppe and enjoy free time this afternoon to explore and shop before we attending a performance of throat singing and traditional dancing.
Overnight in Ulaanbaatar. Bayangol Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 19 WEDNESDAY September 19
This morning we fly from Ulaanbaatar, crossing the International Date Line and arriving home in North America the same day.
Terms, conditions and restrictions apply; pricing, availability, and other details subject to change and/ or apply to US or Canadian residents. Please confirm details and booking information with your travel advisor.