Almost a century has passed since Roy Chapman Andrews led his Central Asiatic Expeditions through the vast plains of Mongolia, but Mongolia still remains one of the last true wilderness lands, with its well-preserved nomadic way of life and rich history beckoning the adventurous spirits in for a generous treat of the extraordinary and unforgettable.
One of the most celebrated explorers of the 20st century, Roy Chapman Andrews had an uncommon hunger for adventure and a gift for storytelling. Named after his book “Across Mongolian Plains” and inspired by his love of exploring, this journey follows in the footsteps of his Central Asiatic Expeditions on a beguiling blend of history, unique culture, scenic wilderness and active adventures.
We will trace the historic Beijing-Kalgan-Urga trail where camel caravans, - some carrying the Central Asiatic Expeditions’ supplies and fossil finds, - traversed back and forth between China and Mongolia for centuries. After exploring the ancient cities of Beijing and Kalgan, the modern day Zhangjiakou, we will travel on the historic trail on train and on car, stopping by places like the dinosaur park of the border town Erlian, or a famous Buddhist temple of Hamriin Hiid. Once we reach Ulaanbaatar, we will first drive northward to the “strangely restful valleys and rounded hills” of Gorkhi Terelj region, today a beloved National Park. Continuing on to the Gobi, for our very own camel caravan in the magnificent sand dunes and bonfire cocktails under the starry Gobi sky, we will re-discover the scenic Flaming Cliffs where Roy Chapman Andrews found the first ever dinosaur eggs world had ever seen.
The eastern steppes of Mongolia contain one of the world’s largest unfenced grasslands, home to estimated one to two million of white-tailed gazelles and a wide array of birdlife. To embark upon an expedition to this little-visited region is to explore our world in a way that few travelers can, and to experience the breadth of nature’s diversity that can be found only by journeying to the earth’s remotest corners.
Begin with an introduction to Mongolia’s Buddhist heritage and rich natural history at Ulaanbaatar’s Gandan Monastery and the Natural History Museum. Then set off for Eastern Mongolia, where the plane will touch down near our private campsite. In the days that follow, explore the area near Buir Lake and the Khalk River, where there will be opportunities for fishing, bird watching, and observing the area’s diverse plant and animal life. Camping beneath the stars at night and traversing the steppes and valleys by day, we will share the grasslands with species such as the elusive Pallas’ cat, six of the earth’s 13 species of crane, and majestic saker falcons. The region’s panoramic vistas, sparkling lakes and rivers, and isolated pine forests are an exhilarating reminder of nature’s power to amaze and inspire.
Central Mongolia is where most visitors begin their adventures, arriving byplane or rail in Ulaanbaatar. The nation’s capital and largest city, Ulaanbaatar contains an intriguing combination of the traditional and modern, where nomads’ gers and wooden temples sit side by side with concrete apartment buildings and modern high-rises.
The Gandan Monastery, priceless Buddhist treasures on display at the fine arts museum, and the natural history museum's impressive dinosaur hall are but a few of the capital's highlights. Another is Bogd Khan, a holy mountain that has been protected from logging and hunting since the 13th century, making it one of the Earth's oldest national parks.
The steppes of Central Mongolia, beginning only a short distance from the avenues of Ulaanbaatar, are home to many of the nomadic families who travel the plains with their livestock, as well as small towns and ger settlements. However, like much of Mongolia, most of the region is characterized by seemingly endless expanses of uninhabited countryside.
Two of Mongolia's most celebrated national parks, Hustain and Gorkhi-Terelj, are within short drives of the capital, encompassing vast preserves where a wide range of wildlife roam the grasslands, forests, and mountains. Among these is the takhi, the world's last surviving species of wild horse, as well as brown bear, elk, and moose.
Two hundred kilometers north of Ulaanbaatar, Hagiin Har Lake is one of Mongolia's best-kept secrets. Inaccessible by road, this idyllic spot in the Han Hentii Mountains lies hidden withina wilderness of coniferous forest and hills crossed by clear mountain streams.
In addition to its natural wonders, there are many historical sights to be explored in Mongolia's heartland, particularly in the Orkhon River Valley, which contains archaeological remains dating back several centuries. Few traces remain of Kharakhorum, the 13th-century capital of the Mongol Empire, but the nearby temple of Erdene Zuu was reputedly built from its ruins. The wall surrounding this vast monastery complex, which houses spectacular Buddhist art and architecture, is made up of over a hundred white stupas.
Horseback riding in the alpine forests of Northern Mongolia, kayaking on pristine Lake Hovsgol, enjoying a sunset picnic at the Flaming Cliffs, and riding camels through the Gobi are all part of this adventurous family expedition.
Begin with visits to Ulaanbaatar’s Natural History Museum and the bustling temples of the Gandan Monastery, followed by a day at a historical theme park recreating life during Chinggis Khan’s 13th-century empire. Next fly to Mongolia’s northernmost province for a horseback riding and camping expedition in the mountains and forests near Lake Hovsgol, as well as a kayaking trip on the lake’s clear blue waters. Two nights will be spent at a lakeside ger camp, sleeping in the traditional felt and canvas dwellings of Mongolia’s nomads.
Traveling south to the Gobi, young desert explorers, dinosaur hunters, and animal lovers will spend three exciting days discovering the secrets and surprises of this diverse region. The Three Camel Lodge, our award-winning luxury ger camp, will be the base for exploring the unusual landscapes and ice-covered rivers of the Yol Valley, as well as the dramatic Flaming Cliffs, where famed archeologist Roy Chapman Andrews found the first nest of dinosaur eggs.
Join one of our most unique adventures and explore diverse regions of Mongolia by traditional modes of transport: traveling by kayak and on horseback.
Traveling by kayak, glide across pristine Lake Hovsgol in the north, considered the cleanest freshwater lake on the planet, and explore the surrounding mountains on horseback. In the south, camel-trek through the Gobi and discover an awe-inspiring landscape with a surprising variety of wildlife. And in Central Mongolia, discover the beauty of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, where nomads camp and gazelles cross the grasslands beneath the vast blue sky. Approximately four to six hours will be spent in the saddle during horse trekking days, with Russian cavalry-style saddles provided for each participant. The kayaking portion of the trip will involve a full afternoon (approximately 2-4 hours) paddling in quality one- and two-person Folbot™ expedition kayaks. And in the Gobi, explore the diverse landscapes of this mystical desert on the back of a Bactrian camel. These two-humped camels, known for their strength and endurance, are easier to ride than horses and no prior experience is necessary.
In the north, the mysterious Uushigiin Deer Stones stand watch, fourteen remarkably well-preserved stone monuments dating back thousands of years. To the south, fossils await discovery beneath the dramatic sandstone walls of the Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs, where explorers uncovered the first dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. Witnesses to the earth’s ancient history, to the distant pasts of man and nature, and just two small parts of this wide-ranging Mongolian adventure.
We will begin the journey at Ulaanbaatar’s Gandan Monastery, where you will have a private audience with a lama, before traveling by helicopter to northern Mongolia’s Lake Hovsgol. Here you will explore the shoreline and meadows on horseback, kayak across the lake’s pristine waters, and visit the nomads who live in this region known for its untouched wilderness and traditional shamans.
Our next flight leads south to the Gobi, where for four days you will experience the unexpected diversity and startling contrasts of the desert landscapes. From the sand dunes of Moltsog Els to the Yol Valley, from the Bactrian camels that roam the sands to the eagles and falcons that circle the skies, the Gobi is a place where the incredible is commonplace. Following a flight back to the capital, the adventure concludes in Hustain Nuruu, a forested national park where the fortunate catch a glimpse of the earth’s last species of wild horses as they roam their natural habitat.
On this singular journey through northern Mongolia’s mountains and forests, you will join a nomadic family on their migration, as they move from the Darkhad Valley toward Lake Hovsgol. Traveling on horseback across varied terrain and through spectacular scenery, you will assist in the herding of the family’s livestock, such as sheep, goats, cows, and yaks, and become an integral part of this energizing experience. Beginning at the start of the migration, we will ride for five days, driving the animals along dry riverbeds and across high mountain passes, and spend the night in traditional gers set up among the larch forests.
The migration ends at the shores of Lake Hovsgol, where for two days we will explore the beautiful meadows and forests that border the lake’s clear waters. Your adventure will conclude with a visit to the Uushigiin Deer Stones, a group of carved stone monuments dating back millennia that are considered to be among the region’s greatest archaeological treasures.
Among Western Mongolia’s forested valleys and towering peaks, Bronze Age rock carvings and mysterious stone monuments dating back nearly 2,000 years stand watch over a landscape of extraordinary beauty. As you traverse this rugged wilderness on foot or horseback, and meet the people who call this remarkable place their home, the region begins to reveal its secrets. This ten-day expedition encompasses a journey to the ancient heart of Mongolia, where ancestral traditions live on among remote mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers – a land that remains largely untouched by the modern world.
In Hovd, known as the home of throat singing in Mongolia, you will experience the unique culture of the country’s most ethnically diverse province, before traveling across pristine mountain ecosystems to Tolbo Lake, where Kazakh horsemen hunt with trained golden eagles. And throughout your travels, there will be opportunities for horseback riding and hiking, as well as meetings with local nomadic families.
Few travel experiences can rival the thrill of an in-depth exploration of Mongolia and its cultures. This nine-day itinerary, which includes private helicopter journeys to an array of one-of-a-kind destinations, affords travelers the opportunity to experience the wonders that lay hidden among Mongolia’s disparate landscapes and ecosystems. To explore the region’s rich Buddhist heritage, nomadic culture, and natural splendor, is to encounter a land where the past is ever present, nature continually inspires, and the possibilities for discovery are unlimited.
Our journey begins when our helicopter touches down in the idyllic valley that is home to Amarbayasgalant, a monastery established in the eighteenth century and a rare example of traditional Mongolian architecture, before continuing on to the celebrated monasteries built near Kharakhorum. Here, near the former site of the Mongol Empire’s thirteenth-century capital, 108 stupas surround Erdene Zuu Monastery, a place of Buddhist activity for hundreds of years. Expeditions among the valleys and sand dunes of the Gobi, nights spent in the comfort of traditional nomadic dwellings, and the exquisite scenery surrounding the remote eight lakes of Naiman Nuur are just some of the highlights of this sweeping adventure.
The Darkhad Valley lies deep within Mongolia’s northern wilderness, an isolated region of mountains, lakes, and taiga forest where nomadic reindeer herders live much as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. This is where shamans carry on the traditions of one of the earth’s oldest spiritual practices, communicating with the realm of the gods and the spirits of their ancestors. And it is in this valley, reached by a private flight to the country’s northernmost village, that you will have the privilege of meeting those who act as conduits to the spirit world and witnessing a shaman dance.
For two days we will explore the valley, visiting representatives of the local shaman community and learning about their age-old ways. Our expedition will then turn south toward Lake Hovsgol, known as Mongolia’s “blue pearl,” where we will explore the famously pristine scenery, hiking through meadows and along forested lakeshores, and experience the hospitality of the area’s nomadic families.
On this intimate exploration of Buddhism in Mongolia, visit monasteries dating back hundreds of years, situated amidst some of the world’s most extraordinary natural scenery. Meet with the monks who practice there and observe their daily rituals, connect with the spiritualism of a culture with a deep Buddhist heritage, and delve into its history, arts, and practice.
Beginning at the capital’s Gandan Monastery, where you will receive a lama’s blessing to begin your journey, we will visit the country’s most significant monasteries. Travel by private helicopter to Amarbayasgalant, a monastery notable for its traditional architecture and beautiful setting, before traveling to the remarkable confluence of steppe, desert, and forest found in the foothills of the Hogno Han Mountains. Our next destination will be Erdene Zuu, a centuries-old monastery surrounded by 108 stupas, and nearby Shankh Hiid, a monastery once frequented by Zanazabar, the influential Buddhist sculptor.
Our final destination will be Mandshir Monastery, in the pine-scented valleys of Bogd Khan Mountain Reserve, a protected nature preserve established in the thirteenth century. And throughout the journey, there will be opportunities to experience Mongolia’s traditional nomadic culture through visits with local families and nights spent in traditional lodgings.