Across the vast grasslands stretching beneath Mongolia’s endless blue sky, one can find fascinating cultural treasures of the ancient past – monuments bearing runic inscriptions, mysterious stone carvings, and ruins of the capital of a once-great empire. An excellent introduction to Mongolia’s early history, this overland trip traverses diverse landscapes to discover the country’s most intriguing archaeological sites.
Travelers will explore ancient burial mounds, the site of the ancient city of Kharakhorum, Turkic “stone men,” and mysterious deer stones, erected thousands of years ago by Turkic-Mongol tribes and characterized by carvings of deer in a flying gallop. This journey into Mongolia’s past provides a unique perspective of the country’s rich history and culture. In addition, there will be opportunities to appreciate Mongolia’s unparalleled natural beauty, with visits to the sand dunes at the foot of the Hogno Han Mountains, the “Great White Lake” located in a magnificent national park, and two days on the shores of peaceful Lake Hovsgol.
Day 1-3 Ulaanbaatar | Ulaan Kherem | Har Buh
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Visit Gandan Monastery, the Zaisan Memorial and explore the National History Museum with a local historian. Drive to Ulaan Kherem, an important recently-discovered archaeological site, and Har Buh Fortress, which dates back to the time of Uighar domination.
Day 4-5 Ugii Lake | Kultegin Monument | Erdene Zuu Monastery | Har Balgas | Tsenheriin Rashaan
Drive to Kultegin Monument via Ugii Lake, erected for a prince during the Turkic Empire in the 8th century, along with visits to Erdene Zuu Monastery, Har Balgas – the 9th century Uigur capital in ruins – and the Tsenheriin Rashaan hot springs.
Day 6-9 Tsetserleg | Shivertiin Deer Stones | Terkiin Tsagaan Lake | Jargalant Soum
Explore the town of Tsetserleg, one of the most beautiful and archaeologically rich areas of the Mongolian heartland, along with the Shivertiin and Chuluut Deer Stones, Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake – the ‘Great White Lake’ of Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park – and the northern Jargalant, in which remains the ruins of Ariin Huree Monastery.
Day 10-13 Muron | Hyadagiin Deer Stones | Lake Hovsgol | Ulaanbaatar
Drive towards Muron, capital of Hovsgol Province, stopping along the way to visit nomadic families. Observe the Hyadagiin Deer Stones, five well-preserved relics, some of which reach the extraordinary height of nine feet. Continue overland to Lake Hovsgol, exploring the lakeshore and surrounding mountains. Return to Ulaanbaatar.