Join Nomadic Expeditions on this classic journey which offers a fascinating introduction to Mongolia’s diverse landscapes, its people, and culture. Explore the mountains, forests, and meadows of Hovsgol National Park, the cliffs and canyons of the Gobi, and take part take part in the celebrations surrounding Naadam, Mongolia’s national games. Wrestling, horse racing, and archery are the three age-old competitions traditionally used to measure the courage and strength of nomads and warriors. Contemporary Naadam Games showcase the abilities of local men, women, boys, and girls, and are also a time when family and friends get together to celebrate the short, joyful summer season.
July 9-19, 2021
$7,295 Per Person
$6,795 Per Person
$640 Per Person
$1,960 Per Person
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS + span>
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS
LAND PRICE INCLUDES:
Ground transportation in Mongolia as described in the itinerary
Transfers upon arrival and departure
All accommodations based on double or twin occupancy (hotel rooms and gers)
All meals in Mongolia including a camp cook while tenting
Bottled/filtered water throughout the trip and soft drinks at meals
All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in itinerary
Extensive pre-departure Travel Guide, reading list, important information about your trip, and luggage tags
Bilingual Nomadic Expeditions guide throughout your stay.
LAND PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International airfare; internal airfare is quoted separately and subject to change by airlines
Passport and visa fees
Comprehensive medical and trip insurance
Excess baggage charges
Photography and video fees
Tips to guides and drivers
Food and beverages not included in the group meals
Items of personal nature, including alcoholic beverages, laundry, and telephone calls
Other items not specifically mentioned as included
"Both Nomadic Expeditions and Mongolia truly exceeded my exceptions. Loved them both! Will hold this place in my heart forever, and hope to go back one day!"
Yvonne & Mike D.
"Nomadic is in every way a class act. We appreciated Nomadic's applying our deposit to this year's trip when we had to cancel last summer due to unexpected health issues, Wanda has been wonderful and very helpful throughout: another BRAVO. We will be very happy to continue to recommend Nomadic to our friends and acquaintances. Many thanks to the guides, to Wanda, and everyone at Nomadic."
"Hard to pick one thing....I loved it all, but really loved the Naadam festival!"
The contrast between ancient traditions and a 21st-century democracy is most visible in Ulaanbaatar, where traditional gers and Buddhist monasteries sit side by side with modern high-rises. Upon arrival at the airport you are welcomed by your Mongolian guide and transferred to a centrally located hotel within walking distance of various museums and shops.
(Shangri-La Hotel - Deluxe Room)
Day 2 - ULAANBAATAR | NAADAM HORSE RACING COMPETITION
Begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Although Buddhist monasteries were either destroyed or converted into museums during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Gandan Monastery continued to operate as a showpiece for government officials. However, in spite of the government’s efforts to suppress Buddhism and other religious beliefs, Mongolia’s spirituality persisted and a significant resurgence of Buddhism began in 1990 when Mongolia became a democracy.
Monasteries across the country are again opening their doors to worshippers and the few lamas who survived the purges are training a new generation. Extensive reconstruction and renovation projects are underway and priceless artifacts that were hidden for safekeeping by nomadic families are now being returned to monasteries. Next, drive through downtown Ulaanbaatar to the National Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture. The newly remodeled museum displays traditional implements of daily nomadic life including Stone and Bronze Age artifacts, historical costumes of Mongolia’s minority tribes, sacred religious relics, and agricultural, fishing, and hunting equipment. In the afternoon, drive to Khui Doloon Hudag (1 hour), the famous horse racing field in Mongolia, to experience true Mongolian horse race.
Horse racing originally involved adult jockeys and the most popular contests involved riding unbroken horses. Later, so as to ease the burden on horses in long-distance races, the adult riders were replaced by children as young as six years old riding broken horses. The racing is done both with and without saddles, and the horses that take part are two years old and older. Depending on the age of the horses, the distance of the races varies from 5 - 30 kilometers. The race’s winner is honored with a cup of airag (fermented mare’s milk), which he or she drinks and sprinkles on the head and croup of the horse. On arrival, you will meet with the horse wranglers and learn about the lineages of their Mongolian horses and their training techniques for the race. Walk to the race ground to witness horses gallop towards the finish line. Return to Ulaanbaatar and enjoy dinner at a fine local restaurant. (Shangri-La Hotel - Deluxe Room; B, L, D
Day 3 - NAADAM OPENING CEREMONY
Wake early in the morning to attend the Naadam Festival, the most popular festival in Mongolia. Observe as the celebrations begin with a colorful parade of marching soldiers, athletes, musicians, and people dressed as ancient warriors. True to its name, the festival is dedicated to the “Three Manly Games.” Archery: The skill of Mongolian archers and their advanced bow design was a significant asset to Chinggis Khan and his descendants during the years of Mongolian conquest.
In the past, sharpshooters would practice by aiming for the heads of marmots. At today’s Naadam games, small round leather targets are placed at a distance of 60-100 meters from the archers, who still use formidable compound bows made from wood, horn, and sinew. The archers wear a special glove on the thumb and index finger of the right hand and wrap the left arm in soft belts. Referees, lined up next to the targets, mark each hit, raise their hands, and move around the spot singing a short song of praise. The best archer receives the title of “mergen,” or marksman.
Wrestling: Each wrestler wears trunks, an open-fronted long- sleeved silk vest, and ornamental knee boots with upturned toes. Before the wrestling match begins, the wrestlers perform the “eagle’s dance” symbolizing power and invincibility. The wrestler who forces his competitor to touch the ground with his knees or elbow is considered the winner. The victor then repeats the “eagle’s dance,” with his opponent passing under his arm (as though under a wing) as a sign of submission.
(Shangri-La Hotel - Deluxe Room; B, L, D)
Day 4 - LAKE HOVSGOL
In the morning, fly north to Murun, the capital of Hovsgol Province, and continue overland to Lake Hovsgol (3 hours). The beauty and mystical qualities of Lake Hovsgol are legendary. Mongolia’s largest lake by water volume, it extends 85 miles in length, 18 miles in width, and is fed by over 90 streams and rivers. This crystal-clear alpine lake, known as Mongolia’s “dark blue pearl,” remains untouched by industry and is situated among the most pristine forests, mountains, and meadows in the world. Along the way, stop at Uushigiin Deer Stones, one of the best-preserved monuments of its kind in Mongolia. Dating back thousands of years, the Uushigiin Deer Stones are comprised of 14 magnificently preserved deer stones, lined from north to south and often referred to as the “graveyard of deer stones.” The front stone is carved with a human face on top and is the only one to have been found. Awareness of the Uushigiin Deer Stones has increased recently as a result of the Smithsonian Institute’s research at the site. Continue your drive to Lake Hovsgol. Overnight at a ger camp on the lakeshore.
(Double Lake Ger Camp - Standard Ger with ensuite facilities; B, L, D)
Day 5 - EXPLORING LAKE HOVSGOL
In the morning, begin your hike into the breathtakingly scenic Khoridal Saridag Mountains, bordering the western shore of Lake Hovsgol, where you will gain spectacular views of the lake from mountaintop. Return to the ger camp for lunch and enjoy an afternoon of kayaking on Lake Hovsgol using quality expedition kayaks. Explore the shoreline and photograph the surrounding mountains from the lakeside. You will also have the opportunity to visit local herders and learn about their traditional ways of living. Dinner at the camp.
(Double Lake Ger Camp – Standard Ger with ensuite facilities; B, L, D)
Day 6 - ULAANBAATAR
After breakfast, return to Murun for a flight to Ulaanbaatar. Along the way (time permitting), stop at Lake Irkh, a small saline lake in the midst of the steppe that is popular with a variety of birds. Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar in the late afternoon, transfer to the hotel. In the evening enjoy dinner at a fine local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
(Shangri-La Hotel – Deluxe Room; B, L, D)
Day 7 - THREE CAMEL LODGE
Set off in the morning across the vast steppe to the Gobi (1.5 hours). Contrary to the sameness that the word ‘desert’ suggests, the Gobi is a fascinating and diverse region, and includes the sites of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of the 20th century. Explore the stunning landscape of the Gobi, habitat for Bactrian camels, Argali mountain sheep, goitered gazelle, golden eagles, Saker falcons, jerboas (similar to kangaroo rats), and many endemic reptiles. Upon arrival, drive to the award winning Three Camel Lodge located at Bulagtai Mountain on the edge of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. The lodge offers a wide variety of activities to travelers from reading a book on Mongolia to watching a documentary about nomadic culture, and from learning traditional Mongolian games to enjoying a relaxing massage.
In the afternoon, drive to Tugregiin Shiree (1.5 hours), first explored by Polish expeditions in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Tugregiin Shiree is best known for the famous “Fighting Dinosaurs,” a fossil of a Protoceratops and Velociraptor locked in combat. Return to the camp in time for dinner.
(Three Camel Lodge - Deluxe Ger; B, L, D)
Day 8 - YOL VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Drive to Yol Valley National Park (1 hour), cradled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. An ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley, and its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that sometimes persist as late as July. A hike through the valley leads to the habitat of indigenous vulture-like Lammergeiers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks, and Argali mountain sheep. After your exploration of Yol Valley, drive back to Three Camel Lodge (2 hours). In the evening, if time permits, drive to the Havtsgait Valley, site of ancient rock drawings left by early Gobi settlers for more than 5,000-2,000 years ago. Hundreds of petroglyphs adorn rocks scattered on the top of the mountain.
(Three Camel Lodge - Deluxe Ger; B, L, D)
Day 9 - MOLTSOG ELS | FLAMING CLIFFS
In the morning, drive to Moltsog Els, one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes. Explore the sand dunes on foot or on back of a Bactrian camel. You have the opportunity to visit a local camel herding family and experience their hospitality and way of living.
In the late afternoon, travel to the legendary “Flaming Cliffs” (1 hour), named for the red-orange sandstone which glows brilliantly at sunrise and sunset. It was here, in 1922, that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. To the trained eye, the ancient formations of the Flaming Cliffs are rich with fossils, and paleontological expeditions continue to make significant discoveries at this site. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight.
(Three Camel Lodge - Deluxe Ger; B, L, D)
Day 10 - ULAANBAATAR
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the return flight to Ulaanbaatar (1.5 hours). On arrival in the afternoon, visit Bogd Khan Winter Palace museum, home of Mongolia’s last theocrat, Bogd Jabzan Damba Hutagt VIII. The museum displays elaborate ceremonial robes and other personal effects of “Mongolia’s 8th Living Buddha.” You will also visit the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum. Named in honor of Zanabazar, the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia and renowned sculptor, artist, and politician from the 17th century, the museum contains one of the best collections of Buddhist art and artifacts in the world, including many of Zanabazar’s original works.
In the evening, enjoy a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and khoomi throat singers.
(Shangri-La Hotel - Deluxe Room; B, L, D)
Day 11 - DEPARTURE
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for departure.