Mongolia

The Outdoor Capital of the World
Medium

Why should you choose Koryo Tours?

Choosing to travel to unusual destinations such as North Korea is a big decision, and choosing the right people to take you is an incredibly important part of that. Learn about how we facilitate tourism responsibly in some of the most interesting and unique destinations on our planet, and at the same time ensure you get the most out of your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

View the video

Join us as we uncover the stories surrounding this enigmatic country and its wildlife

We have worked closely with our carefully selected Mongolian partners to bring you a tour which is more than just a simple visit to their country; this will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip that is full of excitement, adventure, incredible surroundings, and unforgettable moments.

Mongolia is an amazing gem and one of my favourite places on earth both for landscapes and people. I have always felt that when I leave this region the sky never seems as blue, the mountains never as beautiful and the people never as interesting.

— Rich Beal, Koryo Tours

We have worked closely with our carefully selected Mongolian partners to create Mongolian tours that are more than just a simple visit to their country. Our trips to Mongolia are full of excitement, adventure, and unforgettable moments. The journey will be unique, educational, and fun.

Our tours to Mongolia are led by one of our most experienced tour leaders, Rich Beal. Rich has led tours all over the world since 2004. He is personally attached to this particular area, as he has over 20 years of experience in running and designing tours of the region. He currently lives in Mongolia and is incredibly knowledgeable about the country.

Video by Michael Van Gorkom, who travelled with us on our 'Beyond the Steppe' Tour in 2017.

May 2024 — 2 tours

May 18 - May 24 2024

Soviet Mongolia May Tour

Exploring abandoned Soviet sites around
Mongolia: Airbases, abandoned towns, and
more!

This 6 night tour is an exploratory adventure
looking at remains left from the Soviet period
in Mongolia.

From 2,100 USD per person

Please apply by 1st May, 2024.

Soviet Mongolia May Tour

Exploring abandoned Soviet sites around
Mongolia: Airbases, abandoned towns, and
more!

This 6 night tour is an exploratory
adventure looking at remains left
from the Soviet period in Mongolia.

From 2,100 USD per person

  • Overall

    Exploring Mongolia's Soviet past.

    A new Mongolia tour in 2023, now improved for 2024!

    Mongolia was never part of the Soviet Union, but as a Soviet satellite it received guidance, money, expertise, and infrastructure; the latter of which remained long after the country's independence.   

    This adventure takes us in and around Ulaanbaatar as well as down to the Gobi desert, looking at the Soviet history of Mongolia.

    We start within this nomadic nation's capital Ulaanbaatar where we'll explore dusty Soviet-era museums, wonder at bold 1950s architecture, and gaze at statues erected to red heroes and Russian giants. 

    Travelling on part of the trans-Mongolian railway, the tour will trundle south and explore abandoned apartments and once-sprawling Soviet bases. Built at the time of the Sino-Soviet split these large military installations were prepared for a war that was never to happen.

    Read more on the tour here

    Highlights

    • Experience Mongolia's little-known communist past. 
    • Wander around deserted Soviet-built apartments, explore abandoned military bases, and peer behind Ulaanbaatar's rapidly growing modern facade. 
    • Find hidden statues of Lenin, Marshal Zhukov, and the Mongolian leaders of their day. 
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 7
    1. Saturday, May 18th 

      For all of those joining this adventure, you will be met at the airport upon arrival and transferred to our group hotel. The meeting time is 18.00, although for those of you who arrive early we will meet for an orientation walk.

      • Hotel Ulaanbaatar: Built in 1961, is a hotel of many firsts constructed during the Communist period. It was the first hotel in the country, the first public building with running hot water, and the first 5-star hotel in Mongolia too. Designed by the wife of Mongolia's then communist leader Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal.
      • Sükhbaatar Square: Named after Mongolian's revolutionary hero Damdin Sükhbaatar shortly after his death in 1923, although in 2013 the square's name was briefly changed to Chinggis Square much to the ire of many local people. 2016 saw a change back to the original title which has remained. In the centre of the square stands an equestrian statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar himself, while a large monument dedicated to Genghis Khan sits atop the steps of the government palace.
      • National University of Mongolia: established in 1942. We pay a visit to view its Soviet architectural style and to catch a glimpse of the statue of Khorloogiin Choibalsan. Choibalsan was referred to by some as the 'Stalin of Mongolia' as he oversaw the purges of the 1930s of which it’s estimated over 35,000 people were killed.
      • State Department Store: established in 1921 this relic from the Soviet period has seen many changes but is worth the visit as it still has a few older retro corners to be visited. As well as its history, it houses everything you may need from money changers to supermarket and souvenir vendors.
      • The Beatles Statue: the Beatles never visited Mongolia, but there is indeed a beautiful statue erected for them. The story goes that local people raised money to have it built after the Soviet period, in memory of the music they illegally listened to during that period.
      • As we walk back to the hotel, we will pass the National Academic Drama Theater, Mongolian Stock Exchange and The National Theater: all excellent examples of Russian design and construction.

      Hotel: Hotel Ulaanbaatar

      Meals: Dinner

    2. Sunday, May 19th

      This morning, after breakfast, it is straight out as we explore the city on foot and by bus.

      • Mongolian Military museum: this ageing museum is home to Russian MIGs, rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns, and tanks - and that's only on the outside! The museum interior covers history from the Mongol empire right the way through to its more recent Soviet past. After our visit, it's on to the former home (now a museum) of Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov.
      • Marshal Zhukov House Museum, this small but exciting museum wasopened in 1979 in the same house where Zhukov stayed from 1939-1940 as he directed Soviet troops in the battle of Tavan Gol. We get to view his living quarters as well as pictures, maps and weapons from around the time of the Soviet defeat of the Japanese army at this little known but crucial battle.
      • Marshal Zhukov statue: Located in a small square next to the Zhukov Museum is a rather splendid figure of the man himself.
      • Lenin statue: for those interested in Lenin statues (and who isn't?), we have quite a treat as we pay a visit to the Lenin statue once located in front of the Ulaanbaatar hotel. This statue, commissioned in 1951, stood for many years until it was taken down in 2012 by the then-mayor of Ulaanbaatar. It has found a few homes since that time and now resides within a local residential area.  

      After lunch, we continue with our tour as we visit further into the city, stopping at local apartments to view mosaics found still in place at the end of traditional Soviet apartment blocks. Our last visit of the day prepares us perfectly for our overnight train

      • Ulaanbaatar open air Railway museum: this pre-dinner visit sets us up perfectly for tonight's overnight train journey. The museum houses six locomotives used throughout the last 65 years. Many of the engines still have their soviet detailing and imagery, including a large image of Joseph Stalin.
      • Ganden Monastery: One of the few remaining Buddhist Temples which survived the Soviet purges of the 1930s and 40s - today the largest monastery in the city, home to enormous statues, hundreds of monks, and some beautiful traditional Mongolian architecture.

      After an early dinner, we board our local train to SainShand town, Dornogovi province. We have four-berth cabins as we trundle along part of the trans-Mongolian railway.

      Hotel: Overnight train

      Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    3. Monday, May 20th

      • Sainshand Town | We’ll arrive in the early morning at Sainshand Town. After alighting the train, for those awake enough, we will pause to view the small, but well-appointed Soviet outpost train station before heading into town for a basic breakfast.
         
      • Sainshand Town is the capital of Dornogovi Province and lies due southeast of Ulaanbaatar, sitting to the east of the Gobi desert surrounded by scrub and flat arid terrain. This remote town is a real mix of old and new. Only 130 miles from the Chinese border, this position made Sainshand an essential military base during the Sino-Soviet split.
         
      • Sainshand was once home to the air-missile intelligence stations of the Soviet Union; these would protect the underbelly of Russia from possible attack from a hostile China. The town was separated into three distinct areas: north, south, and east. Unfortunately, in modern times, the northern section has been destroyed and used to construct newer buildings; the east was sealed off for use by the Mongolian Air Force.
         
      • Soviet Past | Following breakfast, we will see what remains of the town’s Soviet past as we look to the southern area of this frontier settlement. Luckily for us, a little still remains, mainly used for habitation and business for local people.
         
      • Shivee-Ovoo | After lunch, we drive 2 hours north to the village of Shivee-Ovoo. This small habitation was once home to the Soviet motorised rifle division; believe it or not, there were up to fifteen thousand soldiers once here. These days all that remains in this desolate windswept area are the former homes built for the servicemen and their families and the officer’s mess. A little exploring will also reveal a few fascinating mosaics.
         
      • Choir | Once we have finished our Soviet exploration for the day, we have our final drive to the provincial capital, Choir. Once here, we locate a local restaurant for our evening meal and then head to our hotel for tonight situated in one of the former Soviet district block apartments.

      Accommodation: Art Hotel

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. Tuesday, May 21st

      • Choir | After breakfast, we’re ready to continue our exploration of Choir, heading to the Soviet-style Choir Railway Station, outside of which is a Statue of Yuri Gagarin built to commemorate the flight into space of Mongolia’s first cosmonaut Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa in 1981.
         
      • During the Soviet period, Choir housed the most extensive military base for the Soviet Union, but that has long gone with many of the buildings dismantled. We will explore what is left and make sure to visit the 25-meter high statue erected in honour of the USSR’s war heroes.
         
      • Former Airbases | Upon leaving Choir, we’ll continue north, and, after a while, we’ll make a stop at one of the region’s former airbases. Here it gets even more interesting as we have the opportunity for a bit of ‘urbex’ (urban exploration) and see one of the abandoned MiG monuments (a former MIG fighter jet raised pointing skyward). We will also be permitted to enter the former base to see some of the remaining airfield buildings if we’re lucky.
         
      • Bagakhangai | From here, we’ll drive onwards to check on another former Soviet airbase located in the town of Bagakhangai; we plan to access the area and its abandoned aircraft hangers. Around the town, there are also some derelict buildings worthy of our time and attention for a bit more exploring.
         
      • Baganuur | Next, we drive across the rolling countryside to the city of Baganuur. Baganuur was created to serve the Soviet military base, which was home to the 12th Motor Rifle Division. The Russians have gone now, but the city retains much of its former Soviet design and currently serves the nearby Baganuur coal mine.
         
      • As we arrive late today, we head straight to our hotel for dinner and then some well-deserved rest.

      Accommodation: TBC

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. Wednesday, May 22nd

      • Urbex 12th Motor Rifle Division | We’re up and out early, driving out of Baganuur further east to have a look at what remains of the base that once belonged to the 12th Motor Rifle Division. Much of this has now gone; taken down and recycled, although some of the living quarters remain and offer us a little more ‘urbex’.
         
      • Ulaanbaatar | Once we have finished exploring the remains of the Soviet base, we board our vehicles and begin to make our way back to the Red Hero City, Ulaanbaatar. As we journey back, we will stop at one of the small towns that serve the still functioning aerodrome. The MiG 21 in the children’s play area here is a particular highlight!
         
      • Genghis Khan Statue | As we make our way back, we’ll stop at a more modern statue built for the ancient leader, and most famous Mongolian; Genghis Khan. Finished in 2008, the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue makes for a great visit, offering views over the surrounding countryside.
         
      • Ulaanbaatar Resident | Once we return to Ulaanbaatar, we will visit the home of a resident who has, over the years, amassed an impressive array of Lenin statues and memorabilia. He loves to meet interested visitors to show off and talk about his collection proudly.
         
      • Once we’ve arrived and checked back into our hotel, you’ll have the rest of the day to rest and relax.

      Accommodation: Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    6. Thursday, May 23rd

      • Mongolian National Gallery | Today is another day of exploring the nation’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. This morning, we’re out on foot to visit the nearby Mongolian National Gallery. This impressive building houses many of the artworks of Mongolia. As well as the art, the architecture here is terrific, incorporating some fantastic mosaics and stained glass windows from the country’s communist past.
         
      • From art to dinosaurs, we’ll walk further into the city to view some of the small city squares that would have once been adorned with monuments commemorating Mongolia’s socialist neighbour but have since been replaced with more nationalistic Mongolian figures and symbols.
         
      • Mongolian Dinosaur Museum | Our destination is the Mongolian Dinosaur Museum. This building once housed the nation's Lenin Museum built especially for the father of communism. The outside is adorned with brass reliefs depicting the great man himself as well as Engels and Marx. Although once inside, you may need to use your imagination a little! The architecture remains, although where Lenin's statue once stood now stands Mongolia’s very own T-Rex!
         
      • Zaisan | After a spot of lunch, we’ll head across the city to the upmarket Zaisan area; we’re not here to drink an overpriced coffee but to climb the 612 steps up the hill to the famed Zaisan monument. Built in 1956, the monument commemorates the friendship between the USSR and Mongolia.
         
      • Revolutionary Mongol Tank Brigade Monument | The lower reaches of Zaisan incorporate the Revolutionary Mongol Tank Brigade Monument; this monument combines an original T-34 tank and a map of its journey from manufacturing in the Soviet Union to Berlin. Following our tour of the remaining Soviet sites in Ulaanbaatar, we’ll return to our hotel before heading out into the city for our last group meal.

      Accommodation: Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. Friday, May 24th

      Departure day

      We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes, and your memories, and have a safe trip home!

      Included Meals: Breakfast

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • All Listed Meals
    • All Listed Accommodation
    • Local Guide / Tour Leader
    • Visa Assistance
    • Transport & Driver
    • Water
    • National park entrance fees 
    • Site entrance fees

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights to/from Mongolia
    • Travel Insurance
    • Snacks/Drinks/Extra Expenses
    • Tips for crew 
    • Meals not listed

Please apply by 1st May, 2024.

May 22 - May 31 2024

The Beauty of Mongolia Tour

Explore the wilds of Central
Mongolia and the Gobi Desert

Explore Beautiful Mongolia
with 9 Nights in Central Mongolia

From 2,200 USD per person

Please apply by 8th May, 2024.

The Beauty of Mongolia Tour

Explore the wilds of Central
Mongolia and the Gobi Desert

Explore Beautiful Mongolia
with 9 Nights in Central
Mongolia

From 2,200 USD per person

  • Overall

    This 9-night Mongolia tour adventure starts in Mongolia's bustling capital Ulaanbaatar and strikes out into the country's rolling heartland.

    Calling at the ancient former imperial capital of Karakorum and the sacred Orkhon Valley, we will head south to Mongolia's famed Gobi Desert. This is a remote region synonymous with adventure and excitement...

    Once the stomping ground of explorers, fossil hunters, and invaders, this part of Mongolia now welcomes modern travellers searching the Gobi for the experience of a lifetime.

    So, travel with us as we glimpse once-nearly-extinct horses, temples dating to Kublai Khan's grand empire, roaring waterfalls, rolling dunes, and flame-coloured cliffs.

    Highlights

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Wednesday 22nd May

      Arrival. 

      • Sukhbaatar Square & Exploration | Once you've had a chance to relax, we'll head out into the city for a bit of light exploration. Visiting the nation's heart, Sukhbaatar Square, surrounded by important buildings such as the government palace, central banks, theatres, and the post office, all in their original Soviet design. There is an equestrian statue of Sukhbaatar and a massive bronze monument of Genghis Khan flanked by two of his many sons and two of his most important generals.
         
      • Dinner | After a brief look around the city centre, it's off to dinner for our first group meal.

      Meals | Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

    2. Thursday 23rd May

      • Mongolian Countryside | This morning the adventure begins as we leave Ulaanbaatar and drive out into Mongolia’s beautiful countryside, making our way to Hustai National Park.
         
      • Hustai National Park (Khustain Nuruu) | This has been a protected area since 1993 - a unique landscape containing both mountains and steppe within a relatively small area. The national park is home to the rare Mongolian wild horse known as Perzevalski or Takhi; once extinct in the wild, the Perzevalski Horse is a true conservation success story with captive breed horses released into, and then surviving in, the wild.
         
      • Local Herder Family | On the way to the park, we'll visit a local herder family and pay a visit to an area known as the ‘Mini Gobi’: a collection of exotic rolling dunes that look evocatively out of place surrounded by green steppe.
         
      • Ger Camp & Lunch | Once we arrive at the park, we'll check into our Gers before grabbing a spot of lunch at the camp restaurant.
         
      • Following a hearty welcome meal, we'll have a little time to view the onsite visitors centre to learn a little more about the region, the horses and various other flora and fauna native to Hustai National Park.
         
      • Takhi Horses | Mid-afternoon offers us the best time to catch a sighting of the beautiful Takhi horses. So we'll pile into our trucks, drive out into the rolling terrain, and spot these amazing beasts coming down from the mountains for water at the nearby river. As well as the famed Perzevalski horse, it is also possible to see foxes, red deer, roe deer, eagles, and other native animals in this area.
         
      • Once we've finished our Mongolian safari, it's back to the camp for dinner and to spend our first night under canvas in an authentic Mongolian Ger.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Hustai National Park

    3. Friday, 24th May

      • After breakfast, we’ll continue the adventure with a drive to the ancient capital of Karakorum and Erdenezuu Monastery.
         
      • Karakorum |  The capital of the Mongolian Empire at its height. It was from Karakorum that Genghis Khan's son, Ogedei Khan, would rule the largest land empire the world has ever known.
         
      • During Karakorum's golden age, much of the city was comprised of tents, and, as the Mongolian Empire went into decline, the city's decay was rapid. These days, all that remains of this once-great settlement is the impressive Erdene Zuu Monastery, as well as a few scattered but not unimpressive archaeological finds.
         
      • Erdene Zuu Monastery | Once we arrive at Karakorum, our first stop will be Erdene Zuu Monastery; impressive even if a shadow of its former self. We'll see the resident monks in their afternoon prayer rituals here. Following our monastery visit, we will visit the unique archaeological museum to see some recent historical finds.
         
      • These days Karakorum has a real melancholic feel to it, and before we head to our Ger camp for the evening, we'll be sure to cut through its centre so that you can gain a snippet of life in this once grand settlement.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Ger Camp

    4. Saturday, 25th May

      • Orkhon River | Today we depart our Ger camp early, stopping at a nearby shop to stock up on supplies for the journey. We continue south, following Mongolia's ever-changing scenery trailing the famed Orkhon River and its UNESCO-listed valley.
         
      • Khangai Mountain Range | The drive to Orkhon takes us through the Khangai mountain range, offering beautiful landscapes comprised of gorges, river valleys, and green steppe.
         
      • Tovkhon Monastery | We leave the main track for a small mountainous trail that leads to the Tovkhon Monastery.
         
      • Perched atop the sacred Shireet Ulaan Mountain, Tovkhon Monastery is only reachable on foot. It is from this monastery in 1686 that the first religious leader of Mongolia, Zanabazar, composed the Soyombo script. This is what we know as the traditional Mongolian writing system that is present on the Mongolian flag today and is the source of much national pride. 
        (Bonus: can also be used to write Tibetan and Sanskrit!)
         
      • At 2312 meters above sea level, the monastery offers breathtaking views of the Khangai mountain range and the surrounding area.
         
      • Orkhon Waterfalls | From the monastery, we continue the adventure with a final visit of the day to the Orkhon Waterfalls. They were formed more than 20,000 years ago by a combination of earthquakes and volcanic activity; these 16-meter-high waterfalls are Mongolia's largest, and are rarely visited and simply magical.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Ger Camp

    5. Sunday, 26th May

      • The Gobi Desert | Today, we move from the green mountains of Khangai into the Gobi landscape. As we journey, the scenery still impresses as we pass lush green winding river valleys that transition into the Gobi region's scrub-filled desert region.
         
      • Saikhan Ovoo | We pass into Saikhan Ovoo, a small province in Mongolia's heartland patchworked with green steppe, rugged rock formations and almost Martian terrain.
         
      • Ongi Temple & Museum | A place of quiet solitude on the Ongiin Gol River known as Ongi Temple. The ruins of two monasteries, Barlim and Khutagt, remain on the north and south shores of the river. We visit this site, commonly collectively known as the Ongii Lamasery and its little museum.
         
      • Ongi used to be one of Mongolia's most extensive monasteries and home to over a thousand monks, until its destruction in 1937 by the Soviet army. In 2002, some monks returned and began restoration work with a small budget, making up for what they lacked monetarily with inspiring spiritual fervour.
         
      • This evening, our Ger camp is located only a stone's throw from the temple and offers a chance for serene relaxation, further hiking, or exploration.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Secret of Ongii Camp

    6. Monday, 27th May

      • Three Beauties | After breakfast, we depart our Ger camp and head into the Gobi Desert proper. We journey past the "Three Beauties", mountain range derived from the three subranges, the easternmost ‘Zuun Saikhan', the central ‘Dund Saikhan' and the westernmost ‘Baruun Saikhan'.
         
      • The Gobi Desert is vast, and our foray onto its plains today only gives us a snippet of its actual size; for the Gobi Desert reaches into six Mongolian aimags (provinces) and also crosses into China. The Gobi is the sixth-largest desert globally and the second in Asia; a wide-open place of extremes; our first stop is one of the signature sights of this incredible region.
         
      • Bayanzag – (the Flaming Cliffs) | Stunningly beautiful, with its flame-coloured sandstone cliffs and canyons. Aside from its obvious wow factor, Bayanzag is also where American palaeontologist Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the world's first-ever recorded dinosaur eggs and a mighty haul of various other fossils. A walk along the cliffs here is a walk in the footsteps of the man on whom Indiana Jones was modelled!
         
      • Once we have finished our exploration, it's off to the nearby Ger camp where we can relax, drink, and maybe return to the cliffs to catch the changing colours as sunsets, making a perfect end to an exciting day.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Gobi Oasis

    7. Tuesday, 28th May

      • Khongor Sand Dunes | The adventure continues as we bid farewell to the Flaming Cliffs, board our vehicles and journey onwards through the wilds of the Gobi Desert to the Khongor Sand Dunes (Khongoryn Els) also known as the Singing Sands.
         
      • Along the route, we pass some of the typical Gobi terrain, a loose mix of pebbles, gravel and fine sand; however, we will cross a fertile area of steppe where we'll visit one of the traditional nomadic families who call this desolate region home.
         
      • The Khongor Sand Dunes, as the name suggests, are a dune system found within the Gobi; as only around 3% of the Gobi desert is covered in sand, the sight of these 300-metre-high gigantic dunes is something to behold. The shifting sands of Khongoryn Els stretch out for over 180 km, although we arrive in the most impressive area and stay at a Ger camp with views across these giants.
         
      • Khongor's Camel Herders | Once we have eaten lunch and waited for the day to cool a little, we'll continue our adventure and visit one of Khongor's resident camel herder families. We can think of no better way to approach these monstrous dunes than atop a camel. After arriving, we will have time enough to climb and explore the dunes; a tiring, but incredibly rewarding, effort when one reaches the top!
         
      • If you are fortunate, you may also experience why the Khongor Dunes are known as 'the singing dunes'. When the wind blows across the sand's surface in the right direction, an eerie sound is emitted, sounding like an aircraft to some, and a sinister monstrous being to others.
         
      • Another day nears its end, but as with much of the Gobi Desert's natural scenery, the Khongor Dunes come alive at sunset. View them from the top of the dunes themselves, or from the comfort of our relaxing Ger camp while enjoying a cold drink after dinner.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Gobi Erdene Ger Camp

    8. Wednesday, 29th May 

      • After enjoying a filling breakfast in our Ger camp, it's back aboard our vehicles as we continue the adventure.
         
      • Yol Valley | This morning it's bumpy going as we leave the Khongor area, making our way to the Yol Valley.
         
      • As we travel, we will stop for photos along the way as the landscape transitions from a typical sandy desert, hard clay, rock, stone and steppe; summing up how diverse the Gobi Desert really is.
         
      • Gurvansaikhan Mountains | We'll eventually arrive at the Gurvansaikhan Mountains heading into the Yolyn Am Gorge. Meaning 'Vulture's Gorge' Yolyn Am is a magnificent mountain valley 40 km long and offers an exciting path to anyone willing to experience part of its length on foot.
         
      • We begin at the valley's wide entrance, following the small river into the canyons, with cliffs narrowing around us. As the steep-sided walls cut the sun from the canyon's bottom, we will catch a glimpse of the locally famous frozen river. Over the winter months, the river builds up a thick layer of ice, which thaws slowly and often remains long into the summer months. As you follow the winding path, eagles rise to circle in the thermals high above the canyon, whilst wild goats can be seen perched on the high valley walls and pikas (desert rodents) scurry through the rocky terrain.
         
      • For those who may have used all of their energy climbing the dunes yesterday, or who wish to make the walk a bit easier, there are plenty of horses for rent at the entrance of the canyon.
         
      • Once we have finished at the Yol Valley, we will drive to our accommodation for tonight - another well-appointed Ger camp where we will have a chance to chat about our adventures over a drink or two.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Gobi Oasis 1

    9. Thursday, 30th May

      • Internal Flight | After an early morning start, we say a fond farewell to the Gobi Desert and board a flight returning to Mongolia's capital, Ulaanbaatar.
         
      • Gandan Monastery | However, our tour isn't over as we're off into the city to explore some of Ulaanbaatar's must-see sites - the first stop is the Gandan Monastery.
         
      • Gandan Monastery is Ulaanbaatar's largest and most impressive Buddhist monastery; a complex comprising temples from different periods and eras; one particular highlight is viewing the 26-meter-high gold-coated indoor Buddha.
         
      • National Museum of Mongolian History | From temple to museum, we head further into the city and stop at the National Museum of Mongolian History to see artefacts from Mongolia and Central Asia dating as far back as the Stone Age. Very useful for understanding the context of this fascinating region as well as the depth of its geological and human history.
         
      • Folklore Show | In the evening, we have one last visit, the " Wonders of Mongolia" folklore show fronted by the locally famous Tumen-Ekh ensemble. One of the country's most famous and successful folk art groups, performing traditional Mongolian music.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

    10. Friday, 31st May

      • Departure | Today, it's time to bid goodbye to Mongolia.
         
      • We'll head to Genghis Khan International Airport to see you off. Although the tour is over, you'll be flying home with a head full of memories and stories to share with your friends and family!

      Meals | Breakfast

      Overnight | N/A

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • All Listed Meals
    • All Listed Accommodation
    • Internal Flights
    • Local Guide / Tour Leader
    • Visa Assistance
    • Transport & Driver
    • Water

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights to/from Mongolia
    • Travel Insurance
    • Snacks/Drinks/Extra Expenses
    • Tips for Guides / Tour Leader

Please apply by 8th May, 2024.

July 2024 — 2 tours

July 1 - July 13 2024

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe
2024

Ulaanbaatar to Hovd and Bayan
Olgii in far western Mongolia

Explore Mongolia’s Wild West over the Naadam Festival. Meet Kazakh eagle hunters, hike
in the stunning Altai Mountains, and experience Mongolia’s largest holiday celebration.
Go beyond the Steppe!

From 2,950 USD per person

Please apply by 1st February, 2024.

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe 2024

Ulaanbaatar to Hovd and Bayan
Olgii in far western Mongolia

Explore Mongolia’s Wild West over the Naadam Festival. Meet
Kazakh eagle hunters, hike in the stunning Altai Mountains,
and experience Mongolia’s largest holiday celebration. Go
beyond the Steppe!

From 2,950 USD per person

  • Overall

    The summer Naadam Festival is one of the best times to travel to Mongolia for the annual games of horse racing, archery, and wrestling. It is also the busiest time to visit the country. We’ll get you to Mongolia’s far west to see how the Naadam Festival is celebrated away from the crowds. Starting in Ulaanbaatar, we’ll fly west to Hovd and travel overland to Bayan Olgii. Along the way, we’ll experience not only traditional Mongolian life but also the culture of the Kazakh and Tuvan people. Meet and chat with eagle hunters, shamans, and nomads who live in the region.

    Travelling off-road and sleeping in ger and tents, we'll also get our hands dirty in the great outdoors of the Altai mountains and have the chance to try out horseback riding. Come along for 12 unforgettable Mongolian summer nights over the Nadaam festival.

    Koryo Tours’ tour leader Rich Beal has been leading tours in Mongolia for 15 years and frequently travels beyond the capital Ulaanbaatar to the country’s far west, far north, and south into the Gobi Desert. Looking to see more of Mongolia? Come along for Koryo Tours’ Gobi Explorer right after Naadam.

    See below for highlights, a full itinerary, and additional information about the Naadam Festival Western Mongolia Tour - Beyond the Steppe.

    Read more about the Naadam Festival in Mongolia.  

    Highlights

    Experience Nadaam -- the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians
    Visit Mongolian, Kazak and Tuva nomadic families
    Enjoy horseback riding Hike the high mountains (with views across to Russia and China)
    Swim in mountain lakes and rivers
    Explore the Altai and Bayan Ulgii region of Mongolia
    Construct and sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt)
    Marvel at the skill of local eagle hunters
    Stay with and learn from local Yak herders

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 13
    1. Monday 1st July

      Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

      • Check-in | Upon landing in Mongolia’s capital, we make our way to our centrally located hotel to recharge before our adventure begins. If you’re feeling energetic, you can take our optional walking tour to get your first taste of this fascinating city before returning for our 4 pm hotel briefing.
         
      • Introduction | Here, we’ll give you an overview of the country and culture along with some etiquette tips for visiting the homes of the Shamans, Kazakhs, and Tuvan people we’ll meet along the way. Then join us for a city walk, this time by night. Get a glimpse of Sükhbaatar Square, named after the revolutionary hero Damdinii Sükhbaatar; the statues of Genghis Khan and other Mongolian generals are even more impressive when lit up at night.

      Meals | Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. A local hotel situated in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, within a 5-minute walk from the main square. This hotel offers a great location from which to step out and explore the city.

    2. Tuesday 2nd July

      Tour of the city, and then fly to Bayan Olgii

      • Gandantegchinlen | We start our day with a visit to Gandantegchinlen, Ulaanbaatar’s largest Buddhist monastery, where we can see practising monks and learn about the role of Mongolia’s largest religion.
         
      • State Department Store | After visiting Ganden Monastery, we’ll head back to the city’s heart, stopping for supplies at the State Department Store. Today privately owned, this is a throwback to the old Soviet sales system where everything is under one roof and you pay with multiple receipts before returning for your purchases. This is an ideal opportunity to stock up on trip supplies, even outdoor gear, so if you’ve discovered your sleeping bag has a hole, now’s the time to upgrade.
         
      • Internal Flight to Bayan Olgii | After lunch, we’ll take a two-hour flight to Bayan Olgii and pile into our UAZ 452s. We’ll begin our drive as soon as we arrive, heading out into the Altai Mountains to Khar Us Lake.
         
      • Bayan-Olgii (or Ulgii) Province, known locally as the ’Roof of Mongolia’, is a remote land of glaciers and mountain peaks; travellers can go for days without seeing a soul. This area is home to the Kazakh people, practising Muslims and Mongolia’s most significant ethnic group; here, we’ll learn how nomadic life in the mountains differs from that on the steppe.
         
      • We’ll stop by mud-brick winter houses that Kazakhs use when the temperature drops below -30*C in the winter months and the famed Kazakh yurts can’t keep out the cold. As we journey, we will cross high passes and trundle through beautiful picturesque summer valleys made all the more stunning as herds of yak frolic in the sun.
         
      • Arrive at Host-Family | We will arrive at our host eagle-hunting family in the late afternoon in time to pitch our tents before learning a little more about the Kazakh way of life.
         
      • Most families keep their golden eagles for hunting rabbits, hares, and even small deer; it is even claimed that many eagle hunters treat their eagles as well as their children.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight |  Camping / Tent. We will build tents as a group next to a local family on this night with the assistance of our local team. 

    3. Wednesday 3rd July

      Khurgan and Khoton Lakes

      • Western Mongolia | Today’s journey takes us through the western Mongolian wildlands, over moraines (glacial debris) and ancient burial sites, with stone-age rock carvings of animals and hunting scenes covering the mountainside. The spectacular Khurgan and Khoton Lakes lie at an altitude of 2,073 metres, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
         
      • Camp at Khoton Lake | We’ll set up camp not far from the shore of Khoton Lake amongst the trees of the high alpine forest alongside a local family. Once the tents have been erected and our friendly hosts have greeted us, it’s time to relax.
         
      • You may wish to spend the afternoon relaxing, exploring, or swimming in the crystalline waters of the nearby lakes. After dinner, should you wish, we will interact a little more with our Kazakh hosts, enjoying their hospitality around an evening bonfire all the while the mighty snow-capped Altai mountains silhouette our stay.
         
      • The Altai Mountains | A rocky border that divides the untamed nomadic lands of Mongolia from its vast southern neighbour, China.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Camping / Tent. We will build tents as a group next to a local family on this night with the assistance of our local team.

    4. Thursday 4th July

      Exploring the Khoton Lake region

      • For some, today may be a day of leisure and further relaxation whilst for others a day of exploration, adventure and excitement in this beautiful yet secluded part of the world. For those who wish, it’s an early wake-up to help our host family round up the herd to complete the morning milking.
         
      • Hiking | After breakfast, you’ll have a chance to enjoy some independent hiking in the surrounding hills, go for a dip in one of the glacial streams that run past the family’s yurt, or head back to the lakes with one of the drivers and try your hand at a spot of fishing. (If you don’t catch anything, don’t worry, neither do they!)
         
      • Mongolian Horse Riding | For those who wish, this afternoon is your opportunity to ride the Mongolian horse most famed of all Mongolian animals. Our journey takes us on a three-hour round trip as we ride up into the foothills of the Altai mountains. We’ll pass local nomadic encampments, bubbling brooks and raging rivers, our destination, one of Mongolia’s largest waterfalls, ­­­Turgen Falls.
         
      • Turgen Falls | The falls sit in a most picturesque setting surrounded by alpine forests, lush green summer meadows, and framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Altai range. If the weather is good, you may feel that you have just entered a chocolate bar commercial.
         
      • After returning to camp we’ll have a chance to repack and prepare for tomorrow’s long drive to Tavan Bogd National Park. ­­­

      Meals |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight |  Camping / Tent. We will build tents as a group next to a local family on this night with the assistance of our local team.

    5. Friday 5th July

      Tsagaan Gol and Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain

      • Tsagaan Gol | After breakfast, we’ll bid farewell to our host family and work our way through the mountains to reach the mouth of Tsagaan Gol (White River), a mighty water source with enough limestone deposits to give the Milky River its name.
         
      • Shiveet Khairkhan | We’ll stop for pictures at the stunning Shiveet Khairkhan, home to some of the best rock carvings in Mongolia. Shiveet Khairkhan is an important mountain, especially to the indigenous Tuvan people and the wide variety of animals that call this remote mountain their home. Each year Tuvan shamans climb to Shiveet’s summit and perform various rituals, making offerings to the local ghosts and paying ancestral respects. The Tuvan are traditional herders found across the region renowned for their archery skills.
         
      • Tavan Bogd | As we draw nearer to the National Park entrance, we’ll begin to catch glimpses of Tavan Bogd (Five Saints), a mountain massif on the border of Mongolia, China and Russia, our destination.
         
      • Once we have passed through the park entrance, completing the formalities as needed, we’ll build our camp for the night. The area is beautiful, surrounded by the region’s most beautiful peaks, along with the roaring sound of the white river. After a bit of exploration and a visit to a local Tuvan family, we will tuck into another fine meal, served up in the warmth of our very own Ger.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Camping / tent. Camping on this night will be based around a pre-booked ger, offering us the chance to prepare meals and equipment ready for tomorrow's hike. The scenery here is amazing, surrounded by snow-capped mountains while listening to the roar of the white river.

    6. Saturday 6th July

      Hike to the base camp of Altai Tavan Bogd

      • Trek up Tavan Bogd | We’ll leave our vehicles and non-essential luggage at the foot of the mountains today. The kit needed for our overnight stay is to be carried by our camels. We will then begin our trek up Tavan Bogd with the help of our local Tuvan guide.
         
      • Potanin Glacier | The journey to the camp is around 15 kilometres, located next to the stunning Potanin Glacier, Mongolia’s largest. The hike is truly unique as we walk across lush alpine tundra, through mountain valleys and cross bubbling mountain brooks, all the while rewarded by views of untouched mountains. Once at our camp, we can relax and soak up the area’s ambience; the distant rumble of mountain avalanches and the crackling can be heard in the distance.
         
      • After lunch and a good old cup of tea, we’ll follow our local guide for a hike up over the moraines to look at the natural marvel of the Potanin Glacier. From a distance, the moraines look small, but it will take over an hour to reach the glacier. Once there, should you wish, we would only advise walking on its frozen surface with the assistance of the local guide. Around the glacier, the ring of mountains makes this breathtaking journey truly awe-inspiring.
         
      • Once we have finished our exploration, it’s back to camp for a well-deserved meal and rest as we bed down early, making use of our warm sleeping bags before the evening chill sets in.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. 

      Overnight | Camping / tent. Camping at the Tavan Bogd base camp. Toilet facilities are provided, and we will build a restaurant tent for dinner and breakfast. This area is remote, yet beautiful being at the base of the main mountain range and only a stone’s throw from the main glacier.

    7. Sunday, 7th July

      Return trek to Tsagaan Gol (White River) and on to Tsengle

      • Today we’ll make the journey back down the valley. For those who rented horses yesterday, you have the option again today, or you can walk with the others back to the Tsagaan Gol ranger station, where our trucks and drivers will be waiting.
         
      • As we walk down through these mountain valleys, it is truly amazing to see the small rivers and streams from the glacier forming into the mighty White River. Once repacked and refreshed, we’ll continue the adventure and board our UAZs.
         
      • We’ll retrace some of our journeys down the long valley, eventually passing small local villages, now sparsely populated if at all. At one of these small habitations, we will stop to visit one of the caretaker families, with whom we will enjoy a cup of tea and see his central ward, the local school. We’ll drive on to make camp in the beautiful Tsengle Valley tonight, close to the Khovd River, where we camp near another local family we have known for several years.
         
      • Tonight, our host family are locally known wrestlers, so should you be thinking about entering Naadam as a wild card entrant, I am sure our host will oblige with a few tips and pointers.
         
      • Before dinner tonight, there is the possibility of washing and freshening up in one of the small tributaries and enjoying a few drinks or snacks from the nearby village.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. 

      Overnight | Camping / Tent. Tonight we pitch tents with another local family located near to the town of Tsengle in a low river valley. We look at life here and experience yet another regional variation in hospitality.

    8. Monday 8th July

      Drive through Bayan Olgii

      • Kazakh Tourist Camp | We bid farewell to our Nomadic friends and take a scenic drive back to Olgii, where we’ll spend the night in a Kazakh Tourist Camp, stopping for pictures and greeting nomad families along the way. We may also catch a local festival nestled in this mountainous region if we’re lucky. This afternoon we will have time to explore Bayan Ulgii’s capital, Olgii city. Olgii is an exciting place with a mix of Soviet-period architecture and more recent builds.
         
      • Olgii Market | A perfect site to pick up a few bargains and souvenirs and if you don’t need to shop, then people-watching and photography is also an excellent option.
         
      • Central Mosque | From the market, we will continue to the Central Mosque, a great way to learn a little about the religion in this region. The Central mosque is a newer building, brightly coloured and welcoming, a true reflection of the people in this part of remote Mongolia.
         
      • The city centre is also interesting to explore the home to an ageing yet interesting Soviet period history museum and numerous newer built but refreshing coffee shops. After exploring the town, we will make one final stop at an impressive mountain viewpoint offering views over Olgii city and the surrounding countryside.
         
      • Our ger camp tonight is a real treat after the past few days under canvas – hot and cold running water, showers, and beds. This evening after an authentic regional Kazakh meal, we’ll have the chance to listen to some traditional Kazakh music from a group of musicians trying to keep part of their Kazakh culture alive. They will serenade us by playing Dombra and Jetigen.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger (yurt) Camp. We'll stay in one of the tourist ger areas found on the outskirts of Ulgii city. This camp offers a shower block with warm running water and wash facilities as well as a restaurant area from where our chief can provide some more delicious food.

    9. Tuesday 9th July

      Drive to and enjoy Tolbo Lake

      • Tolbo Lake | We’ll leave Olgii City at a more leisurely pace, our drive made all the easier on one of the country’s newer roads as we head east to the picturesque Tolbo Lake. Tolbo sits at an altitude of 2,080 meters. It is famous for its remote beauty, and as the site of a crucial 1921 battle between the Bolshevik and White Russian forces – the locals still find belt buckles and buttons in the field.
         
      • We will not only spend the night in gers by the side of the lake but have the chance for further enjoyment of the area. You’ll have time to swim or bathe in the lake’s clear waters, or just unwind and take in the mountain views. The site also boasts lovely hiking routes around the shoreline and over the protruding rocky outcrops, perfect for a bit of exercise or to catch some fantastic photos of the gorgeous surroundings.
         
      • In the evening our team will provide another delicious meal, after which you may choose to visit the on-site sauna or take an early night before tomorrow’s adventure.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

      Overnight | Tourist Ger (yurt) Camp. We'll stay in a tourist ger camp found on the shores of the lake where you may swim relax or enjoy a sauna. 

    10. Wednesday 10th July

      A morning swim, a Shaman visit and an afternoon around Hovd market

      • Khovd | This morning, the hardy amongst you may want to take a chilly early morning dip in the lake or sip on a coffee and watch the sunrise above Tolbo; no matter your choice, after breakfast it’s back into our trucks as we journey on to the last leg of our adventure. We’ll head east, leaving Bayan Olgii behind us and entering Khovd, our destination is Khovd city which will be our home for the next few nights.
         
      • Khovd city is the province’s capital, established in the early 17th century. Khovd has a rich history and it is home to 10 ethnic groups and not commonly on the tourist trail so it makes for an interesting stop on our adventure.
         
      • Uriankhai Shaman | Once we have pulled into town and checked into our gers, we’ll immediately use our time by visiting the local Uriankhai Shaman.
         
      • Although predominantly a Tibetan Buddhist country, Shamanism is still an essential part of many people’s everyday life in Mongolia, especially in these more rural parts. We will witness some of the ancient and mysterious rituals that the community still holds dear such as mirrors that repel evil spirits or sacred fire and water.
         
      • Monestary | Following our Shamanistic introduction to Khovd, we will also call at the local monastery, which is in a picturesque setting on the city’s outskirts, home to a few resident monks, and a perfect stop to learn further about the religion of the region.
         
      • Khovd Market | From temple to market we go as we stop at another important local institution; Khovd Market is found at the heart of the city and will likely be busy as many locals prepare for tomorrow’s big holiday, Naadam. Naadam sees most locals wanting to look their best, opting to wear their traditional dress, the Deel, and prepare a few meals for friends and family from afar. We will call at the local market and check out the best dress shop in town, perfect for photographers and those into local traditions alike. They may not have time to suit and boot you, but it's great to see.
         
      • After our slice of local life, we’ll return to our ger camp in time to charge those all-important batteries ready for tomorrow’s big day, Nadaam!

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist ger (yurt) Gamp. One of only two camps found around the city of Hovd. This camp has fantastic views over the surrounding countryside while being situated on the outskirts of the central city. It has a separate shower block and facility for our chef to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    11. Thursday 11th July

      Experience the local Mongolian Naadam Festival

      • Naadam Festival | Although there have already been many highlights on this adventure, today is an important one as it is the Naadam Festival; this annual event takes place all across the country drawing many nomadic folk from their isolated existence to designated hubs to celebrate.
         
      • Naadam is held in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, provincial capitals, small towns and even pre-arranged points out in the middle of nowhere.
         
      • Ulaanbaatar’s Naadam is the most widely known, but that is now the domain of overcrowded tour buses, overpriced tickets and a tad sterile. For us, a world-famous cultural event such as this should be celebrated at its roots with the real, local people. Khovd’s Naadam is still a truly local affair, virtually unchanged over generations. Khovd town is a rural town for many Mongolians gather for this fantastic event.
         
      • Naadam in Khovd draws people from all over the region, with some locals even returning from overseas. To compete in traditional events is a real honour – especially wrestling, horse racing, archery and even lesser-known events such as ankle bone shooting.000 Naadam is also a time for families and friends to reconnect, share their news eat their favourite foods, and maybe even find a future husband or wife.
         
      • Whilst attending, we’ll learn a lot more about the events, such as the unusual wrestling costume of undershorts and an open waistcoat. Legend has it that a woman in disguise once outwrestled all the men and so, to prevent future humiliation, the outfits were altered.
         
      • Our aim today is to view the opening ceremony and watch the wrestling, archery and ankle bone shooting which all take place in the same location. Following a local Naadam lunch, we will head out of town to catch a few of the long-distance horse races.
         
      • Once all of the excitement is over, we will head back to our ger camp for one more treat of local Mongolian Throat Singing.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Ger (yurt) Tourist Camp.

    12. Friday 12th July

      Fly to Ulaanbaatar

      • Internal Flight to Ulaanbaatar | Leaving our horses, camels, and Russian jeeps behind for good, we’ll board our plane and return to Ulaanbaatar. The flight takes us out across central Mongolia, from where the views from the plane will drive home how vast this country is.
         
      • We should arrive back in Mongolia’s capital around lunchtime; after we have transferred to our hotel, you’ll have the rest of the day free.
         
      • State Department Store | This afternoon, time permitting, you can shop ’til you drop at the city market, the State Department Store or search out one of the many souvenir shops. Cheap cashmere, felt curios, leather bags and purses, and Soviet antiques are often the pick of the day.
         
      • Museums | History lovers can stop by one of the many museums found in the capital or walk to the beautiful Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan (1869-1922), who became Khagan (theocratic ruler) when the country split from China in 1911.
         
      • If none of the above appeals after our nomadic expedition, you may just wish to chill and relax with a coffee or cocktail at an outdoor café and watch this fascinating city unfold before you.
         
      • Before we say goodbye, we’ll have one more meal together at one of Ulaanbaatar’s popular haunts, where we will enjoy a mix of food and a few goodbye drinks to boot.
         
      • Meals | Breakfast, Dinner with a city family

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. 

    13. Saturday 13th July

      Departure day

      • We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes and your memories, and have a safe trip home!
         
      • For those adventurous souls who can’t stop travelling, you can also add the option to join our Gobi Explorer Tour. If you wish to add this, please contact your tour manager for more information. 
  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • English speaking guide
    • Western tour leader
    • All meals outside Ulaanbaatar
    • Camels for luggage
    • Internal flights
    • Horse riding
    • All included sightseeing
    • All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas
    • All camping equipment (not sleeping bags)
    • All tents are on two-person bases, but single options are available upon booking

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Airport Pickup
    • Sleeping bags
    • Extra horse riding 30 - 60 USD
    • International flights
    • Any alcoholic beverages
    • Meals (specified)
    • Medical insurance (can be arranged.)
    • Visas (if needed)
    • Helmet rental 30 USD
    • Sleeping bag hire (incl cleaning 30 USD for tour)
    • Items of personal nature
  • Notes

    Please note! This tour has been specifically arranged to visit remote areas. As such it may have elements of an expedition about it, due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. Due to this, any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will do our best to keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible. However, please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way all tour decisions will rest with Rich (tour manager) and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own.

    If fewer than 5 passengers book, this tour will be led by a local leader only.

Please apply by 1st February, 2024.

July 13 - July 20 2024

The Gobi Explorer

Mongolia Gobi
Desert Explorer

This tour into the vast Gobi Desert offers
a great insight into local life, geology
and scenery.

From 1,600 USD per person

Please apply by 1st July, 2024.

The Gobi Explorer

Mongolia Gobi
Desert Explorer

This tour into the vast Gobi
Desert offers a great insight
into local life, geology and
scenery.

From 1,600 USD per person

  • Overall

    A short adventure for those who wish to see the great Gobi Desert in a short space of time. During this short but intensive tour, we delve deep into the Gobi Desert and become true explorers. Our first stop is at Mandalagovi.

    This desert town was once home to factories during the Soviet Union period. Heading further south, we will check out the Yol Am Valley. This is located in the Gurvan Saikhan Mountain range. Before setting off on our hike, we will pay a visit to the small local natural history museum which includes strange exhibits and 10 million-year-old dinosaur eggs. During this Gobi Desert tour, we also visit the Khongor Sand Dunes, also known as the ‘Singing Dunes’ for the eerie noise they make when swept by the wind, as well as visiting Bayanzag.

    This is otherwise known as ‘Flaming Cliff’s due to the rich red colouration of the clays and rocks which have been pushed up to form this landscape. All this, whilst checking out the herds of camels as we go, hiking through untouched and unexplored areas, enjoying breathtaking sunrises, and experiencing life in a Mongolia Ger tent. 

    Tour leader Rich Beal has 15 years of experience leading tours to Mongolia, including remote areas of Mongolia’s far west and Gobi Desert. If you’re looking for an even more unique experience, head to Mongolia for the Naadam Festival which directly precedes this Gobi Desert Explorer Tour.

    See below for the Gobi Explorer Tour highlights, itinerary, and notes.

    Highlights

    • The Gobi desert, one of Mongolia's must-see locations - enjoy the peace and tranquillity in this rugged yet beautiful terrain.
    • Visit the awe-inspiring Khongor Sand Dunes some of the biggest in Asia.
    • Hike through the exciting Vulture Gorge Visit Bayanzag this once home of dinosaurs such as the T-rex is now their encased in its beautiful red cliffs.
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 8
    1. Saturday, 13th July

      Ulaanbaatar
       
      No matter your arrival time, as with all our tours, the Koryo representative will be there to meet you and escort you to your hotel.

      Once you’ve had a chance to relax, we’ll head out into the city for a bit of light exploration before heading to our first group meal.

      Meals | Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. A local hotel situated in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, within a 5-minute walk from the main square. This hotel offers a great location from which to walk out and explore the city.

    2. Sunday, 14th July

      Into the Gobi Desert

      • We’ll start our adventure early as we have a long drive south towards the Gobi Desert. On the journey, we will see the lush green rolling hills of Ulaanbataar open up to the semi-arid middle Gobi region.
         
      • Mandalagovi | For lunch, we will stop at a local restaurant in the regional capital, Mandalagovi. This desert town expanded and grew during the Soviet Union period becoming a centre of manufacturing and industry, which unfortunately declined following the collapse of the Union. These days the town is home to a large agricultural college with farming also providing the primary income regionally.
         
      • Continuing our drive southwards, we will see more signs of desertification and herds of camels roaming the desolate desert plains.
         
      • White Stupa Cliffs | We’ll cross from the middle Gobi region into the south, turning off the main highway and heading out across the desert scrub to our destination, the White Stupa Cliffs (Tsagaan Suvarga). The White Stupa Cliffs are located in the rocky Tsagaan Suvarga National Park; they are an impressive geological rock formation. Millions of years of wind, rain, and tectonic shifts have sculpted this ancient sea bed. The cliffs that have been formed, as the name suggests, resemble crumbling white Buddhist pagodas (stand even further back, and they look like a deserted city).
         
      • Not far from the fantastic White Stupa Cliffs, we find our ger camp accommodation tonight, out in the desert; once we have checked in, you’ll be able to enjoy a welcome drink and view your first Gobi sunset.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger Camp. We stay in gers out in this desert region. We have access to the restaurant area as well as bathroom facilities with hot showers and Western-style toilets.

    3. Monday, 15th July

      An Adventure in Eagle Valley

      • For those who watched the sunset the previous day, you may wish to complete the set and wake for the desert sunrise; alternatively, snuggle up in your duvet and enjoy the warmth of your ger.
         
      • Dalanzadgad | After breakfast, we’ll depart the camp and continue southwards to the city of Dalanzadgad. Dalanzadgad is the regional capital at the heart of South Gobi Province and the region where we will be spending much of the following days.
         
      • Dalanzadgad has a population of around 70,000, although it never feels like it since this settlement in the desert always appears empty with a wild west frontier feel to it. We’ll stop for a spot of lunch and stock up on road snacks before driving on to our main highlight of the day Yol Am Valley.
         
      • Yol Am Valley | A relatively short drive from Dalanzadgad finds us at the famed Yol Am Valley (Vulture Valley); this narrow canyon is located in southern Mongolia’s Gurvan Saikhan Mountain Range. Before beginning our hike, we will visit the small local natural history museum; this quirky museum is quite interesting as it houses some of the region’s paleontological finds in the shape of ten million-year-old dinosaur eggs.
         
      • We begin our adventure at the valley’s wide entrance, following the small river into the canyons, narrowing cliffs eventually. As the step-sided walls cut the sun from the canyon’s bottom, we will catch a glimpse of the locally famous frozen river. Over the winter months, the river builds up a thick layer of ice, which thaws slowly and, at times, remains long into the summer months. As you follow the winding path, eagles rise to circle in the thermals high above the canyon whilst wild goats can be seen perched on the high valley walls and picas scurry amongst the rocky terrain.
         
      • For those who may have used all of their energy climbing the dunes yesterday, there are plenty of horses for rent at the entrance of the canyon.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger Camp. 

    4. Tuesday, 16th July

      The Singing sand dunes of Khongoryn Els

      • Khongor Sand Dunes | The adventure continues as we board our vehicles and journey onwards through the wilds of the Gobi Desert heading deeper into its sandy clutches to the Khongor Sand Dunes (Khongoryn Els), also known as the Singing Sands. We pass some of the typical Gobi terrain along the route, a mix of loose pebbles, gravel, and fine sand. As we journey, we will cross a fertile area of the steppe where we’ll be sure to visit one of the traditional nomadic families who call this desolate region home.
         
      • The Khongor Sand Dunes, as the name suggests, are a dune system found within the Gobi; as only around 3% of the Gobi desert is covered in sand, the sight of these 300-metre-high gigantic dunes is something to behold. The shifting sands of Khongoryn Els stretch out for over 180 km, although we arrive in the most impressive area and stay at a Ger camp with views across these giants.
         
      • Once we have eaten lunch and waited for the day to cool a little, we’ll continue our adventure and visit one of Khongor’s resident camel herder families. Although most of these herder families are now in this region to supply camels to tourists, we can think of no better way to approach these monstrous sandy giants. After arriving, we will have time enough to climb and explore the dunes; it may take a little longer than you think to climb the impressive dunes.
         
      • If you are fortunate, you may also experience why they have been named the singing dunes, as when the wind blows across the sand’s surface in the right direction, an eerie sound is emitted, sounding like an aircraft to some and a hidden being to others.
         
      • Another day nearing its end, but as with much of the Gobi Desert’s natural scenery, the Khongor Dunes come alive at sunset. Perhaps view the area from the top of the dunes or the comfort of our relaxing Ger camp while enjoying a cold drink after dinner.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger Camp 

    5. Wednesday 17th July

      To the Flaming Cliffs

      • Aimags | The Gobi Desert is vast and our foray onto its plains today only gives us a snippet of its actual size; the Gobi Desert reaches into six Mongolian provinces (Aimags) and even crosses into China. The Gobi is the sixth-largest desert globally and the second in Asia. A wide-open place of extremes; our stop for today is perhaps one of the most well-known.
         
      • Flaming Cliffs | Our main destination for today, Bayanzag – (the Flaming Cliffs), is stunningly beautiful with its flame-coloured sandstone cliffs and canyons. Aside from its obvious wow factor, Bayanzag is also where American palaeontologist Roy Chapman Andrews first discovered the world’s first-ever fossilised dinosaur eggs and a mightly haul of various other fossils. A walk along the cliffs here is a walk in the footsteps of the man whom Indiana Jones was modelled on!
         
      • Bayanzag | We will also take a walk amongst the lower regions of Bayanzag, nicknamed by some as Mongolia’s answer to the Grand Canyon; they haven’t visited the canyon however since Bayanzag doesn’t resemble the Grand Canyon but is truly a marvel in its own right. The lower areas of the cliffs offer us breathtaking views of the enflamed rock face and reflect the cliff’s more local name, Bayanzag. Bayanzag translates to “rich in saxaul shrubs” which sounds a little odd until you find these peculiar spindly shrubs sprouting from the desert floor, creating a strange and otherworldly feel to the area.
         
      • Once we have finished our exploration, it’s off to the nearby Ger camp where we can relax, drink, and maybe return to the cliffs to catch the changing colours as sunsets, making a perfect end to an exciting day.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger camp

    6. Thursday 18th July

      A Nomadic drive 

      • For those early risers today, you may wish to view the changing colours of the flaming cliffs once again; this time, sunrise offers the opportunity and is said to be the best time, to see the true beauty of this famous geological formation.
         
      • Baga Gazriin Chuluu | Following breakfast, we make our way across the country, continuing our journey to an area known as Baga Gazriin Chuluu. The trip will take us across typical Gobi scrub, transitioning into the more famed and well-known traditional Mongolian steppe.
         
      • As we approach Baga Gazriin Chuluu, it comes as a real surprise a red granite outcrop of rocks rises to 1768 metres above sea level in the middle of the flat, featureless Mongolian steppe.
         
      • Baga Gazriin Chuluu is designated a national park home to 20 rare species of plant, ibex, marmot and mountain sheep. The area offers us impressive geology and the chance to explore this and more with some good hikes, which also encompass some of the ancient petroglyphs and burial mounds found in the area.
         
      • Nomadic Herders | Should time permit on our journey, we will also have time to interact with a few more local nomadic herders who will also be passing through the region (just on a longer journey). Time permitting, we’ll stop for the ubiquitous cup of milky tea before continuing on our own adventure.
         
      • Once at the ger camp, for those who wish, there may be the opportunity for some optional horse riding, a great location to experience a ride out on a true Mongolian steed.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger camp

    7. Friday 19th July

      Return to Ulaanbaatar

      • Drive to Ulaanbaatar | After an early morning start, we say a fond farewell to Mongolia’s southern region and drive back to the bustling capital Ulaanbaatar.
         
      • Gandan Monastery | However, our tour isn’t over as we’re off into the city to explore some of Ulaanbaatar’s must-see sites, the first stop at Gandan Monastery.
         
      • Gandan Monastery is Ulaanbaatar’s largest and most impressive Buddhist monastery; the complex is comprised of varying temples from different periods; one of the highlights is viewing the 26-meter-high gold-coated indoor Buddha.
         
      • National Museum of Mongolian History | From temple to museum, we’ll head further into the city and stop at the National Museum of Mongolian History to see artefacts from Mongolia and Central Asia dating as far back as the Stone Age to the present day. From there, it’s a short jaunt back across the square to the comfort of our hotel, where you’ll have the chance to wash the Gobi sand from your hair before relaxing, shopping and preparing for our last group meal together.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

    8. Saturday 20th July 

      Departure day

      We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes and your memories, and have a safe trip home!

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • 2 nights hotel in Ulaanbaatar
    • Transportation in Japanese 4X4 airconditioned vehicles
    • 5 nights Ger camps
    • Entrance fees and national park taxes
    • All meals included
    • English speaking local guides
    • Western tour leader

    NOT INCLUDED

    • International flights
    • Any alcoholic beverages
    • Meals (specified)
    • Medical insurance
    • Visas (if needed)
    • Items of personal nature
  • Notes

    Please note! This tour has been designed to visit not only a few of the more remote areas but also those must see sites that are firmly on the tourist trail. Although with any tour to Mongolia there is still an element of nature and ruggedness of the terrain. Due to this, any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will do our best to keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible. However, please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way all tour decisions will rest with Rich (tour manager) and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own.

Please apply by 1st July, 2024.

September 2024 — 1 tour

September 27 - October 8 2024

Golden Eagle Festival and Snow Leopard Tour

Discover Mongolia's stunning Golden
Eagles and elusive Snow Leopards!

Join us as we venture to Mongolia's far west
in search of snow leopards and Kazakh Eagle
hunters!

From 3,745 USD per person

Please apply by 1st September, 2024.

Golden Eagle Festival and Snow Leopard Tour

Discover Mongolia's stunning Golden
Eagles and elusive Snow Leopards!

Join us as we venture to Mongolia's
far west in search of snow leopards
and Kazakh Eagle hunters!

From 3,745 USD per person

  • Overall

    Venture into western Mongolia as we explore the heart of Mongolian culture, discover the vast array of wildlife, and celebrate alongside Eagle Hunters in this jam-packed adventure across the outdoor capital of the world!

    On this adventure, we'll travel from the capital, Ulaanbaatar, out to the far western provinces of Mongolia. This is often described as some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire country.

    We'll link up with a camel caravan and celebrate a local cultural festival in the provincial capital. Afterwards, we go hiking through the majestic mountains of Khovd Aimag in search of the elusive Snow Leopard.

    To round it all off, we take part in the Golden Eagle Festival. A chance to see these incredible hunting birds put to the test in competition against other regional hunters.

    This tour is, perhaps, our most adventurous trip to Mongolia and will undoubtedly leave you with some incredible memories.

    See below for more information on the itinerary and highlights of this incredible, truly once-in-a-lifetime tour in Mongolia. 

    Highlights

    • Experience Mongolia's true nomadic wilderness & stay in the Altai Mountains.
    • Spend time observing the rare and elusive snow leopard plus other possible rare animal sightings (Saiga Antelope, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Henderson’s Ground Jay).
    • Enjoy the spectacle of the Golden Eagle Festival. 

     

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 12
    1. Monday, 28th October

      Arrival day into Ulaanbaatar

      • Meet at the Airport | Whenever you arrive, we'll be there to meet you at Chinggis Khan International Airport and drive you into downtown Ulaanbaatar to your hotel.
         
      • Ulaanbaatar | Our adventure will begin with a walking tour around Mongolia's capital city, starting with the central square. Sukhbaatar Square is the beating heart of Ulaanbaatar. Named after the titular Damdin Sukhbaatar, a leading revolutionary in the early 1920s, the square is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city. From the government palace, hosting statues of Chinggis Khan and his descendants, to the Cultural Palace, Art and Drama Theatre, Post Office, and City Government Offices.
         
      • Natural History Museum | Skirting around the side of the Soviet-Era Government Palace, we'll take a walk down one of the city's tree-lined boulevards towards the Natural History Museum.
        Formerly the Museum of Lenin, today this grand building houses exhibits about the prehistory of Mongolia and includes a vast room filled with stuffed animals that we hope to see out in the West (where they'll ideally be alive!).
         
      • State Department Store | Following on from our museum trip, we'll make our way through the bustling back streets to the State Department Store. This is the perfect chance to exchange currency for the local Mongolian Tugrik, find weird and wonderful souvenirs, and stock up on any snacks you might want for the upcoming adventure.
         
      • Beatles Statue | Near the State Department Store is an interesting, yet charming, statue dedicated to the Beatles – so we'll head over here to discover why this Liverpudlian band is commemorated so far away from the UK.
         
      • Finally, we'll head to our first group dinner, where we'll also have our pre-tour briefing. This is the chance to ask any pressing questions, find out about the imminent adventure, and make sure you know how to stay safe during the trip.

      Accommodation: Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

      Included Meals: Dinner

    2. Tuesday, 29th October

      Flight to Khovd

      • Domestic Flight | It's up and out early this morning as we head out of the city to board our domestic flight from Chinggis Khan International Airport to the far western city of Khovd.
         
      • Khovd Monastery | Once we arrive, before we grab some lunch, we'll make a stop at the Khovd Monastery. A typical small-town Buddhist monastery with some truly incredible architecture and filled with brightly coloured artefacts immaculately kept by the resident monks.
         
      • Steppe Hotel | We'll stop at the hard-to-miss Steppe Hotel for lunch. One of the most modern buildings in the city, this restaurant is also our hotel for the night, so we'll drop off our gear, enjoy some local delicacies, and head out for an adventure in Khovd.
         
      • Local Market | Our first stop is the market. This is the perfect chance to rub shoulders with locals and also an opportunity to pick up any last-minute bits and bobs for our coming expedition. Khovd market has everything – whether you need Wellington boots, a tennis racket, or 500 metres of string – this is the place to go. Grab the phrasebook – this is your chance to try out a little Mongolian language, something which always elicit a happy response from the market vendors.
         
      • Khovd Museum | After the market, we'll head over to the Khovd Museum – dedicated to the surrounding province. This Soviet-style museum hasn't yet got the memo from the modern age and is still very much a communist-era highlight. It'll be our chance to learn about the province that we will soon be travelling through – discovering what wildlife we may encounter and finding out about the people we'll meet along the way.
         
      • We'll end the day with a free evening – your chance to explore downtown Khovd, relax on the rooftop balcony of our hotel, or get an early night before our expedition heads into the true countryside tomorrow.

      Accommodation: Steppe Hotel

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    3. Wednesday, 30th October 

      Join the Camel caravan!

      • Ovoo | Today, the adventure really begins! We'll head out early to make the most of the day. Leaving Khovd, we'll make a stop at a lookout point just outside the city. This will give us a chance to see the Ovoo, which sits atop the mountain outside of Khovd. These Ovoos may look like piles of rocks, often with prayer flags sticking out the top, but they are an artefact of pre-Buddhist Mongolia. Many people here still believe in shamanism, and these Ovoos are home to spirits. Locals will walk around them three times, throwing stones at them to bring themselves good luck. Something we will need for our adventure.
         
      • Camel Caravan | This is where we'll be meeting with a camel caravan travelling from Khovd, through the picturesque landscape, towards the nearby Khar-us Lake.
         
      • The Camel caravan will be reminiscent of the famed tea trail, which saw tea being transported across the region through Mongolia and joining part of the more significant silk route.  
         
      • For those expecting days and weeks out in the wilderness, you may be a little disappointed as this journey is more short-term, looking at how the camels were packed and ridden, and joining the camel herders as they leave the city and head back to their countryside homes. Once loaded, we’ll head out from the city limits and walk and ride these beasts throughout the afternoon, eventually stopping to camp for the night. 

      Accommodation: Camping

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. Thursday 31st September. 

      Arrive at Khar-us Lake

      • Today, it’s an early start as we continue travelling with the camel caravan. We depart our campsite once our beats of burden are awake and ready to continue.
         
      • Khar-us Lake | Our destination is the picturesque Khar-us Lake. Here, we’ll bid farewell to our trusty travelling companions, and meet our local drivers and their study off-road vehicles which will carry us through the wilderness of this particularly beautiful region of the country, heading towards the wildlife-ridden mountain camp which will serve as our home for the next few days.

      Accommodation: Jargalan Khairkhan Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. Friday, 1st October

      Hiking & Visit a Local Nomad Family

      • This morning, we'll awake to the beautiful scenic surroundings of Khovd Province.
         
      • Hike | After a hearty breakfast to steel ourselves for the day ahead, we'll head out for a leisurely hike through the surrounding mountains. During our hike, we'll have the chance to spot the local wildlife which calls this beautiful region home and also enjoy a relaxing break after a busy few days.
         
      • Local Nomadic Family | In the afternoon, we'll make a stop at a local nomadic family. Countryside people are famously welcoming to outsiders, and so when we see a ger or a yurt set up on the vast steppe, we'll head over to knock on the door and say hello. During our visit, we'll have the chance to see how Mongolians have lived for hundreds of years, with the traditional Mongolian ger having barely changed since the days of Chinggis Khan.
         
      • After enjoying some traditional snacks alongside our new local friends, we'll head back to our ger camp for a relaxing evening.

      Accommodation: Jargalan Khairkhan Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    6. Saturday 2nd October.

      Search for Snow Leopards

      • Snow Leopard | This morning we will head out in search of Mongolia’s elusive mountain beast – the Snow Leopard. There are an estimated 35-40 Snow Leopards in this local region of the Altai Mountains. We’ll spend our day attempting to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
         
      • Observation Points | Our local friends in the mountains have a series of observation points scattered throughout the area which we’ll be able to drive to, followed by a short walk up to the final point. These observation posts are perfect for a snow leopard search, as well as watching for some of the other local wildlife which populates these high mountains and deep valleys.
         
      • Trackers | In addition to their observation posts, our local friends have a team of trackers who spend their time in the mountains tracking these majestical creatures and keeping us updated on any opportunities to catch a glimpse.
         
      • Whilst there is a high chance of seeing these incredible animals, roughly 70%, they are incredible masters of camouflage and are rarely seen, even by locals. However, this area grants us the best possible chance in the world to see these wild beasts up close.
         
      • After our day of mountainous searching, we’ll head back to camp for a well-deserved rest.

      Accommodation: Jargalan Khairkhan Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. Sunday 3rd October 

      Discover Mongolia’s Wildlife

      • Wildlife | Today, we’ll head back into the mountains in search of some of the region’s most elusive wildlife.
         
      • Snow Leopards | If we were unsuccessful yesterday, we’ll continue the search for Snow Leopards.
         
      • Altai Mountains | If we manage to spot one, we’ll refocus our plan for today and delve into the wilderness in search of some of the other rare and elusive creatures which have made the Altai mountains their home.
         
      • We may also catch a rare glimpse of the Palla’s cat, a lesser-known, but equally majestic animal which prowls around at altitude hunting for its prey.
         
      • In the evening, we’ll head back down the mountain to a relaxing evening with the group at our local camp.

      Accommodation: Jargalan Khairkhan Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    8. Monday 4th October 

      Venture to Olgii City

      • Khovd City | This morning, we’ll bid goodbye to our countryside hosts and make our way back towards Khovd city. This isn’t our final destination, but we’ll stop for a bite to eat before heading back out on an off-road adventure towards our overnight stop, the city of Olgii – the provincial capital of Bayan-Olgii Aimag.
         
      • We’ll travel many hours off-road towards one of the most beautiful provinces in all of Mongolia to join the many local Eagle Hunters who celebrate and compete with their hunting birds.
         
      • Olgii | Upon arrival in Olgii, we’ll enjoy some dinner at our overnight stop and prepare for a busy day ahead as the Eagle Festival kicks off tomorrow.

      Accommodation: Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    9. Tuesday 5th October 

      Golden Eagle Festival Begins

      • After waking, it's a hearty breakfast to prepare for the day, and not just any day as after breaking camp, we join our host and follow him to the region's biggest event, the Golden Eagle Festival. 
         
      • The Golden Eagle Festival | It began in 1999 and has grown to be the largest event for eagles and their hunters globally and is recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage cultural event.  
         
      • There are smaller, more corporate events across the region, but this is the largest and most traditional. Over 70 hunters are involved yearly who show their Eagle skills and show some more traditional Kazakh games.  
         
      • Once at the festival, we first watch the opening ceremony, which sees each participant parading in on horseback with their eagles.
         
      • The competition gets going when the hunters show their hunting outfits and accessories, with the most elaborate and beautiful receiving the highest points.
         
      • Uriankhai Archery | One of the events at the festival is the Uriankhai archery competition. The Uriankhai are a small ethnic group found in this region and famed for their unique style of archery.
         
      • Bactrian Camel Racing | A unique event held at the festival, making quite a grand photographic opportunity. 
         
      • Kazakh Costumes | There is also an event for couples who parade within the arena showcasing their traditional Kazakh costumes perfect for those into fashion shows. 
         
      • Kazakh Concert | After the events, we will head back to Olgii City and freshen up in our ger camp before heading back out for the evening. This evening, we will enjoy a Kazakh Concert with traditional songs and music within the Bayan Ulgii Theatre, a real soviet gem.

      Accommodation: Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    10. Wednesday 6th October 

      Golden Eagle Festival Day 2

      • Eagle Flying | Today, Is the day when the Golden Eagle Festival gets real, and the anticipated eagle flying begins. So we leave the comfort of our yurts after another great breakfast and arrive early at the event to find the best spot. 
         
      • The day starts with some traditional equestrian activities, some a little comical although all steeped in tradition. 
         
      • Eagle Flight | The first eagle hunter event involves the hunter calling to his eagle, who is atop a nearby mountain. The eagle is expected to fly down and land gracefully on the hunter's arm.  
         
      • Eagle Hunt | The final event sees the eagles tempted to hunt when a horse pulls a lure to simulate a rabbit, hare or fox. This is a real test of not just the hunter's skill in controlling his bird but also showcases the eagle's hunting ability. 
         
      • Closing Ceremony | The grand finale is the closing ceremony that sees winners from each event named and the overall eagle hunting champion crowned. The eagle-hunting champions eagle will then be taken to hunt either a fox or wolf in the wild. Traditionally, this marks the beginning of the eagle-hunting season. 
         
      • We will find time for those all-important photo opportunities with the hunters, their eagles, and their families during the event. 
         
      • Mongolian Throat Singer | Our last night in Bayan Olgii to enjoy an evening meal with our crew as well as the entertainment of a traditional Mongolian throat singer. 

      Accommodation: Ger Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    11. Thursday 7th October

      Return to Ulaanbaatar

      • Ulaanbaatar & City Market | Leaving our horses, camels, Russian jeeps and friends behind for good, we board a plane and return to Ulaanbaatar. This is a free day where you can shop ‘til you drop at the city market. You’ll never find cheaper cashmere, and you might pick up a shamanistic, Buddhist artefact or a relic from Soviet times. 
         
      • Palace of Bogd Khan | History lovers can stop by the winter palace of the Bogd Khan (1869-1922), who became Khagan (theocratic ruler) when the country split from China in 1911. Or you can relax with a coffee or cocktail at an outdoor café and watch this fascinating city unfold before you. Then we’ll meet up for dinner at a local family’s home so that we can see Mongolian home life away from the steppes.

      Accommodation: Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    12. Friday 8th October 

      Departure Day

      • We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes and your memories, and have a safe trip home!

      Accommodation: N/A

      Included Meals: Breakfast

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • All Meals
    • All Listed Accommodation 
    • Drivers and Vehicles
    • Local guide
    • Tour leader
    • Internal Flights

    NOT INCLUDED

    • International Flights
    • Mongolian Visa
    • Snacks
    • Alcoholic Drinks
    • Tips
       
  • Notes

    Please note! This tour has been specifically arranged to visit remote areas. As such it may have elements of an expedition about it, due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. Due to this, any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will do our best to keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible. However, please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way, all tour decisions will rest with the tour manager and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own.

Please apply by 1st September, 2024.

January 2025 — 1 tour

January 2 - January 18 2025

Mongolia Snow Leopard Tour

An Expedition to Discover and observe
the endangered Snow leopard in Mongolia

Travel with us as we journey to Mongolia's far west in search
of the elusive snow leopard and other endangered yet fascinating
species.

From 4,750 USD per person

Please apply by 1st January, 2025.

Mongolia Snow Leopard Tour

An Expedition to Discover and observe
the endangered Snow leopard in Mongolia

Travel with us as we journey to Mongolia's
far west in search of the elusive snow
leopard and other endangered yet fascinating
species.

From 4,750 USD per person

  • Overall

    Venture into western Mongolia as we explore the heart of Mongolian wildlife, discover the vast array of creatures that call this region home, and search throughout the mountains for the elusive Snow Leopard.

    On this adventure, we’ll fly out from the bustling capital, Ulaanbaatar, and head out to the far west of Mongolia.

    The province of Khovd sits near the border with China and Kazakhstan and is one of the most beautiful regions in the entire country if not the continent. We’ll set out aboard our trusty 4x4s into the wilderness of this region in search of some of the world’s most incredible wildlife.

    On our journey, we’ll search for wild horses, track down Saiga Antelope, and, of course, the elusive and majestic Snow Leopard. Whilst these beautiful cats are notorious for being difficult to track down, our local friends in the region have an incredible track record of catching a glimpse of Snow Leopards, so we’re in good hands on our adventure.

    In addition to Snow Leopards, we may also catch a glimpse of the extremely rare Palla’s Cat, the Mongolian Gazelle, and the plethora of other flora and fauna which grace these incredible peaks and deep mountain valleys.

    See below for more information on our Mongolia Snow Leopard Tour itinerary and highlights. 

    Interested in Mongolian Golden Eagles? Check out our Mongolian Golden Eagle and Snow Leopard Tour combining both of these Mongolian beauties. 

    Highlights

    • Experience Mongolia's true nomadic wilderness.
    • Spend time observing the rare and elusive snow leopard whilst staying in the Altai Mountains.
    • The beautiful Przewalski's (Takhi) horse and other possible rare animal sightings of Saiga Antelope, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, and Henderson’s Ground Jay.
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 13
    1. Monday 6th January 

      Arrive into Ulaanbaatar

      • Meet at Hotel | Whenever you arrive, we'll be there to meet you at Chinggis Khan International Airport and drive you into downtown Ulaanbaatar to your hotel.
         
      • Central Ulaanbaatar | Our adventure will begin with a walking tour around Mongolia's capital city, starting with the central square. Sukhbaatar Square is the beating heart of Ulaanbaatar – named after the titular Damdin Sukhbaatar, a leading revolutionary in the early 1920s, the square is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the city – from the government palace, hosting statues of Chinggis Khan and his descendants, to the Cultural Palace, Art and Drama Theatre, Post Office, and City Government Offices.
         
      • Natural History Museum | Skirting around the side of the Soviet-Era Government Palace, we'll take a walk down one of the city's tree-lined boulevards towards the Natural History Museum. Formerly the Museum of Lenin, today this grand building houses exhibits about the prehistory of Mongolia. It includes a vast room filled with stuffed animals that we hope to see out in the West (where they'll ideally be alive!).
         
      • State Department Store | Following on from our museum trip, we'll make our way through the bustling back streets to the State Department Store – the perfect chance to exchange currency for the local Mongolian Tugrik, find weird and wonderful souvenirs, and stock up on any snacks you might want for the upcoming adventure.
         
      • Beatles Statue | Near the State Department Store is an intriguing, yet charming, statue dedicated to the Beatles – so we'll head over here to discover why this Liverpudlian band is commemorated so far away from the UK.
         
      • Evening Briefing | Finally, we'll head to our first group dinner, where we'll also have our pre-tour briefing. This is the chance to ask any pressing questions, find out about the imminent adventure, and make sure you know how to stay safe during the trip.

      Accommodation: Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

      Included Meals: Dinner

    2. Tuesday 7th January

      Flight to Khovd/Drive to the Snow Leopard encampment.

      • Internal Flight | It's up and out early this morning as we head out of the city to board our domestic flight from Chinggis Khan International Airport to the far western city of Khovd.
         
      • Ovoo | Leaving Khovd, we'll make a stop at a lookout point just outside the city. This will give us a chance to see the Ovoo, which sits atop the mountain outside of Khovd. These Ovoos may look like piles of rocks, often with prayer flags sticking out the top, but they are an artefact of pre-Buddhist Mongolia. Many people here still believe in shamanism, and these Ovoos are home to spirits. Locals will walk around them three times, throwing stones at them to bring themselves good luck. Something we will need for our adventure!
         
      • Local Shaman | It’s here where we’ll visit a local shaman. Shamanism continues to be an important aspect of life in Mongolia, and these traditional figures are considered to be finely tuned with the natural environment and the wildlife that surrounds them.
         
      • Mountains & Forests | After we’ve had our journey blessed by the shaman and been granted luck for the coming days, we’ll leave the city and make our way east towards the mountains, forests, and valleys which serve as home for the elusive snow leopard.
         
      • Snow Leopard Camp | Over the next week, we’ll traverse the area we’re now driving through hoping to catch a glimpse of these majestic mountain cats, and hopefully get some stunning photos in their natural habitat.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    3. Wednesday 8th January

      Search for the Snow Leopards Day 1

      • Snow Leopard | This morning, we will head out in search of Mongolia’s elusive mountain beast – the Snow Leopard. There are an estimated 35-40 Snow Leopards in this local region of the Altai Mountains, and we’ll spend our day attempting to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
         
      • Altai Mountains | Our local friends in the mountains have a series of observation points scattered throughout the area which we’ll be able to drive to, followed by a short walk up to the final point. These observation posts are perfect for a snow leopard search, as well as watching for some of the other local wildlife which populates these high mountains and deep valleys.
         
      • Observation Posts & Local Spotters | In addition to their observation posts, our local friends have a team of trackers who spend their time in the mountains tracking these majestical creatures and keeping us updated on any opportunities to catch a glimpse.
         
      • Over the next six days, we’ll be traversing five total peaks in the surrounding area, each with dedicated observation posts in search of Snow Leopards and other incredible wildlife.
         
      • Back to Camp & Rest | After our day of mountainous searching, we’ll head back to camp for a well-deserved rest.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. Thursday 9th January

      Search for the Snow Leopards Day 2

      • Snow Leopards | This morning, we’ll enjoy a hearty breakfast and set out for our second day of searching amongst the peaks and valleys of the region.
         
      • Viewpoints | Depending on our success so far, we’ll head further afield to different viewpoints in our ongoing search for Snow Leopards. In addition, we will keep an eye open for some of the regions' other aforementioned wildlife.
         
      • Other Wildlife | If we’re really lucky, we may catch sight of the extremely rare Palla’s Cat. Mongolia is home to the largest population of Palla’s Cats in the world, however, they are hard to spot as they have extremely expansive territories. Ground squirrels are their favourite food, and the best chance to spot these predators is while they’re waiting for these small rodents to pop out of their holes.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. Friday 10th January

      Search for Snow Leopards Day 3

      • Snow Leopards | This morning, we’ll venture back out into the wilderness in our continuing search for Snow Leopards.
         
      • Depending on our success so far, our spotters will hopefully have worked out the ideal spot for our observations today.
         
      • Steppe Eagle | As we head off into the mountains, we’ll no doubt catch a glimpse of the steppe eagle. At this time of year, the eagles have begun to malt their summer coats and instead are a lighter, more camouflaged colour. This makes them harder to spot on their rocky perches, but no less beautiful to witness gliding silently above us.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    6. Saturday 11th January 

      Searching for Snow Leopards Day 4

      • Today marks the halfway point of our hunt in the wilderness. For those that wish, there is always the option to spend the day relaxing at the camp, taking in the surroundings, and spending some free time taking a break from our wild escapades.
         
      • Wildlife | However, for those keen to continue to search, we’ll head out once more, following the path of wolves, ibex, and gazelles as we make our way to today’s viewing point in the hope of catching that glimpse of silver fur that is unmistakably a Snow Leopard.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. Sunday 12th January

      Searching for Snow Leopards Day 5

      • Penultimate Day | The hunt continues on our penultimate day at the camp.
         
      • Adaptive Search Tactics | Today, we’ll be able to adapt our search tactics based on our experiences over the past few days to maximize the chance of a Snow Leopard encounter.
         
      • Trekking | Once again, we’ll depart the camp in our trusty vehicles, and spend our day trekking amongst the wildlife of Khovd Province to our observation spot. After which, we’ll return for a relaxing evening.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    8. Monday 13th January 

      Searching for Snow Leopards Day 6

      • Final Snow Leopard Trip | Whether or not we’ve seen Snow Leopards so far on the trip, we’ll head out one final time with all the experiences of the past few days behind us, hoping for an encounter with these incredible creatures.
         
      • Evening at Camp | In the evening, we’ll enjoy one final evening at our camp, reminiscing about the various creatures we’ve seen, and hopefully sharing our leopard photos!
         
      • Finally, it’s off to sleep in preparation for a long journey tomorrow. As we depart the home of the Snow Leopard, it’s not quite yet time to pack away your cameras and binoculars as our next stop offers more chances to view Mongolia’s incredible wildlife.

      Accommodation: Snow Leopard Camp

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    9. Tuesday 14th January

      Drive to the Wild Horse Camp

      • Khomyn Tal National Park Drive | Today we’ve got a long journey ahead of us as we depart the Snow Leopard Camp and make the roughly 100km drive off-road to the Khomyn Tal National Park.
         
      • Landscapes | As we drive, we’ll traverse some incredible landscapes. Distant steppe, the edges of the Gobi Desert, frozen rivers, and mountains which rise to pierce the open blue sky above us.
         
      • Today is mostly a day of travelling, an unfortunate by-product of Mongolia being so massive. However, when we arrive we’ll have a late afternoon and evening free to rest, relax, take a short walk, or enjoy a drink as we prepare for the day ahead where we will go in search of another of Mongolia’s wild beasts.

      Accommodation: Khomyn Tal National Park

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    10. Wednesday 15th January 

      Searching for Wild Horses

      • Khomyn National Park | Today we’ll set out into the Khomyn National Park. The national park is home to the rare Mongolian wild horse known as Perzevalski or Takhi. Once extinct in the wild, the Perzevalski Horse is a true conservation success story with captive breed horses released into, and then surviving in the wild.
         
      • Initially, these horses were only extant in the Hustai National Park, near Ulaanbaatar. However, their incredible success and growth in numbers means many have been relocated here, to this much more remote park where they continue to live wild. The only such example in the world.
         
      • Takhi Horses & Wildlife | Mid-afternoon offers us the best time to catch a sighting of the beautiful Takhi horses, so we’ll pile into our trucks and drive out into the rolling terrain to spot them coming down from the mountains for water at the nearby river. As well as the famed Perzevalski horse, it is also possible to see foxes, red deer, roe deer, eagles, and other various animals.
         
      • Complete Safari & Return to Camp | After our safari is complete, we’ll head back to the camp for a relaxed evening sharing wildlife photos.

      Accommodation: Khomyn Tal National Park

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
       

    11. Thursday 16th January 

      Return to Khovd.

      • Early Start | Today it's up and out early, bidding goodbye to our remote surroundings we're offroad as we make our way back to Kovd town.
         
      • Khovd Monastery | Once we arrive, we grab some lunch, we'll make a stop at the Khovd Monastery. A typical small-town Buddhist monastery with some truly incredible architecture and filled with brightly coloured artefacts and immaculately kept by the resident monks.
         
      • Steppe Hotel | We'll stop at the hard-to-miss Steppe Hotel for a late lunch. One of the most modern buildings in the city. This restaurant is also our hotel for the night, so we'll drop off our gear, enjoy some local delicacies, and head out for an adventure in Khovd.
         
      • Local Market | Our first stop is the market. The perfect chance to rub shoulders with locals and also an opportunity to pick up any last-minute souvenirs. Khovd market has everything. Whether you need wellington books, a tennis racket, or 500 metres of string. This is the place to go. Grab the phrasebook. This is your chance to try out a little Mongolian language, something which always elicits a happy response from the market vendors.
         
      • Khovd Museum | After the market, we'll head over to the Khovd Museum – dedicated to the surrounding province. This Soviet-style museum hasn't yet got the memo from the modern age and is still very much a communist-era highlight. It'll be our chance to learn about the province we've spent our last few days.

      Accommodation: Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    12. Friday 17th January

      Return to Ulaanbaatar

      • Today, we say goodbye to our amazing team in Khovd and catch our flight back to the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
         
      • Ulaanbaatar City | This afternoon offers us the chance to explore some of the city alone, whether shopping, visiting a few extra museums, or just relaxing. Make sure to meet this evening for a well-deserved last group meal where we can reminisce about our adventures.

      ​​​​​​​​​​Accommodation: Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar

      Included Meals: Dinner

    13. Saturday 18th January 

      Departure Day

      • We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes and your memories, and have a safe trip home!

      Accommodation: N/A

      Included Meals: Breakfast

  • What is / is not included?

    INCLUDED

    • All Meals
    • All Listed Accommodation 
    • Drivers and Vehicles
    • Local guide
    • Tour leader
    • Internal Flights

    NOT INCLUDED

    • International Flights
    • Mongolian Visa
    • Snacks
    • Alcoholic Drinks
    • Tips
  • Notes

    Please note! This tour has been specifically arranged to visit remote areas. As such it may have elements of an expedition about it, due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. Due to this, any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will do our best to keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible. However, please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way all tour decisions will rest with Rich (tour manager) and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own. The team we use to visit the snow leopards have a very high success rate although sightings can never be 100% guaranteed.

Please apply by 1st January, 2025.

Next tour departure dates

Soviet Mongolia May Tour

View tour

The Beauty of Mongolia Tour

View tour

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe 2024

View tour

The Gobi Explorer

View tour

Golden Eagle Festival and Snow Leopard Tour

View tour

Mongolia Snow Leopard Tour

View tour

[email protected] | + 86 10 6416 7544
Room A409, Jucai Building. No. 76 Caoyuan Hutong.
Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100027, PR China

中国北京市东城区草园胡同76号聚才大厦A 座409 室,
邮编:100027
Download contact card