Mongolia

Vast, rugged expanses
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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

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 trip that is full of excitement, adventure, 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 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. For more information please contact us.

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 ten years’ experience in running and designing tours to the region. He has been to Mongolia over 80 times and is incredibly knowledgeable about the country. And, he also happens to be a great storyteller — ask and he will tell you plenty of fascinating travel anecdotes from his many adventures!

Are you interested in travelling to Mongolia with us in 2019? See below for the various tours that we have on offer! If you have any questions about any of our tours or wish to join, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

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

May 2022 — 1 tour

May 14 - May 20 2022

Soviet Mongolia Tour

New 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 2,000 USD per person

Please apply by 1st May, 2022.

Soviet Mongolia Tour

New 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 2,000 USD per person

  • Overall

    A new Mongolia tour for 2022, exploring Mongolia's Soviet past.

    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 1950's 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.

    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. 

    We may also have the opportunity to ride upon a Soviet-built T55 tank. 

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 7
    1. Saturday, May 14th 

      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 15th 

      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.

      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 16th 

      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 south-east 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.

      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.

      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.

      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 17th 

      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.

      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 around some of the remaining airfield buildings if we’re lucky.

      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.

      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 18th 

      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 still remain and offer us a little more ‘urbex’.

      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!

      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.

      Once we return to Ulaanbaatar, we will visit the home of a local 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 19th 

      Today, you may get the chance to leave Ulaanbaatar and head to one of the military areas outside of the city for a chance to ride on an authentic Soviet T-54 Tank still operating in this fascinating country.

      Before the COVID situation affected the globe, we had guaranteed permission, but due to the ever-changing travel situation, this now cannot be confirmed until one month before the tour. Should it not be possible to ride and view the tanks or you do not wish to do so, we’ll run the itinerary below:

      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.

      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 statue once stood now stands Mongolia’s very own T-Rex!

      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.

      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 manufacture 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 20th

      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?

    • All Listed Meals
    • All Listed Accommodation
    • Local Guide / Tour Leader
    • Visa Assistance
    • Transport & Driver
    • Water
    • National park entrance fees 
    • site entrance fees
    • Flights to/from Mongolia
    • Travel Insurance
    • Snacks/Drinks/Extra Expenses
    • Tips for crew 
    • Meals not listed 
    • T55 Tank excursion (passengers will be informed in advance).

Please apply by 1st May, 2022.

July 2022 — 2 tours

July 1 - July 13 2022

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe

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 2,900 USD per person

Please apply by 6th June, 2022.

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe

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 2,900 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, full itinerary, and additional information about the Naadam Festival Western Mongolia Tour - Beyond the Steppe.

    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. Friday 1st July

      Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

      • Upon landing in Ulaanbaatar, 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 6 pm hotel briefing.
         
      • Here we’ll give you an overview of the country and culture, along with some etiquette tips for the trip, especially for visiting the homes of the shamans, Kazakhs, and Tuvan people we’ll meet along the way.
         
      • Then, join us for another city walk after the briefing. Get a glimpse of Sükhbaatar Square, named after the revolutionary hero Damdinii Sükhbaatar; whose statue marks the place where his horse was seen urinating while on parade in 1921. The figures of Genghis Khan and Mongolian generals are even more impressive when all lit up.

      Meals | Dinner

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

    2. Saturday 2nd July

      Tour of the city, and then fly to Bayan Olgii

      • We start our day at Gandantegchinlen, Ulaanbaatar’s largest Buddhist monastery, where we can see practising monks and learn about the role of Mongolia’s largest religion. 
         
      • Then it’s back to the city centre, where we’ll stop off 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 time 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. 
         
      • We’ll then see Sükhbaatar Square by day and then head to the National Historical Museum, which takes us through Mongolian history from the Stone Age to the collapse of Communism.
         
      • After lunch, we’ll take a two-hour flight to Bayan Olgii and pile into Russian jeeps. We begin our drive as soon as we arrive out beyond Sagasi Village, near Khar Us Lake and the magnificent Altai Mountains. Bayan-Olgii (or Ugli) 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 minority; here we’ll learn about 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 minus-30 when even their felt-lined ger can’t keep out the cold. We can also ride horses and learn about eagle hunting – not what you think! Up here, food is scarce, and the locals need a little help. Most families keep their golden eagles for hunting rabbit, hare, and even small deer; and they’re happy to show us how it’s done. 
         
      • Then we’ll pitch our tents next to the local families and share a traditional dinner.

      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. Sunday 3rd July

      Khurgan and Khoton Lakes

      • 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.
         
      • We set up camp on the shores of Khoton Lake, and spend the afternoon relaxing, exploring, or swimming in crystalline waters. After dinner, we meet the local Kazakh people and see the comparative affluence (by Mongolian standards) of lakeside Kazakhs, with their many gers and fertile land.

      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. Monday 4th July

      Khoton Lake

      • Today is our day of leisure. Experience a little more of local life or relax after our long journey to the beautiful yet secluded part of the world.
         
      • Wake up early if you wish and you may help our host family to round the herd and do the milking. After breakfast, you have a chance to enjoy independent hiking in the surrounding hills or go for a dip in one the streams of the refreshing mountain river.
         
      • This afternoon we will take horses, for those that wish, riding into the hills surrounding the lake. This 3 hr return trek will take us past some ger encampments through woodland up to Mongolia’s largest waterfall. The waterfall itself looks beautiful framed against the mountains.

      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. Tuesday 5th July

      Tsagaan Gol and Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain

      • After breakfast, we 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. 
         
      • We’ll stop for pictures at the stunning Shiveet Khairkhan, with more rock carvings and an unforgettable view of Tavan Bogd (Five Saints), a mountain massif on the border of Mongolia, China and Russia. To the indigenous minority Tuvan, Shiveet is sacred – as is the 400 mountain ibex, which are never hunted. Each year the Tuvan climb Shiveet’s summit and perform shamanistic rituals, making offerings to the local ghosts and paying ancestral respects. The Tuvan are herders and known for their archery skills. This evening, they’ll teach us to cook some of their favourite dishes. And after days of having the locals watch us pitch our tents – and comment on how long it takes us, how thin the material is, and how we’ll never survive the night – today we’ll build our felt-lined ger (with a little help), to see how the nomads do it.

      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. Wednesday 6th July

      Hike to the base camp of Altai Tavan Bogd

      • Today we leave our vehicles and heaviest luggage behind, load everything else onto camels, and then trek up Tavan Bogd with a local Tuvan guide. It’s about 15 kilometres to our base camp (camels can also carry tired trekkers), which is located at the edge of Potanin Glacier, the longest in Mongolia – listen carefully, you might hear it cracking. Potanin is at the foot of Malchin Peak, one of Tavan Bogd’s five sacred mountains. This hike will take us through lush alpine tundra and herds of camels, providing fantastic views across the glacier to the peaks. Our camp is a great starting point to other area hikes in one of the world’s best trekking areas. We’ll also meet another Tuvan family who can teach us more about raising and training golden eagles.

      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. Thursday, 7th July

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

      • Today we follow the camels back down to our camp in Tsagaan Gol. Passing through Tavan Bogd’s numerous valleys, we can see how the melting glacier transforms into the roaring White River. Upon arrival, we board our trucks once more as we drive on and continue the adventure. We will pass winter villages only cared for by a caretaker family, whom we will visit for tea.

      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. Friday 8th July

      Drive through Bayan Olgii

      • 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. If we’re lucky, we may also catch a local festival nestled in this mountainous region. 
         
      • This afternoon we will have time to explore the regional capital Olgii from its central square you may wish to visit its ageing museum, local market or just rest in one of the locally-owned coffee shops after snapping up a few souvenirs.

      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. Saturday 9th July

      Drive to Tolbo Lake

      • After stopping for a few snacks, we make our journey to Tolbo Lake. The drive today is a smooth run on the sealed road. Tolbo has an altitude of 2,080 meters; it is famous not only for its remote beauty but 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 stop for photographs along the way, as nomads lead their herds across the vast lands, or make their way to the Naadam Festival, then we’ll spend the night in a lakeside tourist camp where you can swim or bathe in the clear waters, or just unwind and take in the mountain views.  There will be time for some optional hiking in the surrounding mountains which offer stunning views over the lake.

      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. Sunday 10th July

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

      • This morning, after the brave amongst the group, have taken a chilly early morning dip in the lake, its back into our Russian trucks for our drive to Hovd town. When we arrive in Hovd, we will visit the local Uriankhai shaman and his family. Here we can 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. After we visit the local shaman, we drive back to Hovd.
         
      • This afternoon we drive back to Hovd town where we will settle into our gers in preparation for tomorrows Naadam festival. We will have time to pay a visit to the local market and catch the last rush as people to prepare their best clothes for the big day.

      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. Monday 11th July

      Experience the local Mongolian Naadam Festival

      • We end our adventure with one of the world’s most fascinating festivals, an annual event that draws tribes from all over Mongolia to compete in traditional skills and feats of strength – especially wrestling, horse racing and archery. Here, families reconnect, share their news and favourite foods, have parties, and compete in games together. Naadam has become a world-famous tourist draw, but while Ulaanbaatar is filled with tour buses and day visitors, Hovd's event is still a local affair, virtually unchanged over generations. Hovd town is a rural town for many Mongolians gathering for this fantastic event.
         
      • Here we’ll learn the secrets of Naadam, 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 to prevent future humiliation, outfits were altered – these tops have no secrets. 
         
      • Also, if you see a sumo-sized wrestler defeated by a delicate youth, don’t be surprised; the loser is probably from another area, and it’s disrespectful to beat others at their own Naadam.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Ger (yurt) Tourist Camp.

    12. Tuesday 12th July

      Fly to Ulaanbaatar

      • Leaving our horses, camels, and Russian jeeps 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. 
         
      • 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 simply 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.

      Meals | Breakfast, Dinner with a city family

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. 

    13. Wednesday 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 that 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

    • 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.

Please apply by 6th June, 2022.

July 12 - July 19 2022

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, 2022.

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

    Briefing Day
    1. Tuesday, 12th July

      Ulaanbaatar

      PM

      • All the passengers joining this tour will be met at the airport and taken to the group hotel this evening, we will then join together as a group for a Pre-Tour Briefing followed by a Mongolian BBQ meal. Those not feeling too jet-lagged can join us in one of the capital’s famous bars.

      Meals | Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. A local hotel situated in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, within 5 minutes walk from the main square. This hotel offers a great location from which to walk out and explore the city.
    2. Wednesday, 13th July

      Into the Gobi Desert

      • We 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.
         
      • For lunch, we will stop at a local restaurant in the regional capital Mandalagovi. This desert town was once home to factories during the Soviet Union period and now survives mostly on farming and the local farming college. 
         
      • Continuing the drive southwards we see more signs of desertification, as well as herds of camels roaming the desolate desert plains.
         
      • Just as we cross from the Middle Gobi Region to the south, we turn to our destination for today - the White Stupa Cliffs, a rocky area of Tsagaan Suvarga National Park. The White Stupa Cliffs are so named as this massive feature is said from a distance to resemble a deserted city surrounded by crumbling white pagodas. In truth, its 60 meter high cliffs have been eroded by the winds and rain over 10 million years.  

      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. Thursday, 14th July

      • Those who wish to wake up early enough, you will be able to catch a glimpse of sunrise over the surrounding desert.
         
      • After breakfast, we depart the Ger camp and make our bumpy drive back to the main road continuing south to the city of Dalanzadgad. This is our next regional capital at the heart of the South Gobi Province. We will check into our Ger camp, one of the best in the area where we will also eat lunch. 
         
      • After finishing lunch, we will have a short drive to the deep and narrow Yol Am Valley, which is located in the Gurvan Saikhan Mountain range southern Mongolia. Before we set off on our hike, we will pay a visit to the small local natural history museum, this quirky museum has some strange exhibits along with some 10 million-year-old dinosaur eggs.
         
      • We will then hike for around 2 ½ hrs through the beautiful Yol Valley. If we’re lucky, we'll see some of the local wildlife as well as catching a glimpse of the famous ice field, which is slowly disappearing. 

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger Camp. 

    4. Friday, 15th July

      • After a big breakfast, we set out off on the road again as we head deeper into the clutches of the Gobi desert. After a brief stop for fuel, it's off-road as we make our way to the Khongor Sand Dunes. These dunes are also known as the Singing dunes, due to the eerie noise the sand makes when swept by the wind. The dunes stretch from the Gobi all the way to the Altai Mountain Range some 180 km away.
         
      • We arrive in time for our afternoon tea with a local nomadic family. When the heat of the afternoon has passed, we start our late afternoon camel riding to the base of the highest dunes. For those that can hike to the top of the largest dune, this affords us breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
         
      • After this, we return to our dessert ger camp for a nice meal and the chance to enjoy a drink looking out over a Gobi sunset.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger Camp 

    5. Saturday 16th July

      • Today we will drive to Bayanzag, which bizarrely translates as ‘rich in saxual scrubs', but its other name 'the Red Flaming Cliffs' is more preferable. This area was first claimed to have been found in 1922 by Roy Chapman. It is known now for the discovery of many dinosaur fossils and as well as its beauty. It is named 'Flaming Cliffs' due to the rich red colouration of the clays and rocks which have been pushed up to form this landscape.
         
      • We will spend some time enjoying this Mongolian grand canyon, taking photos whilst enjoying some short hiking. If you are lucky and do discover a fossil, don't forget these must now be declared.
         
      • After we have enjoyed our time, its a short journey to our Ger camp where we can relax or return to the cliffs to enjoy the sunset.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger camp

    6. Sunday 17th July

      • For those early risers today you may wish to awake early to view the changing colours one more time over the flaming cliffs sunrise is said to be the best time to see the true beauty of this famous land formation. Following breakfast, we make our way across country continuing our journey onto Baga Gazriin Chuluu . The journey will take us across typical Gobi scrub transitioning into more traditional Mongolian steppe.
         
      • Baga Gazriin Chuluu is located at 1768 meters above sea level its name translates to 'rocks in a small place': in reality, it is a red granite outcrop located in the centre of the Mongolian steppe, designated a national park home to 20 rare species of plant, Ibex, marmot and mountain sheep. This otherworldly site is not only great for hiking but seeing the rock images petroglyphs and burial mounds. is a Here gives us a great opportunity to visit the local nomadic herders who live in this region making the Khangai their home. We will stop for tea and learn about the differences between the various Mongolia herders. For those who want to experience more there will be the opportunity to travel further riding horses with the locals.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger camp

    7. Monday 18th July

      • After breakfast, we begin our final drive to Ulaanbaatar. The tour isn't over just yet though as this region affords us a great opportunity to visit the local nomadic herders who live in this area making the steppe their home. We will stop for tea and learn about the differences between the various Mongolia herders.
         
      • Upon return to Ulaanbaatar time permitting you will be able to spend the afternoon exploring one of the museums or last-minute shopping in the state department store.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

    8. Tuesday 19th 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, 2022.

Next tour departure dates

Soviet Mongolia Tour

View tour

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe

View tour

The Gobi Explorer

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
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