Mongolia

The Outdoor Capital of the World

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.

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Join us as we uncover the stories surrounding the enigmatic country of Mongolia, its people, and its wildlife.

A Mongolia tour like no other. We have worked closely with our carefully selected Mongolian partners to create Mongolian tours that are more than just a simple visit to Mongolia. Our trips to Mongolia are full of excitement, adventure, and unforgettable moments. The journey will be unique, educational, and fun. Your Mongolia tour promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip full of excitement, adventure, incredible surroundings, and unforgettable moments.

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.

For more on Mongolia, visit our Mongolia Travel Guide page.

Mongolian Wrestling
Mongolian Archery
Tavn Bogd
Khongor Els Sand Dunes
Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs

Note: We require all travellers on international and North Korea tours to have valid travel insurance.

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

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

July 2024 — 1 tour

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 1600 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 1600 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • 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
    • Airport Transfer (only on trip start/end dates)

    NOT INCLUDED

    • International flights
    • Any alcoholic beverages
    • Meals (specified)
    • Medical insurance
    • Visas (if needed)
    • Items of personal nature
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD
  • 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.

Please apply by 1st July, 2024.

September 2024 — 2 tours

September 11 - September 24 2024

Mongolia - Golden Eagle Festival Tour

An Expedition to Discover
the Golden Eagles

Join us as we depart Ulaanbaatar and drive
across Mongolia in search of Kazakh Eagle
hunters!

From 2800 USD per person

Please apply by 1st September, 2024.

Mongolia - Golden Eagle Festival Tour

An Expedition to Discover
the Golden Eagles

Join us as we depart Ulaanbaatar
and drive across Mongolia in
search of Kazakh Eagle hunters!

From 2800 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • Overall

    On this adventure, we’ll cross the vast steppe of Mongolia; traversing mountains and rivers, perilous ravines, and vast open lakes. All in search of Mongolia’s most majestic, and elusive creature – the Golden Eagle.

    This trip will culminate in a visit to the Golden Eagle Festival in the far west of the country. A celebration where eagle hunters from across the region come together to compete in various challenges; using their magnificent hunting birds to catch artificial bait, dive from incredible heights, and return to their hunters on the mountaintops.

    This is really an experience which must be seen to be believed, and an incredible reward for our multi-day expedition across some of the most beautiful landscapes the country, and the world, has to offer.

    Highlights

    Experience the Kazakh Golden Eagle festival -- the biggest festival of the year for Kazakhs Visit Mongolian Kazak and Tuva nomadic families Enjoy camel trekking and horseback riding Hike the great mountains (with views across to Russia and China) Explore the Altai and Bayan Ulgii region of Mongolia Marvel at the skill of local eagle hunters. We'll stop at glaciers, mountains and waterfalls all the while sleeping in Tents, gers and yurts 

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 14
    1. 11th September

      Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

      Arriving in Ulaanbaatar, you’ll have the morning to relax before our exploration of the city centre begins.

      Just a stone's throw from our hotel lies the central Sükhbaatar Square, named after the revolutionary hero Damdinii Sükhbaatar, whose statue proudly marks the centre of this grand square. At the northern end of the square, the towering statues of Genghis Khan, his son, grandson, and his generals watch from a commanding position.

      Five minutes from Sükhbaatar Square, our next stop beckons. The well-appointed National History Museum; museums may not be everyone's cup of tea, however, this one helps bring some semblance of Mongolian history, providing some useful context before we set out.

      Departing the museum, we leave on foot. Walking through the city is a perfect way to travel as when Ulaanbaatar was planned and built in the 1950's it was designed to be a city without cars and so, these days, some journeys are quicker on foot. Our destination is the famed State Department Store, a remnant of the Soviet period but still a national institution visited by tourists and locals alike.

      We’ll then head off for dinner and our pre-tour briefing where we’ll explain what you can expect on the adventure ahead!

      Accommodation: 3-Star Hotel
      Included Meals: Dinner

      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. 12th September

      Explore Ulaanbaatar

      Before our adventure begins, we’ll spend a day in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar.

      Heading out from our hotel, we’ll cross over Sukhbaatar Square once again, passing the great bronze statue of Chinggis Khan on our way to the

      Chinggis Khan Museum, housed in a great domed marble building just north of the central square.

      After spending time learning about the great, historical leader of the Mongol Empire, we’ll head for a relaxing walk down one of the city’s many boulevards towards the great Gandan Monastery, the city’s main Buddhist centre and home to some beautiful architecture, stunning statues, and hundreds of monks.

      After lunch, we’ll make our way to Narantuul Market – a bustling hub for market traders selling everything from solid gold jewellery and silver medallions to bicycle chains and suitcases. We’ll spend our afternoon bartering with local traders, buying weird and wonderful objects, and generally enjoying the hustle and bustle of market life in Ulaanbaatar.

      With all that adventure, we’ll have worked up an apetite – and so we’ll make our way to Zaisan, an upmarket part of the city home to some more intriguing and interesting sites.

      Before we enjoy our dinner, however, we’ll climb the huge Soviet tower, the Zaisan Monument, which towers over the district, providing fantastic views over Ulaanbaatar.

      After heading down, past the odd statue of a giant Golden Buddha, we’ll enjoy our group meal and discuss plans for our forthcoming expedition!

      Accommodation: 3-Star Hotel
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    3. 13th September

      Mongolia's Wild Horses

      We’ll wake up this morning and finally leave the city, heading west through the outskirts and industrial regions before bursting out of the urban centre and out into the wilderness of the Mongolian countryside.

      Our destination for today is the famous Hustai National Park, home to the only truly wild horses in the world – known as the Przewalski's Horse, or Takhi Horse.

      Arriving in time for lunch, we’ll visit the on-site museum and learn about the different animals we’ll have the chance to spot whilst in the national park and then head inside for a hearty meal before we leave the visitors centre and venture out in search of wild horses in time for them to head down from the mountains to drink at the river.

      These horses are a wonder of conservation as they were once considered near-extinct before being protected in Hustai National Park where they have truly begun to thrive.

      After an afternoon of horse-related safari, we’ll return to our accommodation near the entrance of the park for a delicious dinner as we watch the sunset over the mountainous peaks and head to bed in our traditional Mongolian gers.

    4. 14th September

      The Capital of an Empire

      This morning we’ll wave goodbye to Hustai National Park and continue west, making our way towards the ancient city of Kharkorum.

      Kharkorum was the former capital of the Mongolian Empire. At the height of the empire, it was from Kharkorum that Chinggis Khan's son, Ogedei Khan, would rule the largest land empire the world has ever known.

      During Kharkorum's golden age, much of the city was comprised of tents, and as the Mongolian empire declined, 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.

      As we go, we will stop at the Mongol Els Dunes, a small dune system that offers a picturesque stop and the possibility of meeting with a camel herder or two.

      Once we arrive at Karakorum, our first stop will be Erdene Zuu Monastery; it may be a shadow of its former self; however, it is still impressive.

      We'll hopefully catch the resident monks in their afternoon prayer. Following our monastery visit, we will call at the unique archaeological museum to see some recent historical finds.

      Accommodation: Urguu Ger Camp
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. 15th September

      Ancient Capital to Volcanic Landscapes

      You may not want to leave the confines of our romantic accommodation this morning; however, the journey continues. After breakfast, our first stop is the local market to sample a little of resident life here in this remote town. Kharkorum Market trade is mainly conducted from disused shipping containers making for some great photography and local interaction.

      Once we have stocked up on supplies for the journey, we continue onwards to the west, following Mongolia's ever-changing scenery. Our course begins trailing the country's famed Orkhon River and its UNESCO listed valley.

      Today we are genuinely in Mongolia's heartland, passing local nomads making this beautiful yet harsh landscape their own. Today's destination will become obvious as we drive past evidence of this region's active, volcanic past, including the impressive Chuluutiin Gol Gorge.

      Chuluutiin Gol is a 30-metre-long fault line that runs the length of the aptly named River of Pearls; this deep-sided canyon is a real treat. From the canyon we push onwards; our eventual destination for today is the Khorgo Mountain. Khorgo Mountain is not just any mountain but a dormant volcano, one of a handful in the region. Khorgo makes for an exciting visit, as it's possible to climb its treelined slopes and peer into its sulphurous cone. We will have the perfect evening view from the top of the mountain before heading to our night's accommodation.

      Accommodation: Khorgo Ger Camp
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner

    6. 16th September 

      Into Mongolia's Changing Terrain

      As we leave Mongolia's volcanic heartland, you may think that the scenery cannot get any better, although you'd be wrong. As we move on from the stunning craters, canyons, and lakes, we make our way into the domain of granite mountains, pine forests and alpine fields, punctuated by the ever-present tented dwelling of the Mongolian Ger.

      Stopping for those all-important pictures and local interaction, we will be sure to visit some of the country's remoter towns to stock up on supplies and see how people live in these far-flung habitations. Some villages may indeed look like something from a wild west movie, but it's still someone's home, and we will see how proud Mongolians are of these areas.

      Our aim for today, aside from enjoying the views and drive, is to locate a beautiful area for our first night's camp. In somewhere like Mongolia, the problem isn't a lack of suitable sites but being spoiled for choice. All being well, today's drive will be limited to allow a little more time to relax and enjoy a pleasant camp.

      Accommodation: Camping
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. 17th September

      Visiting Mongolia's Inland Sea

      After breakfast, we're on the road again; continuing our adventure, we head into the remote province of Uvs, a land of lakes, mountains and dunes. Our destination is Mongolia's answer to an ocean in the form of Khyargas Lake.

      Khyargas Lake was formed many thousands of years ago by glacial action; today, its high salt content and sheer size mean it's much like an inland sea. The area is a popular destination for locals to holiday but is rarely visited by western tourists.

      As we journey through Uvs Province, we will stop to photograph the stunning scenery and make a few impromptu stops to visit local Nomadic families. As Uvs Province is so remote and not well connected to the rest of the country, many of its inhabitants have never met and interacted with foreign visitors, making it an exciting and unique visit.

      Upon reaching Khyargas Lake, we will be sure to stop for a plunge into its salty waters and experience an ocean swim about as far away from the sea as you can imagine!

      It may be a little bracing at this time of year, but a perfect wash before we set camp and enjoy an evening BBQ, hopefully catching the setting sun on the lake's shimmering surface.

      Accommodation: Camping
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner

    8. 18th September

      Off-Road Adventure to Khovd

      As we bid farewell to Khyargas Lake, we also say goodbye to the comfort of a tarmac road for the morning as today we're off towards Khovd town.

      While Khovd may be the Khovd Province's regional capital, like most settlements in Mongolia, it still has a pleasant small-town feel. We will make Khovd our home today and enjoy a little luxury as we stay in the town's newest hotel.

      Whilst in Khovd, we will join a local shaman and view one of his traditional rituals. Shamanism has long been practised in Mongolia, and many Mongolians still hold dear this fascinating religion.

      Following our meeting with the Shaman, we'll visit the town to see more of this far-flung settlement. We will call at the city square the bustling market and even take a quick look at some small shops surrounding the area. While exploring, we will call the local textiles shop and see where many locals still have their local dresses made (the Mongolian deel).

      Before dinner, we will stop at the opera house for a private visit from where we will also view one of Mongolia's famed throat singers. Throat singing in Mongolia dates back many centuries past the time of Genghis Khan. Throat singing is a unique art that has to be viewed to be believed it's fitting that we see it here in Hovd; as many singers from the region win national competitions, the main event is held in this very spot every June.

      This evening before bed, we make one final stop at a local family to enjoy a traditional Mongolian meal. This time we sample the delight known as Khorkhog (authentic Mongolian barbeque).

      Accommodation: Steppe Hotel
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    9. 19th September

      Discover the Remote City of Khovd

      This morning we’ll wake up in the remote city of Khovd, capital of Khovd Aimag in the far west of Mongolia.

      After our incredible expedition across Mongolia, we’ll take a day to relax and spending some time exploring this fascinating city, beginning with a later than usual start before heading out to Khovd Market – a small market made up small brick and concrete buildings mixed with covered market stalls and other temporary stands selling everything from clothes and hats to odd souvenirs and old russian knives – a real adventure for any shopaholics amongst you!

      After enjoying lunch, we’ll make our way to the local Buddhist Temple to explore this beautiful example of a more local temple, and perhaps meet some local monks.

      To contrast the religions which dominate the Mongolian countryside, we’ll leave the city in search of a shaman. Shamanism is an important belief system across Mongolia, and so we’ll venture out to find a practioner for ourselves and get a taste of how these spiritual healers operate.

      After returning to the city, we’ll head to a beautiful spot nearby to enjoy some traditional Mongolian throat singing before enjoying our dinner and heading to bed in preparation the day ahead.

      Accommodation: Steppe Hotel
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    10. 20th September

      Drive to Bayan Ulgii & Visit Eagle Hunters

      This morning we’re up and out early as we make our way north towards the city of Bayan-Ulgii, the site of the forthcoming eagle festival. However, we’ll arrive a day early in order to get settled, and meet one of these majestic hunting birds, and it’s owner, close-up before we see him perform the following days.

      Our drive between Khovd and Ulgii will give us a chance to see some of the most stunning natural beauty in the whole of Mongolia, from steppe, to rugged hills, and finally into the craggy mountainous peaks and distant snow-capped mountains that define the landscape in this part of Mongolia.

      Enroute, we’ll stop at the beautiful crystalline waters of Tolbo lake for a chance to strech our legs and take photos, after which we’ll pay a visit to a local nomadic eagle hunting family to learn a little more about the culture surrouding these eagle hunters, and how they train their beautiful birds.

      Upon arrival in the city, we will visit the local Ulgii market for a chance to peruse some of the various Kazakh goods on sale – from hats and musical instruments to, perhaps if we’re lucky, some eagle hunting paraphanelia.

      After the market, we’ll make our way to our get camp which overlooks the city and the surrounding mountains before having dinner and getting some sleep as we prepare for an action packed day tomorrow as the Eagle Festival begins.

      Accommodation: Ger Camp
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    11. 21st September

      Eagle Festival Day 1

      We’ll leave our camp early and head over to the site of the Eagle Festival where we’ll locate the food tents and explore some of the other oddities of the festival area as the various eagle hunters and spectators arrive.

      As we wait for things to kick off, we’ll be able to check out the local souvenir shops and local traders who travel from far and wide to sell art, antiques, and other intruiging handmade crafts to the festival-goers.

      As we wander around this beautiful, busy, bustling area, we’ll slowly make our way towards the main arena where we’ll catch the opening ceremony. Eagle hunters from Mongolia, as well as nearby Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will ride on horseback at speed carrying their eagles and showing off their magnificant costumes as they celebrate the beginning of this annual festival.

      As the day continues, we’ll see a series of exciting activities beginning with a display in which eagle hunters will call their eagles from the nearby mountain peak and the birds will dive at incredible speeds to land with their owner. For the adventurous amongst you, you may wish to climb the mountains along with the eagles and their handlers to watch the birds rise from the mountaintop and dive to the arena down below you. This makes for some incredible photos!

      After the day’s festivities have ended we’ll return to camp for a chance to shower, perhaps have a drink or two, and watch the sun set.

      Accommodation: Ger Camp
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

       

    12. 22nd September

      Eagle Festival Day 2

      We’re back at the festival again today, watching the eagles perform.

      Today, the main event will be a performance in which the eagle must swoop down from the mountain to the ground where the hunter must drag an artificial lure along the ground which the eagle must swoop down to catch – a great chance to watch the eagles in action.

      As the day continues, we’ll experience some more bizarre celebrations. From Kazakh husbands and wives chasing eachother on horseback, to two burly Kazakh men horseback wrestling.

      We’ll also get the chance to see a camel beauty contest, something which I’m sure you’ve all seen many times before, and finally the closing ceremony in which the hunters will ride with their eagles and provide us a great chance to get closer to the hunters and take some fantastic photos of the participants in all their finery.

      As the event closes, we’ll make our way to a local musician’s family yurt to meet a Kazakh folk band who will perform traditional music for us after we’ve enjoyed a hearty traditional Kazakh meal.

      Accommodation: Ger Camp
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    13. 23rd September

      Return to Ulaanbaatar

      This morning we’ll depart the city and head out to the airport, waving goodbye to the majestic scenery of western Mongolia as we head back to the hustle and bustle of Ulaanbaatar.

      Upon arrival, we’ll return to the hotel where you’ll have the option to enjoy a free afternoon in the city or, for those still yearning for beautiful scenery and more adventure in the Mongolian countryside, we can take you out to the Bogd Khan Mountain National Park where we’ll enjoy a hike through the alpine hillsides of the Bogd Khan Mountain and enjoying the fantastic views over the city.

      Alternatively, should you wish to spend your free time in the city, your tour leader will gladly point you in the direction of anything you might want to do; picking up camel wool socks in the market, finding bargains in the State Department Store, or exploring any of the temples and palaces around the city.

      That evening, we’ll regroup for a farewell dinner as we remenisce about our expedition. Our choice of restaurant tonight will be the Mongolian Barbeque Grill where we’ll enjoy a delicious final meal together.

      Accommodation: 3-star Hotel
      Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    14. 24th September

      Departure Day

      This morning, we’ll transfer you to the airport, whatever time your flight, and bid you goodbye as you leave Mongolia, hopefully leaving with a head full of memories and a bag full of souvenirs!

      END OF TOUR

      Included Meals: Breakfast

  • What is / is not included?

    • English speaking guide
    • Western tour leader
    • All meals outside Ulaanbaatar
    • Camels for luggage
    • Internal flights 
    • All included sight seeing
    • All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas
    • All camping equipment (not sleeping bags.)
    • Airport Transfer (only on trip start/end dates)
    • Sleeping bags
    • International flights
    • Any alcoholic beverages
    • Meals where specified
    • Medical insurance (can be arranged.)
    • Visas (if needed)
    • Airport pick up 25 USD one way 
    • Sleeping bag hire (incl cleaning 30 USD for tour)
    • Items of personal nature
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD
  • Notes

    Please note! This tour has been specifically arranged to visit these areas; it may have elements of an expedition about it due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. As such, any change in the itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible, although please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter 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.

    For those who have booked international flights, should there be any change in the scheduling of these or route cancellation, Koryo tours can not be held liable; however, our crew on the ground will do all they can to help find an alternate flight or make your stay as a little easier.

    We insist that with all of our tours, you book comprehensive travel insurance not only to cover your dates of travel but your departure and return. 

Please apply by 1st September, 2024.

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 3745 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 3745 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • 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.

October 2024 — 1 tour

October 19 - October 25 2024

Soviet Mongolia October 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 2100 USD per person

Please apply by 1st October, 2024.

Soviet Mongolia October 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 2100 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • 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, October 19th

      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. For those of you who arrive early, we will meet for an orientation walk.

      • Hotel Ulaanbaatar | Built in 1961, this 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 SquareThis square is named after Mongolia's revolutionary hero Damdin Sükhbaatar shortly after his death in 1923. 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. A large monument dedicated to Genghis Khan sits atop the steps of the government palace.
      • National University of Mongolia | It was 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. It’s estimated over 35,000 people were killed.
      • State Department StoreEstablished 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 a 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, the Mongolian Stock Exchange and The National Theater. All are excellent examples of Russian design and construction.

      Hotel | Hotel Ulaanbaatar

      Meals | Dinner

    2. Sunday, October 20th

      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 opened in 1979. It is 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. All 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, we have quite a treat. 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. 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. We stop 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, it is the largest monastery in the city. It is 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, October 21st

      • 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. It 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. 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.

      Hotel | Art Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. Tuesday, October 22nd

      • Choir | After breakfast, we’re ready to continue our exploration of Choir. We will head to the Soviet-style Choir Railway Station. Outside here there is a Statue of Yuri Gagarin. It was 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. 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.

      Hotel | TBC

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. Wednesday, October 23rd

      • Urbex 12th Motor Rifle Division | We’re up and out early today. We drive 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. It has been 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.

      Hotel | Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch

    6. Thursday, October 24th

      • 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. It incorporates 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. They 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.

      Hotel | Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. Friday, October 25th

      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
    • Airport Transfer (only on trip start/end dates)

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights to/from Mongolia
    • Travel Insurance
    • Snacks/Drinks/Extra Expenses
    • Tips for crew 
    • Meals not listed
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD

Please apply by 1st October, 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 4750 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 4750 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • 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
    • Airport Transfer (only on trip start/end dates)

    NOT INCLUDED

    • International Flights
    • Mongolian Visa
    • Snacks
    • Alcoholic Drinks
    • Tips
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD
  • 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.

May 2025 — 1 tour

May 17 - May 23 2025

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 2100 USD per person

Please apply by 1st May, 2025.

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 2100 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • Overall

    A unique tour 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 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 17th

      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. For those of you who arrive early, we will meet for an orientation walk.

      • Hotel Ulaanbaatar | Built in 1961, this 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 SquareThis square is named after Mongolia's revolutionary hero Damdin Sükhbaatar shortly after his death in 1923. 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. A large monument dedicated to Genghis Khan sits atop the steps of the government palace.
      • National University of Mongolia | It was 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. It’s estimated over 35,000 people were killed.
      • State Department StoreEstablished 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 a 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, the Mongolian Stock Exchange and The National Theater. All are excellent examples of Russian design and construction.

      Hotel | Hotel Ulaanbaatar

      Meals | Dinner

    2. Sunday, May 18th

      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 opened in 1979. It is 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. All 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, we have quite a treat. 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. 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. We stop 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, it is the largest monastery in the city. It is 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 19th

      • 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. It 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. 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.

      Hotel | Art Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. Tuesday, May 20th

      • Choir | After breakfast, we’re ready to continue our exploration of Choir. We will head to the Soviet-style Choir Railway Station. Outside here there is a Statue of Yuri Gagarin. It was 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. 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.

      Hotel | TBC

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. Wednesday, May 21st

      • Urbex 12th Motor Rifle Division | We’re up and out early today. We drive 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. It has been 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.

      Hotel | Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch

    6. Thursday, May 22nd

      • 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. It incorporates 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. They 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.

      Hotel | Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. Friday, May 23rd

      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
    • Airport Transfer (only on trip start/end dates)

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights to/from Mongolia
    • Travel Insurance
    • Snacks/Drinks/Extra Expenses
    • Tips for crew 
    • Meals not listed
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD

Please apply by 1st May, 2025.

July 2025 — 2 tours

July 1 - July 13 2025

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe
2025

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 2950 USD per person

Please apply by 1st May, 2025.

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe 2025

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 2950 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • 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.

    ✍️ Read more about the Naadam Festival in Mongolia.  

    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.

    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. Tuesday 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. Wednesday 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. Thursday 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. Friday 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. Saturday 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. Sunday 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. Monday, 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. Tuesday 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. Wednesday 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. Thursday 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. Friday 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. Saturday 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. Sunday 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
    • Airport Transfer (only on trip start/end dates)

    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
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD
  • 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 May, 2025.

July 12 - July 19 2025

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 1600 USD per person

Please apply by 1st July, 2025.

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 1600 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • 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 Cliffs' 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. 

    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. Sunday, 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. Monday, 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. Tuesday, 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. Wednesday, 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. Thursday, 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. Friday, 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. Saturday, 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. Sunday, 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
    • Airport Transfer (on the trip start/end dates)

    NOT INCLUDED

    • International flights
    • Any alcoholic beverages
    • Meals (specified)
    • Medical insurance
    • Visas (if needed)
    • Items of personal nature
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD
  • 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, 2025.

October 2025 — 1 tour

October 18 - October 24 2025

Soviet Mongolia October 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 2100 USD per person

Please apply by 1st October, 2025.

Soviet Mongolia October 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 2100 USD per person

This tour is managed by...

Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

  • Overall

    A unique tour 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 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, October 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. For those of you who arrive early, we will meet for an orientation walk.

      • Hotel Ulaanbaatar | Built in 1961, this 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 SquareThis square is named after Mongolia's revolutionary hero Damdin Sükhbaatar shortly after his death in 1923. 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. A large monument dedicated to Genghis Khan sits atop the steps of the government palace.
      • National University of Mongolia | It was 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. It’s estimated over 35,000 people were killed.
      • State Department StoreEstablished 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 a 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, the Mongolian Stock Exchange and The National Theater. All are excellent examples of Russian design and construction.

      Hotel | Hotel Ulaanbaatar

      Meals | Dinner

    2. Sunday, October 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 opened in 1979. It is 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. All 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, we have quite a treat. 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. 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. We stop 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, it is the largest monastery in the city. It is 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, October 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. It 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. 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.

      Hotel | Art Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    4. Tuesday, October 21st

      • Choir | After breakfast, we’re ready to continue our exploration of Choir. We will head to the Soviet-style Choir Railway Station. Outside here there is a Statue of Yuri Gagarin. It was 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. 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.

      Hotel | TBC

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    5. Wednesday, October 22nd 

      • Urbex 12th Motor Rifle Division | We’re up and out early today. We drive 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. It has been 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.

      Hotel | Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch

    6. Thursday, October 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. It incorporates 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. They 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.

      Hotel | Ulaanbaatar Hotel

      Included Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    7. Friday, October 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
    • Airport Transfer (on the trip start/end dates)

    NOT INCLUDED

    • Flights to/from Mongolia
    • Travel Insurance
    • Snacks/Drinks/Extra Expenses
    • Tips for crew 
    • Meals not listed
    • Airport Transfer (outside of trip start/end dates) 30 USD

Please apply by 1st October, 2025.

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[email protected] | + 86 10 6416 7544
WhatsApp (message only): +44 7822 014058
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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