Mongolia - Grasslands, Nomads and the Gobi
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Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and transfer to our centrally located hotel. We gather this evening for our orientation meeting and dinner.
Day 2: Hogno Han
In the morning, we visit Gandan Monastery before we depart for Hogno Han/Bayangobi. Here, we spend some time with a local nomadic family and explore the area and also have an opportunity for a horseback ride, hiking or just relaxing at the camp!
Day 3: To Karakoram - Ancient Capital of the Mongols
In the morning, we drive to Karakoram, which served as the Mongolian capital for only 40 years (when Kublai Khan moved it to what is now Beijing). Most of the city was later destroyed by Manchurian soldiers. On our way to Karakoram, we visit Erdene Zuu Monastery. The remnants of the city were reputedly used to build this monastery in the 16th century. We visit the newly opened museum in Karakorum showcasing recent archeological findings in the area and excellent displays on Mongolian empires.
Day 4: Przewalski Wild Horses, Return to Ulaanbaatar
Today we drive to the Hustain Nuruu (Pike Hustai) National Reserve to have a view of Przewalski wild horses, recently re-introduced back into Mongolia. The 90,000 hectare reserve was established in 1993 and the takhi (the Mongolian name of wild horses) were brought to Mongolia from zoo parks within Holland. Within the reserve there are a number of Turkish graves and stone statues. The Ongot archaeological complex is also nearby. Tour the visitor's center to learn about conservation projects and current developments. After lunch, we drive back to Ulaanbaatar.
Day 5: Genghis Khan's 13th Century Park
We start our day with an excursion to the Genghis Khan's 13th Century Theme Park to explore and experience the way of living, customs, tradition and military activities of 13th century Mongolia. Take part in everyday life activities of Mongols and learn about state affairs, livestock breeding, cooking, traditions, customs and garments etc. En route, explore the Monument Complex dedicated to Genghis Khan in Tsonjin Boldog. The Genghis Khan statue is the world's tallest equestrian statue.
Day 6: Terelj National Park, Ulaanbaatar
This morning we drive to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, located about 50 miles northeast of the city. At an altitude of 5,250 feet, the area is cool with wonderful alpine scenery.
Day 7: Fly to Muron, Lake Hovsgol
In the morning, we transfer to the airport in Ulaanbaatar for our short flight to Muron, the capital city of scenic Hovsgol aimag (province). We continue by road to Lake Hovsgol, one of Mongolia's most scenic attractions. Lake Hovsgol is a massive lake fed by the same water supply as its cousin, Lake Baikal. The Mongolians refer to the lake as "Mother", and not only is it home to many species of fish, but the lake itself holds approximately 3% of the world's fresh water. The lake is surrounded by dozens of mountains, thick pine forests and lush meadows with grazing yaks and horses.
Day 8: Lake Hovsgol - Hiking, Boat Ride
Today, we can go for a day hike, or boat ride on beautiful Lake Hovsgol.
Day 9: Lake Hovsgol - Horseback and Yak Cart Riding (Optional)
Today, we can try horseback riding or yak cart riding! Also, for those intrepid swimmers you can go for a dip in the lake!
Day 10: To Ulaanbaatar - Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts
In the morning, we return to the airport in Muron, where we catch our flight back to Ulaanbaatar. This afternoon in the city, we have the opportunity to visit the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts.
Day 11: Naadam Festival - Competition & Ceremony
Today, we enjoy the Naadam Festival. The Naadam Festival is the largest annual celebration in Mongolia and showcases Mongolia's finest in the three "manly sports" of horse racing, archery and wrestling. The festival begins with a fantastic, colorful ceremony outside the State Parliament House. Hundreds of soldiers in bright uniforms play music on brass instruments, and Mongolians dressed in Genghis-like warrior outfits parade around the square, before marching to the stadium. Throughout the day there are archery events, where the targets lie on the ground, horse races with as many as 1,000 horses, and wrestling bouts in which there are no time limits. Tonight we enjoy a Nadaam folk celebration dinner.
Day 12: Naadam Festival - Closing Ceremony
Enjoy more of the festival and the Mongolian spectators who come from far and wide to watch the competitions. See how the wrestlers, riders and archers have progressed until one is proclaimed 'Champion'. We will visit an interesting Dinosaur Museum this afternoon and tonight we enjoy the closing ceremony and dinner.
Day 13: Fly to Gobi Desert - Yol Valley National Park
Today, we fly south to the Gobi Desert. The Gobi Desert is a mysterious place that captivates the imagination. It is an extreme area with wide temperature swings, sparse vegetation and a small population of hearty nomads. It is also unique for its fauna and is home to the two-humped Bactrian camel and the world's only desert bear, the Gobi bear. Today, we drive to the Yol Am (Eagle's Mouth) Valley nestled between the beautiful peaks of Gurvansaikhan (Three Beauties). We hike through the Shivertam Valley and Mukhar Shiver, also known as an ice valley for its dramatic and unusual scenery.
Day 14: Khongoryn Els - Singing Sand Dunes
Today we drive to Khongor Sand Dunes (130 miles). Khongoryn Els is the largest accumulation of sand in the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. The dunes rise abruptly from the plain. The dunes can reach an imposing 2500 feet in height, 5-7 miles wide and stretch for over 100 miles along the Gobi Altai Mountain range. These high dunes are called "singing sands" by locals as it makes various sounds when the wind is blowing. We have free time to explore the dunes on foot or just enjoy the magic of the dunes. We will also visit a camel breeding family and have the opportunity for a short camel ride.
Day 15: Flaming Cliffs - Cemetery of Dinosaurs
In the morning, we continue on to see the "Flaming Cliffs". The true name of this site is Bayanzag, first excavated in 1922, the area is world renowned as a "Cemetery of Dinosaurs". The land itself is a rugged desert of colorful rocks, red sands and hearty endemic vegetation.
Day 16: Return to Ulaanbaatar, Bogd Khan Palace
In the morning, we drive to the airport at Dalanzadgad, where we catch our flight back to Ulaanbaatar. In the afternoon, we visit the Bogd Khan Palace, with its bizarre collection of artifacts, including a royal ger made out of snow leopard skins! Tonight we enjoy our Farewell Dinner.
Day 17: Departure
The tour concludes in Ulaanbaatar with a transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
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