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MONGOLIA TRAVEL ITINERARY
Travel with Noble Journeys to this seldom-explored country, one of the world's last unspoiled treasures, and one of the last nomadic cultures on earth. The stunning, vast horizons are home to a horse-based culture, herds of Bactrian camels, the ubiquitous round felt gers (round, portable tents), stark mountains and the renowned Gobi Desert. The handsome Mongols, descendants of the great Chingiss Khan, are a welcoming people and they invite us into their gers to learn first-hand of their unique and ancient culture, sharing both food and lively conversation.
- Naadam Festival, an age-old competition of wrestling, horseracing & archery
- Explore the Gobi Desert
- Unique ger accommodations – award-winning eco Three Camel Lodge
- Hands-on workshops to learn classic crafts
- Personal interaction with Mongolian families & communities
- Visit famous Flaming Cliffs, location of first dinosaur egg nest discovery
- Major sites and museums
DAY 01 USA-MONGOLIA
Overnight flight from home city to Ulaanbaatar. Meals aloft.
DAY 02 ULAANBAATAR
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by your Nomadic Expeditions' guide and transferred to the Ulaanbaatar Hotel, a comfortable, centrally located hotel within walking distance of various museums and shops. During the drive from the airport, the contrast between ancient traditions and the dawning of a 21st century democracy is most visible in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, where traditional gers (classic felt circular dwellings) and Buddhist monasteries coexist with modern high-rises. We'll enjoy a welcome dinner, sampling traditional Mongolian dishes .
HOTEL ULAANBAATAR or similar D
DAY 03 ULAANBAATAR
Begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Woven through Mongolia's nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan-Buddhist tradition with ancient Shamanist practices still evident. Although Buddhist monasteries were either destroyed or converted into museums during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, the Gandan Monastery continued to operate as a "showpiece" for government officials. However, in spite of the government's efforts to suppress Buddhism and other religious beliefs, Mongolia's spirituality persisted and a significant resurgence of Buddhism began in 1990 when Mongolia became a democracy. Monasteries across the country are again opening their doors to worshippers and the few lamas who survived the purges are training a new generation. Massive reconstruction and renovation projects were completed and priceless artifacts that were hidden by nomadic families for safekeeping are now being returned to monasteries.
Also visit recently renovated Chenrezi and Kalachakra Temples, as well as the magnificent statue of Migjid Janraisig ("the lord who looks in every direction"). This 82-foot high statue, gilded in pure gold and clothed with silk and precious stones, completely fills one of the Gandan's biggest temples.
Afterwards, we visit the National History Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia's history and culture. The newly remodeled museum displays traditional implements of daily nomadic life including Stone and Bronze Age artifacts, historical costumes of Mongolia's minority tribes, sacred religious relics, and agricultural, fishing and hunting equipment. In the afternoon, we have a special invitation to the Torgo Fashion Museum, which showcases Mongolia's intricate and colorful fashions. Learn about the different clothing styles of Mongolia's minority tribes and talk with artists about how they combine and evolve traditional textile customs into modern designs. Enjoy dinner at a fine local restaurant.
DAY 04 ULAANBAATAR – GOBI DESERT – YOL VALLEY
In the morning, we fly 1 � hrs. over vast steppe land to the Gobi, Mongolia's southernmost province of semi-arid desert. Of all the world's arid lands, the Gobi (which means simply "desert") has about it the greatest air of mystery, perhaps because it lies at the heart of Asia's most remote hinterland between the Siberian wilderness to the north and the Tibetan Plateau to the south. Contrary to the sterile sameness that the word "desert" suggests, the Gobi holds many fascinations, including sites of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of this century. For the next four days, along with other activities, we explore the stunning landscape of the Gobi, habitat for Bactrian camels, Argali mountain sheep, goitered gazelle, golden eagles, saker falcons, jerboas (similar to kangaroo rats) and many endemic reptiles. The Gobi is also home to some of the Northern Hemisphere's rarest and most elusive mammals such as the dhole, snow leopard and Gobi bear.
Upon arrival, we drive to Yol Valley National Park, cradled between the foothills of the Altai Mountains. An ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley. Now, its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that sometimes persist as late as July. We may walk through the gorgeous valley, habitat for indigenous vulture-like lammergeiers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks and Argali mountain sheep. We may also visit the local natural history museum for an overview of the flora and fauna of the area.
We drive to the Three Camel Lodge (1 hr., Mongolia's premier eco-lodge, our accommodations during our days here. We sleep in gers, the traditional felt tents of nomadic herders. Made of a latticed wood structure covered with layers of felt and canvas, each ger is heated by a wood stove and furnished with beautifully decorated wood-framed beds. The gers provide an authentic and memorable taste of Mongolian culture and allow you to visit areas which otherwise lack traveler accommodations. Most visitors find their stays at ger camps to be among their most enjoyable experiences in Mongolia.
DAY 05 LOCAL NAADAM FESTIVAL
Drive to nearby Bulgan sum to experience a local Naadam Festival – traditional competitions of wrestling, horse racing and archery to measure courage and strength of nomads and warriors. Contemporary Naadam games showcase the impressive abilities of local athletes, and are a time when family and friends gather together to celebrate the short and joyful summer season. A unique opportunity for you to join them! Return to the ger camp for the night.
THREE CAMEL LODGE BLD
DAY 06 HANDCRAFTS EXPERIENES
Drive to a nomadic family nearby to learn traditional crafts. Daily life revolves around livestock, cooking and making household goods – rope, threads, felt. Learn how felt is used as insulator for gers , boots and clothing. Felt-making is a community effort, which you will experience.
THREE CAMEL LODGE BLD
DAY 07 HANDCRAFTS – FLAMING CLIFFS
Learn about del making (traditional Mongolian coat worn by country and city people alike). Make your own del, and celebrate with traditional "new del ceremony". Drive to the Flaming Cliffs, so-called for the dramatic coloration of the sun on the cliffs; we'll enjoy a luxury picnic dinner here. This is the site of discovery of first nest of dinosaur eggs ever seen, by American Museum of Natural History exploration team in 1922, led by Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews. The area is rich in dinosaur fossils.
DAY 08 GOBI DESERT - ULAANBAATAR
Today we fly back to Ulaanbaatar, visit the Chojin Lama Temple Museum, a hidden gem of architecture and history, and enjoy some free time. In the evening we'll see traditional Mongolian dance and hear the unique throat singing, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
HOTEL ULAANBAATAR BLD
DAY 09 ULAANBAATAR – BAYAN-ULGII
Our morning flight takes us west to Ulgii, Mongolia's westernmost province. In and around this windblown frontier town, we meet local families and experience the singular Kazakh culture. With the highest mountains in Mongolia (up to 14,000'), the isolated area preserved language, culture and traditions of Kazakhs; some of most spectacular scenery in Mongolia. Some say it like reaching the ends of the earth.
DAY 10 & 11 KAZAKH CULTURE
We'll spend the next two days with local families learning about their family life and experiences, while enjoying the hospitality of special tea and bortdsig (fried cakes). Kazakh style embroidery and stitching is quite different here, being so isolated from the rest of Mongolia, and we can try our hand at learning these crafts.
KAZAKH STYLE GER BLD
DAY 12 BAYAN-ULGII – ULAANBAATAR
A visit to the Provincial Museum gives us a good overview of the Kazakh culture and the local geography, which explains the isolation from the rest of the country. It will be interesting to compare it with what we've learned the past few days. We'll meet some women at an arts collective to learn of their creative efforts before we fly back to Ulaanbaatar.
HOTEL ULAANBAATAR BLD
DAY 13 ULAANBAATAR
Today is free time for personal exploration, shopping, etc., before we meet for our farewell dinner. Lots of toasts and great stories to exchange!
HOTEL ULAANBAATAR BLD
DAY 14 ULAANBAATAR – USA
Transfer to airport for flight to USA B
Price determined by season and number of travelers
Please contact us to discuss your preferred dates
Please note: Content, timing, accommodations, etc. subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control. We always strive to provide equal or better substitutions.
- Ground transportation in Mongolia
- Airport transfers on arrival and departure
- Ulaanbaatar – Gobi round-trip flights *
- Ulaanbaatar – Ulgii round-trip flights *
- All accommodations based on double occupancy (hotel rooms & gers)
- Meals as noted in itinerary
- Bottled water throughout trip
- Special cultural features as stated in itinerary, including: special access to Torgo Fashion Museum, handicrafts workshops with nomadic families, Mongolian traditional music and dance performance
- All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in itinerary
- Extensive pre-departure Travel Guide, reading list, important information about your trip, and luggage tags
- Bilingual Nomadic Expeditions guide throughout your stay
- Joan Noble as tour manager
* Domestic airfare in Mongolia is subject to change due to international fuel cost and may incur a supplemental charge.
- International airfare
- Passport and visa fees
- Medical, trip & emergency evacuation insurance
- Airport taxes
- Photography and video fees charged at some sites
- Food and beverages not included in the group meals
- Items of a personal nature (i.e. alcoholic beverages, laundry and telephone calls, etc.)
- Gratuities to guides and drivers
- Other items not specifically mentioned as included
PRICES BASED ON CURRENCY EXCHANGE AS OF TODAY'S DATE