Pioneering through the Wild West

The far west of Mongolia is a remote and unique geographical area with a population of nomadic people equally as interesting and diverse as the land they inhabit. The landscape includes high glacial mountain peaks, large lake basins, steppe grassland and desert sand-dunes. One of the main minority groups in this area is the Kazakh minority, who are as well the largest one in Mongolia, inhabiting the province of Bayan Ulgii since the mid 1800s. Still maintaining their traditional customs and traditions, they live in large felt gers and hunt with the aid of huge, golden eagles in the winter months to supply themselves with fur from the prey.

On this journey we will take you through some of the most spectacular peaks of the Altai Mountains and then into the flat arid plains of the Gobi desert. We will set up tented camps by vast, clear blue lakes and visit many of the minority groups in the area and learn about their ancient customs. The journey will be on horseback, camel and by jeeps to allow the traveler to experience this land in all its brilliant diversity.

Day 1             

Arrival in Ulaanbaatar – Sightseeing and welcome dinner

You will be met at the airport and transferred to your 4-star hotel. After lunch at the hotel, there will be sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar, including the National History Museum and the Bogd Khan Palace, a series of beautiful traditional buildings where the last religious king of Mongolia resided. The Palace is now a museum displaying fascinating artifacts and costumes associated with the king, as well as his collection of European furniture and stuffed animals. There will be a welcome dinner at a local restaurant, before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Day 2             

Sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar

A full day of sightseeing in the city including Gandan Monastery, the Fine Arts Museum, and the Natural History Museum. Lunch at the hotel. There will be time for art and cashmere shopping before the evening program of a folklore show, followed by dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3             

Flight to Donoi of Zavkhan -Zavkhanmandal

Today we will get a flight to Uliastai town either in the morning or afternoon depending on the domestic flight schedule. On arrival at Uliastai town we will meet our local staff and driver and drive to Zavkhanmandal soum, where the great sand dune, Mongol Els lies. Dinner will be served and we will have our first tented night in the wilderness in this area.

Day 4             

Camel ride across sand dunes of Zavkhanmandal soum

Today we will ride camels across the sand dunes towards the south until we see Zavkhanmandal Soum. Those who don't wish to ride camels, can stay in the vehicles and drive around the dunes, meeting the riding party on the other side of the dunes. We will have dinner and camp.

Today we will get a flight to Uliastai town either in the morning or afternoon depending on the domestic flight schedule. On arrival at Uliastai town we will meet our local staff and driver and drive to Zavkhanmandal soum, where the great sand dune, Mongol Els lies. Dinner will be served and we will have our first tented night in the wilderness in this area.

Day 5             

Bayan Lake –Gobi

Today we drive to Bayan Lake situated amidst the Mongol Els Sand Dunes. Here the flora and fauna are typical of deserts: vast open spaces; sand dunes; and bush plants, with camels grazing. We will  reach Bayan Lake and camp on its shore. Here we meet our camel men and camels.

Day 6-7        

Gobi desert –120 km

Today we leave the peaks and horses behind and drive into the Gobi Desert. Our way will lead us to Khyargas Lake where you can swim and sunbathe, just like on the seashore. We will camp near Khar Termes (Snake Spa).

Day 8 –9        

2 days horse riding Kharkhiraa river

Two full days of horse riding down the mountain valley towards Tarialan Soum along Kharkhiraa River. Each day we will ride 20-25 km, our support vehicles will follow us and serve meals on the way. The scenery is full of grazing herds of livestock. We will arrive here around the time when those families move back to their seasonal settlement, and will be able to see how nomadic people move their gers using camels. Our final destination is the gorge of Kharkhiraa River.

Day 10                       

Altai Mountains

Today we will drive into the Altai Mountain Range and camp in the valley of Turgen Mountain. This is one of the highest peaks of the Altai Mountains and has snow and a glacier all year round. The vehicles cannot drive any further up the valley, so we will drive to the southern foothill of Turgen Mountain and set up camp there. Towards the evening our horsemen will come to the camp with horses.

Day 11           

Drive to Uureg and Achit lake

Today we continue our drive toward Achit lake via Uureg lake. If opportunity rises we visit a Kazakh eagle hunting family. The eagles are kept near the Kazakh gers in the summer and then taken out to catch small animals in November and December, when the first snow covers the ground. The eagles are trained from a young age or caught when they are older having already developed the hunting instinct. At the age of 15 they are released back into the wild. We will look at the birds outside the gers and watch the Kazakh men with them. We will camp by the shore of the Achit lake.

Note: For June departures there are no eagle hunting families available and for August departures we will drive 80 km directly to Achit Lake and camp on its shore.

Day 12                       

Drive to Ulgii

After a relaxed breakfast we drive to Ulgii town. This is the center of Bayan Ulgii Province, and the only Muslim province in Mongolia. On our way to Ulgii town we drive to a nomadic settlement of Kazakh families. Their gers are slightly larger than Mongolian gers, and are decorated with brightly colored rugs. Their traditional dress is also slightly different to the Mongols as the men tend to wear large, black deels and small, bright hats. We will set our camp near the Khovd river.

Day 13                       

Return to Ulaanbaatar

We will drive to the local airstrip of Ulgii town for the flight to Ulaanbaatar. On arrival you will be taken to your 3-star hotel for dinner and rest.

Day 14           

International Departure

After breakfast at the hotel you will be taken to the airport for you international departure.

Departure codes and dates:
NSA-002: 15-28 Jun, 2017
NSA-006: 17-30 Aug, 2017
Price per person in a group of 9 and more: USD 3499
Single supplement through the trip: USD 360
Prices include the following:

2 domestic flights, transportation within Mongolia, twin accommodation in a 4 star hotel. Single accommodation can be arranged at an additional cost. Tented accommodation while on trek, three meals a day, English-speaking guide, all sightseeing costs, transfers, camel or horse hire where specified, support staff including drivers, horse /camel men and camp assistants.

Prices do not include:

International transportation, travel insurance, visas, departure tax, alcoholic drinks, gratuities, items of a personal nature.It is the responsibility of the client to be fully covered with travel and medical insurance while traveling in Mongolia.

Please note:

Upon request, single supplement in the countryside can be provided at the additional cost. In case single accommodation in ger camps was not provided the amount would be calculated based on the missing nights and reimbursed. Nomads cannot be held responsible for over bookings, as long as the company can prove with sufficient documentation that overbooking has been the error of the third party.Should circumstances beyond our control, such as the imposition of quarantine restrictions, any changes of domestic flight or train schedules, require a change of itinerary, we will inform your agent and propose an equivalent itinerary. Again, Nomads cannot take over the responsibility for the Airlines or the National Train Company. The traveler is responsible for having proper travel documents, such as a valid passport, proper visa and the necessary passport pictures.

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