Fascinating Cultures of the Altai

Explore the modern and traditional charms of Ulaanbaatar before departing for Khovd province, from where your 12-day adventure through the Mongolian countryside begins. Travel through stunning mountains and lakes, visit traditional Kazakh and Uriankhai families and attend a throat singing concert.

This trip takes us to Khovd province in the Mongol Altai Mountain Range in the far West of Mongolia. Our purpose is to visit several nomadic camel-herding minority groups still living their traditional nomadic lifestyle. Generally the nomadic families of the west of Mongolia live on the steppe area in the winter months when it is cold and then move into the mountains for the warm summer months. Our trip is specifically planned for the end of the summer season when most people are busy with preparations for the long winter months ahead.

This is also the time of celebrations and if we are lucky we may see some. Typical ceremonies at this time are “Naadams,” which include wrestling, archery and horse racing. Other ceremonies include weddings, a child’s haircutting ceremony or the erection of a new “ger” or home, all of which are scheduled according to the lunar calendar.

Over 25% of the population are living the traditional nomadic lifestyle in the countryside, herding sheep, goats, cows, yaks and camels. The lifestyle varies slightly according to the location of the nomadic family, from remote southern areas of the Gobi desert to the northern, alpine-forested areas with their tundra forests.

The nomadic people are incredibly generous and welcoming. This comes from necessity as well as kindness. In a country like Mongolia, with a harsh climate and nature, people have to work together to help and support each other. When entering a ger, the traditional Mongolian dwelling, one does not knock, but just enters and sits down. The host would consider it rude if you left without first having a cup of tea with the family, and they are keen to hear news of your travels. This hospitality is reflected now, even in the cities, in the Mongolian way of life.

Day 1                 

International Arrival

On arrival, you will be transferred to a 3 star hotel for the night. A welcome dinner will be held at a local restaurant.

Day 2               

Flight to Ulgii – Namarjin Valley – 110km drive

We will take a morning flight to Ulgii. Departure 08:10 - arrival in Khovd 12:20. On arrival we will drive to Namarjin Valley, which is about 110km drive from Khovd city. There we will set up our tented camp. Dinner and the night in the camp.

Day 3               

Namarjin Valley – riding, walking, visiting Oolds and Kazakh families

We will spend a full day at Namarjin, where you can enjoy the wildlife, ride horses, and visit local Oolds families, an ethnic minority populating the area. We will also visit Kazakh eagle hunters living in the area. We will camp in Namarjin Valley for the night.

Day 4               

Kazakh traditions – 100km drive

After breakfast we will drive to Khovd soum (100km) and set up camp near the homes of Kazakh families. Here we can get acquainted with the Kazakh lifestyle and customs. Kazakhs are one of the largest national minorities living in Mongolia, and are of Turkish descent. Lunch and dinner will be served at the camp.

Day 5               

Kokh Serkh National Park – Uriankhai families – Dund River – 90km drive

After breakfast we will drive to Khokh Serkh National Park. The area is famous for its program of protecting argali sheep and ibex. Here we will come across another ethnic group – the Uriankhai people. We will camp on the banks of the Dund River.

Day 6               

Monkh Khairkhan – Khukh Lake – 200km drive

Another day of driving, this time to reach Monkh Khairkhan soum via Duut soum and Alag brigade. At an elevation of 4362m, Monkh Khairkhan is the second highest mountain in Mongolia. We will set up camp on the banks of Khukh Lake.

Day 7               

A day with Uriankhai families

We will spend today with local nomadic families. Uriankhai people populate the area and have rich traditions of hunting. We will spend tonight in the same camp on the shore of Khukh Lake.

Day 8               

Tsenkher Cave rock paintings - Chadmani

After breakfast we will drive to Chandmani soum, famous for its bi-phonic, or so-called, throat singers. Entire families practice this unique art. On the way we will pass Tsenkher Caves with 15,000 year-old rock paintings. There we will have our lunch. We will make our camp for the next two days close to Chandmani soum center.

Day 9               

Tagiin Khondii throat singing concert

We will go to Tagiin Khondii, a natural stage for performing, where we will organize a small concert of local throat singers. Being one of the most enigmatic arts in Mongolia it is highly valued throughout the country. In this area almost every child has mastered the art. Tonight, we will remain in the same camp near Chadmani soum center.

Day 10             

Jargalant Khairkhan – Khar Us Lake – Buyant River

Today we will drive towards Khovd. The road takes us along the Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain, overlooking Khar Us Lake, a huge freshwater lake – a birds’ paradise. We will take a lunch break by the lake, before continuing to Khovd. Tonight we will camp by the Buyant River.

Day 11             

Sightseeing in Khovd – return flight to Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast we will drive to Khovd for some sightseeing. Our flight to Ulaanbaatar departs at 17.20. On arrival in Ulaanbaatar you will be taken to your hotel. Dinner at Ikh Khurildai Restaurant.

Day 12               

International Departure

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your international departure.

This tour can be organized as an individual request.

Price per person for a group more than 9 people: USD 3649

Single supplement: USD 250

Prices include the following: 

2 domestic flights, transportation within Mongolia. Single accommodation can be arranged at an additional cost. Tented accommodation while on trek, three meals a day, English-speaking guide, 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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