Travel between Khangai et Gobi

Ulaanbaatar-Orkhon Valley-Central Gobi-South Gobi
13 days
Between May to September 2022
Price includes
  • Airport / hotel / airport transfers
  • hotel** in Ulaanbaatar, breakfast included
  • Domestic flights
  • Full board during the excursion
  • Mineral water
  • camp of comfortable yurts with hot shower
  • nights at homestay, under yurt of hosts
  • Travel by car + driver
  • Essence
  • English-speaking guide
  • Horseback riding
  • Camel ride
  • Local guides during hikes
  • Entrance fees to the parks and museums mentioned
  • Traditional show
  • Kitchen equipment (camping tables and chairs) and sleeping equipment (down)
Price excludes
  •   Transport international
  •   Passport & Visa Fees
  •   Repatriation insurance
  •   Travel insurance
  •   Extra drinks / alcohols
  •   Meals in Ulaanbaatar
  •   Calls
  •   Any excursion not mentioned in the program

Day 1 Ulaanbaatar

Arrival on Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to the hotel. Lunch in a Mongolian restaurant  to discover local dishes. In the evening planned a traditional show.

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolian:  "Red Hero") is the  capital  of   Mongolia. It is at the same time the political, economic, industrial, scientific and cultural center. Administratively, it has the status, unique in the country, of  municipality,comparable to that of province.

The city, which stretches from east to west at the bottom of the valley of the Tula River, over twenty kilometers, brings together more than a million inhabitants, more than a third of the country's population.

The city changed its name several times in its history; at its creation in 1639, örgöö  which gives the famous translation  Urga, in 1651 Nomyn khüree, in 1706 Ikh khüree , in 1912 Niislel khüree and finally in 1924, the current name, Ulaanbaatar.

Ulaanbaatar is located 522 km  south-southeast ofIrkutsk, Russia,1,170  km northwest of Beijing,1,557  km  east-northeast of Ürümqi, China and 4,635  km east-southeast of  Moscow. The city is built along the Tula River, a stream belonging to the Selenge sub-basin. To the southeast of the city is the  Choybalsan Uul,a small regional massif culminating at 2,261m and belonging to the  Khentii Mountains.The latter mountainous set, more important, limits the Tula Valley to the north and continues to Russia.

Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world, it benefits a cold and dry continental climate (Dwc type according to the Koppen classification). Winter is cold and long while summer is short and cool. Almost all precipitation occurs in summer.

Day 2 Ulaanbaatar-Khustai national Park

Head to Khustai National Park located 90 km fromUlaanbaatar  to observe wild horses.

Khustai National Park

Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002, Khustai National Park  covers 50,000 hectares of steppe, mountain and forest home to many species of mammals and birds. It is especially famous for hosting the Takhi preservation project. This wild horse, also called Przewalski's horse,had completely disappeared from its natural habitat.Only a few specimens were still present in zoos around the world. A breeding and reintroduction program was initiated in 1992, resulting in a wild and viable population of Takhi within the Khustai Park compound, which now reaches more than 400 individuals.

To observe Przewalski's horses,it is best to go by vehicle to the banks of the rivers where they come to drink early in the morning and in the evening. The rest of the day, they disperse in the mountains in search of their food.

Overnight at yurt camps  

Day 3 Khustai National Park-Mini Gobi-Karakorum

Departure for Karakorum en route we will pass through a place called Mini Gobi is an 80 km long sand dune that extends west of Khogno Khan mountain, starting on the west side of Batkhaan mountain, crossing the territory of Erdenesant village of the Tuv region, Burd village of Uvurkhangai region and Rashaant village of Bulgan region. The main road divides this sand dune, the southern part is called Mongolian sand and the northern part is called Khogno tarna sand. Under the influence of the Tarna River, the sand is wet and shrubs like willow, elm grow there.The landscape is very varied here.


The capital of the Mongol Empire

In the early thirteenth  century, Genghis Khan established Mongol rule over a territory that stretched from the Pacific to the Caspian Sea, founding an empire that included the steppes of Mongolia, Korea, North China, and part of Central Asia. This empire is initially devoid of a capital because the Mongols are nomads. Around 1220, Genghis Khan  established his base camp, leaving women and central administration during his military campaigns, on the site of Karakorum (name meaning "black rock"), located at the foot of the Khangai Mountains on the left bank oftheOrkhon,atributary of the Selenge. Karakorum is a significant site, some 25 km from the ancient Uyghur capital Qara Balgassun (VIIIth  century).

Genghis Khan died in 1227 and was succeeded by his son Ögödei, who around 1235 began work on transforming the Karakorum camp into a capital city. A wall was built, because it was the symbol of any city. Later, Marco Polo  mentions a simple earthen embankment and Guillaume de Rubrouck a brick wall. Four doors open on the four cardinal points.Two huge granite statues depicting turtles, with Sinisant-style inscriptions, adorn the East Gate that leads to China.

Karakorum is open to all religions and peoples of the Empire. Its inhabitants are almost all foreigners, because the Mongols refuse to settle down. Two large districts dominate: that of the Chinese and that of the Saracens, mainly craftsmen and artists. The Mongolian capital shows a high quality of life. Archaeologists have spotted hot air heating systems, irrigation canals and water supply. Agriculture appears near the city to feed the inhabitants, but Karakorum depends on agricultural imports from China.

The imperial palace, called Qarchi ("castle") by the Mongols and Wan-an kung ("Palace of the Thousand Tranquility") by the Chinese, rises in the center of a courtyard surrounded by several enclosures, the largest measuring 200 meters by 225. A mound 28 meters high hosts the imperial yurt. Guillaume de Rubrouck reports that the palace itself adopted a basilical plan with five naves, separated by large wooden pillars. The great khan sits at the bedside, sitting like a god above the subjects on a podium with two access stairs. But the Mongolian palace remains on the whole very simple. It reflects the hesitant first steps of a people who still know nothing about architecture and urban planning.

In 1256 Möngke,the fourth great khan, built a huge five-storey stupa, one hundred meters high, which revealed the favors that the Mongols granted to Buddhism.

Visit to the Monastery of Erdenezuu

Once we have arrived on site we will visit the most beautiful and oldest Buddhist monastery Erdenezuu built between 1585 and 1586. The stones from the ruins of Karakorum were used in the construction. It is surrounded by a wall presenting 108 stupas,108 is a sacred number in Buddhism, and the number of pearls in a Buddhist rosary (mala). The monastery was damaged by war in the 1680s, but was rebuilt in the eighteenth  century and by 1872 it included 62 complete temples inside.

For centuries, Erdene Zuu was the most important religious shrine in Mongolia. In 1939 communist leader Horloogiyn Choybalsan destroyed the monastery, as part of a purge that resulted in the disappearance of hundreds of monasteries in Mongolia and the death of more than ten thousand monks. Three small temples and the outer wall with the stupas remained; the temples became museums in 1947. It is said that this part of the monastery was spared from destruction because of pressure from Joseph Stalin. One researcher claims that it was US President Franklin Roosevelt  who asked Stalin to spare the monastery in 1944.

Erdene Zuu could have existed as a museum only; the only functioning monastery in Mongolia was Gandantegchinlin Monastery in the capital, Ulaanbaatar. However, after the fall of communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was handed over to the lamas and Erdene Zuu became a place of worship again. The site was restored at the end of the century and has partially regained its religious aspect. Today Erdene Zuu remains an active Buddhist monastery as well as a museum that is open to tourists.

After the site visit installation in a yurt camp. Dinner at the yurt camps.


Day 4 Karakorum-Orkhon Valley-Ulaan Tsutgalan Falls

Karakorum-Orkhon Valley-Ulaan Falls Tsutgalan135km

Before leaving Karakorum we will visit the Archaeological Museum, a nice little museum very interesting.

The exhibits include dozens of objects dating from the thirteenth  and fourteenth  centuries discovered in the immediate vicinity, as well as others, unearthed in other parts of the aimag, including prehistoric stone tools. You will also see pottery, bronzes, coins, religious statues and stone inscriptions. A half-dug up ceramic kiln is also on display in the museum floor. Perhaps the most interesting is the scale model of Karakorum, which represents the city as described in the 1250s by the missionary William of Rubrouck.

Installation in a yurt camp.

Day 5 Orkhon Valley-Ulaan Tsutgalan Falls

We stay on site in the valley to do an equestrian hike or a hike. 10  km

Visit of the Ulaan-Tsutgalan Falls

16 meters high and formed 20,000 years ago following numerous earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the Orkhon Falls flow on a black stone transforming any ray of sunshine into a rainbow... A real colorful show not to be missed! Successive irruptions have covered the Orkhon valley with black volcanic rocks, which emerge in the middle of a green steppe. The falls themselves form a very pleasant site. The Orkhon River digs at this point a green gorge about twenty meters deep, and large  övöo  are erected at the top of the cliffs and at the foot of the falls, as if to better remind us how important these falls are in Mongolian culture. Due to drought, falls are often limited to a tiny flow, but when going down the river, smaller falls are found a little further away. And if you visit them on a rainy day, you will see them with all their power. In both cases, the surroundings are superb.

Yurt camps

Day 6 Orkhon valley- Naiman Nuur National Park

Orkhon Valley-Naiman National Park nuur 150 km

Naiman Nuur National Park

The Naiman Nuur region was formed as a result of volcanic eruptions that have taken place through the centuries. The park is located at 2400 meters above sea level, and an area of 11,500 hectares was declared a National Park in 1992.The landscape of the park is sublime ...

The national park is located in a high mountain area. In the north of the protected area, there are valleys strewn with volcanic stones. The mountain peaks are arid. The area is very cool, and snowstorms are not uncommon in June, or from mid-August.  At the end of the world, so far from civilization, do not miss this authentic trip to spend unforgettable moments with the local people.

Nomadic family

Day 7 Naiman Nuur National Park

Horseback riding and hiking around the 8 lakes. 20 km

Nomadic family

Day 8 Naiman Nuur National Park-Ongi Monastery

Naiman Park nuur-Ongi Monastery 300km

Head to the DundGovi region to visit a historical site, the Monastery of Ongi.

Ongi Monastery is the collective name of the ruins of two monasteries facing each other across the Ongi River in the Saikhan-Ovoo village of Dundgovi Province, south-central Mongolia. Barlim Monastery is located on the north bank of the river while Khutagt Monastery is located on the south bank. The ancient southern complex consisted of various administrative buildings as well as 11 temples. The Nordic complex, built in the 18th century, consisted of 17 temples - among them one of the largest temples in all of Mongolia. The land was also home to 4 Buddhist universities. Founded in 1660, it was one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia and was home to more than 1000 monks at its peak. The ruins are located about 18 km south of the city of Saikhan Ovoo.

The two complexes of Ongi Monastery were completely destroyed in 1939 during anti-religious purges carried out under Khorloogiin Choibalsan, the leader of the Communist Party of Mongolia. More than 200 monks were killed and many surviving monks were imprisoned or forcibly secularized and enlisted in the Communist-controlled army.

A large number of ruins including a large stupa can be seen on the river and on the surrounding hills. In the 1990s, it was decided to rebuild the monastery. The first temple was inaugurated in 2004. There is a small museum in an alley opposite. One of the stupas has also just been rebuilt. It features a commemorative plaque showing the  names of the monks killed in 1939.

Overnight at yurt camps  

Day 9 Ongi Monastery-Bayanzag

Ongi Monastery-The Red Cliff of Bayanzag 150km

The Bayanzag cliff, nicknamed "the cliff of fire", became famous thanks to the discovery in 1923 of the first eggs of protoceratops by the American paleontologist Roy Chapman.

Direction to Bayanzag The  Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag  are ochre cliffs carved by erosion. When we find ourselves in the middle of these formations, we think we are the space of a moment back in the landscapes of  the American West.However, this place has not always been so desert. Morethan 70 million years ago,it looked like a tropical rainforest in which dinosaurs roamed. The place reveals a special beauty during the sunset. When the rock catches fire under the last rays of the sun. The nickname of flamboyant cliffs is therefore not usurped!  

Yurt camps

Day 10 Bayanzag-Dunes of Khongor

The cliff of Bayanzag-The dunes of Khongor through Khavtsgait 200km

Petroglyphs of Khavtsgait

Heading towards the flamboyant cliffs from the sand dunes of Khongor or in the opposite direction, you can visit these petroglyphs. Khavtsgait is a small mountain that is part of the Gurvan Saikhan mountain range and located 30 km from the Bulgan soum of Umnugovi Province.  Scholars believe that the Gurvan Saikhan mountain range and Khavtsgait mountain were created about 400 to 500 million years ago. They also consider the mountains quite young.

The geological composition of the rocks of the Khavtsgait mountain consists of sandstone. Due to the scorching sun and strong wind for millions of years, the rocky surfaces of Khavtsgait Mountain are colored black and easy to draw with any object, leaving light marks. Given the similarity with other cave paintings and its shapes, researchers thought the petroglyphs were created about 4,000-5,000 years ago.

It was the Middle and Late Bronze Age until the beginning of the Iron Age. Professionals determine the age of petroglyphs by the depth of its marks, the mosses grown on a rock and the color of a rock that only archaeology professionals can make.

People of that time represented mainly antelopes, ibex and mountain sheep, a man on horseback, hunters, galloping horses, hunters, a rare representation of a camel, wheeled carts and rudimentary gers.

These types of evidence give us a chance to grasp a glimpse of knowledge about the lives of ancient peoples.  Petroglyph and cave painting researchers noticed this place around 2004 and began studying them. However, the locals knew this place long before them.

Basically, the surrounding mountains of Khavtsgait have many cave paintings and petroglyphs. In addition, Khavtsgait's petroglyphs have their own presentation and stories that make them more special than others.

Most petroglyphs are from those drawn in clumsy shapes using primitive weapons or rocks to those skillfully depicted in a more sophisticated way using sharp weapons. You can say that these are the presentation of several periods of human life.

The highlight of the petroglyphs is the "Khavtsgait Petroglyph Gallery", as Mongolian researchers have named it. You will find the collection of petroglyphs depicted on a single flat square rock of 1.5 × 2.0.

Galloping horses

Men on horseback and camels

Wedding ceremony (strangers on another resource)

Wheeled trolleys

Mouton argali, etc.

Different people from different eras had drawn them according to a study.

Climbing to Khavtsgait mountain is not easy because of its loose rocks. Besides the petroglyphs of Khavtsgait, you will have a magnificent view of the surrounding valley from the top of the mountain. While you hunt down the gallery and other petroglyphs, you can not miss the representation of an ostrich and an auroch. This evidence shows us that some of the elders who drew these petroglyphs lived at the same time as those who lived in the Flaming Cliffs discovered by Roy Chapman Andrews in the 1920s.

Heading to the Khongor Dunes of Gobi Gurvan  Saikhan National Park,  in the south of the country, you will listen to the Khongor dunes sing due to the noise that the wind makes as it moves the sand. An unforgettable camel ride will make you discover the pale yellow hues of the dunes and the green vegetation that is in these 180 km long. Certainly one of the unforgettable moments of your trip!

Yurt camps

Day 11 Dunes of Khongor- Canyon Yol

The dunes of Khongor-The Canyon of yoliin am 160km

Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park  is a national park  in southern Mongolia. The park was established in 1993 and by 2000 it already had its current size. With 27,000km2,Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park is the largest park in Mongolia. It receives its name from the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains, three beauties,from its eastern, middle and western ranges of the eastern part of the park. The park is located on the northern border of the Gobi Desert  and its highest elevations contain  steppe areas. There are several native species like the ounce or the Gobi camel. There are also areas famous for their  dunes like Khongoryn Els. Another tourist attraction is the Yolyn Am Valley, which features a large strip of ice almost all year round.

The Gobi Desert is of historical importance, not only for its belonging to the Mongol Empire,but also because it was one of the crossing points of the Silk Road. Part of the desert as well as fossils located in the desert were inscribed on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage in 2014.

The Gobi stretches 1,600 km from southwest to northeast and 800 km from north to south. Its area is estimated at 1,300,000km2,making it one of the largest deserts in the world. Contrary to images frequently associated with deserts, the Gobi is more covered with stones than sand. The landscapes are diverse: there are vast plains of steppe,earth, stone or sand, imposing mountain ranges such as the famous Flaming Cliffs or smaller dunes. This heterogeneity of landscapes gives the Gobi Desert an important variety of colors. The sunshine is about 250 days a year. Nomads inhabit some areas. They travel on camels, small horses (Mongolian horse)or inmotorized all-terrain vehicles depending on the region and the means. Mongolian nomads live as a family and sleep under yurts, traditional Mongolian circular houses.

Wild animals include Przewalski's horse,snow leopard,Mongolian hemione or Gobi's bear. Humans have long domesticed sheep, goats,  including the  cashmere goat,famous for the unique quality of the cashmere fiber it produces, yaks,camels or Mongolian horse.

The Nemegt Basin,located in the northwestern part of the desert, is known locally as the "Valley of the Dragons" because it is a source of many fossil species, including dinosaurs, dinosaur eggs, and fossil footprints. The continental climate of the Gobi Desert experiences extreme temperature differences that make it very hostile. Despite this, grasses as well as some small shrubs feed a large number of small animals such as the desert hamster  and thewilddonkey. The climate of the Gobi has significant variations depending on the season: scorching in summer (38  ° C),it is freezing in winter (−25  ° C),making it the coldest desert in the world afterAntarctica. This plateau is  swept by powerful winds. Between night and day, a thermal amplitude of 32 °C can be observed. In yolyn Am Canyon, you can see blocks of ice in June.The Gobi Desert is growing by more than 10,000  km2  per year. The canyon of Yoliin Am is part of a protected area at 2500 meters above sea level. During this discovery, you will certainly meet the animal that gave its name to these places, the bearded vulture, "Yol" in Mongolian. Inside the gorges are some small waterfalls, a frozen lake and permanent glaciers... Unique creations of nature!

Night yurt camps

Day 12 Canyon Yol- Ulaanbaatar

Back on the capital the last purchases in the city, visit the cashmere factory.

Day 13 Return