Desert Adventure in Western Mongolia
(11 days)

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day 1
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day 2
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day 3
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day 4
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day 5
Ulaagchinii Khar Nuur
day 6
Camel Riding Trip
day 7
Senjit Khad
day 8
Mukhart Oasis
day 9
Oasis in Mongolian Desert
day 10
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day 11

Detailed description



Today we will set off for a driving day to Karakorum also known as Kharkhorin. Kharkhorin is the site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Genghis Khan. The founding of Kharkhorin started on the ruins of Turug and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khangai Mountains in 1220 by the Genghis Khan’s order. It was completed 15 years later during the Ugedei Khan’s reign. The town was a very cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant place. The silver tree, part of Möngke Khan’s palace has become the symbol of Kharkhorin. The highest peak of its prosperity was from 1220 to 1260. The specific feature of this stage is that Kharkhorin existed as the great capital of the Euro-Asian Empire with Mongolia as its core and as the centre of politics, economy, culture, religion, intellect, and diplomacy and the prominent tie of international relations.

Between 1260 and 1380 Kharhorin lost the status of the Great Mongolian Empire and became the capital of Mongolia. When Kublai Khan claimed the throne of the Mongol Empire in 1260, as did his younger brother, Ariq Boke, he relocated his capital to today’s Beijing. Kharkhorin was reduced to the administrative centre of a provincial backwater of the Yuan Dynasty. In 1368, the rule of Mongolian Yuan Dynasty collapsed and the centre of Mongolian government was shifted to its homeland after 110 years since Kublai Khan moved the Empire capital to China in 1260. It gave Karakorum a chance to prosper again. In 1388, Ming troops under General Xu Da took and destroyed the town. Today nothing is left from this legendary city. In 1580, when Abtai Sain Khan together with his brother, lord Tumenkhen, visited the 3rd Dalai Lama and expressed their wish to build a temple in Mongolia, he advised them to reconstruct one old temple in Karakorum. The temple in Takhai ruins that was restored in 1588 according to the Dalai Lama’s recommendation is the Main Zuu temple of Erdene Zuu monastery. Now Erdene Zuu Monastery is all that remains of what once was a huge monastery of 100 temples and about 1.000 lamas residing there. We will explore the grounds of Erdene Zuu Monastery surrounded by its massive 400 m X 400 m walls. We will be guided around the 3 remaining temples: Dalai Lama, Zuu of Buddha and Lavrin Temple. Another place we will visit will be Karakorum Archaeological Museum. It is a small museum but housed in a modern well-run building with good lighting and display cases with clear English labels. The exhibits include dozens of artefacts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries which were recovered from the immediate area, plus others that were found from archaeological sites in other parts of the provinces, including prehistoric stone tools. You’ll see pottery, bronzes, coins, religious statues and stone inscriptions. There’s also a half-excavated kiln sunk into the museum floor. Perhaps most interesting is the scale model of ancient Kharkhorin, which aims to represent the city as it may have looked in the 1250s, and is based on descriptions written by the French missionary William of Rubruck. Another chamber exhibits a most recent addition, a Turkic noble tomb with wall paintings and artefacts, including gold items and jewellery. There is a short video of actual burial site.

(Ger camp, B, L, D)

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Tsenher Hot Spring

We will be driving westward in the direction of Khangai Mountains. On average, the Khangai Mountains are 2500-3000 M above sea level and are composed of mainly granite, intrusive chert and sandstone belonging to Palaeozoic era. The Khangai Mountains is about 800 km long, ranging from Zavkhan province territory to Tuv province. They function as the continental divide of the world water system. The green mountainsides and the network of smaller and larger rivers offer excellent pastureland for the herds of horses, yaks and cows. In the afternoon we will reach Tsenkher hot spring resort. This resort has a large open-air pool at its customer’s disposal. The hot water of the pool flows continuously in from the hot water spring. At the spring, the temperature of the water is over 80 ° C. A complex pipelines system regulates the water temperature. Some will spend hours sitting in the pool talking to their friends while staring at the stars or scanning the nightly nature around them.

(Ger camp B, L, D)

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Drive to Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park

We will leave the ancient capital city to a direction of north-west. In the afternoon we will reach Tsetserleg town to visit a local museum about Mongolian tradition and Buddhism in early 18th century. The museum once used to be a famous Buddhist temple before being destroyed by the Mongolian government with Soviet influence. After lunch we will continue our driving to the Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. The lake is surrounded by extinct and craterous volcanoes, and was formed by lava flows from a volcanic eruption many millennia ago. As a result of the volcano eruptions the landscape is covered with black volcanic rocks. The marshes along the west end of the lake are an important and staging area for birds. The park is located in Tariat district of Arkhangai province. The lake is about 15 km long, has a maximum depth of 20 meters. The terrain immediately around lake is hills with steppe and forest steppe vegetation.

(Ger camp, B, L, D)

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Free day at Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park

Today we will relax around the Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. In the morning we will make an excursion to the top of Khorgo Uul Volcano and we will pass the gorges that lead from Tariat to the volcano. Khorgo mountain is about 4 km from the lake, a volcano field. The volcano crater is 200 m wide and 100 m deep and is covered with trees at the back and around the opening of the crater. To the south of Khorgo Mountain there are numerous basaltic “Gers” formed during the cooling of lava; some of the Gers have gates and upper holes and reach 1.7 m high. Also we will take a look in the Single Man cave that is very small at the entrance but quite big inside. We will have lunch at the Ger camp. Afternoon is good to plan for some optional activities such as trekking in the valley, taking a boat on the lake, swimming, riding a horse or visiting a local family to get introduced to nomadic life.

(Ger camp, B, L, D)

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Drive to Telmen Lake

Today we will head westwards passing Ikh-Uul and Tosontsengel village of Zavkhan Province. End of the afternoon we will reach Telmen Lake. Telmen is a beautiful lake which hosts abundant birdlife. The lake lies near the boundary between the forest-steppe and steppe ecosystems. You will find different kinds of landscape around the lake such as sand dunes, beautiful mountains, several rivers and other lakes. Lake Telmen, a closed lake basin, is slightly salty (about 4g per liter salinity). Three islands are located in the lake, which is a gathering point for migratory birds. Here you can see early spring the rare desert flower “Zambaga”. We will enjoy some hiking and relaxing near the lake.

(Tented camp, B, L, D)

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Drive to Ulaagchinii Khar Nuur National Park

We will drive to another natural beauty, one of the wonderful places, Ulaagchinii Khar Lake of Zavkhan Province. The Zavkhan province (aimag) occupies a transitional zone between the fertile green Khangai mountain range of central Mongolia and the harsh Great Lakes Depression of the west. Located between two distinctive regions, Zavkhan has its own climate characteristic and a varied terrain that ranges from snow peaks to steppes and to lakes surrounded by sand dunes. The lake occupies a dale in the Khangai Mountains to the East from the Great Lakes Depression. It is located to west side around 1000 km from Ulaanbaatar capital city. The freshwater lake is surrounded by huge sand dunes in the north and mountain hills in the southern shore. Driving will be exciting, adventurous and breath-taking.  In the later afternoon we reach the Ger camp near the lake and take a rest before leaving for 4 days camel riding journey through the picturesque area. (Ger camp, B, L, D)

Ulaagchinii Khar Nuur

Camel riding at Ulaagchinii Khar Nuur National Park

After having breakfast at the Ger camp our camels will arrive and camel guide will lead us in the scenic valley of Black Lake along the enormous sand dunes. The area is a cold semi-desert. A number of rare water birds have been noted at the site including the endangered White-headed duck, the vulnerable Great bustard and vulnerable White-throated bush chat. The climate is characteristic of steppe climates intermediary between desert humid climates, and typically have precipitation above evapotranspiration. Including today we will overnight in tented camp for 3 nights and lunch will be picnic along the way. This experience make you feel the unique lifestyle of nomads. We will as well learn about two humped Bactrian camels and how to take care of them such as watering, preparing saddles as nomads do in their daily life. Overnight will be tented camping at the shore of the lake.

(Tented camp, B, L, D)

Camel Riding Trip

Camel riding to Senjit Stone Arch

More riding to Senjit Rock located on top of a hill. In ancient times the rock used to be solid but the strong wind carved the gate into today’s formation over millions of years. The size of the gate is 6m in width, 3.5m in height and a natural beauty of area. We will overnight near the stone arch.

(Tented camp, B, L, D)

Senjit Khad

Camel riding to Mukhart Oasis

Our camel trek today will take us through the great sand dunes to reach Mukhart Oasis. It is an amazing place where a river takes its source within huge walls of sand dunes and is a home to several species of birds. Once we reach the oasis, we will have enough time to explore the area. We are witnessing the uniqueness of Mongolian landscape, mixture of desert, grassland and great lake. Mukhart river that arises beneath the sand dunes and flows throughout the desert and finally join Zavkhan River. Enjoy your hike.

(Tented camp, B, L, D)

Mukhart Oasis

Camel riding to the camp

The last day of the camel riding will be the longest ride. The camel guide leads us straight back to the camp. Before finishing the camel riding there will be an opportunity to visit the camel guide’s Ger for some tea and to know little bit about his life. Finally, we will get back to the ger camp and rest. Depending on next day flight time we might head to Zavkhan province tonight.

(Ger camp, B, L, D)

Oasis in Mongolian Desert

Flight back to Ulaanbaatar

We will take an early flight back to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. After two hours of flight in Ulaanbaatar, our team will take you directly to your hotel. You may enjoy the free afternoon to catch up all the places you haven’t visited yet. You might as well check the beautiful cultural show enjoy the colourful and rhythmic Mongolian dance, throat singing & admire the contortionists.


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