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Mongolia is the land of Genghis Khan, the 13th century ruler who founded the largest state in the history of the world - the Mongol Empire. Mongolians have had ups and downs but have retained their proud spirit and self-esteem. Mongolia is the most sparsely populated sovereign state, with fewer than two people per sq km. The dramatic landscapes, from the dunes of the Gobi desert to the glacial lakes of Khövsgöl, are largely untouched by the modern world. We will be fortunate to get a warm welcome from Mongolians whose basic nomadic lifestyle has been preserved to date.
Mongolia is the second largest country in the world without any outlet to the sea. But why would they need a sea if they have the eternal blue sky. This sun-kissed place embodies the soul of the Mongol people and their particular spirituality.
Mongolia is one of the least religious nations in the world. According to the latest census, 40% of the country's inhabitants do not belong to any religion. Most of the remaining 60% live in white yurts and practice Tibetan Buddhism. But there are also small communities of Kazakhs, Chinese, and Russians. Mongolia is home to the wild horses Przewalski (the only wild horse on earth) - a highly endangered species today.
The capital Ulaanbaatar is located at about 1400 m; nowadays it has over 1.3 million inhabitants. This drowsy city is slowly freeing itself of the influence of communism. Here, we come across a strange mixture of communist-style high rise, Tibetan monasteries and cows roaming the streets along with people in traditional costumes and trendy clothing.
Today, Mongolia is the only non-Slavic state which was not within the former Soviet Union that uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
Flight from Sofia to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Overnight stay at a luxury hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, we can have a stroll to some landmarks in the city - palaces, monasteries and the central hill with a view to the whole city. If we don't have time upon arrival, we will have some time for sightseeing at the end of the journey.
The package price includes three meals a day from the arrival at the airport to our departure.
Breakfast and early flight to the town of Ölgii - the capital of the westernmost province of Mongolia - Bayan-Ölgii. The prevalent population in the province are Kazakhs (90%) who are Muslims. We start our trekking in Altai. At the airport, the mountain team will take over for the next 8 days. We take a ride to the Tavan Bogd National Park (180 km), where we are going to set up our first camp on an idyllic meadow
The Tavan Bogd National Park was founded in 1996, and covers territories of the Mongolian part of Altai. Nature is splendid and rich in biodiversity, and the horizon sprawls behind glaciers, high peaks and steppe vegetation. The highest Mongolian peak in Altai is Khüiten Peak (4374 m) - a rocky ice-covered brilliant summit! We spend most of the day on the road. Tonight we camp on a meadow with an impressive view to the surrounding peaks!
Today we trek to the base camp of our tomorrow's destination - Malchin Peak, situated by the Potanin glacier. It will take us some 4 hours. Here we will spend our first night in yurts, but it will be a far cry from the comfort of yurts to be offered in the Gobi desert.
After a heavy breakfast we head to the Tavan Bogd glacier, surrounded by the five highest peaks of Mongolia. The terrain is mixed (rocks, mud, water, ice), slightly to moderately uphill. The 4050m Malchin Peak will be our highest point during our Mongolian journey. We will walk slowly as air is rather thin above 3500 m. Happy after the climb and the views, we go down to the camp.
This day is dedicated to the trek in the White River valley. It springs from the Tavan Bogd glacier and attracts tourists from all over the world. We can't get enough of views, wild flowers and if we are lucky we will catch a glimpse of the Mongolian chamois, locally known as 'ibex'
We travel to the Baavgai valley surrounded by glaciers, rivers, forest hills and meadows; we will visit Kazakh families living permanently there in their yurts! We will have local tea, we will experience the local cuisine - the specialties Kuz and Bizbarmak. In the afternoon we take a stroll along the nearby hills, whose culmination is horse riding :) Tent camp.
Today we will marvel at the Khurgan and Khoton lakes. We are going to take a dirt road to reach them, and on the way we will see some petroglyphs (prehistoric images on rocks) from the Bronze Age! The lakes are located just over 2000m and there we enjoy the last views of Altai's white peaks to the south! On our way back we will visit ancient burial mounds. We are about to bid goodbye to Altai and set off to the desert.
We travel to the city of Khovd (250km – 4 hrs). 4WD jeeps will take us across the desert. En route, we see lakes, some snowy mountains and lush valleys. Overnight stay at a hotel.
The first day of our exciting Gobi adventure will be dedicated to the Tsenheriin agui cave (a 200 km drive – 4 hrs)! Inside we see drawings dating back to 20,000 years ago. Huge paintings of mammoths and ostriches prove their existence in the area more than 15,000 years ago. We will spend the night in a yurt.
Our nomad journey across Mongolia will take us to the Govi-Altai province and the city of Altai (350 km - 5 hrs). Altai is located between the mountains of Kazagt Khairhkan Uul (3579m) and Jargalan Uul (3070m) – rather high and distinctly different from the frost-covered Altai.
A rosary of large and small salt lakes at the foot of the depression between the chains of Khangai and Gobi-Altai! They are shallow, but their size can vary greatly from year to year, and sometimes they dry out. In late summer, they are the habitat of migratory birds and many rare species nest there (swans, ducks, geese, etc.). We visit some of these lakes and the most remarkable one being Boon Tsagaan Nuur (300 km – 5 hrs)!
The Khongoryn Els dunes are Gobi's most famous and Mongolia's largest. They shape the rolling landscape for 100 km, some of them going up to 300 m in height. If we venture to climb a dune, it will be like climbing a 70-storey skyscraper, but we will be rewarded by unique surprises at the other side. Sevrey Uul is located behind the sand formations. Afterwards we visit a camel camp to enjoy tea and food with locals. Our drive for the day is 350 km, for 7 hrs. Overnight - in a yurt.
We travel to Bayanzag (150 km - 4 hrs), also known as the Flaming Cliffs. This is the world-famous place where paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews discovered dinosaur bones and eggs. We will have a wonderful hike around the rocks, and we are back to the yurt for the evening.
A day to remember, as we will see a glacier in the desert. This is not a joke, or a tourist trap. Because of its northern location, its altitude of between 910 and 1520 mand Siberian winds, Gobi is a cold desert. Temperature extremes range from -40 C to +50 C. Hence a glacier has appeared in the Yolyn Am gorge that we will visit. In the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, we are going to visit another picturesque gorge. For thousands of years, ancient rivers have carved those wonders of Nature. Drive - 130 km for about 3 hrs. Another night at a yurt.
Today we travel to Tsagaan Survarga (250 km - 4hrs) - a huge rock (30 x 100m), sculpted by nature to resemble an ancient city. Old drawings, petroglyphs and signs were carved in the rock. There are also Turkic inscriptions and images in some of the caves we will visit.
The Gorkhi-Terelj National Park puts the finishing touches to our feel of Mongolia. It is located 70 km northeast of Ulaanbaatar and will enchant us with its cliffs, coniferous forests, rivers, picturesque meadows, places for recreation and horse riding. We will trek to some of the highlights - the Genghis Khan monument, the museum of the Mongol Empire, the Turtle rock formation, and the Ariaval monastery, an excellent place for meditation. Drive for the day - 500 km - 7 hrs. Last night at a yurt.
Transfer to Ulaanbaatar (70km). Now we may have more time for sightseeing. With heavy hearts, we say goodbye to our local team ... Overnight stay at a hotel.
Breakfast and airport transfer. Home-bound flight, with an option for a stopover in Moscow and sightseeing there.
Price: EUR 2999
The price covers:
The price does not cover:
Booking and payment:
• mountain boots – at least 3-season
• backpack (women: 40-50 l, men 60-75 l)
• thermal underwear
• fleece and sweater
• trekking poles
• cabin and hotel clothes - a lot of pairs
• socks – a lot of pairs
• warm clothes (thick jacket)
• headlamp (with extra batteries)
• water bottle or vacuum flask
• outdoor knife
• UV-protection sunglasses
• swimming suit, towel
• other – personal stuff; a camera is not a bad idea :)
• ID documents – valid international passport