Eight lakes and Orkhon Valley trekking
Day 1: Drive to Kharkhorin
Today we will set off for a driving day to 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 Gokturk and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khangai Mountains in 1220 by the Genghis Khan’s order. It 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 Mungke 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. At the arrival, we will visit one of the biggest Buddist monastery Erdene Zuu. 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 Kharkhorin’s New 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 Turkic noble tomb with wall paintings and artefacts, including gold items and jewellery. There is a short video of actual burial site. We will also see the Turtle Rock and the Phallic Rock, visit little market behind walls exposing local arts by locals.
(Ger camp, L, D)
Day 2: Orkhon Waterfalls
After our breakfast at the ger camp, we will set further westwards into to Orkhon valley where the Orkhon River flows. The Orkhon valley is surrounded by the foothills of the Khangai mountain range. Meadows and fir forests are prominent here. The Orkhon river valley is lined with the remains of an ancient lava flow.
We will have our lunch at our host family located nearby Orkhon Waterfalls which cascades down a basalt canyon to a depth of 20 meters. After lunch we will have plenty time to explore the waterfall, its canyon and surrounding area. Our translator will help us to forge contact with the host family.
(Family stay, B, L, D)
Day 3 – 13: Trekking in Khangai Mountains
The Khangai Mountains are a mountain range in central Mongolia, some 400 kilometres west of Ulaanbaatar.The tallest mountain is the Otgon Tenger Uul with its summit at 4.020 m above sea level.
The mountains feed the river Orkhon, Selenge, Ideriin, Zavkhan and the lake Orog and Böön tsagaan. In the west the Khangai Mountains transition into the Great Lakes Depression.
Today we will start our eleven days’ trek through Khangai Mountain. Here we will leave our vehicles and load our gear and food on pack horses. We will leave civilization and our comfort zone behind for eleven days start a true once in a life time adventure where still the nature decides everything. We will leave the Orkhon Waterfalls and trek stream upwards along the Bituu River until we go through a pass that leads us to the Eight Lakes valley. This totally remote area was created by volcanic activities. It is locked between several extinct volcanoes and high mountain peaks. As it name says, the valley shelters a large number of small lakes, all interconnected by rivers. The lakes are supplied with fresh water running from the mountains.
The first lake we will reach is Khuis Lake. This lake is dotted with a large rock island. Our trekking path becomes a mix of everything such as rocks, forests, bushes and muds, and it gets more adventurous. We will continue our trekking towards Shireet Lake. On the way to Shireet Lake, our trek takes through other several smaller lakes. The Eight Lakes valley is one of the most beautiful, untouched and picturesque place of Khangai Mountain range. You will enjoy hearing only nature, the stream going downward to the lakes and birds tweet. One can feel deeply relaxed and refreshed. From second part of our trek we will leave the Eight Lakes valley for the Baruun River. We will trek through a pass from where we’ll enjoy stunning views of volcano craters and the picturesque little lakes. The Baruun River valley is forested and rocky. In parts it flows through canyons. On the way along the river we will enjoy the never ending sound of stream and birdsong. After having walked down along the Baruun River we will turn left and hike along the Suv River stream upward.
At the source of the Suv River we will trek through the pass to reach Khug River. From here we will trek to Erkhet Khairhan Mountain. The mountain with its peak reaching 3535 meters is the second highest mountain of Khangai. We will climb the mountain and enjoy the stunning views from peak. We will descend the mountain into the direction of the Tamch River.
The path will take us to stream downwards to Uliastai River. After ten days trek we will slowly make our way back to where we started.
(Tented camp, B, L, D)
Day 14: Tuvkhun Monastery
Tuvkhun Monastery was established during the 1650’s by Zanabazar, one of Mongolia’s most respected religious leaders. The monastery’s wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests. On the top of the cliff, a pile of stones to worship a god of this mountain forms a hill. It is called Ovoo.
After spending some time exploring the monastery we will continue driving westward in the direction of Khangai Mountains. On average, the Khangai Mountains are 2500-3000 M above the sea level and are composed of mainly granite, intrusive chert and sandstone belonging to Paleozoic 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)
Day 15: Tsenkher Hot Spring
Enjoy a relaxing day at the ger camp at Tsenkher Hot Springs. Visit the springs and soak in their healing powers. Opt to go horseback riding or hang out with the locals.
(Ger camp, B, L, D)
Day 16: Khogno Khan Mountain
After a good rest will drive to Khogno Khan Mountains. Khogno Khan Mountains is an impressive massif in the open steppes. Not far from here runs the Tasarkhai Els, a 100 km long sand dune.
End the afternoon we will hike in the region of Khogno Khan Mountains, walk up the mountain and enjoy the incredible view over the plains, the sand dune and grasslands. We will also visit the nice little Uvgun Monastery.
(Ger Camp, B, L, D)
Day 17: Drive to Ulaanbaatar
We will have a driving day back to Ulaanbaatar. Afternoon is free time for last minute sightseeing. Opt to see the beautiful cultural show enjoy the colourful and rhythmic Mongolian dance, throat singing and admire the contortionists.
- Land transportation
- Ger camp stay
- Family stay
- Tented camp stay
- Meals 16B, 17L, 16D
- Tour guides
- Camping and kitchen equipment
- National park entrance fees/Museum and Monasteries entrance tickets
- Hotel in Ulaanbaatar
- City touring
- International transport
- Passport and visa costs
- Medical, trip insurance and evacuation costs
- International airport taxes, excess baggage charges.
- Alcoholic and soft drinks
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Telephone calls
- Items of personal nature
- Other items not specifically mentioned as included
- Airport transfer
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