Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur Trekking
(11 days)

Erdene Zuu
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
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day 6
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day 7
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day 8
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day 9
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day 10
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day 11

Detailed description



Today we will be driving to Karakorum (also called Kharkhorin).

Karakorum was the capital of Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Empire in the thirteenth century. In 1220, Genghis Khan ordered the building of Karakorum on the ruins of Turug and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khangai Mountains. During the reign of Ugedei Khan, it was completed 15 years later. The town was very multicultural and culturally accepting.

The silver tree, which was once part of Möngke Khan’s palace, has become Karakorum’s emblem.

From 1220 to 1260, it was at its most prosperous. Karakorum existed as the great capital of the Euro-Asian Empire, with Mongolia at its heart, and as the epicenter of politics, trade, culture, faith, intellect, and diplomacy, as well as the most visible link in international relations.

Between 1260 and 1380, Karakorum lost its status as the capital of the Great Mongolian Empire and became Mongolia’s capital. When Kublai Khan and his younger brother, Ariq Boke, assumed the throne of the Mongol Empire in 1260, they moved their capital to what is now Beijing. Karakorum was reduced to the administrative center of a Yuan Dynasty provincial backwater.

After 110 years after Kublai Khan transferred the Empire capital to China in 1260, the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty fell in 1368, and the center of Mongolian government was shifted to its homeland. It allowed Karakorum to regain its former glory.

The town was captured and destroyed by Ming troops under General Xu Da in 1388. Nothing remains of this legendary city today.

When Abtai Sain Khan and his brother, Lord Tumenkhen, went to the 3rd Dalai Lama in 1580 to express their desire to create a temple in Mongolia, he advised them to restore an old temple in Karakorum. The Main Zuu temple of Erdene Zuu monastery is a temple in Takhai ruins that was restored in 1588 at the Dalai Lama’s suggestion.

Erdene Zuu Monastery is now all that is left of what was once a massive monastery with 100 temples and over 1.000 lamas. You’ll walk around the grounds of Erdene Zuu Monastery, which is encircled by huge 400 m X 400 m walls. You will be guided around the 3 remaining temples: the Dalai Lama, Zuu of Buddha and Lavrin Temple.

The Karakorum Archaeological Museum will be another stop on your itinerary. It’s a tiny museum, but it’s housed in a new, well-run structure with good lighting and simple English labels on display cases. The displays contain hundreds of artefacts from the 13th and 14th centuries that were discovered in the immediate region, as well as those from other provinces’ archaeological sites, including prehistoric stone tools. Pottery, bronzes, coins, religious sculptures, and stone inscriptions are among the objects on display. A half-excavated kiln is also sunk into the museum floor. The scale model of ancient Karakorum, which attempts to reflect the city as it would have existed in the 1250s and is based on descriptions written by the French missionary William of Rubruck, is perhaps the most intriguing. A Turkic noble tomb with wall paintings and artefacts, including gold objects and jewels, is on display in another chamber. A short video of the actual burial site is available.

You can also visit the Turtle Rock and the Phallic Rock, as well as a small market that showcases local artists’ work.

(Ger camp L, D)

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Erdene Zuu
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Tsetserleg, the capital of Arkhangai province, will be our first stop. It’s a charming little town nestled among forested hills. We’ll go to the Buyandelgeruulekh Monastery, the town’s main operating monastery, as well as the Arkhangai Museum, which is housed in the Zayaiin Gegeenii Monastery. We’ll walk up the hill from the museum to take in the views of Tsetserleg and the surrounding hills.

We will arrive in the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur area at the end of the afternoon.

(Family stay B, L, D)

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Forest Trekking

Arkhangai Province in Central Mongolia is a beautiful part of the world with some interesting geological features and a large number of nomadic families who live a traditional lifestyle. It is an environment that is ideal for easy to moderate hiking. Volcanic activity thousands of years ago affected the White Lake and its surrounding area, resulting in some dramatic sights.

We’re starting a six-day hike this morning. Our first day will consist of a hike through a stunning forest and canyon.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

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Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park

The Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur is one of the country’s most beautiful lakes. The lake was formed by lava flows from a millennia-old volcanic eruption and is surrounded by extinct and craterous volcanoes. The landscape is coated with black volcanic rocks as a result of the volcano eruptions. The lake is about 15 kilometers long and reaches a maximum depth of 20 meters. Hills with steppe and woodland steppe vegetation characterize the landscape immediately surrounding the lake.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

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Khorgo Uul Volcano

We will go on an excursion to the top of the Khorgo Uul Volcano in the morning. Khorgo Peak, a volcanic field, is about 4 kilometers from the lake. The volcano crater is 200 meters wide and 100 meters deep, and it is surrounded by trees at the back and around the opening. There are numerous basaltic “Gers” formed during the cooling of lava to the south of Khorgo Mountain; some of the Gers have gates and upper holes and exceed 1.7 m in height.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

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Relaxing and Swimming

We will spend one day at the lake, where we will participate in optional activities such as lake boating,  horseback riding, or visiting a local family to learn about nomadic life.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

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Trek to Man Stone

We’ll have to trek for another two days to reach the ancient Man-Stone.

(Tented Camp B, L, D)

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Darkhan Mountain

We’ll go to a cave in Darkhan Mountain today.

We’ll stop by a nomad family in the evening and enjoy their warm hospitality. We will be served a traditional Mongolian barbecue for dinner, prepared by them. Those who want to try “airag,” or fermented horse milk, will be able to do so if it is the right season. 

(Family stay B, L, D)

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Ogii Lake

We’ll return to Ulaanbaatar once our trek is completed. We will arrive at Ogii Lake in the evening, a tiny but beautiful lake situated 1,337 meters above sea level. It spans 25 square kilometers and is teeming with perch and pike.

Fun fact: There have been sightings of Swan Goose, White Spoonbill, and Dalmatian Pelican.

(Ger camp B, L, D)

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Drive to Ulaanbaatar

The time has come to leave and drive back to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. You can use your free afternoon to see as you fit. You could always go see lovely cultural show and admire the contortionists while watching colorful and rhythmic Mongolian dances.

(B, L)

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