Trekking in Central and North Mongolia

Individual tours

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description

Erdene Zuu Monastery
Karakorum 2
Karakorum 3
Karakorum Town

Day 1: Karakorum

Today we will set of for a driving day to Karakorum.
Karakorum is the site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Genghis Khan. The founding of Karakorum 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 Karakorum.
The highest peak of its prosperity was from 1220 to 1260. The specific feature of this stage is that Karakorum 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 Karakorum 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. Karakorum 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 Khubilai Khaan 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’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 Karakorum, 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.
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)

Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake 3

Day 2: Tsetserleg and Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake

By lunchtime we will reach Tsetserleg, capital city of Arkhangai province. It is a lovely little town surrounded by forested hills. Here we will visit the Buyandelgeruulekh Monastery, the town main functioning monastery and the nice little Museum of Arkhangai located in Zayaiin Gegeenii Monastery. From the museum we will walk hill upward to a small abandoned monastery and enjoy the beautiful view we have from there over Tsetserleg and the surrounding hills.
We will eat lunch in a local restaurant. In the evening we will reach Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes of the country. 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.
(Ger camp B, L, D)

Khorgo extinct volcano

Day 3: Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake and Khorgo Volcano

Today we will relax around the White Lake (also named the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur). 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. 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 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.
(Ger camp B, L, D)

Mongolian ger camp

Day 4: Zuun Lake

Today we will drive through the central grasslands where you will see large herds of horses, cows and yaks. You will cross several rivers, smaller and larger ones, all full of fish.
Tonight we will reach Dzuun a small lost lake in the middle of the Mongolian steppes. You’ll have a chance to observe several water birds on the lake.
(Ger camp B, L, D)

Trekking adventure

Day 5: Drive to Trek Starting Point

Today evening we will reach our trekking start point. We will get settled into our host family Ger.
(Family staying B, L, D)

Horse milking

Day 6: A Day with Nomads

Today we will spend full day with our hosts and get involved in many variety of daily activities of herders pursue daily. Bring animals to camp in the evening, milk horses, yaks, goats, and sheep. Process milk, make butter, yogurt and cheese. Savour delicious, fresh dairy products you help producing. Fresh yak cream and fresh yogurt are the best you have ever tasted anywhere in the world.
(Family staying B, L, D)

Evening sunset 2

Day 7 – 9: Trekking along Egiin River

After breakfast we will start our trekking. We will load our gears on pack horses. During the whole trip we will be supported by horsemen and packhorses. The horsemen will be responsible for the horses and, being from the region, they will be our guides.
We’ll start hiking along the Egiin River. During the whole trek we will have time for fishing or swimming. Please bring you fishing equipment. For four more days we will trek along the Egiin River. On the way we will visit many gers and experience the nomadic life of Central Asia. Our translator will help us to forge contact with the local population.
(Tented Camp, B, L, D)

Khuvsgul Lake 2

Day 10 – 11: Trekking along Khuvsgul Lake

For three more days, we will ride along the western shore of the Khuvsgul Lake enjoying the view over the Mongolian blue pearl. Khuvsgul Lake is a huge 2.760 square km alpine lake (130 km in length and 40 km in width), surrounded by mountain chains of more than 2.000 meters high, thick pine forests and lush meadow with grazing yaks and horses. More than 100 small rivers and streams feed the lake with crystal clear water. Water exits the lake through only one river, the Egiin, whose waters eventually reach the Baikal Lake. The lake contains about 1.5% of the world’s fresh water (excluding water contained in the icecaps). The lake and rivers are full of fish. Around a dozen species of fish inhabit the lake and rivers. The most well-known are the sturgeon, grayling, lennok, salmon, taimon, etc.
There is a big chance that we will cross some Tsaatan families settled long the shores of the Khuvsgul Lake.
(Tented Camp, B, L, D)

Evening sunset

Day 12: Selenge River

After having enjoyed rest day along the Khuvsgul Lake, we will take the road again, south-eastwards to Amarbayasgalant Monastery. This trip will take us two days through the Mongolian grasslands, arriving at Amarbayasgalant Monastery on the 3rd day in the evening. We will overnight in a family close to the Selenge River.
(Family staying B, L, D)

Uran Togoo

Day 13: Bulgan and Uran Togoo Volcano

About 60km directly west of Bulgan city is the extinct volcano of Uran Uul and nearby Togoo Uul, now part of the 1600 hectare Uran-Togoo Tulga Uul Natural Reserve in the sum (district) of Khutag-Ondor.
Trails to the top of the relatively unimpressive volcano lead up from the west side, which also has some nice camping areas.
(Ger camp B, L, D)

Amarbayasgalant monastery

Day 14: Amarbayasgalant Monastery

After a second day of driving we will finally reach Amarbayasgalant Monastery. The monastery is set in an exquisite valley surrounded by mountains. After Erdene Zuu Monastery, Amarbayasgalant Monastery is considered as the second most important monastery and the most intact architectural complex of Mongolia. The monastery was built in the 18th century by the Manchu emperor Yongzheng and dedicated to the great Mongolian Buddhist Zanabazar.
(Ger camp B, L, D)

Ulaanbaatar night

Day 15: Ulaanbaatar

Today we will drive back to 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. Opt to see the beautiful cultural show enjoy the colourful and rhythmic Mongolian dance, throat singing and admire the contortionists.
(B, L)

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included

  • Land transportation
  • Ger camp stay
  • Tented camp stay
  • Family stay
  • Meals 14B, 15L, 14D
  • Tour guides
  • Camping and kitchen equipment
  • National park entrance fees/Museum and Monasteries entrance tickets

not included

  • 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
  • Laundry
  • Telephone calls
  • Items of personal nature
  • Other items not specifically mentioned as included

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