DAY 1 ULAANBAATAR CITY
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. You’ll be greeted at the airport and escorted to 3* hotel. City tour: National History Museum, Gandan Monastery, National Mongolian traditional show concert.
DAY 2-3 BATTSENGEL SUM NOMADIC FAMILY
Drive to Battsengel Sum Nomadic Family. Stay at Nomadic Family from the valley. During your stay, you will discover their way of life and you will be proposed many activities, such as milking, making traditional dairy products, or rounding up the animals with a horse. You will also attend the preparation of a Mongolian barbecue that you will enjoy with yours hosts.
DAY 4 KHANUI RIVER
Drive to Khanui River. The Khanuy Gol (also spelled Hanui or Hanuy Gol) volcanic field is also known as the Khanuj Gol or Bulgan volcanic field. It consists of a group of 10 olivine-basaltic lava and cinder cones in west-central Mongolia about 150 km WNW of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The field covers a 3500 km2 flat-lying plain along the Khanuy River and in drainage’s to the east. The cones, including the well-preserved Togo cones about 50 km E of Khanuy, north of the settlement of Bulgan, range from about 30 to 190 m in height. The Togo cones, rich in ilmenite megacrysts and altered peridotite xenoliths, include Ikh Togo Uul (“Great Togo Mountain”) and Baga Togo Uul “Big Togo Mountain’). The volcanic field was considered to be of late-Pleistocene to Holocene age (IAVCEI, 1973), although no precise age dates are available.
DAY 5-6 KHOVSGOL LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Drive to Khovsgol Lake, freshest and deepest lake in Central Asia, is positioned in a North South direction with an oval shape. Its length is 133.4 km from north to south while widest is 39.5 km from west to east. This lake has a volume of 380 km3 and it is second in Asia and 14th largest in the world. Khuvsgul Lake contains 93.6 % of total surface fresh water of Mongolia and 1% of world fresh water. Khuvsgul Lake is surrounded by beautiful high mountains of the Khoridol Saridag and Bayan Mountain Ranges, along the west shore. Many mountain rivers flow into this lake including 17 rivers flowing during the whole year. Flat-topped mountains with sloping mountainsides, covered by forests, lie on the east shore of the lake and those mountains are sources of 29 rivers flowing into Khuvsgul Lake. The Munkh Saridag Mountain Range, the highest mountains in Khuvsgul province, are along the north shore of this lake. South part of Khuvsgul Lake becomes narrow and the Eg River starts out here. Drainage basin of the lake is 5,300 sq km that holds 46 rivers and streams. 69% of South side of Khuvsgul lake is deeper than 100 m. The lake water is coldest in Mongolia, with +18 Celsius of water surface in summer, because of its deepness. It starts to freeze in September but completely covered by 1.0-1.5 m thick ice in November while it starts to melt in May but sometimes it keeps its ice until beginning of July. Water visibility is up to 22.9 m in the middle, but it is 14.3 m near the shore.
There are 4 islands namely Modon Khui, Khadan Khui, Dalain Khui and Baga Khui. The largest one of them is Dalain Khui Island with a 5.8 sq km area, 70 km from north shore. Nine species of fish inhabit Khuvsgul including omul, herring, lenok, grayling, perch and roach.
DAY 7 TERKH TSAGAAN LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Drive to Terkh Tsagaan Lake. Visit Deer Stone, Mongolia Experts speculate that north-central Mongolian stone engravings, such as this representation of a deer, were created more than three thousand years ago. Originally thought to guide ancient people across the open steppe, a recent discovery has swayed opinion about the markers. An ancient human, with skin intact, was found buried north of Siberia. His skin bore tattoos similar to the Mongolian deer carving. Researchers now believe that these stones are grave markers and each engraving echoes a tattoo found on the person buried in the frozen earth below. I illuminated this engraving with a headlamp to enhance the mystery of these iconic stones. The artificial light brought out the detail of the beautiful lines, highlighting them against the waning light in the western sky., Khorgo Volcano. The landscape changes as quickly as we approach the Khorgo Volcano. We ride on a very black and very difficult soil, made of dry lava. The landscape is original and doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen so far. The vegetation around us is essentially made of high larches ; it formed on the lava rejected here more than 8000 years ago. In the morning we reach the Khorgo volcano where we dismount and tie our horses to make the ascent of the summit, 2210 meters (1,37 mile) above the sea level. After a few minutes of ascent, the view is already wonderful.
We can already see the white lake. Here, the region is more touristic and once we get back downhill, we can taste local fruit juices sold in small stands. Around noon, we ride again following the track at a slow pace. We go to the cave of Zaluus and visit it before reaching Terkhiin Tsaagaan Nuur, the “White Lake of the Terkh River”, located 2060 meters (1,28 mile) above the sea level. It’s the jewel of Arkhangai and one of the most beautiful lakes of the country.
DAY 8 TSENKHER HOT SPRING
Drive to Hot Spring Spa. Visit Zaya Gegeen Monastery. It’s the lama Zayan Gegeen who created in 1616 the monastery and the village Tsetserleg that surrounds it near Bulgan Mount. He’s reported to be reincarnated three times.
The old temple of Zayan Gegeen was restored in 1951. It was used as a warehouse during the communist system, and then was transformed into an ethnic museum. So today it ceased all its religious activities. Made of wood, stone, blue bricks and tiles, its style was inspired by the Tibetan, the Mongol-Tibetan, and the Sino-Tibetan styles. The first floor of the central complex is composed of three temples containing the corpses of the three Zayan Gegeen. The site was composed of several temples and was able to welcome 1000 lamas, and even 4000 for some special religious ceremonies. Two Tibetan-styled wings were added during the 19th century. They were composed of two floors, but at the beginning of the 20th century, they were brought back to one single floor. In the museum, we can find a turtle that comes from the vestiges of Bugatiin Dursgal, a whole of standing stones located in the plain of Bugat, ”the deer plain”.
Bugatiin Dursgal contains the oldest vestiges we know, of the Turkish empires. The oldest steles found there date back from 582.
The museum also contains other historic vestiges, an exhibition about the modern history of the region, and a room dedicated to the local fauna and flora. At the first floor, in the old library, are shown old liturgical objects.
There are in Arkhangai many old volcanos, which explains the presence of this hot water source that flows all year long at 1860 metres (1,16 mile) above the sea level in the sum of Tsenkher. The water is at 85,5°C (185,9°F).
In a pleasant verdant wooded area, some yurts camps with equipment and baths with a less hot temperature have been set up for the travellers, but also for the nomads and the inhabitants of Ulan Bator who are very keen on these baths. Tsenkher hot springs have healing properties notably on articular diseases and nervous system’s diseases. Composition: sodium carbonate, hydrocarbonate, sulfate, fluorite, hydrogen sulfide.
DAY 9-10 ORKHON VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Drive to Orkhon Waterfall. Visit of Tovkhon Monastery. Vehicles can’t go until the top of Ondor Ulaan Hill and we will walk until there to discover Tovkhon Ermitage, where Zanabazar, the first religious leader of Mongolia, created the Soyombo alphabet. The monastery is located 2312 metres (1,44 mile) above the sea level and from that place we’ll have a wonderful view on the whole Khangai range. We’ll picnic in exceptional surroundings, facing Orkhon Valley.
Orkhon Falls or ”Orkhonii Khurkhree”, white waves flowing on the black stone, transformed in rainbow by sunrays… These 16-metres (52,5 feet) high and 5-metres (16 feet) wide waterfalls are just magic. Orkhon waterfalls formed 20.000 years ago after a unique combination of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In the heart of summer, their flow is very important, but they can dry up during spring. It’s the Ulaan Tsutgalaan River, ”Red Confluence”, which forms these falls by flowing into the Orkhon River. From the camp of the families living in the surroundings, they can be an ideal hike along the river, or a ride among the steppes.
Stay at Nomadic Family from the valley. During your stay, you will discover their way of life and you will be proposed many activities, such as milking, making traditional dairy products, or rounding up the animals with a horse. You will also attend the preparation of a Mongolian barbecue that you will enjoy with yours hosts.
DAY 11 KARAKORUM
Drive to Karakorum. Visit Erdenezuu Monastery. The first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, Erdene Zuu was established on the ruins of ancient Khar khorin city in 1586 by Avtai Sain khan, probably the most ancient surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. The monastery located Kharkhorin soum, Uvurkhangai province. It is surrounded by fortress wall sized 420m each side, with 108 stupas. In 1792, it housed 62 temples, Mongolian lords tried to have own named temple inside of wall of monastery because it means they have high reputation.
Also in 1658, the biggest ger consists of 35 walls, 1700 long pole and could contain 200 people, was built up at the middle space of monastery wall. During the communist era this monastery nearly destroyed, nowadays it contains 3 main temples, other some smaller temples, 2 tombs which were dedicated to Avtai sain Khan and his son Tusheet khan Gombodorj and the biggest stupa in Mongolia named “Golden stupa”. The temples became museums in 1947 because Erdene Zuu was allowed to exist as a museum only; the only functioning monastery in Mongolia was Gandantegchinlen Monastery in Ulaanbaatar. However, after the fall of Communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was turned over to the lamas and Erdene Zuu again became a place of worship.
Three main temples are named west zuu, middle zuu and east zuu. Zuu means respectful name of Buddha. So we can see Buddha’s different images such as past time Buddha, future time Buddha, present time Buddha, his child image, adult image, old aged image and his sapient pupils in these temples. These temples have double wall, for encapsulate warm and cool and kind of praying named “Goroo”. Today this monastery could become active monastery again and open for local believers and visitors. This is one of the places where we can learn more about religious and cultural traditions of Mongolia.
DAY 12 HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK
Drive to Hustai National Park. Visit Elsentasarkhai Sand. The Elsen Tasarkhai is a part of the Mongol Els Sand Dunes, that continues 80 km long 5 km wide. The nature in this area is really spectacular and great for relaxing and located in Burd soum in Uvurkhangai Aimag (Province) 280 km west of Ulaanbaatar. The area is surrounded by sand dunes, hills covered with rare bushes and a small forest near a river.
Together this presents a unique combination of Mongolian mountains, forests and Gobi-type landscape in one location. This area is 80 km east of Kharakhorum, the ancient Mongolian capital. The area is populated by the Maral stag (elk), wolves, deer and fox. The Elsen Tasarhai literally means “an isolated torn-off piece of sand” and it is a small sequence of real desert in the midst of green steppes. It feels like in the Gobi Desert, and visitors can hike in the sand dunes.
Khustain Nuruu National Park, whose name means ”the range of silver birches”, is located 90 kilometres (56 miles) Southwest from the capital, 1843 metres (1,1 mile) above the sea level in the sum of Altanbulag. It’s lined by Avdar Mountain in its Western part.
When this natural reserve was created in 1992, it covered an area of 506 square kilometres (195 square miles). Then, in 1998, it became a national park covering an area of 500 square kilometres (193 square miles), with the aim to reinsert the Przewalski’s horse, ”takhi” and to protect the ecosystem of the forest steppe, extremely threatened by the overexploitation of the land. It houses 459 species of plants, 85 species of lichens, 90 species of mosses, 33 species of mushrooms, and 44 species of mammalslive in this area, such as the red deer, Mongolian gazelle, roe deer, gray wolf, lynx, red fox. We can also see in the park 217 species of birds, such as the golden eagle, bearded vulture, great bustard, whooper swan, black stork and partridge. The reserve is composed at the same time of desert zones and of mountainous zones.
DAY 13 BACK TO THE ULAANBAATAR CITY
Drive to Ulaanbaatar. Rest of the day free. With our guide, you can go shopping in the center of the city.
DAY 14 HAVE A GOOD JOURNEY AND SEE YOU SOON
Breakfast at the hotel. We go with you to the international airport of Ulaanbaatar. The transfer can be organized at the time you want, according to the schedule of your flight.
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Mongolia Horse Trails Travel