Welcome to wild and wonderful Mongolia, where you'll step back in time and travel across the vast plains, steppes, mountains, and deserts of this remote and beautiful country. Sleep in traditional nomadic ger camps, trek across the dunes by camel, swim in crystal clear lakes, explore the ruins of ancient cities and temples from the time of Chinggis Khaan and the Mongol Empire, and wander through the ultra-modern capital—all while enjoying the legendary Mongolian hospitality.

Highlights

  • Experience nomadic life in a traditional Mongolian ger
  • Climb the Chinggis Khaan statue and enjoy vistas over the plains
  • Learn about the history of the Mongolian Empire and visit historic sites
  • Visit the eerily beautiful Singing Sand Dunes in the remote Gobi Desert
  • Search for wild Takhi horses on a twilight adventure across the Steppes

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Ulaanbaatar Ulaanbaatar
Day 2 Terelj National park Terelj National Park
Day 3 Khustai National Park Argalant
Day 4 Ugii lake Jargalant
Day 5 Kharkhorin Kharkhorin
Day 6 Ongi Monastery Saikhan ovoo
Day 7 Khongoryn Els (Singing Sand Dunes) Sevrei
Day 8 Yolyn Am Gorge Dalanzadgad
Day 9 Dalanzagdad to Ulaanbaatar, City Tour Ulaanbaatar
Day 10 Departure from Ulaanbaatar  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

Welcome to bustling Ulaanbaatar and enjoy one last day in civilization before we head out to the plains!
Welcome to bustling Ulaanbaatar

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, the thriving capital of Mongolia. Upon arrival at the airport or train station, you will be met by your English speaking guide and personal driver who will take you the short distance to your hotel in the city center.

The rest of the day is yours to relax, explore, or do you as please.

Day 2: Terelj National park

Visit the world's largest equestrian statue at the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex
Visit the world's largest equestrian statue at the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex

This morning, we set off into the Mongolian countryside on our way to Gorkhi Terelj National Park. As we make our way east out of the city we will stop to visit the world-famous Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex where you will learn about the history of the Mongolian Empire in the museum and visit the famous giant statue of Chinggis Khaan on horseback. You can even ride the elevator up to the horse's head to see breathtaking views over the plains. 

Then, we'll head further into Terelj Park, where we'll drop by our ger (yurt) camp for lunch and to leave our bags. In the afternoon, we'll visit Turtle Rock and climb up the mountain path to the ly beautiful Aryapala Meditation Temple

In the evening, we'll return back to the ger camp for dinner and to relax after a long day exploring, before spending your first night under felt in our traditional Mongolian accommodation.

Travel time: 2 hours
Travel distance: 64 miles (103 km)

Day 3: Khustai National Park

Search for wild Mongolian horses in the twilight hours
Search for wild Mongolian horses in the twilight hours

Wake up early to enjoy the morning skies before we wave goodbye to the beautiful Terelj scenery and begin the drive along the well-traveled country roads until we reach our next destination—the mountains and plains of Khustain Nuruu Park.

Once we arrive, we'll settle into our mountain ger camp before heading out into the gathering twilight to try and spot the Takhi Horse, the last wild horses in Asia. After that, we'll return to the camp for dinner and to warm up before the fire before retiring to your ger for another night under canvas. Remember to wear warm clothes for this evening foray.

Travel time: 4 hours
Travel distance: 120 miles (193 km)

Day 4: Ugii lake

Sleep in a traditional ger on the shores of Ugii Lake
Sleep in a traditional ger on the shores of Ugii Lake

After breakfast, we continue our journey through Mongolia as we head southwest from Khustai to the beautiful Ugii Lake. Popular with Mongolians and international tourists alike, the lake is a wildlife hotspot and is home to flocks of migrating birds throughout the year, and in spring and summer, the shores are dotted with colorful wildflowers. 

We will stay overnight in a traditional ger camp right on the shores of the lake, and you can spend the afternoon relaxing next to the water. Opt to go fishing or on a boat trip, or, if you're feeling up to it, brave the water and go for a quick swim! 

Travel time: 4-5 hours
Travel distance:  180 miles (291 km)

Day 5: Kharkhorin

Visit the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century
Visit the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century

Today, we'll uncover some of Mongolia's history and culture as we head south to the ancient city of Kharkhorin. Also known as Karakorum,  Kharkhorum, Qara Qorum, and Harhorum, this was the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire between 1235 and 1260. while none of the original city stands above ground today, there is a UNESCO museum on site that showcases some of the most exciting archaeological finds and explains the history of this important site.

Next to the museum is the 16th-century white-walled Erdene Zuu Khiid Monastery, which still functions as a working center for Lamas and Buddhists from around the world.  Although nowadays, Kharkhoin itself is a rather nondescript Soviet-style town, visiting the museum and the monastery will make us feel like we've taken a step back in time and offer us a unique insight into the golden era of this region.

After we're done exploring we'll head to a nearby ger camp for another night in a traditional Mongolian felted tent.

Travel time: 1.5 hours
Travel distance: 45 miles (73 km)

Day 6: Ongi Monastery

Explore the ruins of Ongii Monastery, once the largest Buddhist temple in the world
Explore the ruins of Ongii Monastery, once the largest Buddhist temple in the world

We'll leave bright and early this morning as we set off on a long journey across the majestic plains to Ongi Monastery in Saikhaan-Ovoo.  Founded in 1600, the Ongi Temple was once the world's largest Buddhist university, with four separate colleges sitting on the banks of the River Ongi.

These days, the ruined temples are a haunting reminder of the anti-religious purges of the 1930s—and one of the most interesting sites in all of Mongolia. We'll take a tour through the ruins along the river and in the surrounding hills, before visiting the newly founded temple to speak to the four Lamas who are reviving the ancient traditions that were lost here when the original temples were destroyed by the Communist armies in 1939. 

This afternoon, you will learn to build your own traditional ger, before enjoying a hearty supper of khoorhog—whole roasted goat—under a starry night sky in this beautifully wild and rugged landscape.

Travel time: 5-6 hours
Travel distance: 180 miles (290 km)

Day 7: Khongoryn Els (Singing Sand Dunes)

Ride a camel across the Singing Sand Dunes of the Gobi Desert
Ride a camel across the Singing Sand Dunes of the Gobi Desert

Settle in for a long but beautiful travel day today as we head south across the immense Desert Steppes and the Altai Mountain range on our way to reach the magnificent singing sand dunes of legend—the Khongoryn Els in the south Gobi Desert. Also known as the Hongorïn Els, today, you will be following in the footsteps of the famed Italian explorer, Marco Polo, who visited these dunes during the height of the Mongolian Empire in the 13th-century. 

Just before sunset, we'll take a camel ride through the shadows of the huge dunes and the mountainous sandy landscape before settling in for dinner at your local ger camp and enjoying another night under an amazingly starry sky.

Travel time: 9 hours
Travel distance: 290 miles (468 km)

Day 8: Yolyn Am Gorge

Drive through the Altai Mountain passes on our way to the Vulture's Mouth
Drive through the Altai Mountain passes on our way to the Vulture's Mouth

After breakfast, we'll make our way back along the southern side of the Altai Mountains in the southern Gobi Desert until we reach the Yolyn Am Gorge. Meaning "Vulture's Mouth," the Yolyn Am is a deep rocky ravine, the center of which is frozen solid throughout most of the year.

Between June and September, the majority of the ice around will be melted but even in the height of the 104°F (40°C) summer heat, you'll still be able to see patches of snow and ice outside the valley walls. We'll trek most of the way out to the gorge on horseback until the narrow walls mean we have to continue on foot.

After a day's exploring, we'll spend our last night in the desert in a local ger camp.

Travel time: 3-4 hours

Travel distance: 111 miles (179 km)

Day 9: Dalanzagdad to Ulaanbaatar, City Tour

If time allows, stop in at the Gobi Desert Museum on your way to Ulaanbaatar
If time allows, stop in at the Gobi Desert Museum on your way to Ulaanbaatar

Say goodbye to the deserts and plains as we leave the Altai Mountains for Dalanzadgad, where we will say goodbye to our guide and driver and board a flight back to Ulaanbaatar

Upon arrival, you'll be met by a new driver and guide who will take you to your hotel in the city center. The rest of the afternoon will be spent exploring Mongolia's bustling capital city,  which is home to over 45% of the population.

Travel time: 1 hour drive + 1 hour flight
Travel distance: 33 miles (53 km) + 360 miles (580 km)

Day 10: Departure from Ulaanbaatar

It's time to say goodbye to Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar
It's time to say goodbye to Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar

Today is the final day of your tour.  Depending on your departure time, squeeze in some more sightseeing or souvenir shopping before we drop you off at Ulaanbaatar airport or train station. Enjoy the last glimpses of Mongolia from the window as we drive through the wonderfully unique city before bidding farewell to this magical country and continuing your onward journey.

Map

Map of Highlights of Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar, Terelj National Park, Singing Sand Dunes, & More - 10 Days
Map of Highlights of Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar, Terelj National Park, Singing Sand Dunes, & More - 10 Days