Ulaanbaatar, Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Elst, Khan Khentii
Nature & Wildlife
Mongolia is the last country across the vast Eurasian continent where nomadism has survived the passing of time, and we take this distinct tradition into a slow and sustainable concept on wild, yet intimate adventures that retains a respectable degree of comfort.
Start from the bustle of the capital Ulaanbaatar, you will travel to Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in East Gobi, which is an area of many migrating nomads, abounding in wildlife among a maze of rock formations. Next, moving north towards the Khan Khentii, the landscape transits from steppe to forests, a beautiful landscape of wildflower meadows, larch and birch woodlands, remote part of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park that extends up to the Russian border into Siberia.
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to your hotel.
If time permits, your guide will take you on a walking tour to Sukhbaatar Square to get an orientation of the city. The square is flanked by state buildings from the mid Soviet Era, and contains statues of Genghis Khan (seated) and Damdin Sukhbaatar (on horseback). Alternatively, explore the National Museum of Mongolia to admire its ethnographic collections of nomadic culture and examine the history which led to the imperial era of Genghis Khan. Both are easily reached from your hotel by foot.
If time permits, we recommend extending an additional night in Ulaanbaatar to take in more of the historical and cultural sites, such as Gandan Monastery, the busiest Buddhist site in Mongolia, or the Winter Palace of Bogd Khan.
After breakfast, we will drive for full day to Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in East Gobi (400km, approximately 4 – 5hrs), with a picnic lunch en route. Leave the urban sprawl of Ulaanbaatar as we travel through grassland, which gradually turns into more arid Gobi steppe.
Arrive at the Ger Camp for dinner, and at leisure in the evening.
Today, we load your luggage and all provisions on the camel carts and set out on our guided walk through to a pristine pitch in an isolated section of the reserve. You can travel by land cruiser, camel or on foot. Jeep permits wider exploration of the reserve en route, whereas by camels or walking will require the better part of the day to navigate through the other-worldly landscape of granite rock formations, many looming as high as multistorey buildings. Explore the ruins of a temple, that has been destroyed in the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, or seek out other fantastic petroglyphs in the area as well as ancient graves from Hunnu, Turkic Khanate, imperial and Manchurian times.
In the afternoon, arrive at our remote cosy ger camp at Elst, which has been set up ahead of time. The name Elst indicates this is an area of minor sand dunes.
We will remain in the ger camp at Elst for another night and explore this wild area of rock formations, sands and grasses on foot, or if you prefer, by camel or mountain bike. There is also a small ephemeral (seasonal) lake, which sometimes has desert tadpole shrimps. The surroundings are rich in petroglyphs and rock art, and we may come across Argali Sheep and Siberian Ibex as we explore this dramatic area. You will likely encounter local herding families, hardy and hospitable Gobi herders who frequently migrate in and out of the area with their livestock.
Today, we will drive the full day to Upper Tuul River in the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area, with a picnic lunch en route (approximately 7 – 8hrs drive). Experience the contrast as the landscape changes from a rocky steppe habitat to the forests, a beautiful backdrop of wildflower meadows, larch and birch woodlands. From tarmac roads, we will soon move off-road and pass many herding families with their yurts and livestock. Crossing a ridge at Zamtiin Pass we now drive mainly through forests until we reach the Upper Tuul River Valley, where we meet the local herders who will accompany us with their yak carts to our private ger camp has been set up by the Tuul River. Enjoy a hearty dinner and recharge for the adventure to come.
Option to take a private Cessana Caravan from Ikh Nart to Khan Khentii (1hr 5min flight).
Today, we will load all luggage and provisions onto yak carts, your gers included, and prepare to trek to our next location. In so doing, you will witness how these nomadic homesteads, unchanged for millennia, are efficiently dismantled and rebuilt – you may also learn how to dismantle and build these gers. Our next secluded camp location is in a steppe valley surrounded by Khentii hills carpeted in larch and birch forests, Baruun Bayan. Here in the fertile southern reaches of Khan Khentii, herdsmen tend their livestock and adhere to a way of life essentially un-changed since the time of Genghis Khan.
Today we will explore the pristine surroundings of our camp location with a day hike into the hills. Reaching Zaraa Tolgoi, we will enjoy stunning panoramic views of the forested hills and the grassland valleys from up on the ridges, before relaxing with a picnic lunch. Meandering rivers cut through the meadows and steppe valleys. The return hike back to camp will complete the loop.
Today after breakfast, we will depart to Ulaanbaatar (220km, approximately 3hrs). En route, we will brief stop at the Chinggis Khaan Monument, the biggest equestrian statue in the world before driving back into the city. The afternoon is free to explore or relax in your hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to Ulaanbaatar airport for your departure flight.
Shangri La Ulaanbaatar • Ikh Nark Rocks Ger Camp • Wilderness Ger Camp • Wilderness Ger Camp
This is Ulan Bator’s only international-standard five-star property, embracing local Mongolian culture with the warmth of Shangri-La hospitality. Located in the heart of the city next to a modern shopping mall with an IMAX cinema and several restaurants, the hotel is within strolling distance of Sukhbaatar Square and Government Palace. (Opened: 2015; Rooms: 216)View More
A small, boutique-style ger camp on the fringes of Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. The camp has a dining ger furnished with wines and beers, an eco-shower ger, a cosy library ger and 14 guest gers. Horses and mountain bikes are available. (Refurbished: 2019; Rooms: 14)
These innovative camps can be defined as five-star pop-ups gers that are flexible and lightweight enough to be deployed anywhere in the country – pitches are painstakingly pre-chosen for their serene, isolated beauty, with uninterrupted landscape views in every direction. Gers are simply but stylishly decorated with colourful Mongolian crafts, and furnished with proper beds and full bedding. Meals are served in a separate ger or traditional Mongolian marquee-style tent, each featuring diverse and delicious dishes created from traditional recipes.
Kindly call us at (65) 6219 1359 if you require any immediate assistance.