Ulaanbaatar, Gobi Desert, Khan Khentii
History & Culture, Off the Beaten
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, we fly to the Gobi Desert, one of Asia’s most remote but fascinating hinterland with sites of important paleontological discoveries. Next, we transit into a completely different landscape of wildflower meadows, larch and birch woodlands, in the remote Khan Khentii Protected Area that extends up to the Russian border into Siberia.
Early Bird Promotion
First 2 bookings enjoy complimentary room upgrade to Executive Suite in Shangri La Ulaanbaatar for 2 nights.
*Registration Closing Date
11 Apr 2022 or when tour is fully subscribed
HK$ 800 non-refundable deposit, up to 91 days before departure (12 Mar 2022)
Deposit forfeit from 12 Mar – 11 Apr 2022 100% charge for cancellation from 12 Apr 2022
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to your hotel.
In the evening, if time permits, enjoy a walking tour to Sukhbaatar Square named in honor of the revolutionary leader who commanded the Mongolian army to fight for the nation’s independence from Manchuria with the help of Russian army in 1920s. It is also the site of the Great Khans Memorial built in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Mongolian Empire. After 80 years of Soviet domination, a time during which it was forbidden by the government to utter the words “Chinggis Khan,” many Mongols now celebrate their pride in their great ancestors.
Begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Woven through Mongolia’s nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition in which ancient shamanist practices are still evident. Although Buddhist monasteries were either destroyed or converted into museums during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Gandan Monastery continued to operate as a showpiece for government officials.
Next, drive through downtown Ulaanbaatar to the National History Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture. The newly remodelled museum displays traditional implements of daily nomadic life, including Stone and Bronze Age artifacts, historical costumes of Mongolia’s minority tribes, sacred religious relics, and agricultural, fishing, and hunting equipment.
After lunch, visit Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum. Named in honor of Zanabazar, the renowned 17th century artist and politician, who was also the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia, the museum contains one of the best collections of Buddhist art and artifacts in the world, including many of Zanabazar’s original works.
In the evening enjoy a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and khoomi throat singers followed by a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant.
In the morning transfer to the airport for a flight to the Gobi.
Upon arrival drive to Yol Valley National Park (approx. 1hr), cradled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. An ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley, and its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that sometimes persist as late as July. A hike through the valley leads to the habitat of indigenous vulture-like Lammergeiers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks, and Argali mountain sheep. After exploring the valley, visit the local natural history museum for an overview of the flora and fauna of the surrounding area.
After your exploration of Yol Valley, drive to the Three Camel Lodge (approx. 2hrs), an award-winning eco-lodge located near the Gurvansaikhan Gobi National Park. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure or explore the surroundings on your own. The lodge offers a wide variety of activities to travellers from reading a book on Mongolia to watching a documentary about nomadic culture, and from learning traditional Mongolian games to enjoying a relaxing massage.
In the evening, enjoy a Mongolian dance and music performance followed by dinner at the restaurant.
Drive to Moltsog Els, one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes. Explore the sand dunes on foot or on back of a Bactrian camel.
In the afternoon, visit a nearby nomadic family and spend an afternoon with the family to learn more about a nomadic way of life and help to herd the animals and milk them or perhaps learn how to prepare a milk tea and learn more about herding life. Mongolia is a home to one of the last remaining nomadic cultures in the world and often travellers compare Mongolia with traveling back in time to witness an old way of life that hasn’t changed for centuries. About 30% of Mongolia’s population still lead a nomadic way of life and move from a pasture to a pasture and live in harmony with nature and off the land.
In the evening, drive to Havsgait to see the amazing artwork of our ancestors. Preserved at the top of the mountain are some of the precious petroglyphs of the Gobi, ancient and beautiful works of art that can be clearly seen as the sun hits the rocks from the right angle. From the depictions of these amazing petroglyphs we can gain a better understanding of the everyday lives of the people who lived in the Gobi during the Bronze Age.
Accompanied by a local Palaeontologist, you will drive to Tugregiin Shiree (1.5 hours), first explored by Polish expeditions in the late-1960s and early-1970s. Tugregiin Shiree is best known for the famous “Fighting Dinosaurs,” a fossil of a Protoceratops and Velociraptor locked in combat. It is an impressive sight and is something most families would only dream of seeing in a museum.
Return to the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, enjoy a documentary featuring Roy Chapman Andrews, the real-life Indiana Jones, whose expedition discovered the world’s first dinosaur eggs at the Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs.
Next, you will pack all the necessary equipment for your own fossil hunt before heading to the legendary Flaming Cliffs (1 hour). Nicknamed the Flaming Cliffs because of the red-orange sandstone which glows brilliantly at sunrise and sunset, it was here, in 1922, that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. You will be joined by a local palaeontologist as you scan the area searching for fossilized remains of dinosaurs. The region remains rich with fossils and new discoveries are made each year, though it is important to note that no finds may be taken from the site.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Ulaanbataar. Upon arrival, drive for 3½ hours to Jalman Meadows in the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area. After an hour of driving, we leave behind the cityscape and enter a beautiful steppe valley, dotted with gers (yurts), nomads and their herds of livestock. We cross a mountain ridge at Zamtiin pass and drive up across and through larch forests until we reach the Upper Tuul River Valley. We are now in a dramatically different landscape, touching the southern part of Siberia, with its circumpolar boreal forests, called taiga forests. Jalman Meadows are the winter pastures of the local herdsmen, why most of them are not in the area, This allows for a profusion of wildflowers, such as edelweiss. At Jalman Meadows Ger Camp we are met by yak carts, onto which our luggage is loaded, and move into the comfortable gers.
Spend these two days to explore this unspoilt region, which was established as a strictly protected area since 1993 and covers most of the Khentii wilderness, stretching all the way up to the Russian-Siberian frontier. Herdsmen keep their livestock in the southern areas, following a lifestyle essentially unchanged since the time of Genghis Khan, while to the north there is only uninhabited dense wilderness with abundant wildlife. Although rarely seen, wolves are numerous in the area, and there are also wild boars, moose, Wapiti Deer and marmots.
You choose your pace of journey here, and also the modes of transport according to your preferences – either on foot, on mountain bikes or using the Russian catarafts or inflatable kayaks available at camp to float down Tuul River. The Khentii Mountains are covered with larch and birch forests and rivers flow down broad steppe valleys past wooded and alluvial meadows with broad leaf forests. A ger sauna can also be set up on the riverbank to relax, or enjoy a good read in the library ger.
After breakfast, transfer to Ulaanbaatar airport (approx. 220km, 3hrs) for your departure flight. If time permits, we will make a brief stop en route at the Chinggis Khaan Monument, the biggest equestrian statue in the world before driving back into the city.
Shangri La Ulaanbaatar • Three Camel Lodge • Jalman Meadows 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
Located in the wilderness near Dalanzadgad, it is home to one of the only farms in the desert. A unique and serene place, with unmatched experiences in one of the world’s final wilderness regions. (Opened: 2002; Rooms: 40)View More
Located in the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area, a beautiful pasture teeming with wildflowers in summer and a true wilderness area extending to the Russian-Siberian frontier. 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.
Registration Closing Date: 11 Apr 2022 or when tour is fully subscribed
Kindly call us at (852) 2885 2181 if you require any immediate assistance.