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Gobi Desert Explorer

Departing: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - 16 days
Countries visited: Mongolia

Discover the very best of Mongolia from the bustling capital of Ulaanbaatar we journey across the steppe to the site of Genghis Khan's former capital of Kharkhorin. We will encounter ancient Buddhist monasteries and the remarkable diversity of the Gobi Desert; sacred mountains, dinosaur 'cemeteries', flaming cliffs, singing sand dunes, spectacular canyons and a unique landscape that is home to ibex and snow leopards. Join us for this journey into another world!

  

 

Itinerary

Ulaanbaatar and Kharkhorin 
Mongolia is the world's most sparsely populated country with just 3 million people inhabiting the 1.5 million square kilometres of pristine desert, steppe and mountain. Almost half the population live in its frenetic capital Ulaanbaatar; a fascinating mix of nomads and urban executives, new high-rise development and Ger (traditional nomadic tents) suburbs. We will visit the Gandan Khiid Monastery, with its huge gold Buddha, the spiritual home of the Mongolian people, the Zaisan Memorial and Bogd Khan Palace Museum. 

Beyond the city one million Mongolian's still live a traditional nomadic or semi nomadic life and the horse is central to their existence. We travel to the Khustai National Park where wild horses, known as the Takhi or Przewalski horses, are bred and reintroduced into the wild. Once close to extinction, Takhi are the world's only true wild horse. Our journey continues to the site of Genghis Khan's former capital, Kharkhorin and the extensive monastery complex of Erdene Zuu, built in 1586, it is the oldest remaining monastery in Mongolia, and despite some damage during the Soviet era retains much of its former glory.


The Great Gobi Desert
Before leaving the steppe we visit Orhon Waterfall and Tuvkhun Monastery, set in a beautiful location in the Khangai Mountains. Established by Zanabazar, the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia, as a place of solitude it soon grew as an important monastery and place of pilgrimage after his death. Gradually the steppe gives way to the fringes of the Great Gobi Desert and we enjoy two nights at the Gobi camel camp, a chance to explore the area and learn more about the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Mongolians. Time also to climb 1h Bogd Mountain (3957m) the highest peak of the Gobi-Altai mountain range and visit the White Cave where evidence of early Stone Age habitation has been found. 

We continue into one of the most remote areas of the Gobi Desert where we will explore the spectacular canyon formations of Kherman Tsav. Carved out over many thousands of years the colourful canyon walls and rock formations provide a beautiful setting for an evening walk into the canyon. Dinosaur skeletons are to be found in the area as well as the unique flora and fauna of the Gobi Desert. Ibex and snow leopard are native to the region, while gazelles and wild asses can be seen on the nearby plains. 


Flaming Cliffs and Frozen Rivers
The vast sand dunes of Khongoriin Els, some up to 200 metres high, stretch for 180 kilometres; known as the 'singing dunes' due to the melodic sound the shifting sands make as the wind paces over their crest. From the 'singing dunes' our evening arrival at the 'Flaming Cliffs' ensures they live up to their description. It was near here in the 1920s that the first fossilised dinosaur eggs and skeletons were found in Mongolia.

We continue through the Gobi Desert, encountering occasional ger encampments of nomadic families, reaching the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park and the remarkable Yol Valley where even in the middle of a Gobi summer, the river remains frozen.

We leave the remote and beautiful landscapes of the Gobi Desert, returning to Ulaanbaatar.

 

Essentials

Group Size 
15 maximum, plus Tour Leader.

Accommodation
Hotels - 4 nights (twin share)
Mongolian Ger  - 7 nights (shared)
Camping - 4 nights (shared)

Single Supplement (Optional)
Available for hotel stays on this journey. Prices are available on request.

Meals
Many breakfasts (14) and some lunches (11) and dinners (12) are included.

Sightseeing
Comprehensive scheduled sightseeing is included in all destinations on this journey. In addition to the scheduled sightseeing you can also tailor your journey with optional activities. 

Transfers
All arrival transfers are included once you have joined the group. Please refer to the Journey Itinerary for more details.

Visas
Required for Mongolia. Sundowners Overland will provide all required invitation letters and full visa support including detailed visa guidelines.