Operated By Mongolian Ways-Mongolia Tours & Travel
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Operated By Mongolian Ways-Mongolia Tours & Travel
Explore the mysteries of the Gobi desert over 11 days on this private guided tour. Travel by 4WD vehicle with a guide and visit highlights like the Flaming Cliffs, White Stupa, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Hustai National Park, the vast plains and steppes of the desert and Karakorum. Stay in hotels or tourist ger camps, with most meals included.
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital city. At 14:00 we meet our guide at the airport, and head to the city center. The short drive passes through the shanty town inhabited by those who were once nomads, but have neglected their traditional lifestyle in the hope of finding a little fortune in the city, which not too long ago has seen some rapid development. The urban landscape quickly changes into expansive shopping malls and brand new residential complexes, shifting again to the scenes of the city center, where modern high-rises are quickly built amidst soviet-era buildings. After checking into our hotel, and if time permits, we will have an orientation tour of the city center through the central square. Right at the heart of the square we see the figure of D. Sukhbaatar, one of the heroes of the communist revolution of 1920’s, boldly raising his arm towards the statue of Chinggis Khan, the nation’s forefather whose name wasn’t allowed to be mentioned during the 70 year communist reign. We then visit the National History Museum, which holds a permanent exhibition on the different civilizations that have inhabited the territory of Mongolia from prehistoric times to the present. This exhibition includes a significant display of objects from the era of the Great Mongol Empire. From here we take a short walk to the drama theater where we attend an impressive folk concert, featuring some traditional Mongolian art forms. After a welcome dinner, we drive back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
To the Gobi Desert
We begin the day with a visit to the temple, joining the monks for their morning puje- the chanting of Tibetan scripts as a form of prayer. We then continue our journey south, heading to Tsagaan Suvraga. While in Mongolian language the name refers to a ‘white stupa’, this is yet another interesting geological phenomena of colorful sand stone, hinting on the rich mineral deposits hidden within the deserts soil- the trigger for the current Mongolian gold rush which have sparked the recent rapid economic development. Arriving at Tsagaan Suvraga in the afternoon, we hike to a beautiful vantage point for a view over the colorful mounds.
Morning drive would bring us to Dalanzadgad, the capital city of South Gobi Province. Once a remote desert town, it today serves as the center of logistics for the developing mining industry. Over the last decade, massive exploration operations have revealed in the Gobi Desert an abundance of precious metals and minerals. And thus, the once peaceful desert is being trampled by excavators, monster trucks, and massive drills- all in the hope of making a quick fortune. Luckily, most of these mines are far from the eye, but their environmental impact can be seen and felt throughout this massive desert. We leave Dalanzadgad and head to the ‘Gobi’s Beauties’ Nature Reserve. Once at the reserve, we head to the ‘Vulture’s Valley’- a beautiful oasis at the foot of the ‘Three Beauties’ Mountain range. As the rays of sun does not reach the small river at the creek’s basin, it is kept frozen throughout the beginning of the summer, and hence, the place is commonly known as the ‘Gobi Glacier’. We take an easy hike along the beautiful stream, and if lucky, we get to see some of the wildlife inhabiting the reserve.
The vast Gobi Plains
The Flaming Cliffs
Today we reach the Mongolian steppes. Here there is a great variety of birds of prey, including eagles and falcons, constantly on the watch for a meal. As we drive up north, the scenery would gradually change from arid steppes to the fertile green grasslands typical to the Khangai Mountains, Mongolia’s second largest mountain range. After lunch we head into an area dominated by volcanic scenery, which takes us along the Orkhon River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape, the valley has served as the center of several kingdoms and empires that ruled much of Central Asia for centuries. The UNESCO committee states: “Collectively the remains in the site reflect the symbiotic links between nomadic, pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centres, and the importance of the Orkhon valley in the history of central Asia.” (UNESCO website). Late in the afternoon we arrive at a beautiful vantage point over the Orkhon River, where we spend the night.
Leaving our camp, we take an hour’s drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon through which the Orkhon River flows. Here we take an easy hike along the canyon floor, and end up at the pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfall. For the brave at heart, a cool swim awaits! We hop back to our vehicle, and drive to one of Mongolia’s most impressive monasteries, where we take a three and a half hours’ hike (of which, one-hour up hill). Located at the top of a high hill with a view of seemingly endless pine forests, Tuvkhon Monastery was established during the 1650’s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia’s most respected religious leaders. Fleeing the Manchu Emperor, the Zanbazar built a monastery in this hidden place, using a natural system of caves and adding small wooden buildings. In the afternoon we keep on driving up the river to Kharkhorin.
Built by Chinggis Khan about 800 years ago, Kharkhorin, better known as Karakorum, was famed throughout Asia as the capital of the Mongol Empire. Within the walls of this spectacular city kings were chosen, laws made and the fate of the next city to be conquered were determined. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erden Zuu monastery and other historical monuments in the area, and then have lunch. Leaving Kharkhorin, we pass by Elsiin Tasarkhai. Marking the northern edge of the great Gobi Desert, Elsiin Tasarkhai is a sand dune that stretches over 130 km north into the heart of Central Mongolia. At late afternoon we arrive at Hustaiin Nuruu Strictly Protected Area (SPA). The SPA was established as part of a unique project to reintroduce the world’s last surviving wild horses back to their natural environment. On the brink of extinction during the last century, only a very few Takhi or Przewalski’s horse were left in zoos around Europe. This graceful steppe horse was returned to Mongolia, and today, thanks to this special project, two herds again roam the Mongolian steppes.
Today we drive back in time, to a place that recreates the lives of Mongolian nomads at the beginning of the 20th century. This was when Mongolia gained its independence from the Qing Dynasty and established itself as a reemerging nation under a living god-king. Here we shall attend a demonstration of how the nomads lived their lives during this era, and learn about some traditions that are carried on to this very day. After lunch in the camp we take the approximately one hour drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival back in the capital city we visit the Zanbazar Fine Arts Museum. This museum holds some of the best known Mongolian works of art, including the well know ‘One Day In Mongolia’ painting, painted by B. Sharav, and considered to date as a true masterpiece. The museum also holds unique religious and other historic artifacts. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a visit to the Zaisan Hill, for a view over the city at night.
After breakfast at our hotel, we will drive to the airport for our international departing flight.
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