Magical Mongolia

specialThe region of Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires throughout the years and is the second largest landlocked country next to Kazakhstan. Its remoteness and history both contribute to its magic and mystery. Mongolia, with the lowest human population density of any country and with one of the highest proportions of land area which is protected, is a land where plants and animals thrive. Magical Mongolia begins in the capital, Ulaanbaatar and goes into its wild exploring South Gobi, Yol Valley and the Singing Sand Dunes. Learn about the life of the nomads, gers and explore monasteries in the Middle Province. See the imperial city of Karakorum and the famed Prezwalski horses. Magical Mongolia is a fairy tale adventure in your life story!

Day 1 – Ulaanbaatar
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar where you will be met and driven to your hotel. Enjoy a Welcome Dinner with traditional cuisine.

Day 2 – Ulaanbaatar
After breakfast explore the city on a tour which includes Gandan monastery and a visit to the biggest square, Sukhbaatar, which is located in the city center point of Ulaanbaatar. Have a Mongolian lunch. See the Natural History Museum which is famous for its authentic dinosaur skeletons and fossils (Bogd Khan Palace Museum) and visit Zaisan Memorial Hill for a spectacular view of the entire city and surrounding area.

Day 3 – Ulaanbaatar/South Gobi
This morning you transfer to the airport for your flight (2 and a half hours) to South Gobi. You will be met and driven to your campsite where you will have lunch. Drive to Yol canyon and visit a local natural museum before entering the valley. Very wide at the entrance, the valley narrows gradually into a remarkable gorge. You have a chance to see wild animals such as ibex and wild sheep and, of course, vultures. Ride a horse or a camel on your trek to the gorge. Stay overnight in a ger at camp. (Ger means Mongolian traditional felt accommodation)

Day 4 – Yol Valley/Khongor Sand Dunes (Singing Sand Dunes)
Early morning drive to explore the Gurvansaikhan National Park, which translates into “three beauties”. The largest national park in Mongolia, three beauties is approximately 27,000 square kilometers. The park has a number of rare animals which includes the elusive snow leopard. Visit a nomadic family. Continue driving to Khongor Sand Dunes which is known for its unusual shape of narrow but wide making it look like a fin of huge gold fish from a distance. These “singing” sand dunes climb to amazing heights in front of majestic mountains. Enjoy dinner at your camp. Stay overnight in a ger.

Day 5 – Khongor Sand Dunes
Visit a camel breeding family to learn about their traditional nomadic lifestyle. You have chance for camel riding at the area nearby the sand dunes. The sounds of shifting sand blown by the wind has given Khongor the nickname “Singing Sand Dunes”. There is beautiful green oasis known as Seruun Bulag near the Khongor River. Return to the camp for lunch and enjoy the peacefulness in the beautiful surroundings of the great Gobi Desert. Dinner and stay overnight in a ger.

Day 6 – Khongor Sand Dunes/Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs)
Drive to Bayanzag which is located 20 kilometers far from Bulgan Soum, where 70 million year old Paleontological findings have been discovered. Flaming Cliffs, the name by which the area is known, was named by Roy Chapman Andrews, an American explorer who had visited Mongolia in 1922. During his two years searching through the Mongolian Gobi Desert he discovered dinosaur fossils and dinosaur eggs about 10-15 cm from the Bayanzag. This was the first time in the world these types of fossils had been found. Explore for yourself the native land of dinosaurs.. Dinner and stay overnight in a ger.

Day 7 – Bayanzag/Ongi Temple
Drive to Ongi temple. The ruins of Ongi Temple are found in Saikhan Ovoo Soum of the Dundgobi (Middle Gobi) province. It used to be a big Buddhist monastery compound built by Bari Yonzon Khamba at the bank of Ongi River. Transfer to your camp before lunch. In the afternoon, visit temple ruins and a small ger museum. Dinner and stay overnight in a ger.

Day 8 – Ongi Temple/Karakorum (Erdene Zuu monastery)
Early morning drive to Karakorum arriving late afternoon, on the way picnic. Ancient capital of Mongolia Karakorum city was located on the right bank of Orkhon River and on the north-eastern slopes of the Khangai Mountain and founded by Genghis Khan in 1220, was not only the capital of the vast Mongolian Empire but the epicentre of trade along the Silk Road. At that time the inhabitants of city were mostly merchants and craftsmen who came to Karakorum from all over the world. When Khublai Khan moved the capital of the Mongolian Empire to China, establishing the Yuan Dynasty, Karakorum lost its importance. In 1379 much of the city was badly damaged during an attack by the army of the Min Dynasty. Stay overnight in a ger.

Day 9 – Erdene Zuu monastery
Explore Erdene Zuu monastery which was built by Avtai Sain Khan on the ruin of the Mongolian capital Karakorum in 1586. It was the first great Buddhist Monastery of Mongolia. It is part of the World Heritage Site called the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape. Stones from the ruins of Karakorum were used in construction. It is surrounded by a wall featuring 108 stupas, 108 being a sacred number in Buddhism, and the number of beads in a Buddhist mala or rosary. The monastery was damaged by warfare in the 1680s, but was rebuilt in the 18th century and by 1872 had a full 62 temples inside. The Erdene Zuu Monastery was given state protection and became a museum in 1944.

Day 10 – Karakorum/Ugii Lake
In the morning drive to Ugii Lake. On the way visit two monuments dedicated to the Turks heritage which are 60 kilometers from the imperial town of Karakorum. The first monument is dedicated to the Turkish prince Kul-Tegin (638-731), and the other to his brother Bilge-Khan (716-734). In the afternoon take rest or hike along lakeshore. Stay overnight in a ger.

Day 11 – Ugii Lake/Hustai National Park
Drive to Hustai National Park to see the wild horses or Prezwalski horses which are now back in Mongolia. The Hustai National Park is world famous for the successful reintroduction of the Prezwalski horsse. In 2008, there were 20 groups of Prezwalski horses and their total number reached over 230. Arrive to the Hustai National Park in the late afternoon. See the famed wild horses. Stay overnight in a ger.

Day 12 – Hustai National Park/Ulaanbaatar
Drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Transfer to the hotel and have lunch at the finest restaurant in Ulaanbaatar. The afternoon is free for you to shop or explore as you wish. You can also enjoy watching a national folklore performance by “Tumen Ekh” throat singing the national song or see tsam mask dance. A farewell dinner and stay overnight in hotel.

Day 13 – Depart Ulaanbaatar
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

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