Mongolia is a magnificent land, its immense grasslands dotted with the gers of nomads, great herds of horses and yaks, and shamanic oovos—cairns that mark the way across this mesmerizing realm. On our far-flung journey, we’ll explore ancient Kharakhorum, capital of Genghis Khan’s empire, soak in hot springs in the exquisitely beautiful Arkhanghai Province, and head overland to the Gobi Desert for hikes in the Yol Valley, a memorable sundowner at the fabled Flaming Cliffs, and even a ride on a Bactrian camel. Along the way, we’ll stop to share a drink of airak (mare’s milk) with nomad families, overnight in wonderful ger camps, and attend a Naadam, a quintessentially Mongolian celebration with archery, wrestling, and wild cross-country horse races.
Ulaanbaatar / Hustain Nuruu
From Ulaanbaatar, we head across unfenced grasslands to Hustain Nuruu National Park, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the takhi. A hike brings us through Ongot Monument, with its carved standing stones dating from 500 AD.
Erdene Zuu Monastery / Kharakhorum / Naadam
In the Orkhon Valley, we are welcomed into the home of a nomad family. At 16th century Erdene Zuu Monastery, constructed from the ruins of the great warrior Genghis Khan’s capital of Kharakhorum, we’ll bring you into the chanting halls and to frescoed statue chambers, and may have a chance to meet with monks along the way. On our July departure, we’ll attend a local Naadam celebration here, with spirited archery, wrestling, and thrilling horse races across the steppes (our August departure celebrates Naadam in Hustain Nuruu National Park).
Tsetserleg / Tsenkher Hot Springs / Ongyn Khiid
From Tsetserleg, in a province renowned for its beauty, we hike in the hills, then soak in healing hot springs. En route to the Gobi, we walk among the haunting remains of Ongyn Khiid Monastery.
Gobi Desert / Ulaanbaatar
In the vast Gobi, we hike in Yol Valley National Park and visit the renowned site of the “Fighting Dinosaurs,” where fossils of a protoceratops and velociraptor locked in combat were discovered. We’ll have the chance to ride a Bactrian camel and explore the legendary dinosaur site of the Flaming Cliffs—absolutely stunning when illuminated by the oranges and golds of a desert sunset. Depart on Day 13.