Adventuring from Karakorum to the Gobi Desert


Mongolia is a magnificently remote land, its wild, rolling grasslands dotted with nomad camps, herds of yaks and horses, and shamanic oovos—cairns that mark the way across this mesmerizing realm. On our far-flung journey, we’ll explore ancient Karakorum, once the capital of Genghis Khan’s empire, and soak in hot springs amid the canyons and lakes of Arkhangai Province. Heading overland into the Gobi Desert, we hike in the Yol Valley, sip a memorable sundowner at the fabled Flaming Cliffs, and even ride a Bactrian camel. Along the way, we’ll enjoy a wonderful welcome into Mongolia’s ancient nomadic culture as we meet local families, spend nights in our cozy traditional gers, and attend a Naadam festival, a quintessentially Mongolian celebration with archery, wrestling, and wild cross-country horse races.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Ulaanbaatar / Hustain Nuruu

From Ulaanbaatar, we head across Mongolia’s wondrous and unfenced grasslands to Hustain Nuruu National Park, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the takhi, or Przewalski’s horse. One of our hikes brings us among the great standing stones at Ongot, a site that dates from 500 AD.

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Days 4-5
Erdene Zuu Monastery / Kharakhorum

In the Orkhon Valley, we are welcomed into the home of a nomad family, and we explore the chanting halls and frescoed chambers at 16th century Erdene Zuu Monastery, the “Jewel Temple,” built over the ruins of Kharakhorum, capital of the Mongol Empire between 1235 and 1260 AD.

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Days 6-8
Arkhanghai Province / Tsenkher Hot Springs

Exploring Arkhanghai, one of the most archaeologically rich regions in all Mongolia, we visit ancient megalithic sites, hike in the hills, and relax in mineral springs surrounded by wildflower-carpeted mountains. Each departure of our journey will have a day to witness a Naadam Festival (the actual day varies with each trip), where we witness traditional Mongolian sports dating back to Genghis Khan’s time and once used to train warriors and their horses for battle.

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Days 9-13
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 can enjoy a ride on a Bactrian camel in this famed desert, and we explore the legendary fossil site of the Flaming Cliffs—stunning when illuminated by the oranges and golds of sunset. Depart on Day 13.

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Witness a spectacular Naadam Festival, an exuberant expression of Mongolia’s ancient culture
Experience the oceanic vastness of Mongolia’s famous grasslands, mountains, and deserts
Soak in hot springs at Tsenkher, visit the ruins of Karakorum, Genghis Khan’s capital
Meet traditional nomad families with their herds of horses, yaks, and goats
See the wild horses of Hustain Nuruu National Park
In the Gobi, explore Yol Valley National Park and the famous Flaming Cliffs


Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6395  
Arrive: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Depart: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Lodging: 9 nights ger camps, 3 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking, Archaeology
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel, walking and light hiking, cultural adventures

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