Our rare “back of beyond” adventure brings you from the fascinating Kazakh culture of the Altai Mountains in Mongolia’s wild west to the epic setting of the vast Gobi Desert in the south. In the Altai, you’ll witness the thrilling Golden Eagle Festival as Kazakhs come from afar on horseback to attend this friendly competition and show off the skills of their majestic trained eagles—a truly spectacular sight. The opportunity to meet and mingle with them, watch their amazing horsemanship, and visit local families is an unforgettable experience. Heading to the Gobi, you’ll walk on the golden Moltsog Els sand dunes and in the glacier-carved Yol Valley, and watch a blazing sunset at the legendary Flaming Cliffs, where the first dinosaur eggs were found.
The festival was fantastic. The locations of the eagle camp and Three Camel Lodge were beautiful. We were thrilled to experience the mini-Nadaam in the Gobi, and we really enjoyed the hike to see the petroglyphs in the Gobi.
— Mary W.
In Ulaanbaatar, explore the temples, courtyards, and chanting halls of Gandan Monastery, get a “behind-the-scenes” tour from a local paleontologist at the Paleontological Laboratory, where scientists study the findings of dinosaur fossils in Mongolia, and visit the National History Museum to see its Stone and Bronze Age artifacts.
Ulgii / Golden Eagle Festival
Heading out to the grasslands and snow-dusted peaks of the High Altai, surrounded by a stunning arid wilderness under Mongolia’s endless “great blue sky,” we witness the Golden Eagle Festival, with Kazakh men parading on horseback dressed in their traditional hunting finery, accompanied by magnificent golden eagles on their arms—it’s an unforgettable spectacle! We watch as the eagles, in full hunting mode, fly down from cliffs to attack decoys dragged along on horseback as the Kazakhs gallop across the steppes. While here, we have wonderful opportunities to saddle up and ride a Mongolian horse, visit nomadic families in their gers, and explore deep valleys sheltering hidden archaeological sites with amazing petroglyphs.
Gobi Desert / Three Camel Lodge
After an overnight in Ulaanbaatar to freshen up, we fly down to the epic Gobi, a diverse region that was the site of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of the 20th century. With overnights at the award-winning Three Camel Lodge, we climb the dunes in the stunning Moltsog Els, explore some of the most precious petroglyphs in the desert, and hike in Yol Valley National Park, habitat of Argali mountain sheep and soaring lammergeiers. For a grand finale, we head to the legendary Flaming Cliffs, named for the orange glow of the rock at sunset. It was here in 1923 that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. Scientific expeditions continue to make significant discoveries here, and we have a chance to experience an unforgettable sunset that paints the cliffs in soft colors. Depart on Day 13 via Ulaanbaatar.