Top attractions of Gobi Desert, Central and Northern Mongolia
Itinerary is recommended by Lonely Planet travel guidebook
The big loop tour is great for those who come to Mongolia for longer period and desire to explore the country from many different sides. With this program, you will have the opportunity to discover the southern-central-northern Mongolia as a big loop covering almost 40 % of whole Mongolian attractions and beautiful landscapes changing dramatically from steppe to the Gobi desert and forest zone to a mountainous area in the boreal forest zone.
ACTIVITIES – Cultural Activities / Walking Tours / Wildlife
ACTIVITY LEVEL – Leisurely
DURATION / DISTANCE – 13 days / 12 nights / 3400km with car
PLACES VISITED – Natural beauty Baga Gazryn Chuluu, National Park Gobi Gurvan Saikhan – Natural beauty Yolyn Am – Sand dunes Khongor – dinosaur site Bayanzag – Ongi monastery ruins – Kharakhorum ancient capital – Tsetserleg town – Mountain Pass Tsagaan – Rock Taikhar – River Canyon Chuluut – National Park Khorgo-Terkh – Mountain Pass Orookh – River Valley Toin – National Park Lake Khuvsgul – Chief Selenge river – Extinct Volcano Uran – Amarbayasgalant monastery.
GROUP SIZE Minimum group size 3 people Maximum group size 8 people
DAY 0: ARRIVAL IN ULAANBAATAR, CAPITAL OF MONGOLIA (FREE DAY)
You can arrive anytime and start exploring the city. Attractions to suggest for city tour – Gandan monastery, Main square, Bogd khan palace museum and Zaisan memorial hill. Hotel in Ulaanbaatar is not included in the price.
DAY 1: ULAANBAATAR – TRAVEL TO MIDDLE GOBI, BAGA GAZRYN CHULUU (260KM-6 HOURS)(B,L,D)
Head to Middle Gobi, a semi-arid steppe full of rare wildlife and open area. Have lunch at the stunning mountainside granite rock formation of Zorgol Khairkhan. Drive to Baga Gazriin Chuluu national park with another iconic granite formation and ruin of Buddhist temple. Hike in the park. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 2: TOUR TO THE ICE VALLEY (YOLYN AM) (400KM-7 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Today we will drive to the heart of Gobi desert and discover Three beauties national park. Into the national park, there is Yolyn am valley with ice for hiking and watching wildlife. Breathe in the crisp, cool air of the valley with a stunning hike along a flowing stream. Following the stream, end up at an ice-filled gorge and marvel at the meters thick ice that lines the valley. Good trekking shoes and walking sticks are highly recommended because further we go, narrower the valley that requires one to do some rock climbing and skipping over stones to cross rivers. After all, you will see the stream had turned to ice! Visit a small museum displaying a collection of dinosaur eggs, bones and exotic stuffed animals. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 3: EXPLORE KHONGOR SAND DUNE (200KM-6 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Leaving Vulture Valley this morning, head to the western Gobi to wander the most spectacular and largest sand dune of Mongolia. Drive across 180kms long sand dune and let the mind wander as you travel through the spectacular landscape full of extremes. Visit oasis at the foot of the sand dune to make a way to climb it. Ride a camel for an hour near the sand dune. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 4: FLAMING CLIFF- LAND OF DINOSAURS (180KM-4 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Head to Bayanzag today to discover and learn about the incredible site known as Flaming Cliff. First excavated in 1922 the area is renown worldwide for the dinosaur eggs and bones discovered in the classic desert of rock and red sand. Overnight in tourist Ger camp.
DAY 5: HIKE THROUGH ONGI MONASTERY (170KM-4 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Head to the heart of the desert today and visit one of the former biggest Buddhist monasteries in the Gobi. The Ongi was ruined during a period of communist purge and restored by the residing monks. Hike through the fascinating ruins and enjoy the scenery of the Ongi River that runs past the ancient site. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 6: TRAVERSE KARAKORUM RUINS AND ERDENE ZUU MONASTERY (300KM-6 HOURS) (B,L,D)
After breakfast this morning drive to Karakorum, the site of the 13th century Mongolian capital.Visit Karakorum museum and see the Great Mongol state period, Stone Age, Bronze Age, Ancient state period halls. Tour through the ancient city before moving on the beautiful ruins of Erdene Zuu Monastery. Surrounded by huge 400m x 400m walls built from the ruins of Kharakhorum, the Erdenezuu was the first and the biggest Buddhist monastery of the 16th century. Overnight in tourist Ger camp.
DAY 7: LEGENDS OF KHORGO-TERKH NATIONAL PARK (320KM – 6 HOURS)(B,L,D)
In the morning, we will drive through Tsetserleg town and visit Chuluut River, a gorge formed by extinct volcano Khorgo. Continue on journey, explore Khorgo volcano and the White Lake in Khorgo-terkh national park. Walk up to the crater of an Extinct Khorgo volcano and enjoy breathtaking view. Arrive in White Lake and hike through shore of the lake. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 8: DRIVE OVER HIGH MOUNTAINS (150km – 5.5 hours)(B,L,D)
We will drive to Northern Mongolia; Forest Taiga zone through High Mountain passes. Today’s our destination is Lake Zuun, a salt lake 2000m above sea level. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 9: VISIT KHOVSGOL LAKE (260KM -6 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Travel to the lake Khovsgol; with clear crystal water contains about 1.5% of the world’s fresh water. The lake is surrounded by high mountain chains, thick pine forests and rich in wildlife. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 10: KHOVSGOL LAKE – HIKE TO REINDEER FAMILY THROUGH FOREST & ENJOY MOTORBOATING (B,L,D)
This morning we will hike to reindeer breeding family; who make their summer home in the lake and witness of visit Tsaatan traditional house- teepee and immerse in their culture. After lunch embark on the motor-boat, navigate the lake and approach to one of four fascinating islands. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 11: LAKE KHOVSGOL – VOLCANO URAN (420 KM – 7.5 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Leaving the lake Khovsgol, we will continue the tour to volcano Uran. It is a dormant volcano rich in fauna and flora. Hike to the crater through larch forest and see small lake in the bottom of crater. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
DAY 12: VOLCANO URAN – MONASTERY AMARBAYASGALANT (250 KM – 5 HOURS) (B,L,D)
Head to one of the biggest three Buddhist monastery called Amarbayasgalant. The monastery built for the first Mongolia’s religious leader Zanabazar in the 18th century and was partly damaged during the communist purge but restoration work has brought the monastery back to something like its former glory. Visit the monastery and learn from the Buddhist culture. Overnight in tourist Ger camp (2 people share Yurt with single beds, shower/bathroom in a separate building).
Day 13: RETURN TO UB (360 km – 6 hours) (B, L)
We head back to Ulaanbaatar. Once back in UB you will be transferred to accommodation. Hotel is not included in the price.
Mongolia is developing country with vast landscapes and road transportation projects are still on going but it has many opportunities to experience adventure travel. From doing outdoor activities, immersing nomad culture and local communities. Experiencing authentic Mongolia may require a spirit of adventure, flexibility, basic comfort of accommodation and facilities. Luxuries are only found around Ulaanbaatar. Travelling through the countryside can involve hours driving in a 4wd vehicle over the dusty and bumpy road; most roads are unpaved.Toilets during the drive over the vast steppe may not find but the rule of nature applies as you can toilet anywhere you feel alright.
Accommodations are clean and traditional. Mongolian traditional house (Yurt) called Ger is provided for the entire trip. Traditional dwelling; one room round tent made of a latticed wood structure covered with layers of felt and canvas, heated by a wood stove and furnished with wood-framed 1-4 beds. The camp restaurant and western-style toilet and shower facilities are located in a central building or big Ger found a few hundred feet from the Gers. We use fine tourist camps but not the best so if you require finest accommodation (e.x Ger with en-suite bathroom or) there is surcharge.
Traditional Nomadic homes: Overnight in nomad family’s extra Ger that built next to their’s. You will immerse in nomad lifestyle visiting and having closer insight of them. The toilet there is dry and shower is not available.
Single supplement assurance single accommodations in Gers. If single traveller wishes to share accommodations, no single supplement surcharge – only if you require your own Ger accommodation. Make sure to send us your request at least 30 days prior to the tour start.
Food during the tour can be found many varieties of a typical meat-based dish with vegetable and rice/pasta/noodle. Fortunately, vegetarian foods are available and can be requested. Some of the lunch meals are picnic. Bringing some snacks with you is recommended.
Road in Mongolia is tough and it requires excellent vehicles with experienced drivers. We ensure reliable and excellent vehicle including 4WD Land cruiser, Japanese mini-van and Russian van.
There are several flights per week to the capital, Ulan Bator (ULN), from Beijing, Seoul, Moscow and Turkey.
Visa is required for most travellers, and must be obtained in advance of entry. The only exception is US citizens, who can enter the country as a tourist for up to 90 days. It is your responsibility to organise a visa for Mongolia. Please contact us if you need a Mongolian visa support letter and further assistance.
TRAVEL INSURANCE IS RECOMMENDED
Insurance fee /expenses to cancel travel, health insurance/ is not included in travel payment. We hereby recommend you to involve in travel insurance by Insurance Authorities in host country and under conditions and terms proposed by them.
It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your return to your country, with at least 2 blank pages at the time of travel.
KNOW WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU
Bring your warm clothes, the weather in the evening and early morning is cold in the countryside though it is summer. Raincoat-August is only raining season in Mongolia. First aid kit, flashlight, insect repellent, cap, sunglasses, scarf, sun cream, lip balm, backpack and own towel. Definitely, your camera and its equipment.
Large backpacks and bags
Large backpacks and bags are always better than hard suitcase to be left in the luggage compartment, yurt and load it to cars multiple times. You need another small bag to accompany more often and to store your valuables like your wallet and travel documents.
Camera, and camera accessories
Abundant wildlife, different landscapes and nomad indigenous people are such scenic that you definitely want to take your camera. Take a few spare memory cards and charger. Mongolia is on 220V power and uses European-style 2-pin plugs. Good batteries are hard to find in the countryside.
IPod is handy to hear your own music when you bounce around in a Russian van. Charger/radio player which plugs in a car cigarette lighter is useful.
E-book reader is priceless if you love reading. Paper-back books are also great for those who prefer them. The only places you’ll be connected to Wi-Fi networks are in the cities.
LED Head torch
Head torch is handy at nights when reading and going to toilet as electricity is unreliable in the countryside except in town, where coverage is still somewhat unpredictable.
Warm coat/jacket and layers
Although June to September is summer in Mongolia, the weather is unpredictable, and nights have been known to dip below freezing even in the summer in some regions. Therefore, multiple layers are always recommended: remember, you can always take layers off or put them back on. Raincoats and ponchos are not only a must for occasional rainy weather, but they can be good insulators when placed outside your sleeping bag. Take waterproof shell layer to protect from the wind and the rain.
Bring swimsuit for hot spa, enough spare pair of socks, sunglass, scarf, hat for protecting your face and gloves for warmth.
All terrains from Gobi Desert to the Altai Mountain are wild and contain their own difficulties, wildlife and plant life. Trekking shoes make the daily trekking easy.
Rubber slippers are useful for using shower in most Ger camps.
If you are going to bathe in Tsenkher hot spring, make sure to bring your swimsuit.
Bring soap, shampoo, sun cream, skin creams, towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, perfumes, avoid bulky aerosol cans: use roll-on deodorant, and get shaving cream in a hard stick or a tube. Take plenty of razor blades. Wet wipes/dry wipes– can be bought in Mongolian cities. They are very good for maintaining hygiene essential when you’re unable to wash for day. Lip balm for moistening because the weather is so dry. Toilet paper is important to have near as Mongolian toilets are very basic, and lack toilet paper.
You may bring with you these items including sewing kit, hiking stick, cigarette for smoker and nail clipper if thought to be necessary.
It is recommended to bring your own medications based on you traveling experiences and personal knowledge of your current health. Travel kit can have disinfectant, bandages, and sterile gloves, syringes, anti-diarrheal, a few band-aids, some antibiotic, a few aspirin or paracetamol at hand, for headaches and hangovers; paracetamol is also handy for lowering your temperature if you’re experiencing a low fever. Allergy safety and hand sanitizer. Good insect repellent is essential in Mongolia -mosquitoes and sand flies can be annoying.
Take a photocopy of my passport, birth certificate, visas, and insurance details, and ‘lost credit card’ call numbers.
Money exchange – Cash
You can exchange currency at any closest bank to you in Ulaanbaatar city. Also you can cash up with your debit card on Mongolian Togrogs at ATMS. ATMs are in Ulaanbaatar and most province capitals these days. Make sure to check the current exchange rate before you go in. It is always better to have cash on tour for buying alcohol drinks, snacks and souvenirs.
Items for Yurt visits
It is always great to have a gift to exchange for any hospitality received when staying in nomad’s yurt. They appreciate handy stuff like headlamp, AA batteries, notepads, pencils, sewing kit and soap. You can a take photo of them with permission and send them once you get home through Travel Buddies address. Photos mean a lot to them.
Travel Buddies Co., Ltd accepts bookings subject to the following
BOOKING AND PAYMENT
Book your tour completing our Booking Form and submitting it to Travel Buddies Co., Ltd with a minimum deposit of 30% of tour payment per person. Once we receive your Booking Form and deposit, we will send you written confirmation of your booking along with details for the payment of the balance. The balance payment should be made prior to the departure date, or may be paid upon your arrival in Mongolia. Payment can be made by bank transfer, international money transfer services or VISA and MasterCard.
The prices for private/custom tours are accurate as quoted in the tour proposal. There will be surcharge for upgrading accommodations and other services. The prices of small group tours are accurate and based on the number of clients in the party as indicated on the website. The minimum number of our small group tours are 3 to 4 people as described in tour description. In event of not reaching minimum numbers, we can still operate the tour with minimum number of 2 people charging extra $150 to 300 per person depending on tour program.
CANCELLATION BY CLIENT
Due to all reasons to cancel the tour, a written confirmation is required to be sent to email@example.com. A $100.00 administration fee will be charged on cancellations received at least sixty days prior to departure. If you cancel your booking after you have paid in full the following cancellation charges will be made:
59-45 days 20% of the tour price
44-30 days 25% of the tour price
29-15 days 30% of the tour price
14-0 days 50% of the tour price
If you leave a trip for any reason after it has commenced, we are not obliged to make any refunds for unused services. If you fail to join a tour, join it after departure, or leave it prior to its completion, you will be responsible to pay the extra cost incurred to join the tour.
CANCELLATION BY TRAVEL BUDDIES
On rare occasions, we cancel a tour due to unusual or unforeseen circumstances outside of the reasonable control of Travel Buddies and inform you as soon as reasonably possible. In these circumstances, we will offer you an alternative tour of equivalent or closely similar standard and price at no extra cost, or a less expensive tour, in which case we will refund the difference in price. If you do not wish to take the alternative we offer you, you can choose another offered for sale by us and pay, or receive a full refund of, any price difference. Or, if you prefer, you can receive a full refund of any money you have paid to us, except for any amendment charges. Travel Buddies is not responsible for any incidental expenses or consequential losses that the Client may have incurred as a result of the cancelled booking such as visas, vaccinations, non-refundable flights or rail, non refundable car parking or other fees, loss of earnings, or loss of enjoyment, etc. Travel Buddies is also entitled to cancel the tour in case of it lacks a sufficient number of participants applied for the specific package tour. Travel Buddies is obliged to notify all travelers of the cancellations at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the tour and reimburse the full amount of the paid service.
PASSPORT, VISA, CUSTOM, CURRENCY, VACCINE, HEALTH REGULATIONS
Client must independently follow the rules and regulations required for travel continuity. Client is responsible for having enough information about passport, visa, custom, currency, vaccine, and healthy regulations. Client is responsible for related expenses by him/herself.
Insurance fee /expenses to cancel travel, health insurance/ is not included in travel payment. We hereby recommend you to involve in travel insurance by Insurance Authorities in host country and under conditions and terms proposed by them. Travel Buddies reserves the right to deny booking for travelers who have no insurance or sufficiently covered.
The client acknowledges that there may be a significant degree of personal risk involved in travel and there are dangers inherent in adventure travel generally and considered such risk to health and safety and are willing to assume it, by confirming their booking tour.
Travel Buddies’s responsibility starts at the designated meeting point and time, i.e. when you meet the tour manager or guide in Ulaanbaatar. Travel Buddies is not responsible for any damages, expenses, losses, or claims that are due to the fault of any traveler, unforeseeable risks, or a force majeure event.
CHANGES MADE BY TRAVEL BUDDIES
Reasonable changes in the itinerary of the tour may be made where deemed necessary or advisable for operational reason by Travel Buddies while we try our best to operate all tours as advertised. Travel Buddies Tour Operator takes responsibility for informing client about travel cancellation or many changes in travel program as soon as possible.
CHANGES MADE BY THE CLIENT
Client may request any changes that will depend on availability and subject to Travel Buddies approval. Any extra costs incurred in making the change will be charged to the client along with an Administrative Fee. No changes are permitted to any booking within 14 days of departure of the tour to depart.
Any complaints regarding a tour to Travel Buddies agreed to bring at your earliest possible in order to provide Travel Buddies with the opportunity to address such compliant properly. Client agrees to inform the tour guide/leader at the earliest opportunity and they endeavor to solve the problem primarily. In case of no possibility addressing compliant with the tour team, client agrees to contact Travel Buddies office directly. Any complaint made after the tour end must be received in writing directly at firstname.lastname@example.org within 30 days of the end of the tour. Travel Buddies will not accept any liability for claims received after this period. The claims and complaints will be processed in accordance with the Mongolian laws and regulations.
“Travel Buddies” is a private limited company incorporated in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with Company Registration No. 5256682