The Best of Mongolia is a round trip starting and finishing in Ulaanbaatar. The itinerary will interest many people and will be the most memorable adventure.
Click the Route Map to see the general route of our journey.
Dates: 28 May – 17 June 2018
Anyone with any interest in the Silk Road will know the name of Kharkorin, the ancient capital of Mongolia and a crossroads on the Silk Road; the Gobi Desert site of magical cliffs, sand dunes and dinosaur fossils; monasteries; national parks and more. These are the places of myths, legends, dreams and adventures that we will visit on our journey. We will help you turn your dreams of a Mongolia tour into a reality.
The “Best of Mongolia Tour Overland Journeys” begin in Ulaanbaatar, a modern boom town and capital of Mongolia. Staying in a mix of hotels and ger camps, exploring modern cities and nomadic lifestyles, travelling across deserts, steppe lands and mountains via brand new sealed tarmac and dirt roads, the contrasts are many and varied.
We will see the explosive geology of an extinct volcano, serenely beautiful lakes which may still have ice cover, vast expanses of arable land under cultivation, nomads moving from their winter to summer camps, and so much more.
If you love your Mongolia overland tour as much as some of our past tour participants, you will be back. And not just for the Chinggis vodka, some of the best in the world.
Day 1 Arrive UB
Your Best of Mongolia Overland Journeys Tour starts here. You will be met at the airport by Overland Journeys team and transfer to the 4* hotel.
Day 2 City Tour
After breakfast – Introduction to UB by bus and local guide. Gandan Monastery and Buddhist Centre; Zanabazar Museum and Chojin Lama Temple; lunch at a typical Mongolian restaurant; drive-by of Winter Palace and Big Buddha Statue on the Hill; Welcome dinner.
Day 3 Drive UB to Hustai National Park (125km)
Leaving Mongolia’s largest city we drive on sealed roads and dirt tracks to the Hustai National Park where we hope to view the unique Przewalski horse (equus przewalksii) re-introduced by the Takhi people. Extinct in the wild, the horses were reintroduced from zoos around the world in 1992 and have been breeding successfully ever since.
In the late afternoon, we will take a drive through the many tracks of the park to, hopefully, find the horses; visit Neolithic graves and view other wildlife which may include whitetail deer, eagles and marmots. We return to overnight in the Ger camp. (BLD)
Day 4 Explore Kharakhorum
After a 5-6 hr drive (370km approx) we arrive in Mongolia’s ancient capital Karakhorum. Chinggis Khan’s fabled city was founded in 1220 in the Orkhon Valley at the crossroads of the Silk Road. It was from here the Mongol Empire governed until Khublai Khaan moved the capital to Beijing. The symbolic ruins of Kharakhorum’s monumental walls (400m), with 108 stupas, surround the first Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia. The Erdene Zuu Monastery was built in 1586. In 1792 it housed 62 temples and 10000 lamas. Since 1990 it has become, again, an active monastery. Turtles carved from stone marked the boundaries. Shards of ancient pottery can be seen in the gravel. Overnight Ger camp. (BLD)
Day 5 Drive to Tsenher Hot Springs – about 105km to the west
This is an off-road route for the last 20+km and makes for an interesting and challenging drive to the camp with several river crossings. The reward at the end is the hot spring pools and a modern tourist complex set within the ger camp where we will stay. Wildflower enthusiasts may be lucky to find blooms in the grassy area in the forest a short walk from the camp.
Day 6 Drive to Khorgo/Terkhiin Nuur National Park 200km
Continuing our overland westward journey we stop beside the “Taikhar Chuluu” a huge rock related to local mythology. We then make our way past the extinct Khorgo Volcano across the basalt strewn tracks and dirt roads to the White Lake – Lake Terkhiin Tsargaan National Park. Another ger camp with good facilities. (BLD)
Day 7 Khorgo (White) Lake and Volcano
After a relaxed start, we drive a short distance to the volcano and climb to the summit. The climb is not arduous and when you finally reach the top the panoramic views will more than compensate for any exertion. After some time at the top, we drive back to camp via some spectacular sights to enjoy an afternoon of leisure or exploration. The ger camp where we will stay the night has been the site of some very social Mongolia tour group get-togethers on past tours.
Day 8 To Telmen Lake (260km)
Today we turn west and drive to the western side of the Hangai Mountains on a variety of roads and at altitudes up to 2000m. The ger camp where we stay the night is isolated and provides fabulous photographic opportunities in the early morning and evening.
Day 9 to Hyargas Lake (380km)
We leave Telmen on remote dirt roads progressing to fast gravel and then impressive newly sealed roads towards Hyargas Lake Ger Camp. Hyargas Lake is a massive body of water with abundant bird life. There is likely to be a special ceremony before we leave this camp.
Day 10 Hyargas Lake – Hovd City (210km)
The first part of the drive to Hovd utilises a primitive ferry crossing that will provide some exercise for willing hands. It truly is all hands on deck. Hovd is a trade centre located on the northern Silk Road with connections to Russia and China. In 1763 the Manchu administration built the fortress Sagjin Cherem (Castle). They fenced an area of 4ha with 3m high and 2m wide walls. Now all 18 Mongolian ethnic groups live in this province.
Day 11 Hovd-Altai Drive (440km)
The scenery changes dramatically from this point. We drive about 400km via mountainous regions with snowcapped peaks to reach Lake Khar Us Nuur National Park. We stop at the bird observation tower where we are likely to see white swan, pelican, goose, duck, gull and more. The drive to Altai City continues and we stay overnight in a local hotel.
Day 12 To Gobi Lakes (430km)
Today we have a long drive to the east through a big open steppe area. We will move from the Altai Mountains to vast steppe areas and arrive at remote Lake Orog which sits at 1200m above sea level, next to Ikh Bogd (Big Holy Mountain 3957m). As the Tuin River runs from the mountains to the lake it delivers a food supply that attracts many bird species including some 60 pairs of Grey Heron that nest on the ground. The nomads are livestock herders. There are sand dunes nearby where Bactrian camels are kept.By international standards, this area is sparsely populated. The world’s longest faultline became visible in 1957 and extends westward for 270km from Orog Lake. Overnight local hotel (BLD)
Day 13 to Hermen Tsav (300km)
From the oasis, we travel to Hermen Tsav, an impressive series of sandstone canyons in the southernmost Gobi Desert. This area is complete with interesting red rock formations and unusual desert plant species. Some visitors feel this is the most beautiful part of the Gobi. Overnight in a tent. (BLD)
Day 14 To Gurvantes Oasis (160km)
Today we drive through the town of Gurvan Tes to a beautiful oasis, surrounded by sandstone formations. We will make an excursion where it is possible we will see desert wildlife including wild ass, gazelle, and if we are very lucky, the rare red antelope.Overnight in tent. (BLD)
Day 15 To Hongoryn Els (170km)
Full day driving towards Khongorin Dunes, the biggest sand dunes in all Asia. The 800m high dunes in Sevrei Soum, South Aimag, are called Khonguryn Els. These dunes are 20km wide and 100km long. The Khongurun River flows along the sand dunes and gives birth to the oasis. We visit these impressive dunes on camels and visit a local camel breeding family to learn about their breeding programmes.
Day 16 To Bayan Zag (110km)
Continue driving north to Bayan Zag (The Flaming Cliffs) which are famous for the red sandstone cliffs that are particularly impressive at sunset. The sandstone takes on many red and orange hues and there are many sculptural Saxaul trees growing in the arid rocky soil. This area is recognised as one of the world’s largest dinosaur graveyards. It was here in 1921 that the American Roy Chapman Andrews discovered some of the most important Paleontological findings of the last century. Since then hundreds of archaeological expeditions have come to the site in this remote desert location. It is possible even today with the help of local people to find dinosaur fossils. Overnight ger camp (BLD)
Day 17 To Baga Gazryn Chuluu (200km)
Drive 200km Northeast to Middle Gobi and Baga Gazryn Chuluu. Visit the Stones Valley – walking and ruins of the ancient monastery which was built on a small island in Lake Burd Nuur by local Mongolians in the 16th Century. Overnight ger camp. (BLD)
Day 18 Drive to Terelj National Park (260km)
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is located near Ulaanbaatar, about 60km. This park is a great getaway destination for short and long stay visitors. The attractions include Turtle Rock; dinosaur statues; Arraybal Buddhist temple; Khagiin Khar glacier lake; and relaxing views of the Tuul River Valley. To complete our Mongolian ger camp experience we will stay in the gers for the last time. (BLD)
Day 19 The Chinggis Khan Statue and Ulaanbaatar (120km)
Driving west towards UB we find ourselves at the foot of Mongolia’s newest attraction the Chinggis Khan Statue Complex which houses the museum and the memorial to the great Chinggis Khan (please don’t use the western spelling). The complex is 55km from UB among beautiful scenery o the banks of the river Tuul. It is set on a site called Tsonjin Boldog a memorial site to historic events connected with Chinggis Khan. Arrive UB early evening to attend our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at 4* hotel. (BLD)
Day 20 Departure day
Rooms are available until 12.00 noon so enjoy a leisurely breakfast, some last minute sightseeing or shopping (maybe some cashmere items) before the transfers to the airport. Farewell Mongolia and your Mongolia tour with Overland Journeys.
- All meals. Breakfasts are local fare. Lunches will be local restaurants, tailgate or boxed lunches. Dinners will be at local restaurants (at the hotels if possible). Western-style food is available in most supermarkets.
- Services of Overland Journeys crew. Minimum of a lead vehicle with driver. Often a tour leader/co-driver.
- Local Mongolian guide in the lead vehicle.
- Rally Tours vehicle min 2 pax maximum 4 pax. Includes all insurances (except excess for claim) and fuel vouchers for journey.
- All accommodation as per itinerary (hotels, ger camps, tents)
- All camping items supplied.
- Radio telephones for communication between vehicles and when out and about.
- Flights to and from Mongolia (we can assist if required)
- Personal travel insurance (compulsory)
- Tips and gratuities to local guides, hotel, ger camp and restaurant staff
- Personal excursions/taxis
- Food and beverages other than supplied as per itinerary
- Fuel over and above allocation
- Road tolls and traffic fines