A Quick Summary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Ulgii Town, Bayan-Ulgii

  • Day 2: Khar Us Lake and Kazakh Family Stay

  • Day 3: Learning Kazakh Crafts at Dayan Lake

  • Day 4: Biluut Petroglyphs & Khoton Lake

  • Day 5: Aral Tolgoi

  • Day 6: Eagle Hunter Family Visit

  • Day 7: Ulgii to Ulaanbaatar

  • Day 8: Ger District and Downtown UB

  • Day 9. Depart for home

Your Itinerary

Ulaanbaatar to Bayan-Ulgii

Catch a morning flight for 3 hours to Mongolia’s western outskirts. Touch down in Ulgii city, the capital of Bayan-Ulgii province and the residence of Mongolia’s Kazakh ethnic group, arriving in the afternoon.

Ulgii Town, Bayan-Ulgii Aimag

Ulgii, the capital of Bayan-Ulgii Aimag in western Mongolia, is situated at an altitude of 1,710 meters (5,610 feet) and is home to over 28 thousand people, primarily of Kazakh descent. Kazakh is the predominant language spoken in this culturally rich city, with Islam widely practiced as the religion of choice. Among Mongolia’s 21 provinces (aimags), Bayan-Ulgii is the sole Kazakh-majority province. The Kazakhs migrated to this western edge of Mongolia in the mid-19th century and have since considered it their home. The region’s remoteness has safeguarded Kazakh culture, preserving it in a relatively unchanged state over the centuries, unaffected by external influences. As a result, Mongolian Kazakhs have emerged as ambassadors and custodians of Kazakh culture.

Lunch at Pamukalle Restaurant, Ulgii city

Savor the rich flavors of authentic Turkish cuisine at Pamukalle, a well-established eatery in town. Known for its delectable kebabs and local delights, including airag (fermented horse’s milk), this spot offers a genuine taste of Turkish and Mongolian culinary traditions. For an afternoon boost, enjoy their delicious Turkish coffee from the Pamuk coffee shop on the 2nd floor of the building.

Day tour in Ulgii town

Muslim Mosque visit:

In Ulgii town, explore Ortalyk Meshit, a local Mosque with intricate design and muted colors, reflecting faith and craftsmanship. Experience a serene ambiance for reflection inside, with services held at 12 pm and 5 pm daily.

Despite being a minority in Mongolia, Kazakh people freely preserve their traditions, culture, and religious practices, especially through the Sunni sect of Islam, offering a fascinating experience for visitors. Meet Imam Esentai Sargyn, head imam in Ulgii, who, educated in Turkey, has a deep understanding of Islam and is revered in the community for his insights and guidance.

Central museum visit (optional):

Located near the square and local market, this museum spans three floors. The first floor showcases a unique collection of stuffed animals, birds, and musical instruments. The second floor features cultural displays, including a war diorama depicting the 1918 battle between Red and White Russians. The third floor highlights traditional Kazakh exhibits. The first-floor gift shop offers unique items, and nearby souvenir stores cater to visitors. Exploration usually takes about an hour.

Open Market / Souvenir Shops(optional):

Next, explore the nearby open market with a vibrant atmosphere, where vendors showcase spices, food, and handcrafted items. Negotiate deals in a melodic rhythm while browsing stalls of textiles, jewelry, and local handicrafts. A visit to the museum reveals artifacts and exhibits narrating the region’s cultural evolution, offering moments of contemplation and appreciation. Allocate time for shopping for local art, each piece reflecting the artisans’ skill and dedication. Or we can explore souvenir shops downtown.

Walking after dinner – Nairamdal Hill

Friendship Hill, locally known as Nairamdal, presents a breathtaking panoramic vista of Ulgii town. This gentle hike to the view deck not only offers stunning views but also grants a profound sense of the town’s expanse and atmosphere. Ascending the trail, adorned with steps and handrails, allows for an experience in the town’s rustic natural beauty.

Drive to Dayan Lake’s east shore (1-km away from the lake avoiding the wind)

We will begin our day early this morning and embark on a scenic drive to Dayan Lake. The total drive to the lake will take approximately 3-4 hours, excluding our planned picnic lunch at Khar Lake along the way.

Picnic by Khar Us Lake

A picturesque setting with the tranquil waters of the lake gently lapping against the shore, the soothing sound of birds chirping in the distance in the gentle breeze.

As you savor your picnic lunch, the delicious aromas of meals, fresh salads will fill the air. There’s something about eating in nature that makes the food taste even better—it could be the fresh air or the stunning backdrop that enhances the flavors.

After the meal, you might feel inclined to explore the area around the lake. You could take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, skipping stones across the water, or simply sit back and enjoy the stunning view, letting the peacefulness of the moment wash over you.

Our journey will continue to lunch break.

Arriving at our destination for the day is Mr. Aiselbek’s family.

Living with Mr. Aiselbek’s family offers a deeply enriching experience, immersing visitors in the serene rhythm of nature and daily traditions. From milking cows to crafting dairy products, each step reflects generations of expertise and a profound bond between humans and animals. This lifestyle involves purposeful actions, attuned to nature’s rhythms, and emphasizes the well-being of livestock. Exchange life lessons and light moments with the family while completing shared chores and enjoying conversations over meals. Ultimately, living with Mr. Aiselbek’s family transcends routine observation, embracing a way of life, simplicity, and fostering connections beyond cultural boundaries—an opportunity to absorb wisdom, create lasting bonds, and treasure invaluable lessons.

Learning from Local Embroideries Master Mrs. Ainagul

Kazakh gers are colorful and happy dwellings surrounded by vibrant textiles and intricate patterns, all created by the traditional Kazakh embroidery. Guided by a seasoned artisan, delve into the basics of Kazakh embroidery, learning the significance of color combinations and stitches. As you mimic the master’s techniques, a masterpiece gradually takes shape, connecting you with centuries-old traditions. The rhythmic needlework becomes meditative, offering a tangible link to Kazakh culture.

Craft horseshoes the nomad way with horsemaster Bek

Next, visit a Kazakh master skillfully shaping molten iron into horseshoes. Kazakhs have long crafted their horse-shoes uniquely suited to the rocky mountainous terrains of western Mongolia. For each season, different types of horseshoes are used. While the rest of Mongolia doesn’t use horse-shoes as much, western Mongolian nomads use horseshoes to protect the hooves of their horses from the rough rocky terrain during their eagle hunts.

Special lunch: Besbarmak

Imagine sitting in a cozy Kazakh yurt, surrounded by the tempting scents of slow-cooked mutton and sizzling horsemeat sausages over an open fire. Besbarmak, meaning “Five Fingers,” is more than a meal: it’s a communal celebration. Friends and family gather around a shared dish, eager hands reaching for the flavorful bounty. At the heart is a rich stew of tender mutton, simmered to perfection with aromatic spices passed down through generations. Horsemeat sausages add a unique flavor, while freshly harvested vegetables—carrots, potatoes, and onions—complement the hearty meats. Homemade noodles, delicately crafted, soak up the savory broth, providing a comforting texture. Adorned with parsley and diced onions, the dish is a vibrant masterpiece. Besbarmak isn’t just about flavors; it’s a ritual. Using all five fingers to gather meat, vegetables, and noodles symbolizes unity and shared culture. It’s a feast that transcends eating—a celebration of life, community, and deep-rooted traditions binding generations together.

Drive to Khoton Lake’s upper side (3.5 hours of off-the-beaten-road) – Aral Tolgoi

Biluut Petroglyphs Complex

The Biluut Petroglyph Complex is a significant rock art site in the north-western corner of the aimag. Located on the eastern shores of Khoton Lake in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, this remote area in Mongolia features stunning scenery and diverse wildlife, including argali sheep and the elusive snow leopard, depicted in petroglyphs. The site, with evidence of human activity dating back to around 17,000 BC, spans various cultural periods and contains 7,500 figures and 11,000 petroglyphs. Despite losses from weathering and human impact, well-preserved specimens offer insights into early communities, climate change, and ancient migration routes in South Siberia and Central Asia.

Sport fishing at Khoton Lake (optional)

In the evening, for those seeking an extra thrill, enjoy the optional activity of sport fishing at Khoton Lake. Cast your line into the crystal-clear waters of this stunning lake, known for its abundance of fish. Whether you’re an avid angler or a beginner, this optional experience adds a touch of excitement to your visit, allowing you to connect with nature differently. Enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings as you try your hand at fishing in one of Mongolia’s most picturesque settings.

Excursion in Aral Tolgoi Khangai

On this day, we’re embarking on an exhilarating excursion to Aral Tolgoi, a captivating destination nestled along the serene White River for 2-3 hours. As we traverse through this region, prepare to witness a dramatic transformation in the landscape that promises to leave you awestruck. The scenery will unfold like a masterpiece, offering breathtaking vistas that will undoubtedly captivate your senses. Prepare to be immersed in the natural beauty of this area as we explore the stunning and ever-changing surroundings along our journey.

Enjoy the scenery at your leisure dinnertime

Food tasting event – local chef Mr. Batbayar

In the serene wilderness, after a day of trekking, the expedition chef takes the stage. Amidst a makeshift outdoor kitchen, with stars as the audience, a tantalizing cooking show unfolds. The chef’s skill and passion come alive as fresh ingredients like fish from the lake Khoton transform into culinary masterpieces. Around the campfire, weary trekkers gather, enchanted by the aromas and the chef’s storytelling. In this extraordinary setting, a feast is created—a blend of flavors, laughter, and nature’s beauty—making it more than a meal but an unforgettable adventure etched in every bite.

Campfire on the shore of Khoton Lake

Campfire on the shore of a lake in western Mongolia is an unparalleled experience. As the flames dance and the steppe wind whispers tales of the past, immerse yourself in the rich history of the Steppe, the nomadic way of life, and the legendary horsemen who once ruled these lands. Feel the raw energy and ancient spirit of Mongolia as you gather around the fire, transported to a time long gone but forever alive in our hearts. Let the warmth of the flames ignite your imagination and create lasting memories of this extraordinary cultural encounter.

Khoton Lake to Bek’s Family

After breakfast, set out to the Eagle Master’s Family on the way back to Ulgii town. The drive will take around 2 hours.

Eagle Master – Bekbolat and his family

Today, we’ll visit Eagle Master Bekbolat. At 67, Bekbolat has spent the last 30 years actively training and hunting with eagles, sharing his wealth of experience. His son, Esentai, learned under his guidance and passed the tough tests. In Kazakh communities, despite their age, people live closely, preserving their tribe’s values. The young and old coexist, with the youngest playing a key role in keeping the tribe’s heritage alive. Esentai, the youngest, represents the future, tasked with upholding traditions.

Learn how to train an eagle from the master

Next, we’ll explore the fascinating rituals, understand the significance of the tradition, and gain insights into how it’s passed through generations, providing valuable glimpses into their cultural heritage. We’ll delve into practical aspects like eagle selection, training techniques, commands used, and the dynamics of their partnership during a hunt, showcasing the hunters’ knowledge and skill. Moreover, we’ll dive into the broader context—exploring how eagle hunting has evolved over centuries, its role in the daily lives of these communities, and the challenges they face in preserving this tradition in a changing world. This will provide a comprehensive view of the significance and struggles associated with this ancient practice.

Back to Ulgii town and check in to the hotel (2 hours)

Bayan-Ulgii to Ulaanbaatar

The flight from Ulgii to Ulaanbaatar takes approximately 3 hours. Arrive back at the hotel and put your feet up. Enjoy dinner at Shangri-la or talk to your WildMongolia guide for dining recommendations around the city.

Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure

Gandantegchinlen Monastery

Locally referred to as Gandan, this is the main monastery of Ulaanbaatar, with a history dating back to early 19th century. Spared by the Communist purge that saw the mass demolition of hundreds of monasteries and temples across the country, the restored Gandantegchinlen was, for a time, the only functioning Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. From children feeding the famous Gandan pigeons to lamas scurrying back and forth to visitors kneeling in prayer, Gandan is one of the core landmarks of Ulaanbaatar’s identity. While wandering the complex, make sure not to miss the awe-inspiring Megjid Janraisag Temple. The original temple was melted down by the communists during World War II to make bullets for the war, but was rebuilt in the mid 1990s with financial and metal donations (gold and silver).

Ger district visit with Gerhub

Set out on a fascinating trip through Ulaanbaatar’s Ger district, home to the majority of its population. Many of those in the Ger district are recent migrants to the urban landscape. Join Gerhub, a nonprofit organization committed to sustainable development and innovation in Ulaanbaatar’s suburban community. Listen to the Gerhub team’s experience of working with herders who’d recently moved to the city in crafting new and vibrant communities. Throughout the years of its operation, Gerhub team has witnessed the transformative power of community and human resilience.

Tumen Ekh Ensemble

Established in 1991, the Tumen Ekh Ensemble has since become one of the most renowned performing arts groups in the country featuring a variety of traditional Mongolian musical instruments, including the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), the yatga (zither) and various percussion instruments. The group’s music incorporates both vocal and instrumental pieces, and is inspired by traditional Mongolian folk songs, as well as contemporary interpretations of Mongolian music. In addition to music, the Tumen Ekh Ensemble is also known for its vibrant and colorful Tsam dance performances and costumes. The group’s performances often feature intricate choreography, acrobatics, and storytelling.

Il Fiore – Farewell Dinner

Indulge in a memorable farewell dinner in Mongolia, overlooking the cityscape from the top floor of Eco Tower located in the heart of the city. Delight in a culinary experience crafted by a renowned Italian chef, adding a touch of international flavor to your dining experience in Mongolia.

Your WildMongolia guide will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight home.

Journey’s Gallery

Your Accommodations

Shangri-La, Ulaanbaatar

Shangri-La Ulaanbaatar is located right in the heart of the city centre. It is an ideal base for both business and leisure travelers and within walking distance of the famous Government House, Great Chinggis Khaan Square and main offices and embassies. The hotel features 290 elegant and spacious guestrooms with a minimum of 42 sqm and contemporary and indigenous fusion design.

All guest rooms and suites overlook either Nairamdal Park to the south or Great Chinggis Khaan Square and panoramic vistas of the city to the north.

Mediana Hotel, Bayan-Ulgii Province

Being situated in the heart of Ulgii town, especially on the 9th floor of the only skyscraper, the Mediana Hotel must offer breathtaking views of the entire town and its surroundings. The central square location likely provides guests with a vibrant scene, capturing the hustle and bustle of daily life in Ulgii.

WildMongolia “Spare Ger”

The concept of the “Spare Ger” is an ancient Mongolian tradition. Ger or yurt is an ingenious architectural invention that is perfectly suited in its versatility for the nomadic lifestyle across all seasons and terrains of Mongolia. Traditionally the Spare Ger is a multi-purpose structure that can be used as a playhouse for the children, a shelter for newborn animals, a storage space, or furnished as a guesthouse. WildMongolia’s “Spare Ger “is designed to be a delicate balance of luxury and authenticity.

WildMongolia Glamping Tent

The WildMongolia Glamping Tent will be nestled on the serene shores of a lake, surrounded by the Altai Mountain ranges, rich with Kazakh mysticism and legend. From this remote location, you can gaze at the seemingly floating peaks of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and beautiful rivers and lakes. Immerse yourself in the endless stars that come alive at night.

Additional Details

Recommended Seasons

  • Late Spring

  • Summer

What’s Included

  • WildMongolia English speaking guide

  • Private on the ground transportation with a 4X4

  • All accommodation costs, as noted in the itinerary, breakfast included
  • All admission fees and expenses, as noted in the itinerary
  • Meals highlighting local cuisine and as mentioned in itinerary
  • Bottled water and local snacks between meals

What’s Excluded

  • International and domestic flights, domestic trains, plus relevant taxes
  • Mongolian tourist visa, if requiered
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Other meals, apart from those included in the itinerary, and alcohol

  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
  • Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers

Book this journey

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