A Quick Summary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 2: Gorkhi Terelj National Park
  • Day 3: Khustai National Park

  • Day 4: Ulaanbaatar to Khuvsgul

  • Day 5: Khuvsgul

  • Day 6: Khuvsgul

  • Day 7: Khuvsgul to Ulaanbaatar

  • Day 8: Depart for Home

Your Itinerary

Welcome to Ulaanbaatar

Upon landing in Ulaanbaatar International Airport, your WildMongolia guide will meet you in the arrivals hall with your private vehicle on standby, ready to take you to your hotel for check in. The drive from the airport to central Ulaanbaatar takes around 1.5 hours.

First Stop: Ulaanbaatar

Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar is a contrast of nomadic felt gers, modern coffee chains, Soviet-era apartments, and thousands of ruggedized Toyota Priuses. It’s a testament to the pace of modernization and abilities of urbanization. On a stroll through, the city seems at paradox with itself, both old and young simultaneously: resident English-speaking entrepreneurs mingle in trendy cafes and cosmopolitan jazz bars, sharing the same street beside Buddhist temples and history museums.

Central Ulaanbaatar: Sükhbaatar Square & Genghis Khan Museum (Time Dependent)

Central Ulaanbaatar is the heart of the city’s rapid modernization push and houses nearly half of the entire country’s population. Begin with a stroll across Sükhbaatar Square, named after Mongolia’s revolutionary hero, Damdin Sükhbaatar, who can be see in-monument astride a horse in the square’s center. After crossing the square, arrive at the Genghis Khan Museum, the world’s most extensive collection of artifacts related to Genghis Khan. The museum follows the story of Genghis Kahn, orphaned as a young boy from a small nomadic tribe, and his rise to the top where he conquered and ruled most of Eurasia, creating one of the first international free trading zones along the way.

Ulaanbaatar to Gorkhi Terelj National Park

The drive from Ulaanbaatar to Terelj National Park will take around 1.5 hours.

Tsonjin Boldog Genghis Khan Statue

On the way to Gorkhi Terelj National Park, stop to stretch the legs and steep in a bit of history beneath the largest equestrian statue in the world. Here, Genghis Khan sits forever astride a steed, overlooking the Tsonjin Boldog valley. Legend has it that Genghis Khan once found a golden whip on this very site. Begin with a panoramic view from inside the gigantic horse before delving beneath into the museum where a collection of archaeological finds awaits.

Gorkhi Terelj National Park

The steep rolling cliffs and towering mountains of Gorkhi Terelj National Park give it the essence of a playground for giants, the enormous boulders and soaring Dahurian Larch and Siberian Pine trees merely their playthings. Past the initial tourist infrastructure (the national park’s proximity to Ulaanbaatar makes it a popular stop for many) pristine forest awaits, as do its full time residents: boar, deer, fox, wolves and one incredibly special bear – the Gobi bear. Known in Mongolian as Mazaalai, this is the only species of bear on the planet that lives in a desert habitat. It is estimated that today only around 50 remain in the wild, and though the chances of spotting one are incredibly rare, the only place on earth they could be spotted, is here.

Aryapala Meditation Center

Embark on a journey of inner reflection amid nature with a ~3-hour hike through the woods to the Aryapala Meditation Center, nestled deep inside the national park. The final test will be the 108 stairs leading up to the entrance of Aryapala. At the top, a Buddhist monk will be waiting to greet. This spiritual guide leads the ensuing meditation, an opportunity to embrace the power of mindfulness and meditation while immersed in nature.

URECA Ger District Carbon Credit Pilot Project

URECA is a Mongolia-based start-up company seeking to democratize access to carbon-credits via a blockchain-technology marketplace. They saw the need for change right in their backyard, where local residents spend a large percentage of their income on coal, a necessity for staying warm in Mongolia’s warm winters. Burning coal, however, causes serious health issues and is a significant contributor to Mongolia’s carbon emissions. So, URECA set up their pilot project here, installing solar electricity in these homes and producing substantial emissions reductions with cascading social benefits, all paid for by selling carbon credits. Step inside one of the solar-powered homes for dinner with the family who lives there, joined by a URECA team member who will share more about their world-changing mission.

Drive: Gorkhi Terelj National Park to Ulaanbaatar

The drive from Terelj National Park back to Ulaanbaatar will take around 1.5 hours.

Drive: Ulaanbaatar to Khustai National Park

The drive from Ulaanbaatar to Khustai National Park will take around 1.5 hours.

Khustai National Park

Khustai National Park, spanning over 50,000 hectares of steppe, is home to a vast collection of local life: over 500 plants, 30 mushrooms, 200 birds and 40 mammals. Among the vibrant ecosystem that exists here, one animal in particular shines the strongest, the Przewalski’s horse, known as “Takhi” to the locals. The Takhi was once completely extinct in the wild, but thanks to local conservation efforts, has been reintroduced to Khustai National Park in hopes of bringing the species back from the brink of extinction.

Khustai National Park Nomadic Immersion

Among the many lifeforms who call the Steppe of Khustai National Park homes, humans are also one. Join a nomadic herder family for the day to immerse in a lifestyle 10,000-years-old and counting. Experience what life is like on the Steppe with daily tasks like milking the cows, processing the dairy, collecting argali (dry droppings of cows used for fuel and as mosquito-repellent) and herding the cattle and sheep.

Morin Khuur: Mongolian Horse Fiddle

After a long-day’s work, the nomadic family returns home to put up their feet. This is when the Morin Khuur (Mongolian horse fiddle) comes out. Enjoy folksong performance from one of the household and bask in the ambiance of the horse fiddle, with sounds that are at once rich, deep and ancient.

Ger Art Gallery

From the outside, this ger looks like any of its neighbors, but inside, a trove of intrigue awaits. Step into a world of color inside the ger where the art of modern Mongolians are hung on the wall, providing a small window into the hearts, minds and motivations of this country’s artistically inclined.

The Artisanal Cheese Maker

What if Mongolia could take all the milk they produce and turn it into cheese? Well, they already make a traditional Mongolian cheese, similar to cottage cheese, but the concept expanding the cheese boundaries compelled a former governor to the extent of doing it himself. He learned the craft of cheesemaking from a wandering Dutchman and combined it with the rich and full-flavor dairy unique to Mongolia to produce a one-of-a-kind Gouda hailed for its complex nutty and salty flavors. Sit down for a chat with this governor-come-cheesemaker and taste his 28th edition Khustai Gouda for yourself!

Takhi Wild Horse Conservation

The central Asian wild horse locally known as Takhi, but also known as Przewalski’s horse, were thought to be completely extinct in the wild in the 1960’s. Luckily, a chance meeting between a Mongolian conservationist and a German researcher started the initiative to reintroduce these wild cousins of the domestic horse, and in the early 1990’s, Khustai National Park became one of the main reintroduction sites. See these magnificent beasts for yourself as they make their daily trip to the watering hole where they can be viewed respectively from a short distance.

Drive: Khustai National Park to Ulaanbaatar

The drive from Khustai National Park back to Ulaanbaatar will take around 1.5 hours.

Flight: Ulaanbaatar to Murun

Your WildMongolia guide and driver will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight to Murun. The flight from Ulaanbaatar to Murun takes around 1 hour.

Next Stop: Khuvsgul Province

Khuvsgul province is most famed for its namesake lake, the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume. Lake Khuvsgul, also known as “the deep blue pearl” is stunning, both visually and environmentally, and has an ancient history dating back over 2 million years. The first port of call in Khuvsgul, however, is Murun City. With a population of around 47,000, the city may look small, but by Mongolian standards it is considered among one of the country’s main urban centers. Beyond Murun City and Khuvsgul Lake, the province also holds acclaim as the de facto capital of Mongolian shamanism.

Murun Museum

Khuvsgul 101 begins at the Murun Museum, the contents of which give a fabulous overview to the diverse peoples and animals of Khuvsgul province, both past and present. The museum’s exhibitions range from a 100-million-year-old mammoth tusk to ancient jewelry and Shaman divination tools.

Drive: Murun to Khuvsgul Lake

The drive from Murun to Khuvsgul Lake will take around 2 hours.

Khuvsgul Lake

Khuvsgul Lake is a true gem, or more accurately, a “pearl” as it’s known across Mongolia. To the locals, however, it is simply “Ocean Mother”, the center of all life around its shores. The lake itself is the second largest in all of Asia and the largest in Mongolia, holding 70 percent of the entire country’s fresh water. The watery expanse and its surrounding lands are classified as a national park and also claim a spot on UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Uushgiin Uvur Deerstones

En route to Khuvsgul Lake, visit Uushgiin Uvur, a Bronze-age sacrifice and funeral ritual locale. This UNESCO archeological site is home to deer stones (large standing stones with Bronze-age depictions of deer), square burial mounds, and Khirigsuur (ancient tombs). A closer look at the deer stones gives some insight into nomadic life in this part of the world thousands of years ago, with details such as clothing and ritual rendered in fascinating detail.

50:100 Marker

On this planet, there are only four points at which 50 degrees longitude intersects with 100 degrees latitude. One in the Pacific Ocean, one in the Indian Ocean, one in Canada, and, one right here in Mongolia. Stretch the legs, snap a photo, and make what you will of this marked spot.

Ar Davkhar Peninsula Eco Camp

Get straight on the water upon arrival at Khuvsgul Lake with a ferry ride to Ar Davkhar Peninsula Eco Camp. As the ferry pulls in to a remote section of pristine shore, the dotting of white gers that make up the camp come in to view. Waving the boat in to moor is the camp owner, Mr. Tumursukh, a globally renowned, lifetime park ranger of Darkhad Valley and the greater Khuvsgul region. The next three nights will be spent with Mr. Tumursukh and his family, hearing about their multi-generational conservation mission in the area.

Nomadic Reindeer Herder Family Visit

Lake Khuvsgul National Park is known widely for the Tsaatan, “those who have reindeer”. Take a boat from the eco camp across the lake to meet a Tsaatan family, one of the last groups of nomadic reindeer herders left in the world. Tsaatan nomads have their own religion, language, tradition, and customs that are wholly unique from other Mongols. Everything about the Tsaatan’s sense of community and way of living is structured around the reindeer to the extent that co-dependency seems an apt term, the people and the reindeer each depending on the other for survival in the harsh northern wilderness of Mongolia.

Khadan Khui Island

Jet across the lake to one of Khuvsgul’s four isles, Khadan Khui Island. This rocky rising is a haven for birds and a prime spot for a bit of twitching (bird watching). Keep an eye out for breeding seagulls who nest in the cracks and cliffs here.

Modon Khui Island (time dependent)

Time allowing, stop by a second of Khuvsgul’s isles, Modon Khui Island. This landmass differs drastically from the previous Khadan Khui Island. Instead of rocks, thick forest covers the rising land. Instead of bird nests, the relics of Bronze-age humans in the form of petroglyphs. Take a minute to posit the life of human residents in this unforgiving land over 6000 years ago, not to mention, making ones way out to this island without the power and technology of modern boats…

Lunch: Khorkhog

Sail the glittery waters of Khuvsgul back to camp where a special lunch is waiting. Khorkhog is a local barbecue dish consisting of fresh mutton and vegetables cooked over hot stones. At first glance, this might look like any other barbecue, the stones mistaken for coals, as they turn a deep black from the emanating heat and caramelized fat drippings from the meat above. Tradition calls for rolling or tossing the hot stones from hand to hand, which is said to improve circulation and overall well-being. Give it a try – hot potato style, or in this instance, hot “stone”.

Taiga Horseback Journey

Trot on horseback across the wild lands of Taiga with lifetime conservationist Mr. Dalai leading the way. Mr. Dalai is an artist and passionate conservationist who has devoted his life to the development and preservation of the Khuvsgul region. Along the ride, try to spot the salt licks, put out for the local deer who need sodium for survival in these lands. Beyond the occasional demure deer, a sharp eye (and a bit of luck) could also yield spotting moose, bear, marmots or wild boar, all of whom call Taiga home.

Trek to Somoo Saridag (Wish Rock)

Set out on a ~3 hour trek from camp to Somoo Saridag, also known as “Wish Rock”, a quizzical geologic formation on the banks of Khuvsgul Lake. Upon arrival at the spot, the feeling of mysticism is almost palpable. Locals and visitors alike pay homage to this site to whisper prayers and wishes in hopes of fortuitous returns. On the way there, soak up the biodiversity of Khuvsgul and make sure to inquire about the rare flora and fauna seen beside the trail.

Lunch: Catch of the Day

Back at camp, the freshest of lunches awaits. Sit down for a meal fished straight from the abundant waters of Khuvsgul Lake, prepared in local fashion by the camp’s resident family.

Shaman Visit

Khuvsgul’s Darkhad Valley is a famed source of powerful shamans, individuals who act as mediums between the living and the dead. A practice as old as mankind, Mongolian shamanism is the worship of Tengri, or “Eternal Blue Sky”, which is believed to be a higher spirit world. Among the many intriguing practices that make up shamanism, the extraordinary dancing, drumming and singing stands out. These acts are held to cajole the ancestrial spirits down from Tengri, and are truly an experience to witness.

Sit down with a local shaman to learn more about the practices and beliefs. Your guide will act as translator, assisting in asking any questions you have and relaying the shamans answers.

Khusvgul Lake Campfire Party

Enjoy dinner around the campfire at camp as the Khuvsgul provincial theater group perform local folk songs, weaving the stories of the Steppe, the Taiga and the horsemen that ruled the lands into a powerful musical enactment.

Drive: Murun to Khuvsgul Lake

The drive from Murun to Khuvsgul Lake will take around 2 hours.

Flight: Murun to Ulaanbaatar

Your WildMongolia guide and driver will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight back to Ulaanbaatar. The flight from Murun to Ulaanbaatar takes around 1 hour.

(Option A) 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).

(Option B) Narantuul Open-Air Market

What is a visit to a city without a stop at its central bazaar. The title of the central bazaar rightfully belongs to Narantuul, the largest open-air market in Ulaanbaatar. As the locals say if whatever you’re looking for exists in Mongolia, it can be found at Narantuul. Peruse the multitude of offerings, from interesting artifacts to traditional clothes to unusual trinkets. The only rule, don’t forget to haggle for a fair price!

VIP Dinner at Choijin Lama Temple Museum

An architectural masterpiece and one of the oldest structures to remain standing in modern Ulaanbaatar, Choijin Lama Temple is both a museum and a house of faith. Built in the early 20th century by the last lama-king of Mongolia, the Temple is a tranquil little spot in the beating heart of Ulaanbaatar city.

Enjoy an exclusive farewell dinner in the temple museum to cap off your Mongolian adventure with a VIP bang.

Flight: Murun to Ulaanbaatar

Your WildMongolia guide and driver will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight back to Ulaanbaatar. The flight from Murun to Ulaanbaatar takes around 1 hour.

You WildMongolia guide and driver will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to take to you to the airport (~1.5 hours drive), help you check in for your departure flight home and bid you farewell.

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.

Ar Davkhar Peninsula Eco Camp

This remote eco camp is located on the beautiful Ar Davhar peninsula on the east shore of lake Khuvsgul Lake. When we say remote, we mean it – there are no other settlers or tourist camps nearby, and the whole peninsula is surrounded by the pristine waters of the lake, creating a private world of unusual geological interest, rich in the beauty of nature and an abundance of unique flora and fauna. The camp holds sustainability at the core of all it does, and at the helm is the camp owner, Mr. Tumursukh, a globally renowned, lifetime park ranger of Darkhad Valley and the greater Khuvsgul region. Expect a one in a lifetime experience, immersed in the local lifestyle of those who call Lake Khuvsgul their home.

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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