This is a guaranteed custom tour that combines 4 days of horseback riding in northern Mongolia and 4 days of trekking in the Altai Tavan Bogd National park in western Mongolia.
On the riding journey you will get to know about Tsaatan – or the reindeer herding people, who inhabit the boreal forest which is also known as taiga. Although until recently hunting had been their key means of subsistence tourism is becoming the mainstay their economy currently. A fascinating part of their culture is their practice of shamanism, where a shaman reaches altered state of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with the spirit world.
Attending the Golden Eagle Festival – a celebration of the ancient craft of hunting with the help trained eagles will be a suiting end to your adventure.
There will be a maximum of 6 participants on this tour.
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital of Mongolia and transfer to a centrally located 4 star hotel. Afternoon guided city tour will introduce you to the highlights of the city: the Gandan Temple - city's main Buddhist center, the central city square with a grand statue of Genghis Khan and the Zaisan Memorial, an elevated hill on the city's edge providing a panoramic view of UB. Then choose to visit one or two museums from the following: National Museum introducing Mongolia's history from early humans to modern era, Dinosaur Museum with a unique collection of dinosaur fossils, Choijin Lama or State Oracle Residence-museum displaying best samples of Buddhist artwork and religious masks. Winter palace of Bogd Khan showcasing rare statues of Buddhist deities and items of personal use of this last theocratic ruler of Mongolia is also worth considering. An evening folk show of music, throat singing and contortion will be followed by a welcome dinner. (Dinner, hotel)
Morning transfer to UB airport for one and a half hour flight to Murun town, the access point to Khuvsgul, the country’s deepest lake that holds 1% of the world’s fresh water reserves. Upon arrival we drive to Darkhad depression, a land of prairie, forest and a couple of hundreds of lakes. We make our way across lush valleys and wetlands on rough dirt roads. White felt covered tents (also known as ger or yurts) of local herders and their large herds of horses, sheep and yaks is a common scene. It is a chance to have a glance of the way of life which seemingly has not changed since hundreds of years. In the evening we establish a tented camp alongside the road and spend our first night in the wilderness. Here we meet with a local riding guide who will accompany us during the next 5 days of riding. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We ride across Darkhad valley to reach the edge of taiga forest. Most of the way lies across wide open grassland with dense forests on the west and high mountain ridges on the east side. At the end of the third riding day we arrive to taiga (boreal forest) where the Tsaatan community lives and herds reindeer, about 20 Tsaatan households in their fall camp. Tonight you will be allocated a bed in a teepee. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent x 2 teepee)
We spend the day at the Tsaatan camp. You can visit teepees and get first-hand knowledge of the Tsaatan mores. Traditionally, domesticated reindeer have been the mainstay of Tsaatan economy. They are ridden, milked, eaten and their hides are used for covering teepees, making clothing and footwear. During winters reindeer roam at large in rugged mountains and dense forests that straddle the borderline between Russia and Mongolia. Just a few are kept through the winter for riding. The main herd is then brought back in spring. You may take a reindeer ride or help in the daily chores of life in taiga but overall you should be prepared to observe from a side. Tsaatans practice shamanism where ancestors and natural features are held sacred, and serve as a source of strength or insight for individuals identified as shamans in the community. The Tsaatan rely on shamans for advice and healing, and for communicating with spirits, ancestors, or nature, which occurs through ritual and the calling of spirits, or ongots. With some luck you may witness such ritual. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We today say good bye to Tsaatans and ride back to taiga edge. After lunch we start driving back to civilization. Overnight in a tent camp along the way. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We cross the Darkhad depression again and head to the southern end of the lake Khuvsgul. It is the second-most voluminous freshwater lake in Asia, and holds almost 70% of Mongolia's fresh water and 1% of all the world’s fresh water reserves. Mongolians revere it as "The Mother Sea". We will arrive to the lake in the afternoon and settle in a cozy holiday resort comprised of traditional felt covered gers also known as yurts. Dinner and overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, yurt)
You can hike along the lake shore or just relax enjoying the stunning view of the vast water expanse. An optional boat trip is also available. In the afternoon we transfer to a secluded yurt camp at Delgermurun riverside. On the way, we will visit a fascinating historic site an ancient complex consisting of 30 deer stones and burial mounds. This site is a great monument of the Bronze age nomads. Dinner and overnight in cozy yurts. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, yurt)
After breakfast drive to Murun airport and fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Free afternoon. (Breakfast, hotel)
Early morning transfer to UB airport for a flight to Ulgy town in Western Mongolia. Upon arrival meet with your support team and drive to Tavan Bogd NP. We first travel across mountainous desert and then along enormous V-shaped mountain valleys with small rivers streaming from glaciers that cover the mountain tops. Mountain slopes covered in lush grass alternate with steep mountainsides completely covered in scree. Large mushroom-like yurts of Kazakh herders and their massive flocks of yaks and goats often come across our way as well as a multitude of marmots. We arrive to Tavan Bogd NP gate, a few yurts - home of local rangers at the foothill of even bigger mountains. This evening local herders will arrive with their pack camels that will carry our camp, luggage and food in the next few days. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
After a hearty breakfast we trek to Tavan Bogd base camp (BC), the launch pad for climbing the highest peaks of Tavan Bogd. Watch Bactrian camels being loaded and set off for the BC. Most of the route is a gradual ascent on a high mountain terrain with occasional bogs and a few shallow streams to cross and just two steep but short sections. Halfway through the route magnificent views of snow-capped peaks and vast glaciers will come into your sight. Around lunch time the camel caravan overtakes trekkers who normally reach BC in the late afternoon. Our camp site at just over 3000meters allows impressive views of Mongolia’s highest peaks and largest glaciers. Tented overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
Our today’s goal is to climb one of the lower and easier peaks of the area. Although non-technical a return trip requires 7-9 hours depending on trekkers’ fitness and weather conditions. We hike along the Potanin glacier moraine for an hour before stepping on the mountain. Although entirely on scree the trail is well established and marked requiring just trekking poles. Once at the top enjoy spectacular bird eye views of glaciers, snow-capped peaks and the Russian territory. There is also a less demanding option of climbing to a lower ridge that marks the borderline between the two countries. Off the mountainside leisurely stroll to the camp. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
Going to the lower gate of the NP is an easy downhill stroll although some marshy sections and streams need to be negotiated. At two thirds of the way we reach the edge of a deep V-shaped valley at the bottom of which rumbles a torrential river full of glacial silt. This is Tsagaan Gol river. Its lush valley is the summer pastureland of Tuvan camel herders accompanying us. A steep descent to the riverside and arrive to our campsite beside the rumbling river. Enjoy a well earned rest and socialize with other travelers who might be camping at the designated camp ground (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
Easy morning hike to visit a Tuvan family most likely that of one of the camel herders that had accompanied us during the previous days of trekking. Tuvans also known as Uriankhai is an ethnic group of Turkic origin that has historically been moving around southern Siberia. Traditionally these cattle herding nomads practiced shamanism - a worship of ancestral and natural spirits but today their belief is a strong blend with Tibetan Buddhism. We use the invitation to learn of their way of life and to taste food and drinks offered by the unwritten local rules. After the visit we hike to Mt. Shiveet and climb to its wide top with a goal of spotting wild mountain goats (Capra Ibex). Seeing them is almost guaranteed but requires a bit of tracking and hiding. A less demanding hike around the base of the Holy mountain will allow you see more ancient rock art displaying fascinating scenes of hunting by distant residents of the Altai region. We return to our camp beside the mountain. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We depart from the Tsagaan Gol valley drive to summer pasturelands of Kazakh herders. Among millions of Kazakhs living in different parts of the world Mongolian Kazakhs are seen as the bearers of authentic Kazakh culture and traditions which are different from that of Mongolians in many ways. We randomly “knock on the door” and visit local herding families to find out about these very differences, their stories and customs. We might be lucky to see their daily chores: tending animals, preparing food etc. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
During 2 days we attend the annual Golden Eagle festival, a celebration of the ancient tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles. 50 eagles guided by their masters will compete displaying their speed and agility: each bird is released from a mountain top commanded by his master to land on to an artificial prey in a shortest time. Participate in the excitement of traditional Kazakh games, such as ‘kyzkuar,’ a dating game played on horseback and ‘kokpar,’ a tug-of-war game played on horseback with a goatskin. There will also be a parade where each hunter demonstrates his outfit and riding harness. At the end of the 2nd day we travel to Ulgy and settle in a cozy hotel. Time permitting you can walk the streets of the town that has a distinct Central Asian character, visit the town market and museum. A traditional Kazakh dinner accompanied by music and songs will be fitting final to your travels. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent, hotel)
After breakfast transfer to Ulgy airport for flight to Ulaanbaatar. On arrival transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your own disposal. In the evening you will invited to farewell dinner by Mongolia Trekking representative. (Breakfast, dinner / hotel)
Transfer to airport for your return flight home. (Breakfast)
PRICES & DATES
|Tour date||Status||Available spaces||Price pp|
|29 Aug - 17 Sep, 2019||Guaranteed to run||4 spaces||USD 2,710 - USD 3,633
Pp twin occ. + USD 264 for sgl. occ.
- 3 nights in 4* hotel in Ulaanbaatar (twin or double + breakfasts)
- 11 nights in tents
- 2 nights in teepees
- 1 night in a hotel in Ulgy
- 2 nights in tourist yurt camps in Khuvsgul area
- Indicated meals & drinking water
- Camping & cooking equipment
- Sleeping mattresses
- All visits, sightseeing, national park and permit fees
- Overland transport (Russian 4WD van)
- Domestic airfare and airport transfers
- English speaking guide
- Expedition cook
- Local guides/pack animal drivers
- Horse and pack animal hire
- Travel insurance
- Excess baggage fee on domestic air travel
- Sleeping bags
- Personal trekking and riding gear
- Meals not indicated
- Drinks & Alcohol
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