Discover one of Asia's most under-explored regions on a two-week adventure through Mongolia. Walk through the remote and mysterious Erdene Zhu monastery with a Lama Buddhist monk; visit the dramatic Flaming Cliffs, a world-renowned paleontology site famous for its amount of dinosaur eggs and bones; and drop by the home of a welcoming camel-herding family for an afternoon you'll always remember. Embrace your inner nomad in this timeless place.
- Travel Style : National Geographic Journeys
- Service Level : Upgraded
- Physical Grading : 3 - Average
- Trip Type : Small Group
- What's Included:Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Dinosaur Museum Visit, Ulaanbaatar
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Erdene Zhu Buddhist Monastery Visit, Kharkhorin
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Yak Family Farm Experience, Orkhon Valley
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Nomadic family Experience, Khongoryn Els
Your Wellness Moment: Tsenkher Hot Springs Visit, Tsenkher
Your Foodie Moment: Mongolian Cultural Show & Dinner, Ulaanbaatar. Arrival transfer. Ulaanbaatar city tour. Visit Khustai National Park. Visit the archaeological museum. Soak in hot springs. Hike to Tuvkhun Monastery. Orkhon waterfall hike. Visit Hoshuu and Ongiin Khiid monasteries. Flaming Cliffs excursion. Gobi desert excursion and dune hike. Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park excursion. Folklore show with dinner. Internal flights. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
- Highlights:Tour many of Ulaanbaatar’s historic sites, enjoy the scenery of Khustai National Park, learn about Lama Buddhism from a head monk, Visit family-owned yak and camel farms, Explore historic monasteries, See Western Gobi’s biggest sand dunes
- Dossier Disclaimer:The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
- Itinerary Disclaimer:While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
- Itinerary Notes:Please note that the July 10-25, 2020 departure includes the Nadaam Festival and is 16-days long - please book international flights accordingly. All other departures outside the Nadaam Festival follow the 14-day itinerary.
- Important Notes:Mongolia is a fascinating destination to visit, full of natural, wild beauty and traditional life. Travel is becoming easier for foreigners but please be aware that English is still not widely spoken outside the large cities and that accommodation, toilet facilities and some transportation is not yet at the same level as you would expect in developed countries. If you are able to bring with you a lot of patience, a great sense of humor and a willingness to try and interact with the local people, your travel experience will be greatly enhanced.
- Group Leader Description:All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.
- Group Size Notes:Max 14, avg 12
- Meals Included:13 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 11 dinners
- Meals:Food in Mongolia is quite simple and may be different than what you are used to. For breakfast there is usually a selection of breads, pancake, yogurt, cereals, egg, ham, and omelet. At lunch & dinner selections can include: beef, mutton, or chicken with vegetables (such as potatoes, cabbage, carrot, mushroom, paprika), rice, noodles and vegetable soups.
- Transport:Private vehicles, 4x4, walking, hiking, plane.
- Local Flights:All local flights are included in the cost of your tour unless otherwise noted. It is important that we have your passport information at the time of booking in order to process these tickets. Internal flight tickets are issued locally and will be given to you prior to the flight departure.
- Solo Travellers:We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
- Accommodation:Hotels (3 nts), Ger camps (10 nts).
- My Own Room:Please note that if you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops
- Joining Hotel:For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
- Joining Instructions:When arriving at Ulaan Baatar International Airport you will notice that the airport is actually very close to the city.
An arrival transfer is included on this trip, and a G Adventures representative will be at the airport to meet you. Details on where to meet your transfer can be found in your voucher notes or on the G Adventures app. If for any reason you are not met at the airport, please call our local support line. You can find this number under the "Emergency Contact" of this Tour details page.
If you are unable to make contact for whatever reason, please make your way to the joining point hotel via taxi following the below instructions: After you exit from the baggage hall follow the taxi signs and you will find a queue outside the terminal building. Taxis in Mongolia are metered but you may have to bargain for one from the airport. The fare to our starting point hotel will be about 30 USD and should take about 30-40 minutes.
Please note that day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned on this day. Check-in time at your start hotel will be in the afternoon.
If you have booked pre-tour accommodations through G Adventures, please note that you must contact us to confirm the included arrival transfer.
A G Adventures Representative will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
- Arrival Complications:We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
- Emergency Contact:Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures or if an arrival transfer is included in the cost of your tour, please note that:
Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this.
If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area, please try the contact below first. If you do not receive a response, we ask that you please take a taxi to your start point hotel.
If your call is specifically concerning Airport Transfer complications please call our local G Adventures Representative directly at:
Ms. Otgon Tsend
Mobile: +976 99118295
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
Mr Laziz Otayarov (Operations Manager - Central Asia)
Mobile 1: +99890 963 4779 (24h)
Mobile 2: +99897 921 7087 (24h)
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
- What to Take:We suggest that you pack as lightly as possible as your are expected to carry your own luggage and this trip covers a lot of ground. As a rule we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 mintues with your bags which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 10-15kg/22-30lb. Hard suitcases are not recommended, most travellers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size (no XXL ones please!). You will also need a day pack/bag to carry water, cameras and other electronics like ipods and mobile phones.
- Packing List:Cold Weather:
• Long-sleeved shirts or sweater
• Warm gloves
• Warm hat
• Warm layers
• Modest clothing that covers knees and shoulders (Long pants, long skirts, shirts that cover shoulders)
• Shawl or scarf (for temple visits)
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
• Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
• Hiking pants (Convertible/Zip-off and quick dry recommended)
• Sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet
• Smart outfit (For evenings out)
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
- Visas and Entry Requirements:Mongolia:
***PLEASE READ THE ENTIRETY OF THE TEXT BELOW AS THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOUR ENTRY INTO MONGOLIA***
Please note that visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change. It is important that you check for yourself with the Embassy of Mongolia. Please, keep in mind that all countries require passports valid for at least 6 months from the moment of departure from the country.
To apply for a Mongolian visa, many nationalities must present an official Mongolian Letter of Invitation (LOI).
***It is the responsibility of the traveller to check with their nearest Embassy and confirm the requirements for entry into Mongolia***
Noted Exemptions: Some countries do not require an LOI to apply for a tourist visa valid up to 30 days including Canada, Germany and the United States. Please be sure to check with the Embassy or Consulate to determine if your country may also be exempt.
IMPORTANT: Once your trip is confirmed, at 90 days prior to your entry into Mongolia, you must submit an application for your Letter of Invitation. A link will be emailed to you in your confirmation email. The details will be forwarded to our local agent in Mongolia and you will be emailed your Mongolian Invitation Letter about 10 business days after submission. Mongolia LOI’s can be rushed in extreme circumstances.
Mongolian visas can be used up to 3 months from the date the visa is issued, and once you have entered Mongolia, the visa is valid for a maximum of 30 days. Therefore, please time your application accordingly and do not apply for the visa more than 3 months in advance of your trip.
Input your name the same way it is in your passport. The information on the application form must match your passport (if you have 2 or more names - all of them have to be listed under "first name").
If you have an umlaut or other character not recognized in the english alphabet in your name (ie. ü), please enter it in the longer form (ie. ue).
If your country has an official Mongolian Consulate/Embassy, you must choose this as as your 'Visa pickup Embassy’. If you do not see a local Consulate/Embassy on this list or you are unable to go there due to prior travel arrangements, please contact your Travel Agent or G Adventures for further assistance.
Once you have received your Mongolian LOI and are completing the visa application from the Mongolian Embassy or Consulate, please refer to the LOI for the Supplier details required.
At time of writing, the below documents will be needed to obtain your visa (however, we do advise you confirm this with your nearest Embassy):
1. A standard visa application form from the Embassy or Consulate where you will collect your visa
2. 2 colour, passport sized photos (taken within 14 days)
3. Payment for the visa (this will be dependent on nationality and will sometimes need to be made at a local nearby bank - check with your Embassy to confirm details)
4. Passport with empty pages and at least 6 months validity
5. Mongolia Letter of Invitation
6. We also recommend bringing your vouchers as well as proof of onward travel (flight tickets entering and leaving the country) and a copy of the itinerary, printable from our website. While this may not be needed, we recommend having a copy on hand if needed.
***Please carefully check all the information below prior to submitting***
Once you have received your LOI you can apply for your visa by going to the Mongolian Embassy you listed in the online application. Please remember that it is your responsibility to check whether passport details, name spelling and dates on the LOI are correct.
Information accurate as of January 21st, 2016
- Spending Money:Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
- Money Exchange:As currency exchange rates in Asia fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com As of Sep 2009 the exchange rate for Mongolia is 1 USD = 1400 MNT (Mongolian Tugrik). There are many ATM machines that accept both Visa and Mastercard but these are limited to major cities. We also recommend the use of cash and travellers cheques in USD currency. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee.
One of the main things to remember is that Mongolian Tugriks can't be exchanged outside Mongolia.
Because of bank regulations and exchange rate the best USD notes to have are $50 and $100 without any marks/stamps/holes or stains on them. If a banknote has a mark it might be refused to be exchanged.
- Emergency Fund:Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
- Departure Tax:International Departure tax is included in the flight ticket.
- Tipping:It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is expected - though not compulsory - and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your CEO will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $2-$3 USD per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $20-25 USD per person, per week can be used.
- Optional Activities:No optional activities
- Health:Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that sometimes we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. In Asia pharmacies tend to stock the same western drugs as you get at home but they are usually produced locally so please bring the full drug name with you when trying to purchase a prescription drug. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.
- Safety and Security:Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
- A Couple of Rules:Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of people in the sex trade is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they engage in any form of paid sex work.
- Travel Insurance:Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
- Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation:The Planeterra Foundation planeterra.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems for their endeavours. Planeterra provides capacity building and catalyst grants to get community social enterprises off the ground. These businesses address local challenges by providing benefits for indigenous people, empowering marginalized women, and granting disadvantaged youth access to education, employment, and brighter futures. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures’ Dollar-a-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar for every day you are on trip. 100% of these donations go directly to support community development projects worldwide that are implemented by Planeterra.
- Local Dress:In Asia the dress standard is more conservative than it is back home. When packing try to pick loose, lightweight, long clothing that will keep you cool in the day and can be layered in cool evenings. In predominately Buddhist countries we ask that you dress respectfully and avoid very short shorts/skirts and singlets/tanktops when visiting temples or other holy sites.
- Feedback:After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send it on to you.
- Minimum Age:You must be 18 to travel unaccompanied on a G Adventures tour. For minors travelling with a guardian over 21 years old, the minimum age is 12.
- International Flights:Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
Itinerary (14 days)
Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer included.
Enjoy a morning city tour including visits to the Gandan Monastery, Bogd Khan Palace, and Zaisan Hill. Later, take a tour of the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs and learn about the dinosaurs of the Gobi desert from a docent.
Ulaanbaatar/Khustai National Park
Travel to Khustai National Park — home of Mongolia's wild horses. Here, meet with park staff and learn about the wild horse reintroduction project. Keep an eye out for Takhi horses in their natural habitat.
Khustai National Park/Kharkhorin
Drive to Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia. Visit the Erdene Zhu Monastery, the nation's first centre of Lama Buddhism, and meet with a head monk for an in-depth lesson in Buddhism. Later, visit Karakorum Museum.
Arrive at Tsenkher Hot Springs in the afternoon. Visit the springs for a relaxing soak and benefit from its healing powers.
Drive to Orkhon and enjoy a hiking excursion to the Tuvkhun Monastery, established in the 1650s by Zanabazar, one of Mongolia’s most respected religious leaders. The monastery’s wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you can take in beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and surrounding pine forests.
Visit a local family's horse and yak breeding farm. Learn about their daily life and how they make cheese and butter. Sample some of their products, including yak cream and yogurt, and watch their famed horse riding and herding techniques. After, enjoy a hike to a waterfall before returning to the ger camp for a traditional Mongolian barbecue prepared over hot stones.
Orkhon Valley/Ongiin Hiid
Drive into the Gobi, one of the world's great deserts which covers much of the southern part of Mongolia. Here we visit the ruins of the Hoshuu and Ongiin Khiid monasteries.
Explore the Flaming Cliffs paleontology site, world-renowned for the vast amount of dinosaur bones and eggs found here.
Drive to Khongoryn Els and explore more of the Gobi desert. Hike through Mongolia's largest dunes, often called the "Singing Sands".
Enjoy a visit with a nomadic camel-herding family, gaining insight into their very different way of life. Try your hand at some of the daily farming chores and opt for a camel ride. Take part in an archery lesson and demonstration with the family.
Khongoryn Els/Yolyn Am
Drive through the beautiful gorges of the imposing Altai Mountain Chain in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, passing through the green valleys of Yolyn Am and Dungeness Am. Stop to hike along the way and keep an eye out for wild Argali sheep, ibex, desert gazelles, and golden eagles. Later, pay a visit to the park museum where you can admire a collection of dinosaur bones.
Catch a flight back to Ulaanbaatar. This evening, enjoy a folklore show and farewell dinner.
Depart at any time.