with Naadam Festival
Mongolia is one of the world’s most exotic and exceptional travel destinations. Nestled high on the map of Asia, Mongolia offers many gifts for the more intrepid traveler. In desolate, wind-swept grassland valleys, encircled by snowy peaks, sparse human habitation blends seamlessly with haunting natural beauty.
While in Mongolia, we partake in the grandest and most significant Mongolian festival of the year – Naadam. Away from the increasing crowds that flock to the games in Ulaanbaatar, we attend the festival in Kharakhorum, the historic city of Chinggis Khan. Continue on to explore the flaming cliffs of the great Gobi Desert, visiting a nomad family before returning back to the USA.
Outline Itinerary – 2012
Day 1: DEPART USA
Day 2: EN ROUTE TO MONGOLIA – There are several flight options from the USA to Ulaanbaatar. You will either connect in Beijing, Seoul or Tokyo en route to Mongolia.
Day 3: ARRIVE ULAANBATAAR - Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is rich in culture. We will be staying in a centrally located hotel, within walking distance of various museums and shops. Tonight we gather for a traditional Mongolian "Welcome Dinner."
Day 4: EXPLORING ULAANBATAAR - Today we will visit the Gandan Monastery, the seat of Mongolian Buddhism. We will also visit the Natural History Museum, showcasing the amazing fossil finds from the Gobi, as well as the Museum of Mongolian History, which houses some exquisite pieces of Buddhist art.
Dya 5: TO HOGNO HAN - Drive to the Hogno Han Mountains located at the confluence of geographical zones– the steppes, dessert and forest. Experience the legendary warm hospitality (food, shelter and friendship) that has historically been offered to travelers in this part of the world, as we visit a nomadic horse-breeder family.
Day 6: TO KHARAKHORUM / NAADAM FESTIVAL - This morning we reach Kharakhorum, the ancient capital city of the Mongolian Empire. While there are only sparse traces remaining of the ancient city, the Erdene Zuu, Mongolia's largest monastery, was constructed from its ruins. We will explore the monastery, meet the monks and observe their ritual prayers and chants.
Day 7: AT THE NAADAM FESTIVAL - Annually held in July is Mongolia's national festival, Naadam, loosely translated as "three manly games," which include Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery. We will experience this lively and colorful festival in the ancient city of Kharakhorum.
Day 8: ONGII MONASTERY - Today we start our drive to the Gobi through the southern steppes to Ongiin Hiid. Known as the “Pearl of the Great Desert” Ongiin Hiid was once the largest monastery in Mongolia. We will walk about the ruins, which is all that’s left after the “Communist Purge” in 1939, demolished this site.
Day 9: TO FLAMING CLIFFS / GOBI DESERT A five-six hour drive brings us to Bayan Zag, more popularly known as the flaming cliff, because of its orange sandstone rock formations. It was here in 1922 that Dr. Andrews found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. After exploring this area we drive to the Three Camel Lodge” a Luxury Ger camp (the best in Mongolia).
Day 10, 11 & 12: EXPLORING THE GOBI - This region of Mongolia has a lot to offer – beautiful scenery, an interesting history, horses, nomads and tons of open space to enjoy! The Gobi is Asia largest desert and is located in the Southern region of Mongolia. It runs along the Mongolian border encompassing multiple provinces, while sitting between the Alatai Mountains, the Tibetan Plateau and the Great China Plain. Its rich history lies in part in the Mogul Empire and as a part of the famous Silk Road.
We have these three days to explore the stunning landscape of the Gobi and its habitat for the Bactrian (two-humped) camels, the Argali mountain sheep, goitered gazelle, golden eagles and a whole host of other wildlife. We will take an overnight trip to the towering dunes of Hongoryn Els. Peaking at over 2500 feet, these dunes are the Gobi’s most magnificent physical characteristic.
Day 13: TO ULAANBATAAR – Fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Visit the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum, which houses many of Zanabazar's original works and is perhaps one of the best Buddhist art collections in the world. This evening we enjoy a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and "hoomi" (throat) singers followed by a festive “farewell” dinner.
Day 14: DEPART MONGOLIA / ARRIVE USA - Depart Ulaanbaatar this morning and connecting in Beijing, we gain time as we fly over the dateline, reaching USA later the same day.
QuickEscapes – Tibet
Continue your explorations of Tibetan Buddhism by visiting its source. Visit Lhasa, the Tashilungpo in Shigatse and the Kumbum at Gyantse. Explore the Valley of the Kings at Tsedang and cross the Yarlung Tsangpo to Sayme, the site of the first Buddhist Monastery in Tibet.
Call us toll free at 1-800 MY INDIA (1-800-694-6342) or email us to request a detailed day-to-day itinerary.
Archer at Naadam Festival
Photo: B. Balik
Kharakhorum & UlaanBaatar
Flaming Cliffs, Gobi Desert
Nomad family visit
Hongoryn Els sand dunes
Camel & horse riding
Medical & evacuation insurance
All hotels, meals, ground transportation,
local guides and entrance fees
Fully escorted trip
July 6 - 19, 2012 (Nadaam Festival)
Land Cost: (per person)
7 - 9 participants - $4485
10 + participants - $3985
Statue, Gandan Monastery
Photo: B. Balik
Horse racer at Naadam
Photo: B. Balik
Gobi sand dunes
Photo: B. Balik