Day 1: Upon arrival at the airport we will be welcomed by your guide. He will bring us to your comfortable, centrally located hotel. In the afternoon we will visit the Gandantegchinlen Monastery. It is the largest and most important monastery of Mongolia. We will scroll through the different monasteries, observe the daily rituals of the lamas and see the magnificent statue of Migjid Janraisig, a 82-food high statue gilded in gold and covered with silk cloths. In the evening enjoy a welcome diner in one of the best restaurants of Ulaanbaatar. Overnight: Hotel. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: After breakfast in our hotel restaurant we will leave Ulaanbaatar for the countryside. We will drive 7 hours westwards to reach end of the day Kharkhorin, also called Karakorin, site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Chinggis Khan. Very little is left from this legendary city. In the 16th century, Mongolia's biggest Monastery was build from the ruins of Kharkhorin. Now Erdene Zuu Monastery is all that remains of what once was a huge monastery of 100 temples and about 1.000 lamas residencing there. Overnight in a ger camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: After breakfast we will explore the grounds of Erdene Zuu Monastery surrounded by its massive 400 m X 400 m walls. We will be guided around the 3 remaining temples: Dalai Lama, Zuu of Buddha and Lavrin Temple. We will also see the Turtle Rock and the Phallic Rock. After a lunch at our Ger Camp, we will continue driving westward in the direction of Khangai Mountains. The green valleys with their network of smaller and larger rivers offer excellent pastureland for the herds of horses, yaks and cows. Our next stop (6 hours driving) will be the Orkhon waterfalls, which is located in the Orkhon valley. The area surrounding the waterfall is a green, with forest covered mountainous area. The valley is known as the cradle of the Mongolian civilization. Many ancient Mongolian as well as Turkish monuments lie within its borders. In the evening we will put up our tents not far from the waterfalls. We will hike around the waterfalls. We will hike down to the bottom of the gorges. The most courageous of you will jump into the river for a swim. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: In the morning we will head northweswards for Tsetserleg, capital city of Arkhangai province (180 km, 6 hours). It is a lovely little town surrounded by forested hills. Here we will visit the Buyandelgeruulekh Monastery, the town main functioning monastery and the nice little Museum of Arkhangai located in Zayaiin Gegeenii Monastery. From the museum we will walk hill upward to a small abandoned monastery and enjoy the beautiful view we have from there over Tsetserleg and the surrounding hills. We will drive slightly out of town to set up our tented camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: After a 200 km ride (6 hours) we will reach Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes of the country. The lake is surrounded by extinct and craterous volcanoes, and was formed by lava flows from a volcanic eruption many millennia ago. As a result of the volcano eruptions the landscape is covered with black volcanic rocks. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Today we will relax around the lake. We will make an excursion to the top of Khorgo Uul Volcano and we will pass the gorges that lead from Tariat to the volcano. We will stay a second night next to the lake. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Today we will drive further northwestwards leaving the Khangai Mountains behind us. We will drive for three consecutive days on Mongolia's worst roads to enter, at last, one of Mongolia's least visited regions, the Great Lakes Depressions which stretch out from Uvs to Khovd aimag over about 40.000 square kilometres. The Great lake depression is a semi-arid desert region delimited westward by the Altai Mountain Range. In spring, melting snow from the Altai Mountain ends up in the depression's lakes. Being deprived of outlets to the sea, those salt lakes become giant evaporating points. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: We will drive two whole days further westwards along a seldom-explored road that crosses an impressive semi-arid desert region. In the evening of the second day we will finally reach the Alten Els Sand Dunes. This is the world northernmost desert on earth. We will set up the camp somewhere close to the sand dunes. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: We will drive two whole days further westwards along a seldom-explored road that crosses an impressive semi-arid desert region. In the evening of the second day we will finally reach the Alten Els Sand Dunes. This is the world northernmost desert on earth. We will set up the camp somewhere close to the sand dunes. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: After a walk in the desert we will head for the gigantic Uvs Lake. Mongolian largest lake (in surface) is as fast as a sea and is worth a visit to feel its immensity. The lake is 5 times saltier than the ocean. It is Mongolia's lowest point. We will spend the night somewhere close to the lake. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: After breakfast we will drive to Ulaangom where we will visit the local market to stock up with food. After our short beak at the market we will go on driving on a rough but scenic road into the Kharkhiraa valley. We will reach the Kharkhiraa River where we will set up our tented camp. This river finds its sources in the Kharkhiraa Mountain. Its water flows into the Uvs Lake. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Today we will head for Uureg Lake, which lies close to the Russian border and Siberia. It is a large, beautiful slightly salt-water lake surrounded by glorious mountains and some snow-capped 3000 meters plus peaks. The mouth of the valley leading into the lake is lined with nomad's summer gers. The scene is breathtaking and so are the people. We will have the opportunity to visit some families. Before reaching the lake we will cross the Ulaan Davaa Pass, enjoying the views of the red mountains and sprawling valley floor. We will spend the whole afternoon around the lake. The lake is great for swimming and there are good opportunities for hiking, fishing, bird watching, etc. Sunsets and sunrises in this dramatic scene can be stunned. They make us feel as if we are the only people on earth or as if we have reached the edges of the viable world. We will camp along the lakeshore. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13: In the morning we will leave for Archit Lake. This lake is the largest fresh water lake of Uvs aimag. The lake is home to an astonishing array of water bird flocks. It offers the same leisure opportunities as Uureg Lake. En route we will cross the Ogotor Hamar Pass from which you will have breathtaking views of the region. We will camp along the lakeshore. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14: Today we will reach the most western aimag of Mongolia, Bayan-Olgii. Unlike the rest of Mongolia, which is dominated by Khalkh Mongolians, about 90% of Bayan-Olgii's population are Kazakh, almost all of them Muslims. Olgii, capital city of the aimag is a Muslim influenced ethnically Kazakh city. It is home to a mosque. We will spend the afternoon strolling around in the aimag centre. We will visit the museum that has some interesting displays and gives a good overview of Kazakh culture. We will also pay a visit to the mosque. We will overnight in a hotel in Olgii. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 15: After breakfast we will set of for Namarjin Valley. On the way you will have excellent views of Tsambagarav Mountain (4200 meters), one of Mongolia's most glorious snow-capped peaks. We will also drive along several Kazakh settlements and a beautiful turquoise lake. The grassland in this valley is covered with a carpet of alpine flowers. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 16: After breakfast we will set of for Namarjin Valley. On the way you will have excellent views of Tsambagarav Mountain (4200 meters), one of Mongolia's most glorious snow-capped peaks. We will also drive along several Kazakh settlements and a beautiful turquoise lake. The grassland in this valley is covered with a carpet of alpine flowers. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 17: In the morning we will drive to Khovd and walk around in the city. Later in the day we will drive to Khovd airport for the MIAT flight back to Ulaanbaatar. On arrival in Ulaanbaatar in the late afternoon we will be met and transferred to our hotel in Ulaanbaatar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 18: We will have a full free day to stroll around in Ulaanbaatar and buy some souvenirs before heading back home. In the evening we will have a far well dinner in a good restaurant. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 19: After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your home departure. Includes: (B).
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