This is a 15 days tour fully supported trekking tour in Western Mongolia. Trek through green meadows, lush forests and icy gorges, cold glaciated peaks and vast moraines. Rich cultural experiences. Comfortable camping throughout the trek.
Majestic Altai Mountains guard the western frontiers with China and Russia. Its spectacular peaks, covered in vast glaciers, are home to Argali sheep, Ibex, Lynx and the elusive Snow Leopard. The area is inhabited by Kazakh and Tuvan hunters whose ways of life have not changed since times unmemorable. Kazakhs have ancient traditions of falconry. They employ Golden Eagles which are kept for hunting foxes, hares and other small animals. Start off from the alpine lakes of Khoton and Khurgan, trek along glacial rivers, across luch meadows and icy gorges.
Myriads of flowers entertain eyes of those traveling in June. Hundreds of stone mounds marking burials of various ancient tribes lie alongside our trail. Finally reach the base of the Tavan Bogd mountain range, the highest in Mongolia. Here, facing cold glaciated peaks and vast moraines beneath them time stands still. The tour allows a wealth of cultural experience in the caring company of local nomads and hunters.
Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar, guided city 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: Museum of National History introducing Mongolia's history from early humans to modern era, Natural History Museum with a unique collection of dinosaur fossils, Choijin Lama or State Oracle Residence-museum displaying best samples of Buddhist artwork and religious masks.
The 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. A show of traditional music, throat singing and contortion at 6:00 PM will be followed by a welcome dinner. Overnight in the hotel. Includes: (D).
Day 2: Flight to Bayan-Ulgy, the Muslim province of Mongolia. Early this morning take a 3-hour flight to Ulgy town in Western Mongolia. The Kazakhs living in the area are the largest national minority and practice Sunni Muslim. A number of other ethnic groups also reside in the province in the region. Upon arrival meet with a support team of driver(s), cook(s) and a guide and head westward. At the end of a 3 hours travel across mountainous desert we camp in the valley of Khovd river. In general rivers in Mongolia are small and shallow occasionally drying up but during the rainy season they rapidly rise and at times burst their banks. However, the Khovd river is one of the largest in the country. It covers over 400 km and flows into Khar Us lake, of which it is the only feeding source. Upon arrival we erect our tented camp. Dinner and overnight in tents. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Drive to Khurgan Lake, Khoton Lake. Khurgan and Khoton are spectacular alpine lakes at an altitude of 2073 m. A number of moraines, result of earlier glaciations, and snow capped mountains surround them. Our campsite at Khoton lake is truly idyllic. It has one of the largest petroglyph galleries in Mongolia. They date back to Neolithic period and the Bronze Age and depict numerous hunting scenes, and representations of wild and domestic animals. Also there are some distinctly well preserved ancient burial sites. In the afternoon you may go swimming, explore the surroundings or laze in the camp. Water temperature permitting we go for a swim before the dinner. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Acclimatization day. This morning the trek begins. This is an acclimatization day on terrain made of gentle hills and small flat valleys that lie along the Khoton lake. The area is dotted with white yurts of Kazakhs, living in the area, who sometimes approach to greet you. Along the way we wade several streams flowing into the lake from neighboring slopes. You will as well spot a few ancient tombs, a circular stone fill with another circle of rocks around its perimeter. The support team will move ahead and choose a campsite by a swift mountain stream. In the evening our Tuvan camel herders will join us in the camp. They will be accompanying us during the next several day together with their camels. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5-7: Wilderness trek along White Water river. We leave the lakes behind and enter the mountains. The White Water River runs from vast glaciers of the "Tavan Bogd" massif north of the lakes. Its waters are milky white due to glacial dust floating in them. The first day we trek along the White Water river and follow one of its fast tributaries the next day. Though fenced by high rocky ridges on both sides, the river valley is rich in flowers and vegetation. With a bit of luck you may even spot a Mountain Goat (Ibex) or a marmot. Each day we will be trekking for a minimum of 5 hours.
Our camp and kitchen will be moved by camels. In the afternoon of the seventh day we will make our way across a 3400 m pass called "Worship" and descend into the valley of White River, which takes its source from the longest glacier in Mongolia named after a Russian traveler Potanin. As we approach to descend, the emerald green river glows winding down below and, the icy peaks of the "Tavan Bogd" loom in the background. In the camp we reunite with our drivers who will have made a detour to meet us. The valley is the home of our Tuvan friends and we camp nearby their gers. Their hospitality is unparallel, there is always someone to invite you home to taste their tea and food. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Rest day in White River valley. Enjoy this well deserved rest day. Around lunch time we one of our local guides in his ger. Ger is simple but reliable dwelling, perfect in extreme weather conditions and suitable for frequent seasonal moves. Unpretentious life and beautiful nature have shaped these extremely friendly and tough people. Their knowledge of nature and of genuine traditions is outstanding. The hosts will offer you a traditional meal and almost surely some milk and vodka too. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Trek to base camp of the Tavan Bogd Peaks. Back on trail and we trek to base camp of the Tavan Bogd. This gradual ascent takes us through a high mountain terrain of rock outcroppings and of wetlands. With a bit of luck you will see some of the wildlife that inhabit the area including marmots, hares and a number of birds such us Golden Eagles, Black Vultures and Falcons. Our tents and provision will be again transported by camels. Upon completing two thirds' of the way there open majestic perspectives of Potanin and Alexander glaciers with the icy peaks of Khuiten (4374 m), Nairamdal (4082 m), Snowchurch (4071 m), Malchin (4050 m), and Cradle (4113m) on their far side. This evening we camp at 2900m. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Optional climb to Malchin Peak (4051 m). The 4051 m Malchin is the lowest of the five Peaks. We hike along the Potanin glacier moraine for an hour and start climbing on the scree of Malchin. Its ridge-line overlaps with the borderline of Mongolia and Russia and provides a spectacular bird's eye view of the Potanin glacier, glaciated peaks and Russia. Over to the west, weather permitting, you will see the massif of Mt.Belukha (4500 m) lying in Russia. That is the absolute top of Altai mountain range. Back in camp we reward ourselves with a tasty meal. Those staying behind can relax in the camp and take the so-called Russian border walk, an easy climb on to a neighboring ridge that allows a glance into the territory of Russia. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Return trek to White River. Today we trek back to our camp in the White River valley. This time it is a gentle downhill and easy stroll. It is a chance to glance into every single valley of the "Tavan Bogd" massif and to observe how the glacier melt develops into torrents of the White river. Upon return to our camp we celebrate the trek, you will be served one of delicacies of the Kazakh cuisine - "besbarmak". Literally meaning "five fingers" this is a delicious assortment of stewed meat, vegetables and flour eaten with hands. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Return transfer to Ulgy, overnight in gers. We say "good bye" to our Tuvan friends and take a 7 hour drive back to Ulgy. Tonight is your chance to sleep in a Kazakh yurt. Hot shower and cold beers will highlight the day. Overnight in the ger. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13: Return flight to Ulaanbaatar. This morning we catch a return flight to Ulaanbaatar. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. Free afternoon for shopping and else. Farewell dinner. Overnight in the hotel. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14: Leisure day in Ulaanbaatar. This is a spare day to spend for shopping and self-exploration. You may refer to our recommendations in order to make most out of it. Overnight in the hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Departure transfer. Transfer to airport for your return flight home. Includes: (B).
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Asia Mongolia Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Cultural Journey
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