Start cycling from the northern edge of the Gobi desert and traverse the Khangai Mountain range. Challenge 2000 m passes and enjoy breath-taking descents into valleys of nomadic herders who graze large flocks of sheep and goats on green pastures. The extreme climate of central Asia has shaped this tolerant and friendly people. Mongolia has always been imagined as the land of vast grasslands and of arid plains roamed by innumerable yaks and horses. But this is true only to an extent. This cycling tour will allow you to experience the part of Mongolia that is dominated by high mountains, woods and that receives a relatively high amount of rain.
Day 1: Arrival to 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 the northern edge of the Gobi desert. This morning you will be transferred for an hour and a half flight to the Gobi desert. On arrival meet with the support team of guide(s), cooks and drivers. After picnic lunch take a 2 hour transfer to the starting point of cycling. Here we set our tented camp in one of the southern valleys of the Khangai mountains. Dinner and overnight. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Acclimatization day. Our campsite lies at an altitude of 2100 m above sea level in the valley of Shargaljuut river. The area has over 300 hot and cold mineral springs. After assembling bikes we take a short ride to the springs and back to acclimatize and get the bikes thoroughly checked and adjusted. Overnight: tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Days 4-8: Cycle to cross the Khangai Mountain range (222 km). During these 5 days we aim to cross the Khangai mountains. They separate the Gobi Desert from the northern steppes. Avoiding the main travel routes across the Khangai as much as possible we will follow a route which has seen very few western visitors and certainly fewer bikers. We will be cycling along easy mountain valleys interrupted by short but challenging passes to climb followed long fast downhills. Each pass will open a grand view of distant ridges, high mountains and wide green valleys. On some days we will cross small streams, sometimes knee-deep.
Everyday we will be passing by nomadic encampments and hundreds of yaks, sheep and goats grazing alongside watched by tough horsemen. Nomads are the most hospitable people, quite often they invite travelers into their gers and offer tea and dairy products. In the evening of the 8th day we arrive at a ger camp and take a bath or shower in the hot spring water. You may as well take a relaxing body massage at a small additional fee. Tonight you will have an overnight in a traditional Mongolian felt tent known as ger". Overnight in the tent / ger camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Cycle to Orkhon river valley. 90 km of smooth hard pack surface brings us there. Our tented camp will be erected about 10 km higher up the stream upon reaching and crossing the Orkhon river. Once the camp is set you may leisurely hike the camp area or take a dip in its cool waters before dinner is ready. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Rest day. We today take a short drive to the waterfall of Ulaan Tsutgalan, the highlight of the area. It was formed by a small tributary dropping in to a fault in which the main body of Orkhon river flows. We then continue to visit a local herding family. The kind of visits usually become one of the most memorable events of any trip. This is a chance to get first hand knowledge of nomadic life and of local traditions. Almost surely you will be offered "airag", the fermented horse milk, the area is famous for and possibly milk vodka too. The Orkhon valley also contains many ancient graves and historic sites within its boundaries the story of which can be told by your guide. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Bike to Karakorum - medieval city of Genghis Khan. Today we cycle eastward along the Orkhon river till we reach Karakorum - the medieval capital of the Mongolian Empire. It is the last day of 80km but on a smooth hard pack ground. Our tented camp will be set up just outside of Karakorum town. Overnight in the tent. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Visit Karakorum and drive to Hustai NP. After breakfast we visit Karakorum - the medieval capital of Mongolian Empire. Today it is a small town but the former capital still lies in ruins since it was leveled by Chinese Min dynasty troops in 1380's. Present day Karakorum is recognized by the massive walled compound of the Erdene Zuu monastery. It was built in the 16th century by a Mongol Khan as part of his efforts to re-unite the nation under banners of "yellow" faith. The monastery suffered a tremendous destruction during anti-religion campaigns of 1930's with only a dozen of temples surviving to these days.
We spend some time visiting the peaceful premises of the monastery as well as a few surviving artifacts of the old capital. Then we drive to the Hustai National Park, where the wild horses of Przewalski were re-introduced in early 1990's to their ancestral land after they had been extinct for over 3 decades. We visit the park's information center and proceed to observe the wild horses. Dinner and overnight in gers in the park's visitor center. Overnight in the ger camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13: Return to Ulaanbataar, farewell dinner. After breakfast take a 2 hour drive to Ulaanbaatar. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. Free afternoon for shopping and else. Farewell dinner. Overnight: hotel. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 14: Departure transfer. Transfer for your return travel home. includes: (B).
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