Altai Mountains is the highest of three major mountain ranges in Mongolia, straddling the Russian and Chinese frontiers in the Far West. Mountains of eternal snow-capped mountains and glaciers. In these remote regions live many nomads of ethnic minorities. The Kazakhs are Muslims, and speak an ancient Kazakh language, as well as Tuvans, who are Buddhist and shamanistic. This dramatic journey will bring us to Mongolia’s highest mountain region. We will trek to the Potanin glacier supported by pack camels and locals. We will then continue across the high Altai and trek into the lakes region, next to the Chinese frontier. Hoton is the biggest crystal clear lake of Mongolian Altai.Good fishing for grayling and others.The biggest river Hovd starts from here also Local Kazakh herdsmen will keep their priced Golden Eagles next to their yurts.
Brief Outline Itinerary:
On this dramatic journey we use low impact traditional modes of transport. Our equipment will be carried on pack-camels, possibly also in addition, packhorses. We will fly to west Mongolia on an almost 3 hour domestic flight from Ulaanbaatar. We will transfer out to the mountain regions from Olgyi, the Kazakh provincial capital, by 4wd Russian vehicles. Our crew will be Kazakhs and/or Tuvan. The local guide is trilingual at least: English, Mongol and Kazakh. Possibly also Tuvan and Russian.
Day 1: Arrive UB
By your arrival in UB meet by our guide and transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Explore UB
Today we will do city site seeing tour. Explore Gandan Monastery,Buddhist center in Ulaanbaatar. See Zanabazar Museum, Chojin Lama temple. Lunch time in a typical Mongolian Restaurant. The winter Palace, Buda Big Statue on the Hill, Central market (black) (one or two hours if we have time), Typical folkloric Mongol performance ( songs and dances) , at the restaurant, during Dinner time (optional), Overnight in 4* hotel.
Day 3: To Olgyi
Meet your local Kazakh guide arriving at Ulgii airport and transfer to Blue Wolf Restaurant for lunch. Visit the local museum of Ulgii
town with comprehensive information of flora and fauna of Bayan Ulgii
aimag as well as it colorful traditional costumes.
Drive half an hour west to Sagsay village and check in at Blue Wolf Ger Camp. Dinner in the big Kazakh yurt (ger). Dinner.
Days 4-6: To Tsengel Mountian and Dayan Lake
First day: We drive to the Hargant Valley, below Tsengel Hairhan Uul (3943 m)- snow-capped mountains. Here live Tuvans. They are Buddhists, but of a Turkic speaking ethnic group. Their gers (yurts) are more like Mongol gers as opposed to the larger Kazakh ones. There are also some shaman practitioners among them.
Second day: Soft hiking towards snow capped peaks and visit some Tuvan families.
Third day: Continue our driving and reach Dayan lake.
Visit Kazakh Nomadic Families and feel their grade hospitalities. Good fishing and stunning sunsets.Dayan lake is also home of many birds as duck,geese,swans and many others. Meet horses and camels. Overnights in tent. (B,L,D)
Days 7-8: To Baga Turgen Uul
We will load our equipment onto pack-camels and/or pack-horses and start hiking nearby western side of Hurgan Nuur and Hoton Nuur,where many Nomadic Kazakh families spend summer.Along the lakes,we see the beautiful waterfall, rockprintings and some ancient Turkic stones with face.On the right side we see the snow-capped mountains with forest,which make the wall between China and Mongolia. Overnights in tent. (B,L,D)
Days 9-11: To Hoton Lake
Full day trek through the dramatic steppe valley along the river that drains from the Altai Tavanbogd massif, creating a series of beautiful lakes. Our impressive camel caravan comes out to the steppe valleys of the lake area. We pitch camp on the shores of Hoton Lake. The area is below the snow-capped Ikh Turgen Uul. We are now only 10 km from the China border. These are the summer pastures of numerous Kazakh herdsmen. Their yurts are a bonanza of handicraft. They are a very friendly and hospitable people. A fishing rod comes in handy here. The largest subspecies of Mongolian Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) is easily fished here. The numerous Great Cormorants in the vicinity are a good indicator that there are plentiful fish in the lakes.
Third day, Trek up a valley with patches of Larch forests and have a picnic lunch near the so-called Green Lake,After few hours trekking come to Bear Valley, where we will pitch camp. Overnights in tent. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Bear Valley
Rest day. We spend one night near small waterfall.You also can make a day hike along these waterfalls up to Bear Valley. Overnight in tent. (B,L,D)
Days 13-14: Altai Mountains crossing
We have allocated two full days for the crossing of the Altai Mountain range, the total distance being 32 km. We will pitch camp before the snowy area. Certainly big game such as Snow Leopards and its prey species live here, but they are extremely difficult to see. Perhaps you may see Altai Snowcock, the highest altitude living bird of Mongolia.
We will cross the Altai at the highest elevation of some 3600 m and have broad views across the Altais. We will be near the peak of Tsagaan Hairhan Uul (3662 m). Overnights in tent. (B,L,D)
Day 15: To Shiveet Khairkhan
Trek down to Shiveet Hairhan Mountain, where the Tuva people live. Here we will now be able to view the biggest petrolgyphs from the period of the Huns (approx 200 B.C.). The Huns were the reason for the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi to build the Great Wall of China. Overnight in tent. (B,L,D)
Days 16-18: Tavanbogd massif
First day, trek for 11 km toward the base camp of the snow-capped Tavanbogd massif. Pitch camp next to the 20 km long Potanina glacier – the biggest of the twenty glaciers in Mongolian Altai. Remain there for two nights. Tavanbogd means “The Holy Five”, referring to the five highest peaks, of which Huiten Uul is the highest in Mongolia, 4374 meters above sea level. Quite a considerable height at this altitude. It is a stunning setting with the awe-inspiring massif of high snow-capped peaks.
Second day, for a full day we will make day hikes to the Malchin Uul. These are non-technical climbs.
Third day, trek back to Tsaagan River (White River).The pick-up vehicle(s) will arrive this campside tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 19: To Eaglehunter’s family
Drive via Ulaanhuis over desert mountain landscapes, with the snow-capped Sogoog Mountain as a powerful backdrop and the Altai Mountain range ahead of us. After 5-6hrs, arrive Kazakh Eaglehunter’s family.Meet KazakhEaglehunter and his magnificient bird.Overnight near family.(B,L,D)
Day 20: To Olgyi
Today after few hours driving come to our gercamp in Olgiy. City sightseeings. The bazaar in Olgyi is interesting, as well as the mosque, which has been renovated in recent times. There are some very interesting back street handicraft shops and a well-stocked local museum. Overnight in ger. Hot shower and Kazakh Concert during dinner.(B,L,D)
Day 21: Fly out
After breakfast, transfer to Olgyi airport to catch a flights leave for Ulaanbaatar. Meet by our guide in UB and transfer to hotel.
Day 22: Free day in UB
Shopping for Mongolian cashmere and wool things , city tour.
Overnight in 3* hotel.(B)
Day 23: Transfer to Chinggis Airport
After breakfast,transfer to Chinggis Airport and depart UB.(B)
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