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Gobi and Beyond Jeep Tour

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 13 day(s)
Group Size: 2 - 8 people
Destination(s): Mongolia  
Specialty Categories: Desert Expeditions   Sightseeing  
Season: May - September
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 1750 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2360 US Dollar (USD)

2017 Tour Departures:

Available: August 21 - September 2

Overview:

An overland exploration of the Gobi desert and its least visited corners. Feel the immensity of this mythical land by crossing its vast plains, rugged mountains and enormous sand dunes. Walk world renowned dinosaur fossil site that yielded bulk of Mongolia’s paleontological treasury, rightfully placing the country second only to the US in terms of numbers of dinosaur fossils unearthed. Explore natural and cultural sights and have their story told by your guide. Experience the nomadic culture which seemingly hasn’t changed for many hundreds of years.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital of Mongolia and transfer to a 4 star hotel in city center.

Afternoon guided city tour will introduce you to highlights of the city: the Gandan Temple - city's main Buddhist center, the central square with the memorial complex of Chinghis Khan and Zaisan hill on the city's edge for a panoramic view of UB. Then choose to visit one or two museums: National Museum introducing Mongolia's history from early humans to modern era, Natural History Museum with a unique collection of dinosaur fossils, State Oracle Residence-museum displaying best samples of Buddhist artwork and religious masks. The Winter palace of Bogd Khan showcasing rare Buddhist art and items of personal use of the last theocratic ruler of Mongolia is also worth considering. A folklore show of traditional music, throat singing and contortion will be followed by a welcome dinner. (Dinner / hotel)

Day 2: Travel to Baga Gazar rock formations.

Most of the way is on sealed road running across rugged mountains and dry plains which gradually give way to typical semi-desert with scarce vegetation and loose soil. Our destination is dominated by weirdly shaped granite outcroppings that resemble anything your fantasy can invent. A result of natural erosion these rock formations are revered by local nomads with many of them marked by sacrificial rock cairns which we explore in the evening after setting up a tent camp. We take a leisurely hike in the rocks before gathering for a dinner. This will be your first night in tents. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent)

Day 3: Drive to Tsagaan Suvraga cliffs.

As we travel further south vegetation thins out even more. Despite the seeming emptiness an occasional nomadic home or a winter shelter will come in to view and even large flocks of sheep and goats, more seldom horses and camels. Our destination is Tsagaan Suvraga, a series of massive formations of sedimentary rock, a former seabed. Its vividly distinct layers of geological eras are spectacular. Equally spectacular is the view that opens from its top: boundless desert expanses, dancing mirages and time that is standing still. We again relax in a comfortable tent camp and hike to watch the Tsagaan Suvraga at blazing dusk. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent)

Day 4: Drive to Yolyn Am canyon.

Our destination today is Yolyn Am, literally meaning an Eagle canyon where snow and ice remains frozen until late July. At the entrance there is a museum displaying stuffed images of local wildlife as well as some petrified wood and dinosaur eggs. Then take one and a half hour hike to the canyon heart and with a bit of luck spot Wild mountain goats scaling steep cliffs and Bearded vultures soaring above. After a picnic lunch we head to Gobi Mirage ger camp a seasonal hotel comprised of traditional circular tents yet offering a relative luxury of a conventional hotel. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / ger camp)

Day 5: Drive to “Khongoriin Els Sand Dunes”.

We travel west across great desert plains to Gurvan Saikhan mountain range and upon crossing it Khongoriin Els Sand dunes come in to our view. They stretch for almost 100 km with the tallest dune reaching 200 m from its foothill. Locals sometimes refer to them as the singing dunes due to a weird humming sound often heard on windy days. Fine sand gradually builds up on dune crests and eventually collapses producing the strange sound. Again we settle in a cozy ger with 180 degree view of the majesic dunes in the background. Later when the heat subsides take an excursion to the dunes. You can climb the dunes or take a short camel ride along the lower slopes. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, ger camp)

Day 6: Travel to Nemegt depression.

Here starts the most adventurous part of our expedition. We cross the Singing dunes and drive to Nemegt depression, world renowned dinosaur fossil site known for its rich yield of Cretaceous Period reptiles. It is an immense labyrinth of rift valleys cut by natural erosion in sandstone. The sheer scale of this maze of towering formations as high as 5 storey buildings is such that one needs a full day to explore them on foot. The depression is still an active dig site where paleontologists conduct expeditions every year. Here tonight we erect our tented camp. Explore the area on foot before the dinner. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent)

Days 7-8: Travel to Khermen Tsav.

This is the culmination of the tour’s attractions as Khermen tsav is the most extensive natural feature of the kind closely resembling the Colorado canyon of the US. The landscape here is truly dramatic. Towering rift valleys of red sandstone, eroded cliffs of bizarre shapes, massive sand drifts and surprisingly abundant vegetation stretch for over 10km. The stark beauty of the place is even more vivid at sunset when canyons turn red and orange. It is a place where no ordinary travelers go; it is as remote as one can get in Mongolia. A significant portion of Mongolian dinosaur fossils has been unearthed in Khermen Tsav. Based at our tent camp we explore this grandiose on foot. The eroded sandstone can still yield dinosaur fossils especially after a torrential rain so one can still hope for a discovery. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent)

Day 9: Drive to Bichigt rock carvings.

Drive further north into lands where no people live but an occasional herd of gazelles race to disappear into the haze of dancing mirages at the horizon. We stop at Zulganai oasis, a single stretch of stark trees and bushes amidst massive sand drifts. An underground spring feeds the unpretentious plants and serves as water point for wild animals when it eventually surfaces. We then continue to a rugged mountain range which shelters a well and some spectacular rock art made by prehistoric man depicting wild sheep, ibex, deer, wolves and snow leopards. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent)

Day 10: Drive to Central Mongolia.

We today cross the last desert plain and continue to Central Mongolian grassland. A noticeable increase in both vegetation and grazing livestock can be observed today. This evening we relax in a relative comfort of a ger camp nestled amidst some rock formations. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / ger camp)

Day 11: Visit to and overnight in a nomadic family.

We travel further in to the grassland. Felt walled gers of herding Mongols and large flocks of grazing animals will be a common sight today. Today we settle in a nomadic herding family and experience some classics of pastoral animal herding: daily chores, food and drink, and possibly a party to celebrate our adventure. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / tent)

Day 12: Return to Ulaanbaatar.

This is rather and uneventful travel on sealed road across grassland with rolling hills in the back ground. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel. After a short rest we gather for a farewell dinner. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner / hotel)

Day 13: Departure transfer.

Transfer to airport for your return flight home. (Breakfast)

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- All accommodation: hotel (2 nights), ger (3 nights), tent (7)
- Indicated meals & drinking water
- All visits, sightseeing, national park and permit fees
- Overland transport (Japanese 4WD)
- Airport transfers
- English speaking guide

Price Excludes:
- Travel insurance
- Optional activity fees (camel and horse riding)
- Meals not indicated
- Drinks & Alcohol
- Gratuities.