Asia & the Pacific / Mongolia
Mongolia Hiking Tour
Hike and Horseback Ride in the Orkhon Valley and Western Mongolia
This adventure blends the history of Genghis Khan from the cradle of Mongolian civilization, the Buddhist culture, encounters with the nomadic and Kazakh peoples and hikes in the high altitude environment of the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia to create a unique and fascinating experience.
Days 1-2: Ulaanbaatar-Kharkhorin-Orkhon Valley
We begin with a tour of the city after our arrival in Ulaanbaatar. Sights include Sukhbaatar Square, site of Parliament House and the Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) monument, the Natural History Museum, Gandan Monastery, the magnificent Megjid Janraisig statue, and the Bogd Khaan Winter Palace Museum. The following morning we set off for Kharkhorin, founded as the capital of the Mongolian Empire in 1220, crossing several valleys and rugged mountain ranges en route. Upon arrival we visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery, the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery in the country, built upon the ruins of Kharkhorin in 1586.
Days 3-5: Ogii Lake-Hustai National Park-Ulaanbaatar
We continue our drive toward Ogii Lake though the wide open green valley of Orkhon. We make a stop at the Khoshoo Tsaidam monuments, two large inscribed stone pillars commemorating the brothers Bilge Khan and Kul-Tegin. We arrive at Ogii Lake in time for a hike along the tranquil lakeshore for a visit with a local nomad family who are likely to offer smoked fish and dairy products, the common foods of the nomads. There is also time this afternoon for a horseback ride and for some boating and fishing. A Park guide will lead us through Hustai National Park in search of the recently reintroduced wild horses known as “takhi” or Przewalski Horses. We return to Ulaanbaatar for a relaxing day and some further sightseeing and hiking before we depart tomorrow for the West.
Days 6-8: Flight to Khovd-Tsambagarav Mountain
A flight to Khovd allows us to appreciate the vastness of Mongolia. The mix of desert, salt lakes, snowy peaks and Kazakh culture makes Khovd one of the most beautiful and appealing provinces in Mongolia. We meet our guide, driver and cook for lunch, followed by visits to the Sangiin Wall, which was built during the Manchu (Qing) Dynasty in the late 1700s, a fruit and vegetable open market, a monastery with 108 stupas, a museum and the square with its pretty fountains. We then drive to the lower foothills of the 13,867-foot Tsambagarav Uul, one of Mongolia’s most glorious permanently snowcapped peaks and its third highest mountain, for two days of hiking and camping. A visit to a Kazakh village teaches us about about their lifestyle and culture and allows us a glimpse of the ancient technique of hunting with eagles. We ascend Tsambagarav to the snow line and have lunch while overlooking a glacier.
Days 9-12: Green Lake-Tolbo Lake-Olgii-Flight to Ulaanbaatar
We ride horses to glacier-fed Green Lake at about 11,500 feet and drive the following day through Bayan-Olgii province, Mongolia’s most western which shares borders with Russia and China. Upon arrival at Tolbo Lake, a high altitude freshwater lake with ice-cold water, we take a short hike before continuing on to the provincial capital of Olgii. A flight back to Ulaanbaatar arrives in time for some final souvenir shopping before we conclude our Mongolian adventure with a traditional concert and performances of folk art.