Mongolia is rapidly emerging as one of the world’s top travel destinations. With an increasing number of adventurers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts making their way to Mongolia, it’s crucial to explore the less-visited and untouched corners of this beautiful country before it becomes inundated with tourists. This Mongolian adventure trip will take you through regions blessed with magnificent lakes, some nestled amidst golden sand dunes. You’ll have the opportunity to meet people from various Mongolian ethnic groups, each unique as you journey further west. For those traveling in July, there’s also the option to experience the Nomad Cultural Festival on the shores of Ulaagchiin Khar Lake.
- Ancient capital, Kharkhorin/Erdenezuu monastery
- Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake
- Uliastai town
- Khar Lake
- Ulgii city
- Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
- Khoton & Khurgan lakes
- Eagle hunting family
Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar
Upon your arrival in Ulaanbaatar, you’ll embark on a city tour. Your exploration will include visits to the National History Museum and Gandan Monastery, where you’ll witness original prayers, meet monks, and see the largest indoor Buddha statue. You’ll also enjoy a welcome reception and receive a briefing on the upcoming adventure.
Day 2: Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharkhorin
In the morning, you’ll set out for Kharkhorin, located in the picturesque Orkhon Valley. This was once a great capital city built under the command of Chingis Khaan and completed by his son, King Ugudei, in 1235. Sadly, in 1380, it was destroyed by invaders. Much later, in 1586, Abtai Khaan established the Erdene Zuu Monastery, the first Buddhist temple complex, at the ruins of this famous city. Although many of the monastery’s structures were destroyed during the Communist purges of 1937, major structures and 108 stupas have survived and are displayed for visitors. You’ll explore Erdene Zuu Monastery.
Day 3: Tsetserleg City
On this day, you’ll head west, making a stop at Tsetserleg city in the Arkhangai province. Here, you’ll visit a local gallery known for its intriguing exhibitions. Arkhangai is often referred to as the “Mongolian Switzerland” due to its mountains, cliffs, fast-flowing rivers, and lush green forests. While exploring this region, you may have the chance to spot domestic yaks, which are usually found in high mountain ranges and hillsides. The journey will take you across Gurviin Davaa Pass.
Days 4-5: Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake National Park
Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake is a freshwater lake, and the surrounding volcanic terrain is the natural highlight of the area. This is one of Mongolia’s most beautiful lakes, situated at an altitude of 2,060 meters above sea level. You’ll have the opportunity to explore the lake and its surroundings, hike to Khorgo Uul volcano (2,965 meters) from the northeast side of the lake, visit caves along the way, and appreciate the lake, birdlife, and surrounding mountains within the 73,000-hectare Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake National Park. Activities in the area include fishing, swimming, hiking, and trekking.
Day 6: Telmen Lake
Lake Telmen is known for its three islands, attracting a variety of migratory birds and enhancing the lake’s beauty. The Khotgoid ethnic group, known as original herders, affectionately calls this lake “Telmen Mother” and “Green Telmen.”
Day 7: Ulaagchiin Khar Lake
Your journey takes you to Khar Lake, often referred to as Black Lake, known for its stunning natural beauty. This 40-square-kilometer lake is surrounded by enchanting sand dunes, creating a truly impressive landscape. You’ll have the opportunity to hike in the surrounding areas and ride the two-humped Mongolian Bactrian camels.
Day 8: Arrival in Songino Village
You’ll visit an original herders’ community, allowing you to experience their way of life and traditions fully. You can enjoy these days in the nomadic community, familiarizing yourself with their daily life. You’ll explore the Airag Valley and visit an ancient gravestone monument site. You’ll spend the night in a roof tent near the herders’ community.
Days 9: Khyargas Lake
As you continue your journey to the west, you’ll enter the Uvs province, known for its chain of lakes, rivers, sand dunes, and high mountains. You’ll arrive at Khyargas Lake, the second-largest saline lake in Mongolia. The lake is abundant with fish and is an excellent spot for birdwatching.
Day 10: Kharkhiraa Valley
This area is inhabited by the Khoton ethnic group. You’ll arrive at Uureg Lake, located on the border between the Uvs and Bayan-Olgii provinces. The lake is surrounded by peaks reaching 3,000 meters in height, such as Tsagaan Shuvuut Mountain (3,496 meters). This is a fantastic location for trekking, hiking, and fishing.
Day 11: Uureg Lake
Days 12: Bayan-Ulgii Province
This province stands out from the others due to its predominantly Turkic Kazakh population, who have their own language, customs, and follow the Muslim religion. On your way, you’ll visit a Kazakh family living in slightly larger and different gers. These Kazakhs train eagles, falcons, and hawks for hunting, particularly marmots, small foxes, and wolves, which they use for food.
Day 13: Visit Kazakh Family
As you enter the Altai high mountain region, you’ll arrive at Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain, the closest point accessible by vehicle to the Altai peaks. You’ll be traveling at altitudes of 2,500 to 3,000 meters. You’ll visit an original Kazakh family to learn about their way of life and rent horses for your upcoming journey. Prepare your luggage for the three-day trek to the Altai peaks.
Day 14: Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
On this day, you’ll leave your vehicle behind and load your luggage onto horses as you set out towards the Altai Tavan Bogd peaks, with elevations ranging from 4,100 to 4,374 meters. You’ll arrive at the base of these lofty peaks.
Day 15: Potanin Glacier and Mount Altai Tavan Bogd
Your journey continues towards Potanin Glacier and the Tavan Bogd, which translates to “Holy Five Peaks” and comprises five neighboring peaks, including Khuiten Uul at 4,374 meters, Peak Malchin, Peak Naran, Peak Burged, and Peak Ulgii. You’ll trek through glaciers connecting these peaks, providing breathtaking views. You’ll arrive at the base camp after covering approximately 20 kilometers.
Day 16: Return to Entrance of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park
Days 17-18: Khoton and Khurgan Lakes
Day 19: Ulgii
Day 20: Return to Ulaanbaatar
Day 21: Departure