There is no other place on earth quite like Mongolia. This vast, landlocked country has a history dominated by the conquests of the Huns, the Turkics and the Ghengis Khan led Mongols. The descendants of these warrior tribes now make up the one third of Mongolia’s sparse population that is living a largely nomadic lifestyle. We witness the special unique charm of this lifestyle when we visit the camps of the nomads and mingle with these hardy people. Join Back Track in Mongolia and receive a taste of the legendary hospitality of the Mongols. Experience adventure as we trek across the Altai Mountains and wander through the Gobi Steppe accompanied by Bactrian camels. You’ll have ample opportunity to soak up the local culture during Mongolia’s most famous festival, the Naadam Games.
Our Altai Mountains trek takes us to the remote western region of Mongolia where the borders of Russia, China and Mongolia meet. This stunning high country has verdant forests, expansive lakes and glittering snow peaks. The wildlife encountered includes argali sheep, ibex, red deer and eagles. You’ll behold the extraordinary lifestyles of the Tuvan and Kazakh nomads as you’re likely to be invited into their portable family homes called ‘gers’.
Arburd Sands is a twenty kilometre long sand dune on the transition zone between the treeless plains of the Gobi Steppe and the desolation of the mighty Gobi Desert. It’s the setting for our camel trek. This ‘walk on the wild side’ is Mongolia in the raw; just us, our crew of local herders and their horses and camels. We’ll venture through the wide open spaces of the Gobi as did the followers of Ghengis Khan, 800 years ago.
We will be in Ulan Bator for the festive highlight of the year, Naadam. The three big activities we get to observe are wrestling Mongolian style where over 1000 grapplers feature in a ten round elimination contest; horse racing, where up to 1,000 steeds contend in races of 15 and 30 kilometres! And there’s archery, where the competing teams fire arrows from 75 metres at hundreds of targets on a massive wall.
That’s just a mere glimpse of our adventure in Mongolia. Join us for many more surprises!
|TRIP OPTION 1||Altai Mountains Trek, Naadam Festival and Gobi Camel Trek|
|TRIP OPTION 2||Altai Mountains Trek and Naadam Festival|
|TRIP OPTION 3||Naadam Festival and Gobi Camel Trek|
|COSTS^ AND DATES||Contact Back Track Adventures for dates and costs. A minimum of six trekkers are required to confirm departure.
Trips depart late June to ensure inclusion of the Naadam Festival in the itinerary.
|TRIP HIGHLIGHTS||Ulan Bator, Altai Mountains trek, Gobi Steppe Camel Safari, Naadam Games … and much more|
Our Trekking Style
Our Trekking Style
On this adventure you will be accompanied by an experienced and supportive Back Track Trek Leader from Australia. In Mongolia we are joined by our Kazakh crew for the Altai Mountains trek and our Mongol crew in Ulaan Bator and the Gobi Steppes. These crews are made up of experienced local guides, cooks, cameleers and drivers. In the Altai and Gobi campsites we request that you join in and assist the camp staff to pitch and take down your own tent. By taking part in the camp routine, you will establish a strong relationship with our local crew. We also advise that, in order to enjoy this trip, you attain a sound level of fitness. Your holiday begins once you book on the trip and your preparation for trekking is an essential part of it. This a true wilderness adventure so you will need to accept changes in the planned itinerary. Adverse weather conditions may cause muddy trails, swollen rivers and excessive snow.
|Day 1||Arrive Ulaan Bator. Transfer to hotel|
|Day 2||Ulaan Bator city tour. Hotel accommodation||B|
|Day 3||Fly to Olgii. Pre trek briefing. Drive to campsite.||BLD|
|Day 4||Drive to Atlai Tavanbogd National Park. Camp at Dayan Lake||BLD|
|Day 5||Start Tek. Camp at Baga Turgen Uul||BLD|
|Day 6||Trek to camp at Hoton Lake||BLD|
|Day 7||Exploration around Hoton Lake||BLD|
|Day 8||Trek to camp at Bear Valley||BLD|
|Day 9||Crossing the Altai Mountain Range||BLD|
|Day 10||Trek to camp at Tsagaan Hairnan Uul||BLD|
|Day 11||Trek to camp at Shiveet Hairhan||BLD|
|Day 12||Trek to camp at Potanina Glacier||BLD|
|Day 13||Explore around Potanina Glacier||BLD|
|Day 14||Trek to camp at the Tsagaan River||BLD|
|Day 15||Drive to Hovd Province and camp near Olgii||BLD|
|Day 16||Drive to Olgii. Fly to Ulaan Bator. Hotel accommodation||BL|
|Day 17||In Ulaan Bator for the Naadam Games||BLD|
|Day 18||In Ulaan Bator for the Naadam Games||BLD|
|Day 19||Drive to Arburd Sands in the Gobi Desert. Overnight accommodation in ger.||BLD|
|Day 20||Camel trek on Arburd Sands.||BLD|
|Day 21||Camp at Hotol Us||BLD|
|Day 22||Camel trek to camp at Manhan Sands||BLD|
|Day 23||Camel trek. Camp||B|
|Day 24||Drive to Ulaan Bator. Free afternoon for shopping transfer to airport for flight departure.||B|
|Meals included as indicated: B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner|
Day 1: Arrive Ulaan BatorArrive at Ulaan Bator. Met on arrival and transferred to our hotel.
Day 2: Ulaan Bator
Morning city tour of Ulaan Bator; visit the Gandan Monastery and Bogd Khan Palace, plus a stroll on Sukhbaatar Square. Visit Zaisan Hill for a panoramic view over the city.
Day 3: Fly Ulaan Bator – Ölgii, drive to campsite
Transfer to the airport and join Eznis Airways for the 4 hour flight to Ölgii. Usually there is a refuelling stop at Tosontsengel or Mörön. After arrival there will be a pre-trip briefing over lunch in Ölgii. Mid afternoon drive out of town and camp en route to Altai Tavanbogd National Park.
Day 4: Drive to camp at Dayan Lake
We resume our journey with a drive through the Hargant Valley to Altai Tavanbogd National Park passing below snow-capped Tsengel Hairhan Uul (3043m). The Tuvans, a Turkic speaking ethnic group who live here follow the teachings of Buddha. Their gers (yurts) are more like Mongol gers as opposed to the larger Kazakh ones. After a picnic lunch, continue our drive to Dayan Lake, near the frontier with China. Many Kazakh nomadic families use this area in the summer months for their summer grazing. There is good fishing here and stunning sunsets.
Day 5: Trek to camp at Baga Turgen Uul
We will load our equipment onto pack-camels and/or pack-horses and start hiking across to Hurgan Lake and its western shore. We trek for a full day through the dramatic steppe valley where the Hovd River drains from a series of glacial lakes in the Tavanbogd massif. As our impressive camel caravan comes out on to the steppe valleys we expect to encounter the amazing yurts of the Kazakh nomads. To the west we see the snow-capped forested mountains on the border of China and Mongolia.
Days 6 & 7: Trek to camp at Hoton Lake
We trek along the elongated Hoton Lake, just below the snow-capped Ikh Turgen Uul. We are now only 10km from the China border. You might want to bring a fishing rod along to try your luck with the largest subspecies of Mongolian Grayling (Thymallus arcticus), which they say is easily caught here. The numerous Great Cormorants in the vicinity are a good indicator that there are plentiful fish in the lakes.
Day 8: Trek to camp at Bear Valley
Trek up a valley with patches of larch forests and have a picnic lunch near Green Lake. Small streams that develop into rivers originate here. They are fed by melting glaciers which flow down broad steppe valleys. Surrounding the valley are mountains and forested hills. Along the rivers there are wooded and alluvial meadows with broad leaf forests. After a few hours of trekking we come to the scenic valley, which the locals call Bear Valley. Pitch camp next to a small waterfall.
Days 9 & 10: Cross Altai Mountains to camp at Tsagaan Hairhan Uul
We have allocated two full days for the crossing of the Altai Mountain range, the total distance being 32km. We will pitch camp before the snowy area. 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 3600m and have broad views across the Altai. We will be near the peak of Tsagaan Hairhan Uul (3662m).
Day 11: Trek to camp at Shiveet Hairhan
Trek down to Shiveet Hairhan Mountain, where the Tuva people live. Here we will now be able to view the largest petroglyphs from the period of the Xiongnu (approx 200 B.C.) which dates from the time when the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi started building the Great Wall of China.
Days 12, 13 & 14: Trek across Tavanbogd massif to camp at Tsagaan River
Trek for 6km toward the base camp of the snow-capped Tavanbogd massif. Pitch camp next to the 20km long Potanina glacier – the biggest of the twenty glaciers in Mongolian Altai – remaining here for two nights. Tavanbogd means ‘The Holy Five’, referring to the five highest peaks, of which Huiten Uul is the highest in Mongolia. At 4374 meters above sea level, this is quite a considerable height at this latitude. It is a stunning setting with the awe-inspiring massif of high snow-capped peaks. For a full day we will hike to the Malchin Uul. This is a non-technical climb.
Day 15: Drive to camp in Hovd Province
Drive via Ulaanhuis over desert mountain landscapes, with the snowcapped Tsambagarav Mountain ahead. We will find numerous petroglyphs and Turkic stones along the Sogoog River basin. Bayan-Ölgii is rich in archaeological remains, as a reminder of the time of the Turkic invasions. We will camp overnight in the Ölgii area.
Day 16: Drive to Ölgii, fly to Ulaan Bator
After early breakfast, drive for 2½ hours to Ölgii. Fly to Ulaan Bator. Met on arrival and transferred to our hotel.
Day 17: Ulaan Bator NAADAM GAMES
Today we will dedicate the day for small scale rural Naadam Games which are usually held at three communities outside the city of Ulaan Bator. We will be keen, close range spectators of the ceremonies, Mongolian national wrestling, and horse racing. Hotel accommodation.
Day 18: NAADAM GAMES
Early visit to Sukhbaatar Square to the see parade of the state horse tail banners being carried out from the Parliament Building. The mounted presidential guards will carry the banners on horseback to the National Stadium. Later we visit the National Stadium for the Grand Opening Ceremony and wrestling. Picnic lunch outside the Stadium and watch the Archery competitions. It is possible to go out of the city later in the day for more horse racing. Hotel accommodation
Day 19: drive to camp at Arburd Sands
In the morning drive 4 hours south to our camp out on to the treeless grasslands. We stay in Arburd Sands Ger Camp in the transition zone of the Gobi and the steppes. This area is rich in Mongol nomadic culture.
Day 20: Camel Trek on Arburd Sands
Meet with the herders and their camels and horses. After loading all luggage and a ger on to the camel carts we start the trek through Arburd Sands until Hotol Us. The camel carts caravan will divert and go a short way avoiding the sands. Arburd Sands is a 20km long sand dune on the Gobi grasslands. It is also a wolf habitat and you are likely to see their tracks today. Camp in tents.
Day 21: Camel Trek
We continue our walk on the wild side and head across the plains until Manhan Sands. Camp in tents.
Day 22: Camel Trek
Trek until we arrive at Senjit Hairhan Uul, which are rock formations on the steppes. There is a fair chance of sighting Argali Sheep, the world’s largest wild sheep species, here. It is our last evening with the nomads of the area. Camp in tents.
Day 23: Ulaan Bator
In the morning drive 4 hours to Ulaan Bator. The afternoon is free for last minute purchases and shopping. Hotel accommodation.
Day 24: Ulaan Bator
Transfer to the airport in time for departure flight check-in.