Mongolia Explorer

The Gobi Desert, Lake Khovsgol & the Naadam Festival

  • Explore Buddhist temples of Ulaanbaatar
  • Ride Bactrian camels in the Gobi and opt to horseback ride at Khovsgol Lake
  • Sleep at a ger camp, smack in the middle of the Gobi Desert's great ethereal landscapes
Trip Type: Scheduled Departure
Trip Length: 13 Days
Activity type(s): Cultural Tour, Day Hiking, Horseback Riding
Trip Extensions: Call 888-570-7108 for custom extension options

This active journey gives us an unassumingly cushy experience of the country, with stays in some of its best hotels and ger camps, taking in three of its highest lights: the Gobi Desert, Lake Khovsgol, and the Naadam Festival.

We begin in the surprisingly cosmopolitan capital, Ulaanbaatar, visiting its resurgent Buddhist temples and proud museums. Then we fly to the heart of the Gobi. From our beautifully arranged ger camp, smack in the middle of the great desert’s ethereal landscapes, we amble about looking for dinosaur bones and gazing at the famed Flaming Cliffs. We ride two-humped Bactrian camels, visit the wonderful Yol Valley for a chance to see the amazing lammergeyer (bearded vulture), and take in Khongoriin Els (the “singing sand dunes”).

Next we fly to magnificent Lake Khovsgol, set in a serene wilderness of clear lakes, lush meadows, and forested mountains. We explore by horseback and jeep, and perhaps meet some of the area’s Tsaatan people, nomadic reindeer herders who resolutely practice shamanism. Out in this grand country­side, we catch a very authentic Naadam, the largest and most boisterous Mongolian festival, featuring horse racing, archery contests, epic wrestling matches, and lyric horse-praising competitions. We end with the very essence of Mongolia, Gorkhi Terelj National Park’s softly rolling, forest-draped hills and huge open skies, which, we respectfully maintain, make Montana’s look paltry in comparison.

Mongolia adventure travel map

Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: arrive in Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 2: Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 3: fly to south Gobi, visit Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs)
  • Day 4: drive to Khongoriin Els, camel riding and dune climbing
  • Day 5: visit nomad family
  • Day 6: excursion to Yol Valley
  • Day 7: fly to Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 8: fly to Khovsgol Lake
  • Day 9: explore Khovsgol
  • Day 10: Naadam Festival
  • Day 11: fly to Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 12: Gorkhi Terelj National Park
  • Day 13: depart Ulaanbaatar.