On this extraordinary adventure through the "Land of Blue Skies," explore the immense, silent wilderness that was once a pivotal point on the ancient Silk Road. Discover Mongolia's nomadic culture in the company of renowned photographer Thomas Kelly, who has fostered an intimate relationship with Bhukhan Valley nomads over 15 years! Saddle up and travel across vast rolling steppes on horseback, sleep in white-felt gers that dot the landscape, take part in an exciting local festival, and join a Buddhist ceremony on a sacred mountaintop. Practice your archery skill, take optional photo classes, try yoga and meditation, and experience an authentic Nadaam festival. This journey takes in Hustai National Park with its wild Przewalski horses and the magnificent Bunkhan Valley.
Experience Mongol culture and meet nomads, witness a Naadam festival, and overnight in traditional gers
Spend unforgettable days horseback riding across endless rolling steppes
Attend a Buddhist ceremony at a ceremonial cairn atop Mandal Mountain, and witness a shaman performance
Welcome to the energetic Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar! Upon arrival at Chinggis Khaan International Airport, meet an MT Sobek representative and transfer to the hotel. In the late afternoon, gather for orientation and trip briefing followed by a welcome Mongolian feast at a traditional restaurant.
Visit the 19th-century Gandan (Gandantegchinlen) Monastery, one of the country's few Buddhist structures that survived destruction by the Communists in the 1930s. After a ceremonial butter lamp offering, set off for the 3-hour drive to Hustai National Park. Arrive in time for lunch, settle into gers, and head out to explore this area famous for the endangered Przewalski's horse, locally called the takhi. Drive to the Neolithic graves of Ongut, take in the Tuul River and its willows and red-footed falcons, and look out for roaming herds of wild horses.
Today journey west across vast grasslands, stopping for lunch at Eden Camp nestled into the sacred Khogno Khan Mountain. The arid terrain and rocky landscape of this remote, 46,900-hectare nature reserve is almost surreal. Continue on to Karakorum, a 4-hour drive from Hustai. With a little luck, ride a camel in Elsen Tasarkhai sand dune, also known as "Little Gobi." In late afternoon, arrive in Karakorum, once the legendary capital of the Mongolian Empire, established by Genghis Khan and his son in the 13th century.
Today explore Karakorum, once a vibrant place that served as the political, cultural and economic capital of Mongolia for 400 years. Little of the original Karakorum remains, except Erdene Zuu Khiid, a Tibetan-style monastery built in 1586. Wander around the monastery grounds and, schedule permitting, meet with Khambo Lama to learn about the concept of Hiimu (windhorse). After lunch at a local restaurant, continue on to Tsetserleg, "the Garden City," ringed by stone mountains. Stop here for tea and move on to Lapis Sky Camp in the Bhukhan Valley.
Today choose to join an (optional) yoga session or join a photography class by professional photographer, Thomas Kelly, with a visit to a nearby nomad camp. Witness nomad neighbors milk yaks and horse mares, brush up on your horseback riding skills, and head out for a warm-up ride in the spectacular Bhukhan Valley. This evening, enjoy dinner and wonderful storytelling by local nomads.
Take an (optional) yoga session, and then join professional photographer Thomas Kelly for a photo walk , to heighten photographic skills and capture images of the dazzling countryside and nomadic way of life. Go fishing for grayling and lenok trout or practice your aim with a bow and arrow. In the afternoon, mount a horse and pay a visit to nomads camped nearby, to spend time in their gers and learn about their everyday life. In the evening, gather for a feast of traditional Mongolian barbecue.
This morning head out for a birdwatching walk, a fishing activity, or a yoga session - choose what suits you. After lunch at the camp, saddle up and set out on a horseback riding adventure across the sweeping steppes. Ride for 3 hours to Vulture Mountain and camp in a lovely meadow setting.
Today set out on horseback for an invigorating 5-hour ride over majestic mountain passes, along the way circling Buddhist ovoos, ceremonial cairns set in high places. In the afternoon, camp at the base of Mandal Mountain, a sacred ancestral place for Mongolians.
This morning set out for a silent walk up to Mandal Mountain and attend a Buddhist ceremony at a sacred ovoo at the mountaintop. Spend the rest of the day exploring Bhukhan Valley - head out for a walk, go fishing, or take an optional horseback ride to a nearby nomad settlement. In the evening, enjoy a feast of traditional Mongolian barbecue and singing around a bonfire.
Today ride back across the steppe to Bhukhan Valley ; alternatively, return by jeep. Settle into your ger at Lapis Sky Camp and enjoy free time to unwind before gathering for a shaman performance, followed by a hearty dinner in the camp's dining ger.
Today take part in an exciting local Naadam festival. Naadam (short for Eriyn Gurvan Naadam) means "Three Manly Games" - bareback horse racing, wrestling, and archery. These festivals take place every summer, and young men train all year to compete. Watch the races, mingle with locals, meet the winners, take photos, and sample delicious local food.
Today enjoy a day of leisure to soak up the serene surroundings of Lapis Sky Camp. Choose among several activities. Set out on horseback to visit the nomads' winter camp, head out for a hike, go on a fishing expedition to the Tamir River, practice yoga or archery, or just relax at the camp. This evening, listen to a traditional morinkhuur, a horse-head fiddle concert, as you sit around the camp's bonfire and bid farewell to the nomad horsemen and hosts.
After breakfast, journey back to Ulaanbaatar by bus, while enjoying a movie about the history of the Mongol Empire. Stop along the way for lunch at Altan Tul. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with the group at Namaste restaurant.
Bid farewell to Mongolia and transfer to the airport for your homeward-bound or onward flight.
MT Sobek has traveled deep into the heart of Mongolia for over 30 years, guiding guests through a rugged, expansive landscape.
Our expert team of local guides offer an immersive discovery journey, nurturing genuine encounters with nomadic cultures.
Adventurers looking to blend hiking and horseback riding with cultural insights will love this well-crafted journey.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Horseback riding (3.5 - 4 hours per day), visits to nomad camps, cultural touring, as well as optional hikes, fishing trips, yoga, archery, and photography class.
Traditional and comfortable ger camps, as well as the first and last night in a modern city hotel.
Daytime temperatures range from 70-85°F; nighttime temperatures are cooler and can drop to the 40°Fs. Brief, gentle showers can be expected in the summer.
You will be met by our MT Sobek representative.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need a visa for Mongolia. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please check with the Mongolian Embassy for your requirements.
Yes, we have a weight limit of 195 lbs. for this trip as the Mongolian horses are small and cannot accommodate heavier riders.
Yes, you will. We attend a regional Naadam and have the chance to see this on all 4 departures.
You will have wi-fi only at the Best Western Tuushin Hotel, the museum at Karakorum and Fairfield's, a bakery we stop at in Tsetserleg on the way to Lapis Sky Camp.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
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