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jess@eternal-landscapes.co.uk

Roughly 17% of Mongolia's landmass has some form of national environmental protection with a focus on this increasing this up to 30%. A further 10% has local protected area status. This trip brings you into contact with some of the less visited national parks and nature reserves in the country. The vast landscapes of Mongolia’s middle Gobi and the mountain forest steppe of Khentii provide the backdrop on this active adventure where you will experience the striking raw natural beauty and traditional and 21st century ways of Mongolia. By visiting two contrasting regions - Gobi and Khentii - you will leave with a better understanding of the diversity of the people and their way of life, the landscapes and wildlife in Mongolia.

Good to know

  • Visit the Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project
  • Explore Gobi and Khentii
  • Homestays with local families
  • Book with flexibility & confidence: advanced Covid-19 protocols in place

What's included

  • Included All meals
  • Included Ground transfers
  • Included Guided excursions
  • Included Accommodation
Days

16

Starting from

$2,610 pp

Contact us now for more information about this trip
Speak to Jess for expert travel advice
Enquire now
Destinations
Mongolia
Activity
Adventure, Hiking & Trekking, Active, Overlanding, Camping, Horseback Riding, Nature & Wildlife, National Parks, Culture, Indigenous Tourism, Responsible Travel, Community-led Tourism, Solo Travel
Tour Type
Custom itinerary, Small group tour, Private guided tour
Physical Level
Mild

Detailed itinerary

What you'll see and do

This is a customisable trip

Use the following itinerary for inspiration. Remember: all days, hotels and activities can be altered to suit your requirements. A Eternal Landscapes travel specialist will be happy to advise.

Discover Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar is home to roughly 45% of Mongolia’s population and our free city walking tour will give you a more local introduction to this vibrant frontier style city with a strong Mongolian identity of its own.

Yes, the city is chaotic and loud and not as glamorous as other capital cities but it is the beating heart of Mongolia and the hub of contemporary Mongolian urban life. The reality for many Mongolians takes place in this urban context, in a city they are striving to develop and improve.

Our informal and relaxed city walking tour will give you a contrasting insight into a way of life, compared to that of the rural population. This day is not about museums or shopping – it’s about getting out and about and exploring and discovering.

Today you’ll spend the day in the company of one of my Mongolian trip assistants. The day will include Nogoon Nuur (Green Lake) community project - a community space created for the local population of the nearby Bayangol ger districts by Ulzii - a Mongolian philanthropist - as well as other areas of the city including Gandan Monastery.

Included meals: Lunch

Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

As you head south out of Ulaanbaatar - following the route of the Trans-Mongolian - you will start to get an understanding of the diversity of Mongolia’s natural habitats. You could observe wildlife native to the Gobi - especially herds of White Tailed Gazelle.

Your destination is Ikh Nart - a wildlife region of rocky terrain and canyons. Located in Dornogobi Aimag, this reserve harbours a wide diversity of flora and fauna and is a long-term study site between Denver Zoo and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences.

The studies aim to understand the ecology of the region, the behaviour of the resident species and to improve conservation management in the region.

Three projects are on-going - the Argali Sheep / Siberian Ibex Project, the Carnivore Project and the Cinereous Vulture Project. Although small (66,000 hectares), Ikh Nart represents a strong-hold for the globally threatened Argali Sheep - the largest mountain sheep in the world. It is also one of the most significant breeding sites for the CinereousVulture (European Black Vulture).

Spend the second day exploring independently. We usually also plan a short safari with Batbold the protected area ranger but this does depend on his own schedule.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ikh Gazriin Chuluu is characterised by extensive granite rock formations and surrounded by steppe and semi-desert habitat with local protection. The views between the rock formations and expansive and this provides a great location to explore as well as just to relax and soak up the solitude.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project

Travel to and explore the provincial capital of Mandalgobi including enjoying an informal stay at the Gobi Oasis Tree Planting Project - a small, family run, non-profit conservation project that has been operating since 1975.

Gobi Oasis is a small tree-planting nursery project established by Byamba Tseyen in her hometown of Mandalgobi, Dundgobi in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia in 1975. For over 40 years, she has been leading this conservation project by growing small seeds & branches, and nurturing them in harsh conditions, before replanting them in areas in desperate need for defence against desertification.

Each group typically plants one tree at the nursery - EL and our guests have now planted over 120 of our own trees - species which are native to the desert - which represents around 3% of the total number of trees planted at Gobi Oasis.

As well as planting your own tree, we make a substantial donation per person for their visit and this payment will go towards the work of Gobi Oasis. You will stay as the guests of Byamba and Radnaa - the founders of Gobi Oasis. Urnaa is their daughter-in-law and she will be your main host. She enjoys interaction with her guests and likes when they help her to prepare the evening meal.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
Basic

Mandalgovi Homestay

Erdenedalai is Mongolian for ‘Jewel Ocean’ and although far from the ocean this tight knit and traditional community located in the middle of the Gobi steppe provides a genuine insight into everyday life in Mongolia.

Even though annual precipitation in this area is low, with no permanent lakes and very few springs, roughly 5880 herder households make their home in this transition zone between steppe and desert. It is a beautiful region little visited by other international visitors as it's not considered a highlight by guidebook writers or tour companies and that's exactly why we make it one of our bases. As mentioned, it’s great for slow travel experiences of a more immersive kind. Although just wide stretching semi-desert steppe, the views are expansive.

Having arrived, the rest of your time will be spent at the homes of the herding families that we work with in the area - roughly 14km from the main centre of Erdenedalai. We don’t detail what you will do on your arrival - that’s because we do things a little differently and leave the plan flexible as this leads to a more respectful experience but expect to spend the second day exploring the local way of life through the eyes of the rural families we work with in the region.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
Expand
Erdenedalai Homestay
Simple

Erdenedalai Homestay

Gorkhi Terelj National Park

Drive out Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. It’s a long drive so rather than seeing this transfer day as a bore of a drive, adjust your way of thinking and see it as a Mongolian road trip. True, it will feel like a long day on the road but we break it up with a picnic lunch where you can stop for a while and take in the view. We recommend removing your watch and let the day and the journey unfold. Do not spend time in the van thinking ‘when will we get there’- you are already there; surrounded by the beauty that is Mongolia.

Although Terelj has a feeling of being over- developed (the main valley was first developed for tourism in 1964 with most continuing construction not having planning permission) and built up it remains a stunning area of magnificent alpine scenery which is still a joy to explore.

You’ll transfer directly to your accommodation provided by herding family Naraa and Bijee.

You will notice that we don’t detail what you will do on your free day - that’s because we do things a little differently and leave the plan open as this leads to a more respectful experience for the family and a more flexible and relaxed experience for you as our guests.

We have many ideas including experiencing the local way of life, an informal cookery lesson or just quietly enjoying the gentle natural beauty of the area.

We can also arrange a horse trek or day hikes with a picnic lunch accompanied by your EL trip assistant and your Gorkhi-Terelj herder host - Naraa (or his son). Although the main valley is developed, the backcountry offers a diverse and wild landscape perfect for getting away from it all for a few hours.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Where you'll stay
Simple

Naraa and Bujee Ger Camp

Baldan Bereeven Khiid and Öglögchiin Wall

Head into Khentii - named for the Khentii Mountains that dominate the north west of this province. Due to the lack of a ‘touchable’ history is it easy to be persuaded that Mongolia is actually short on history. It is definitely not – Mongolia is an ancient land and has a rich and varied history.

However, the country only offers a hint at the flow of peoples and the cultures that have preceded modern Mongolia. The region hosts a number of cultural heritage sites demonstrating an evolving sacred cultural landscape. It is home to the Buriat ethnic group. You’ll camp close to Baldan Bereeven Khiid Monastery - which would have once been the centre of local life for a population whose faith and devotion more than made up for the simplicity and the challenging remote life-style. You’ll also explore what is thought to be one of the burial sites of the direct lineage of Chinggis Khan (Öglögchiin Wall).

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Explore the area known as the birthplace of Genghis Khan. The whole region is principally used for livestock grazing and hay making, with many small- scale farms growing wheat, barley and oats.

Dadal is an attractive small community on the border of the Onon-Balj National Park. Genghis Khan’s birthplace believed to lie at confluence of the Onon and Balk rivers at Delüün Boldog - 3km north of Bayan-Ovoo (the centre of Dadal district) in the Delüün Boldog hills. You can also visit the (very small) Khajuu Bulag mineral water spring, where it is said the great man once drank.

You will cross the mighty Onon River using the birvaz. The what? The birvaz is one of my favourite inventions - a floating platform on a pulley system that crosses the river - used by locals with their motorbikes or in this case, by EL with our Furgon van. Tserendorj is the operator and crossing the river this way gives you time to discuss the weather, the state of the Mongolian economy and to count fish.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Toson Hulstai Nature Reserve

Mongolia has the lowest human population density of any country in the world, and the Eastern Steppe has one of the lowest densities in Mongolia – few human settlements or fences interrupt this breathtaking landscape. As you depart Dadal, you will be entering into Dornod Aimag - Mongolia’s easternmost province and part of Mongolia’s Eastern Steppe, one of the largest expanses of unspoilt, temperate grassland in the world. Wild camp in the middle landscapes of Khentii Province.

This vast landscape is characterised by flat treeless plains, rolling hills and a significant number of important wetlands. The wilderness of the Eastern Steppe is home to one of the world’s last great populations of the Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa). Spend one evening at Toson Khulstai Nature Reserve - created to protect its native population of White Tailed Gazelle. In 2020, it became an UNESCO biosphere reserve which seek to reconcile human activity with the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Although the immense Gazelle herds are frequently elusive we may be lucky enough to come across a smaller herd.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ondorkhan is the capital of Khentii Aimag - in 2014 Ondorkhaan’s name was changed to Chinggis in honour of the man who came from Khentii Aimag.

Is Ondorkhan considered a highlight of Mongolia by the guidebook writers? No! But, it is a vibrant town where you can enjoy a hot shower and reconnect to the western world through WI-FI (when it’s working!). There’s great food in the local restaurants as well as karaoke - that the locals absolutely love!

And if you wonder why both staying here? It will give you an idea as to real everyday life for Mongolians living in 21st Century Mongolia. Not the ‘land of Chinggis Khan’ as sold by tour companies.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue and Ulaanbaatar

En-route back to Ulaanbaatar stop at Tsonjin Boldog - this is the remarkable statue of Chinggis Khan. All 131 ft of it! Yes, it is a tourist attraction but it’s a big draw for Mongolians as much as westerners and the view is spectacular - facing east overlooking his homeland.

We’ll transfer you to your accommodation in UB and the rest of the day will be yours to create your own experience. Remember you could use our UB guide to help you to explore the urban side of Mongolian life in downtown Ulaanbaatar. Alternatively, one of our trip assistants could be made available but please let me know in advance.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Ulaanbaatar

    Ulaanbaatar

    ...
  • Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

    Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

    ...
  • Ikh Gazriin Chuluu

    ...
  • Mandalgovi

    ...
  • Erdenedalai

    ...
  • Gorkhi Terelj National Park

    Gorkhi Terelj National Park

    ...
  • Baldan Bereeven Khiid

    ...
  • Dadal

    ...
  • Khentii

    Khentii

    ...
  • Ondorkhan (Chinggis)

    ...
  • Ulaanbaatar

    Ulaanbaatar

    ...

Upcoming departures

Departing Returning    
27 Aug 2022 11 Sep 2022 Enquire
More dates available   Enquire

Looking for a different date?

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Good to know

Speak to a Mongolia specialist about this trip

Eternal Landscapes

Call one of our travel experts for ideas and trip planning advice.

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Reviews

What people are saying about Eternal Landscapes

O
Owen
01/07/2020

We booked a 9-day tour with Eternal Landscapes to the Khentii province, probably the most remote and challenging part of Mongolia. I was researching for a novel I'm currently writing, and my family and a friend also wanted to tag along for the adventure. And what an adventure it was! We traveled over 1,300 kms in 2 Russian Furgon vans, following the footsteps of Chinggis Khan and paying homage to the Mongol homelands. I feel somewhat forever changed on a fundamental level by the experience. We have fallen in love with Mongolia and its wonderful people, who are so resilient, resourceful, friendly and forever helpful.

Booking the trip was a lengthy process as our itinerary had to be custom-designed and the owner, Jess, was immensely patient, informative, and extremely helpful. After looking around at a few different tour companies, we decided with Eternal Landscapes because of this and also because of the philosophy that the company operates with. They are very environmentally conscious, taking measures to minimise waste during our travels. They do everything they can to try to give back to the country and the community, giving work to small local businesses and employing women as trip assistants. In a country where it is difficult for women to find work as guides, Eternal Landscapes provides training and support to those that want the opportunity to work in tourism.

J
Jeny B
01/09/2018

A trip that exceeded all my expectations! I cannot thank Eternal Landscapes (Jess Brooks) enough for blessing us with two of the most knowledgeable, friendly, funny and caring people. Please do not hesitate in booking with EL, you won't be disappointed.

N
Nadja
01/01/2020

We had the most amazing time with Eternal Landscapes. We booked with them because of their ethical and empowering way of working and giving back to the community. If you want to be more than a tourist, we highly recommend them. Jess, the owner was extremely patient and helpful in customising our trip. And even though we never met her, her philosophy and absolutely love and knowledge for the country and its quirks shines through the whole experience.

With such vast landscapes and different way of life, winter is a fantastic way of seeing, appreciating and experiencing the country. And as photographers it was mind blowing. Our tour assistant and driver were both lovely, incredibly accommodating, with a great sense of humour.


How to book

Contact us now for expert advice

Price guide

This itinerary would cost from $2,610 and $3,035 pp.

Pricing may vary by accommodation choice, group size and time of year.

What's included

Included All meals

All meals outside of the city of Ulaanbaatar. Mainly prepared and cooked by your local team so they are fresh and it means we offer more flexibility for any dietary requirements.

Included Ground transfers

Transportation to and from the airport on arrival and departure days and all overland transportation throughout the trip. Each vehicle has a charger for cameras and phones.

Included Guided excursions


All activities mentioned with a local team of English speaking trip assistants.

Included Accommodation

A mixture of homestays and family operated ger camps. Excludes accommodation in Ulaanbaatar at the start and end of your trip.

Learn more

Contact us now for expert advice on how to tailor this tour to your requirements and budget.

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