This 45 day overland tour journeys from Bishkek to Ulaanbaatar through China, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia
Border Information: If joining in Bishkek, you will most likely enter Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Manas International Airport ( IATA code: FRU ).
There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10.00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting as well.
The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
Please note many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Bishkek before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales Team or your Agent if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Bishkek.
In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Today we will have a full day's journey south to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.
In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather ( or if simply the group prefers or there is no availability ), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8 - 10 people per yurt.
Estimated Drive Time 8- 9 hours.
Border Information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Torugart, enter China at Torugart.
Today we will drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass, crossing into China and heading down to the Uighur city of Kashgar.
In Kashgar we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
This morning we will have an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world!
In the afternoon we will have free time to explore the town, the central Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, while your crew finalise the customs procedures for our truck to continue further into China.
Tonight we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Our journey through China begins as we leave Kashgar and head east through the Taklamkan Desert! Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2nights and we will plan to stay in local hotels along the way.
Estimated Drive Times 8 - 9 hours each day ( please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for comfort or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip! )
Today we will travel to the oasis town of Turpan, where we will have time to explore the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.
In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
Today is mostly a travel day as we make our way closer to the Chinese/ Mongolian Border.
We will either wild camp tonight if possible or stay in a local hotel.
Estimated Driving Time 7 - 8 hours
Border Information: Exit China at Takeshiken, enter Mongolia at Hovdiin Bulgan.
This morning we will complete the drive to the border and cross into Mongolia. We will stop in the small town of Bulgan to stock up on supplies for the next few days before we find a place to camp for the night in this remote area of Western Mongolia.
Tonight we will wild camp near Bulgan
Estimated Drive Time 7 - 8 hours
Over the next 3 days we will be driving mostly offroad making our way further west towards Altai Tavn National Park wild camping along the way. On the first day we will drive through Bodnach Canyon and then onto Tal Lake. On the way we will visit one of the biggest deer stone sites in Western Mongolia.
We will then continue on to Khoton & Khurgan Lakes where we will have 2 nights wild camping next to the beautiful lake in the National Park. From here we will have time to simply relax and take in the beautiful landscapes or opt to do a full day hike to Turken Waterfalls.
We will be wild camping for the next 3 nights.
Estimated Drive Times 7 -8 hours ( please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip! )
This morning we will leave the national park and continue on to the town of Ulgii.
In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the local museum to understand more about Ulgii and the surrounding areas. We will also head to the local markets to explore and stock up on supplies again.
Tonight we will stay in a basic local hotel or guesthouse
Estimated Drive Time 6 -7 hours
Today we drive out of the town of Ulgii and do a full day's drive off road onto Tsambagarav National Park.
We hope to arrive early afternoon where there will be free time to explore this beautiful national park and admire the view of Tsambagarav which is one of the highest mountains in Mongolia sitting at 4195 metres.
Tonight we will wild camp in the National Park
Estimated Drive Time 6 - 7 hours
We have an early start this morning to begin our drive to Tsenhker Caves.
Once we arrive and have set up camp we will have a chance to stretch our legs and walk to the caves to see the rock paintings which have been there for thousands of years.
Tonight we will wild camp near the caves
Estimate Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
Over the next 2 days we will continue our journey east, edging closer to the famous Gobi Desert.
We will bush camp on the first night near the Antaishir Mountain range and on the second we will find a place to camp at Taats Lake which has a beautiful sandy beach giving us a good opportunity to relax and enjoy the peacefulness surrounding this area.
We will spend the next 2 nights wild camping.
Estimated Drive Time each day 7 -8 hours
Leaving Taats lake we will drive to Khongor Sand Dunes.
Late this afternoon we will hike to Duut Mankhan which is the highest point of the dunes to see the stunning sunset over the dunes.
We will have a second night in Khongor to enjoy and take in the incredible landscape with an opportunity for Camel Riding in the day.
We will stay in a local Ger Camp
Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
This morning we will leave the sand dunes behind and drive to Bayanzag known as the site of the Flaming Cliffs. Late in the afternoon we will see them change colours with the sun direction and enjoy another stunning sunset.
We continue on through the Gobi Desert taking in the vast open lands in all directions taking in another beautiful sunset as we reach our camp for the night.
Tonight we will stay in a local Ger Camp
Estimated Drive Time 6 -7 hours
Today we will continue through the Gobi and Yol Valley, we will eventually start to head north to Tsagaan Suvraga which is translated to White Stupa. This sediment structure is over 60 metres high with steep slopes which appear to be the ruins of an ancient city.
Tonight we will wild camp
Today we will drive to Baga Gazrynn Chuluu. When we arrive we will get a chance to explore the impressive rock formations rising from the desert steppe.
Tonight we will spend our last night wild camping before we reach Ulaanbaatar.
This morning we will leave the desert behind and make our way to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
In the afternoon we will have free time to explore the city.
Tonight we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).
There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital!
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ulaanbaatar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ulaanbaatar.
In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum.
This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into people's lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.
Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.
Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era.
After our visit to the ruins we will drive to gii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.
In gii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds.
Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards.
Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram).
Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen Monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.
Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.
In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.
Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim!
We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.
The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.
After our visit we will wild camp nearby.
Please note that on occasion it is impossible to reach the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot.
Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.
Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys.
We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82 C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.
The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback.
In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.
This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum.
We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight.
Today we continue noth past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano.
In Chuulut Canyon we will stay at a nearby ger camp.
This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.
We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo.
Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route.
We hope to arrive at M r n, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Kh vsg l Lake.
We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of M r n.
This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Kh vsg l Lake.
Kh vsg l Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.
The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.
In Kh vsg l Lake we will stay at a ger camp.
We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulaanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes.
We will aim to wildcamp in the plains east of M r n on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that.
This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style.
Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.
Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a well-earned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants!
In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel.
Border information: If you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely exit Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ulaanbaatar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
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Trip Name: Ultimate Mongolian Explorer
Duration: 45 Days
From Price: $6,604
Supplier Tour ID: EEUW1/242134
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