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Mongolia Guided Self-drive Adventure

  • Historic Ulaanbaatar
  • Yolyn Am (Lammergeier Valley)
  • Flaming cliffs of the Gobi Desert
  • Orkhon Valley and the Orkhon Waterfall

Overview

Mongolia is a unique and relatively unexplored travel destination that offers vast emptiness that links land and sky. Mongolia is one of the last few places on the planet where nomadic life is still a living tradition. It is a land of contrasts with scenes of desert, the wide-open steppe and beautiful fresh water lakes. The country has the lowest population density in the world.

The majestic and vast emptiness has an appeal that lures travellers to explore and discover this destination, which is also referred to as the “Land of Blue Skies”. It is set to have 250 sunny days each year. The winters are very cold with temperatures dropping to -40ºC.

One of the world’s greatest deserts is the Gobi. It covers large parts of southern Mongolia. Compared to the Sahara and Namib the Gobi has lesser sand dunes, rather large desolated areas with gravel plains and rocky ridges.

Mongolia is also a country with an old and rich history. During the 1200’s their most famous leader Genghis Khan had a great influence on world history and the Mongol Empire. His grandson was the founder of modern China.

Live the Journey will embark on a self-drive 4 x 4 adventure from 07 to 25 August 2019. We will follow off-the-beaten tracks and visit the most beautiful places the country has to offer. Don’t miss out as this will be a WOW experience that will stay with your forever.

Itinerary

Day 0: Depart

Depart from South Africa on a flight to Mongolia. The flight route will be determined at time of booking according to the best available options for the group.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL ULAANBAATAR

16:45 – Group arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Welcome to Mongolia!
Upon arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The transfer will be conducted in unique Russian mini-vans. Spend the rest of the day at leisure to acclimatise to the new time zone after the long hours in the air.
20:00 – Welcome dinner at Modern Nomads Restaurant.
O/N Hotel Nine (dinner)

DAY 2: CITY TOUR

Enjoy breakfast before departing on a city tour. Our first stop will be the famous Chinggis Khaan Statue. It is situated about 54 km from the city centre, on the bank of the Tuul River. This 40-meter high, stainless steel statue is one of the largest in the world. You can use an elevator, or stairs, to reach the head of the horse, from where you will have a panoramic view of the landscape.
Return to the city for a visit to the National Museum of Mongolian History. The museum was established in 1924 and its collection contains over 50,000 historical, archaeological and ethnological artefacts dating from prehistoric times to the present. A representative selection of exhibits is displayed in 10 halls, arranged according to historic periods and topics.
Lunch at Adventure Temple.
Enjoy a traditional cultural show at 18:00. Dinner will be at leisure and for own account.
O/N Hotel Nine. (breakfast, lunch)

DAY 3: ULAANBAATAR TO BAGA GAZRIIN CHULUU (320 KM)

Breakfast and check-out. This morning there will be time to stock up on supplies, before you are taken to a location outside of the city where you will receive your vehicles. Load your luggage and attend a quick briefing on the day’s driving and road conditions. The convoy will head out south towards Mandalgobi Province (middle Gobi).
The drive to Baga Gazriin Chuluu will take between 5 and 6 hours, about 320 kms. It is a picturesque mountain at an elevation of 1,751 meters, in the Granite Belt of Mongolia. After lunch, visit Sum Khukh Burd – the ruins of a stone temple of the 9th century.
O/N Ger camp (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 4: BAGA GAZRIIN CHULUU TO TSAGAAN-SUVRAGA (220 KM)

Breakfast and check-out.
Today the road conditions will be fine, which will allow an average speed of about 50 to 60 km/h. We will stop en route to visit an authentic Mongolian nomad Ger. Picnic lunch will be provided for the road. Driving time for the day will be about 4 hours.
O/N Ger camp (breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner)

DAY 5: TSAGAAN SUVRAGA - YOLYN AM (250 KM)

Breakfast and check-out.
Today we visit Yolyn Am (Lammergeier Valley) a deep and narrow gorge in the Gurvan Saikhan National Park. The valley is named after the Lammergeier, which is called Yol in Mongolian. The Lammergeier is an old-world vulture, hence the name often translated to Valley of the Vultures or Valley of the Eagles. Yolyn Am is found in the Zuun Saikhanii Nuruu (the Eastern Beauty) subrange of the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains. The area, as part of the Gobi Desert, sees little precipitation. However, Yolyn Am is notable for a deep ice field. The ice field is several meters thick by the end of winter, and is several kilometres long. In past years it remained year-round, but the modern ice field tends to disappear by July.
Enjoy a picnic lunch at the entrance to the national park. Afternoon, drive to the ger camp. Today you will spend 4 to 5 hours on the road.
O/N Ger camp (breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner)

DAY 6: YOLYN AM - KHONGORIIN ELS SINGING SAND DUNES (200 KM)

After having breakfast, we will drive to the sand dunes called Khongoriin Els. The Khongoriin Els sand dunes lie north of the Baruunsaikhan Mountain in the northern part of the Sevrei and Zuulun Mountains. The Khongoriin Els are some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia and they are up to 200 m high, 12 km wide and about 180 km long. The largest dunes are at the northwest corner of the range. You can climb to the top of the sand dunes and then slide back down on a plastic bag. The views of the desert from the top are wonderful. Climbing to the top of the dunes during the sunset gives you an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding desert. To the north lies the Khongoriin River. Spend this night in roof top tents that your vehicle is equipped with.
Time spent on the road today, is about 4 to 5 hours.
O/N Wilderness camping (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 7: CHONO SHURGUULGA AT KHONGOR SAND DUNE (30 KM)

Today we drive to the west of the Khongoriin dune belt. Enjoy the unique and interesting landscape of Chono Shurguulga, meaning wolf shelter. You will also see a saxaul forest high in the sand dunes and some wild animals.
O/N Wilderness camping (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 8: KHONGOR SAND - FLAMING CLIFFS - SAIKHAN OVOO (300 KM)

After an early breakfast, break-up camp before heading to Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs) where American explorer and adventurer, Andrew Roy Chapman, discovered a palaeontologist paradise – even today you will be able to spot dinosaur bones. Enjoy the Flaming Cliffs and walk to the Gobi’s Saxual forest on the north of the cliffs.
After lunch we will head off to Saikhan Ovoo which is a small village in the Middle Gobi Province. The bend in the river marks the remains of two ruined monasteries, the Barlim Khiid on the north bank and the Khutagt Khiid on the south. The monastery used to house about 500 monks. It was built in the late 18th century to honour the first visit to Mongolia by a Dalai Lama. The monastery was reopened in 1990 and the current Dalai Lama visited it in 1992. After 3 hours of driving through the desert plains you will arrive at the ruins of the Ongin Monastery compound.
Driving time will be around 5 hours today.
O/N Ger Camp (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 9: ONGI, SAIHAN OVOO- ORKHON VALLEY (180 KM)

Today we will spend most of the time driving through the Orkhon Valley and will visit the Orkhon Waterfall, the biggest waterfall in Mongolia. We will set-up camp in the valley, which many horses and nomads also call their home. Driving time will be about 4 hours.
O/N Wilderness camping (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 10: ORKHON VALLEY – KHARKHORUM & TSENKHER HOT SPA (250 KM)

Today we head towards Kharkhorum. This was the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, which was founded by Khubilai Khan, a grandson of Chinggis Khan. It served as capital for many years; unfortunately, just a few traces are left of the old city. We visit Erdene Zuu Monastery to see monks chanting, before continuing the drive. After about 125 km we stop to visit Tsenkher hot spa, which is situated in a beautiful valley.
Driving time today is about 5 to 6 hours.
O/N Ger camp (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 11: TSENKHER HOT SPA - WHITE LAKE, KHORGO (230 KM)

A wonderful day lies ahead: a canyon, volcanic crater, river crossings and beautiful hills and mountains.
Today’s journey will start on a paved road until we reach Tsetserleg, capital city of Arkhangai Province. Here we will stop at a café owned by British expats. An opportunity to enjoy coffee and snacks and explore a bit of the city. Then we continue to drive towards White Lake. Toward the end of the day we will stop at Chuluut River Canyon.
Driving time today will be about 5 hours.
O/N Wilderness Camping (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 12: WHITE LAKE - SHINE IDER (240 KM)

Breakfast and break-up camp.
It will be a full day of driving to reach Shine Ider in the Khuvsgul Province. Further north our route goes along the wooded slopes of the Khangai Mountain range … admire the picturesque landscapes. Enjoy a picnic lunch in these beautiful surrounds. Approximate driving time 4 – 5 hours.
O/N Ger camp (breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner)

DAY 13: SHINE IDER TO KHOVSGOL LAKE (250 KM)

Today will be a long day on the road. We need to cross two passes and lots of little rivers and ruts. Our early departure will be towards Murun, a provincial town of Khuvsgol. This will be a refuel and re-supply stop. From there we hit the paved road for 100 km towards Khuvsgol Lake – en route we visit the ancient Deer Stone monument. This lake is one of the gem lakes of northern Mongolia.
Enjoy a walk along the shores of the crystal-clear water of Lake Khovsgol.
Time on the road today, about 5 hours.
O/N Wilderness Camping (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 14: FREE DAY AT THE LAKE

Explore the area and then transfer to a ger camp next to the lake.
After all the hard driving the last couple of days, we enjoy some time at leisure.
Optional activities: hiking, visit reindeer herders, horse riding and a boat ride on the lake.
O/N Ger Camp (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 15: HUBSGUL-URAN TOGOO (250 KM)

We start early with a drive around the lake and then head eastwards to Erdenebulgan. This will include several river crossings, muddy sections, Alpine meadows with trees and flowers in blossom. We will arrive in the afternoon at Erdenebulgan. Lunch on the banks of Egi River. After lunch, we head towards Uran Togoo Mountain. Approximate driving for today, 6 – 7 hours.
O/N Wilderness camping (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 16: URAN TOGOO- AMARBAYASGALANT (220 KM)

On today’s menu are: a Buddhist temple, gently rolling hills and scattered nomadic gers throughout the valley.
After breakfast, we will start driving towards Amarbayasgalant Monastery, one of the most prominent monasteries of Mongolia built in the mid-17th century by Manchu’s in respect of Saint Zanabazar. The monastery was partly destroyed during the communist era and has been restored in the early 90’s. Today about 50 monks permanently stay in the monastery.
We will drive through Erdenet city, the 3rd largest city of Mongolia. Stay in the camp overlooking the beautiful Amarbayasgalant monastery.
Driving time about 5 hours
O/N Ger camp: Amarbayasgalant Urguu (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 17: AMARBAYASGALANT-ULAANBAATAR (370 KM)

Early departure from Amarbasaglant for Ulaanbaatar to arrive in Ulaanbaatar around 16:00.
Check in at hotel and freshen-up.
Return vehicles.
18:00 – Farewell dinner at Hazara Indian Restaurant
Driving time today is about 5 hours
O/N Hotel Nine (breakfast, lunch, dinner)

DAY 18: DEPART

Check-out, collect breakfast packs.
04:00 – Transfer to the airport
06:25 – Depart on flight from Ulaanbaatar for Hong Kong and back to Johannesburg.

END OF SERVICES

Dates

07 to 25 August 2019

Rates

LAND PACKAGE: Based on 10 people
Per person sharing: USD 5,155.00 (based on 2 people per vehicle)
Per child under 12 years: USD 2,920.00

Included

  • Vehicle rental fee 
  • Fuel per vehicle for the duration of the tour
  • Vehicles are equipped with roof top tent for two people, ground tent for extra passengers
  • Support vehicle 
  • 6 nights in roof top tents 
  • 3 nights in Hotel Nine
  • 8 nights in ger camps on full board basis
  • A mechanic
  • A field chef
  • English speaking guide for entire trip 
  • Toll fees 
  • Entrance fees for national parks
  • Return airport transfers 
  • Camping equipment: folding chair, camp mattress, sleeping bag and pillow
  • Bottled water during the day – 2 liters per day per person
  • Vehicle insurance in the event of an accident, 
  • Vehicle refrigerator, sand plates, and 2 spare tires
  • Car radios (Motorolla)

Excluded

  • Alcoholic and soft drinks during trip 
  • Personal service fee at the hotels and ger camps
  • Gratuities for crew
  • International and domestic flights 
  • Airlift evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Medical, luggage and travel insurance
  • Visa fee
  • Any inoculations
  • Any other items or services not specified


TRIP NOTES:

Damage deposit:
The vehicle rental company will require a refundable deposit of $1000.00 per vehicle upon collection of your car in Ulaanbaatar. The deposit will be returned at the end of the trip after the vehicle is inspected.

Type of camping:
Two-man tents, camping table, chairs, mattresses and sleeping bags will be provided. “Bush camps” will be set-up in areas where there is no alternative accommodation. On this route we will explore the off-the-beaten areas of Mongolia where camping is the only accommodation option. The guide vehicle will have an equipped kitchen, but no ablution facilities are available on camping nights.

What is a Ger Camp?
In ancient times people in Mongolia made shelters from dry branches and animal skin. These are round structures. The first gers to resemble the modern-day design dates back to 2500 – 3000 BC. The structure consists of two main elements: a wooden frame and the felt that covers it.

A Ger Camp is a type of resort where tourists stay in a ger instead of a hotel room. These camps are in beautiful locations. The gers (rooms) can sleep between 2 and 4 people. Ablution facilities are shared (like we have in our caravan parks). Separate shower and toilet for male and females. These are about 50 – 100 m from the main sleeping area. They have restaurants that serve Mongolian traditional cuisine as well as European dishes.