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Spend 3 nights hiking through Mongolia’s western Altai Mountains before getting a fix on culture in the country’s heartland. This itinerary is for avid trekkers who want to experience Mongolia’s culture, topped off with a few nights of luxury at the end.
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar and meet your guide and driver. Check into your hotel and, depending on your arrival time, head off for some introductory sightseeing around the capital. In the evening, get your first taste of Mongolian cuisine!
Fly to Ulgii
This morning head back to the airport for your 3-hour flight to Ulgii. On arrival meet your local Kazakh guide and drive 2 hours to the Khatu Valley where you will begin your hike. Today’s hike entails about 12 kilometers or 4 hours in the afternoon.
Khatu Valley Day 1
Today you will hike the Khatu Valley Plateau, the summer place of the Kazakh people in this region. Cover approximately 15 kilometers of ground, taking about 5 hours.
Khatu Valley Day 2
Today you will continue along the Khatu Valley Plateau to the residence of an eagle hunting family. You will cover about the same distance as yesterday, approximately 15 kilometres taking about 5 hours.
Meet the family and learn about their unique way of life.
Khatu Valley to Ulgii
Today you will drive back to Ulgii which will take approximately 2 hours.
Spend the afternoon with another eagle hunting family, heading out with them on horseback around the surrounding mountains and valleys. There is no actual hunting during the summer months but you can meet the eagles and learn all about this age-old tradition.
Fly back to Ulaanbaatar
Transfer to Ulgii Airport and fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Check into your hotel and enjoy a hot shower (the first proper shower in days!).
In the afternoon, visit Naraan Tuul, otherwise known as the Black Market. This is a great place to witness the hustle and bustle of Mongolian traders going about their daily lives.
In the evening, attend a concert of traditional Mongolia music and dance at the Tumen Ekh ensemble.
Kharkhorin and Erden Zuu Monastery
This morning after breakfast, head west to the ancient capital of Kharkhorin. Driving time is approximately 5-6 hours but there are plenty of places to stop along the way for wonderful photo opportunities.
Explore the beautifully decorated Tibetan style, Lavriin Temple, at Erdene Zuu Monastery. The walled complex also has three temples maintained as a museum and to the north lie the foundations of Ogedei Khan's Tumen Amgalant Palace, the centre of Mongol empire during the 13th century.
Today drive 2 hours through the Orkhon Valley, a vast area of stunning natural beauty.
You will meet your horse guide and mount up for an hour or so ride through the forest until you reach a little clearing. Here you will dismount and proceed to walk up to the charming Tovkhon Monastery, located on the top of a rocky cliff. The views from the monastery across the alpine valleys are spectacular.
Orkhon Valley to Bayangobi
Today drive towards Bayangobi to stay with another family of nomadic friends. You can help with the daily tasks of rounding up and milking the animals or collecting wood & dung for the fire.
Try your hand at fermenting mare’s milk into airag. Also, you may help to prepare traditional Mongolian food for tonight's dinner.
Your accommodation this evening is truly exceptional – a luxury bespoke ger set up in the middle of nowhere, just for you.
Khugno Khan Mountain and Uvgun Khiid
This morning after breakfast, set off for Khogno Khan mountain. In the foothills lies the restored monastery complex of Uvgun Khiid. Enjoy a walk around the monastery, perhaps accompanied by one of the Buddhist women who have organized the rebuilding and running of the temples. These wonderful women are the descendants of one of the lamas who suffered here during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.
Hike into the mountains to explore the ruins of the first Uvgun Monastery (3-hour round-trip). The view from the top of the mountain across the plains is spectacular.
Search for the Przewalski’s Horse
After breakfast, drive into the Khustain Nuruu National Reserve, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the Takhi - commonly known as Przewalski's Horse.
In 1994, 25 years after they became extinct in the wild, the Takhi was reintroduced into the wild from zoo populations by the Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski's Horse. Since then, more than 20 healthy foals have been born in Mongolia. Learn about current conservation efforts and the status of the herds found within the reserve at the visitor's center before trying to spot these beautiful horses in their natural habitat.
Continue on to Ulaanbaatar for the evening.
This morning you will be transferred to the airport in Ulaanbaatar in time for your onward flight home.
HOTELS IN Ulaanbaatar & Central Heartland
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- A camping trek through some of the most remote parts of Mongolia, the western Altai Mountains
- Meeting the famed eagle hunters and staying alongside a host family
- Exploring some of the most beautiful parts of Mongolia’s heartland, including the stunning Orkhon Valley
- Spending the night in Mandala Mongolia – the most luxurious and intimate accommodation available in the country
- When to go:
- Time Zone:
Get in touch with our Lightfoot Travel experts and they will create a bespoke itinerary designed to your exact needs and budget.
We won't take you to the usual tourist traps, instead we'll introduce you to people that show you the true side of a country. With our contacts in each destination, we can arrange for you to meet locals away from the crowds and ensure an authentic experience.
You can rely on our extensive first-hand knowledge and years of experience in the country you’re visiting. We use only the best expert guides, and provide insider tips on the local customs, and everything from vibrant festivals to hidden Himalayan monasteries
Your holiday will be as unique as you are. By getting to know you and what makes you tick, we fuse our wealth of expertise and a deep understanding of our destinations to create unique day by day itineraries that are built around you.