Mongolian Yurt

Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads

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13 days
from
$3,565 USD
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Traveller ratings
4 / 5 from 13 reviews >
Trip code: 
ACMA
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
18
Group size:
4–16

Discover the remote Mongolian steppe, the Gobe Desert and the country's nomadic traditions.

Rolling steppe of Central Asia make way to stark desert; small nomadic ger camp pepper this vast land where camels and goats are herded on horseback, fermented mare’s milk is the tipple of choice, sand dunes are known to ‘sing’ and the first intact dinosaur eggs were found. Genghis Khan went forth from here on horseback to conquer the biggest land empire in history and, to this day, Buddhist and Animist traditions mix. In July, all over the country, people come together to compete in wrestling, archery, horse-racing and ankle bone flicking during the Naadam Festival but traditions can be witnessed throughout the year. We travel through steppe, mountain and the Gobi desert exploring the nature and culture of this fascinating, yet little known, country. Please note Nadaam Festival departures are 2 days longer, to view the Nadaam itinerary click on the link next to the date under 'dates & prices'.

Highlights

  • The spectacularly varied Mongolian landscape - vast rolling steppe, mountains and deserts
  • Sleep in traditional style ger camps (Mongolian tents)
  • Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire
  • The rolling sand dunes and landscape of the Gobi desert
  • One of the last remaining nomadic cultures in the world

Key information

  • 3 nights hotels, all en suite, and 9 nights traditional nomadic ger camps with shared facilities
  • Travel by 4WD vehicle, bus and one internal flight
  • Some long drives through very remote country
  • Special Nadaam (ACMB) and Eagle Festival (ACK) departures

What's included

  • All breakfasts, lunch and dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Airport transfers for Land Only passengers
  • Visas or Vaccinations
Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Ulaan Baatar.

    Those not travelling with the group from London will join us at the hotel. The scheduled flights normally arrive early evening. People who arrive early in Ulaan Baatar can explore some of the city’s sites including UB’s main square: Sukhbaatar Square, the National Museum and the landmark State Department Store.
    Bayangol Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    To Khustain Nuruu N.P.; trek to see Przewalski's horses; overnight in ger camp.

    Before leaving UB we visit the Gandan Monastery, the largest functioning lamasery in Mongolia and the seat of Buddhist studies in the country. Here we may see monks praying and the 20m gold and bronze statue of Migjid Janraisig.

    We then drive on the main road westwards towards Karakorum, making a detour to the Khustain Nuruu National Park, 2 hours west of Ulaan Baatar. Khustain Nuruu is famous for the re-introduction of Mongolia's wild horse. The Takhi Horse (also known as the Przewalski's horse) was once native to Mongolia and almost became extinct earlier in the 20th century. Through the efforts of several Mongolian and international organizations, these magnificent wild horses now roam in the steppes of the national park once again. We will visit the Project Information Centre and take a guided hike to see the wild horses. Tonight will be our first night staying in gers, traditional Mongolian felt tents.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Drive to Little Gobi Desert; visit Khogno Khan Mountain; opportunity for bird and wildlife watching.

    We continue our journey westwards towards Karakorum along an asphalt road, travelling at an easy pace. Today's destination, the Mongol Els or 'Little Gobi Desert' as it is known, is a unique belt of sand dunes in the steppe. Arriving at lunch, we check into a nearby ger camp before heading out to explore the surrounding region. Bactrian (two-humped) camels wander the desert dunes as horses graze on green steppe nearby - an incredible sight. We will visit nearby Mt Khogno Khan and the small temple at its base. This region is also renowned for its birdlife, including steppe eagles.. We return to camp in the late afternoon.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    To Karakorum; visit Erdene Zuu Monastery.

    Today we have a short (90km) drive to the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire - Karakorum. Karakorum was established by Ogedei Khan and remained the Mongols power base until Khublai Khan established Beijing as the capital. Erdene Zuu (Hundred Treasures) monastery was the largest Monastery in Mongolia, built in 1586 under the direction of Abtai Khan on the ruins of the ancient capital. Much of the monastery was destroyed during Stalin's purges of the 1930's, but an impressive wall with 108 stupas and a number of temples still remain. After lunch, we visit the monastery, the modern Karakorum Museum and the surrounding area
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Morning visit to monastery; along northern edge of Gobi Desert to Arvaikheer via Shankh Monastery.

    We continue along the paved road to Arvaikheer, the capital of Ovorkhangai Aimag on the northern edge of the Gobi Desert. On the way we will visit the Shankh Monastery, once the home of the great Mongolian theologist Zanabazar. We should arrive at Arvaikheer during the middle of the afternoon and check in to our hotel. In the afternoon there will be time to visit the local museum, which contains nature collections, stone figures and Turkic scripts and possibly go to a local market.
    Arvaikheer Palace Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    To Bayan Gobi via Mt Ikh Bogd.

    Today is a long day as we head properly off the tourist route into some of the wilder parts of the Gobi Desert. After an early breakfast we start our journey and rapidly leave the tarmac behind. The landscape changes as we head deeper into the Gobi and the majestic Ikh Bogd Mountain should be visible in the distance, the highest mountain in the Gobi Altai Mountain Range. Eventually, after about 9 hours travelling (with stops) we will arrive at our Ger Camp in the wilderness. This is the longest day’s driving but is also a definite highlight of the trip as we pass through some of Mongolia’s most spectacular scenery.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    See rock paintings; explore region of Bayan Gobi

    After going over a desert pass and visiting the quartz rich ‘White Cave’ our journey continues through classic Gobi desert scenery of flat stony plains mixed with small rocky outcrops and patches of sand across the Khatan Suudal Steppe. We stop for a picnic lunch on the way, with views of Arts Bogd mountain to the north. We head off to the Kongoriin Els sand dunes and arrive there in the late afternoon.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Visit 'singing' sand dunes, the largest dunes in Mongolia.

    We have a full day to explore the sand dunes and surrounding area. The Khongoriin Els stretch for 200km and are as high as 300m in places. They are known as the 'Singing Dunes' because of the beautiful sound that resonates through the dunes on a windy day. The South Gobi has 100,000 camels, typically used by herders for transportation of their gers. We will have the opportunity today to visit a camel breeding family and get a glimpse of the way of life of the nomadic herders of these parts.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Travel through rocky plains of Gobi Gurvansaikhan N.P.

    This morning we will drive through the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Gobi Gurvansaikhan means 'Three Beauties of the Gobi' and this range marks the eastern end of the Gobi Altai mountain range. The park's landscape is extremely varied, with rocky and sandy desert plains, precipitous cliffs and ravines, salt pans and oases. We visit a spectacular natural sight of this region - Yolyn Am. Yolyn Am means Vulture's Mouth and is a canyon so deep and narrow that even in the height of summer winter ice can remain on the valley floor. This region is also renowned for the diversity of its wildlife and many endangered species can be found here, including Khulan, Ibex, Argali and elusive Snow leopards. We visit a local museum and explore the canyon before transferring to a nearby ger camp for dinner and overnight.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Hiking around the 'Flaming Cliffs' of Bayanzag.

    Today we have time to relax in our luxury ger camp. Either in the morning or afternoon we take a short drive to Bayanzag (70 km). Known as the Flaming cliffs, the red/ochre colour can be striking and we have the opportunity for a short hike amongst colourful sands of red, yellow and orange. Bayanzag is a world-renowned dinosaur fossil exploration site, discovered in the 1920s by Mongolian and American palaeontologists. We are free to explore the region and may even be lucky enough to spot dinosaur fossils. We later return to our ger camp.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Fly to Ulaan Baatar; on to Terelj National Park.

    We leave the Gobi Desert behind and fly back to Ulaan Baatar. Depending on what time our flight is will determine what time we get back to Ulaan Baatar. Upon arrival at Ulaan Baatar we’re picked up by our bus and drive to Terelj National Park. Though only about 60kms away, traffic is the main determining factor as to how long this journey takes.

    Terelj National Park is a large protected area of green mountain meadows filled with edelweiss and other wild flowers. The contrast to the Gobi desert which we have just come from is striking and it feels like being in a different country.

    Tonight we have our final night sleeping in a ger.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Terelj National Park; Genghis statue; Ulaan Baatar

    This morning we visit the Tibetan-style Aryabala temple, a meditation centre located on a mountain side with sweeping views over the national park. As we follow the walk up to the temple there are inspirational sayings on placards every few steps. The climb to the temple is not difficult but does involve many steps and can be tiring.

    We later visit the giant Genghis Khan statue at Tsonjin Bolog. Standing 40m tall, the statue depicts the Mongolian ruler astride his horse and sits atop the visitor’s centre (itself 10m tall). It is possible to climb up onto the horse’s head to get a closer look of Genghis Khan’s face.

    We finally make our way back to Ulaan Baatar. This evening we have the option of attending a local song and dance performance at the National Academic Drama Theatre (US$10) before going out for our last meal.
    Bayangol Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    End Ulaan Baatar.

    End Ulaan Baatar.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Mongolia

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects. Almost all nationalities, including British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand, require a single entry visa for Mongolia. If you think you may be exempt you must check requirements with your local authorities or your agent.
The current cost of a visa for British Citizens is £50 and further information can be found at http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Mongolia.pdf
American passport holders are offered 30 days visa-free entry to Mongolia on presentation of a valid passport at the time of entry. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccinations

Mongolia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All meals included.

Traditional Mongolian diets are very meat and dairy heavy. Whilst there will be opportunities to try some of these products such as dry-curd and fermented mare’s milk, the meals provided in the ger camps are generally western meals, at times with an Asian influence. There will normally be some form of soup and salad as well as a main course and desert. Vegetarians are generally well catered for, if you are vegetarian or have other dietary requirements please make sure to inform us in advance. Breakfasts can vary from place to place, some are buffet style whilst others are set, normally cereal, bread and possibly a hot dish will be provided. On some days a pack lunch will be provided, this is often still a proper meal (though without the soup). Water is provided and will generally be from 5L water-containers so make sure to bring a water bottle to decant into. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, vodka and (most of the time) wine are available to buy at the ger camps. There is opportunity to buy snacks in Ulaan Baatar and on a couple other occasions along the way when we drive through towns or villages.

Weather

July and August are summer months and daytime temperatures should be a pleasant 20’C in Ulaan Baatar and central regions. Temperatures can reach a maximum of 33’C in the capital and high 30s in the Gobi desert in July and although the average is lower, clients should expect some very warm weather. Evening temperatures are uniformly 15 to 20’C. Humidity is very low. These months are also the wet season and over a trip of this duration you should expect some rain but showers are not normally long lasting and the total rainfall during this period is very low. (June - 28mm, July - 76mm & August - 51mm).

Ulaanbaator

Ulaanbaator

Is this trip for you?

Mongolia is 6.5 times larger than the UK but with a population 21 times smaller. Understandably this means that large tracts of the country do not have much infrastructure. Much of our time is spent in areas where roads are barely tracks through the landscape. On this trip we go further into the wilderness than the average visitor to Mongolia and whilst this allows us to travel through stunning parts of the country, encountering few people other than the odd nomad, it does mean that some days involve long and bumpy drives. These drives are balanced out with some downtime to relax and just take in the incredible surroundings or often, with the option of going for a walk or even, at times a horse or camel ride. There are some scheduled hikes, looking for wild Taki horses, visiting the Singing sand dunes, Vulture canyon or the Flaming cliffs, for instance. These are relatively short, no more than one or two hours on mostly flat or undulating terrain. The Flaming Cliffs hike may not be recommended if you have an acute fear of heights and can involve some scrambling, however it’s possible to still enjoy great views of the cliffs and opt out of the walk. The climate in central Mongolia is generally pleasant in summer when the trip runs. In the Gobi Desert, however, temperatures can get well above 30’C, even approaching 40’C. This is a trip that goes off the ‘tourist trail’ and comes to the encounter of local nomads. It takes us through spectacular and diverse wilderness and gives us an insight into a fascinating country unlike any other.

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Ger Camps

We use hotels in Ulaan Baatar and Arvaikheer and ger camps elsewhere. Gers are similar to yurts, generally airy and comfortable with beds and, normally, a stove (though in the summer the stoves are not normally needed). The bathrooms are normally shared and all have hot water (however due to the remoteness of the camps this can, at times be erratic). Many of the ger camps now have 24hr electricity in the ger itself for charging batteries. If there is no charging facility inside the ger itself then there are charging facilities in the common area (though this may during limited periods of the day only when the generator is turned on). There will normally be no more than two people per ger, however in some cases, due to availability issues we may need to have triples in the ger. There may also be rare occasions when a single cannot be guaranteed in a particular ger camp.

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
1 844 227 9087
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed July 2016
    Martin Healey

    Wonderful Mongolia

    The Mongolian Adventure trip exceeded all my expectations. It took me back to a time when people were more interested in humanity than in possessions. I thought Mongolians would be similar to Chinese but they aren't. They are open and friendly. Ulaanbaatar is a pleasant city and we were there for the spectacular Nadaam Festival, The opening ceremony, the wrestling, archery and the horse race were great but the day before the public turned out in national dress! The desert, the gir camps and the nomadic families were experiences to be savoured.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking around the main square with all the locals in traditional dress. The welcome from the nomadic families ran it a close second.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Terrific! Competent, flexible and a good laugh

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't hesitate, it's fabulous. The food is good, the camps are comfortable and spotless.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There is a lot of driving on rough tracks, but the scenery is worth the effort
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Tina Jones

    A dream comes true

    I'd wanted to see Mongolia and the Gobi Desert since hearing about them in Geography class when I was 18. I wanted to see the wide open spaces. The nothingness. The vastness of the country. And that's what I saw.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just driving through the countryside, bumping around in the jeep, having breaks in the middle of nowhere with a vast country stretching out for kilometres all around you. So different from crowded Europe. I also liked the wildlife in Vulture Gorge - picas and ground squirrels. The opening parade of Naadam Just walking around Ulaanbataar, seeing the people - especially during Naadam, when people dressed up in their nice clothes. My room-mate. She was great and I really enjoyed talking to her. I'd never set eyes on her before but it was a good match.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I liked her very much. Dorjo tried to keep everyone happy, which was not an easy thing to do because four of the 16 people were very demanding. Maybe they expected a five-star luxury holiday. The rest of the people were easy-going and relaxed, just happy to be there and see the country. Dorjo is very pleasant, her English is fine. She likes to laugh. Naturally, when one gets excited or emotional, words are hard to find. She was always willing to explain things and it was clear how much she loved her country. I hope to stay in touch with her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't expect five-star luxury. I certainly wasn't expecting it, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much better the accommodation was than I thought. I thought we'd be sleeping on the floor in tents, sharing them with local people. Instead, we got a tent between two people and the beds were in wooden 'boxes'. Apart from one camp, all the beds were very comfortable and I was surprised by how well I slept, even with the open part of the tent in the middle of the roof. (Normally, I keep all doors and windows shut when I sleep.) You don't go to Mongolian camps for the cuisine. Some people complained because we got starters consisting of tomato and cucumber often. What you have to keep in mind, though, is that very little grows there. Take a look out of the window when you're in the jeep. See how little grows. The camp cooks do their best with the little they have. I have to avoid gluten so I took extra fruit and nut mixes and some snack salami sausages just in case. However, the camp cooks were able to give me gluten-free food. Dorjo had a word with them when we arrived in a new camp. Remember that when you are in a ger camp that you are in the middle of nowhere. Do not expect entertainment. Do what people used to do in the past - make your own entertainment. Take books with your. Crosswords puzzle books. Talk to your fellow travellers. Just sit back and watch the sun go down and think how lucky you are to be able to be on holiday, not having to do anything. Just chill out. As for travel sickness, I took plenty of travel sickness chewing gum because I have problems with bus journeys in towns. Did I need any of them? Nope. Even though sitting in the jeeps was a case of "shake, rattle and roll". It's a completely different movement in the jeeps. Not once did I feel travel sick. I was also impressed by the washing and toilet facilities in the ger camps. I thought we'd be washing in buckets, but no.. there were brick and mortar buildings with showers, sinks and toilets. Some were better than others. If you go when everyone else goes, then you're not going to have lots of hot water. Me.. I waited until everyone had gone to the dining tent about 10 minutes early and rushed in for a quick shower.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just go with the flow. Don't complain that your beer is not cold in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Be thankful that you HAVE the beer in the first place. The holiday is called "Mongolian Adventure" and not "Mongolian 5-Star Luxury All-Inclusive Holiday".
  • Reviewed September 2015
    M B

    Mongolian Adventure - August 2015

    Interesting trip to a VAST country that makes you realise what "nothing" - landscape wise - really is .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Amazing night skies with no light pollution . Endless horizons with no mand made structures

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Can only echo Caroline's comments , Dorjo needs to improve her leader/guide skills. Perfectly pleasant on a one to one basis but clearly most anxious to avoid any conflict whatosever , which means that placatory answers are given. That may solve immediate "issue" but leads to others when promised things dont occur , information isnt forthcoming , scheduled itinerary items are omitted / curtailed , general lack of information ( lunch stop , toilet stop / duration of any stop ) , general feeling of "not prepared " and unable/unwilling to actually go and find out the information .

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When checking in for your flights ensure your luggage is checked ALL THE WAY through to Ulan Baator and not just Beijing. Take some spare clothes as hand luggage for overnight in Beijing off airport hotel. Do not expect an Air China rep to "assist " you with transfer to hotel , you have to fill in 72 hour temp visa form , then take transit train to luggage arrivals building ( hopefully if your bag checked through you wont have to collect luggage ) , leave customs and arrivals , go out into public arrivals hall. look for tiny Air China Hotel desk !!! Be prepared to argue that the room has been included and , if paid extra for single supplement , that you have a single room . Lots of driving in mini van , being bounced around for hours at a time so take some sweets for sharing . Also carry some hand gel and own toilet paper , be prepared to see more of your fellow travellers than you normally would ( at comfort stops) . Take own entertainment for evenings as very little to do after evening meal or those occasions when delivered back to ger camp at lunchtime with no activities availble in area. During the season its highly unlikley there will be any "single " Gers available and only then at FULL price ( not the hinted top up price in trip notes . small supplement ) . For the internal flight everyones luggage is weighed en-masse INCLUDING any day packs/rucksacks / hand luggage - and only 15KG allowance per person. So 6 people is 6 x 15 = 90 KG total . Any excess works out at about 1 USD per KG and has to be paid local currency - dont forget to ante up your share . Carry a small torch , for those night time/early morning start bathroom visits ( not every toilet block had lights on during night ) .

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Driver Samdan was outstanding - always checking on his passengers and their comfort . Always willing to provide assistance , a hand up , fetching a stool to stand on etc.

    Reply from Exodus

    Reply from Exodus

    We would like to thank MB and Caroline (review below) for their reviews, although we are very sorry that they were disappointed with some aspects of their trip’s leadership. We have been in contact with both clients on an individual basis and further training has been organised for their tour leader to ensure that similar disappointments do not recur.

    Olly Pemberton - Product Manager for Mongolia

  • Reviewed September 2015
    Caroline Bradley

    Mongolia adventure 15th - 29th August

    An exciting trip to a remote region of the world. Met some wonderful people both on the trip and locals in the ger camps who are living the nomadic life still.....but with a few mod cons like satellite dishes and solar panels which drive the TV, twin tub and freezer box.. !!! A real experience to see the open spaces of the steppes and the different landscapes, but realised that I only scratched the surface of it as Mongolia is such a vast country. I would definitely like to go back to see more.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    To sit under the vast star light skies with no noise or light pollution and to realise how very small you are and what a big world we live in. It helps to put things into perspective!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dorjo had a good heart and intentions but lacks both leadership and organisation skills. It is clear that this is a side line job because she can speak some English. But even this was a little difficult to understand at times. She also does not take an active part in pointing out things of interest along the journey to break it up. She did not seem to know as much about things as we had hoped and this resulted in very short answers and despite further questions revealed nothing more about the subject matter. So we read our guide books and shared fact between ourselves. She does not do it often enough to lead a group of professional people who have traveled the world. The fact that she is a ex teacher showed in how she thought that she could lead and organise us. We are not kids and don't want to be treated like one! She often avoid difficult situations by agreeing to something (to pacify us) then later changing her mind later on ....to our absolute frustration and fury! Eg, There only beer as the ger camps, and some of us wanted soft drinks, so we asked that on return from our mornings outing we could go into town (which was close by) to buy some... "Yes we could". Then when the time came we could not, "there is not enough time and it's too far!". Yet we spent the afternoon twiddling our thumbs in the ger camp. "Would we like sand boards to slide down the sand dunes"..."Yes we said"..... " I will organise that for you". The next day she told Marion she had considers overnight and it was too dangerous.... then when I asked where they were she said " I forgot!" and so this is how it went on the whole trip. Conflicting stories, changing the decision without consultation. Further e.g. Will there be hot water for a shower at any of the ger camps..."Yes, at the next ger camp"... but there wasn't. They forgot to put the stove on for the hot water!. "Can we have breakfast early and go to the dune in the early morning so can climb in the cool"..... "Yes, I will organise it for 7 am with the ger camp"..... but we all sat around for 20 - 30 mins at 7 am waiting for Dorjo and the people running the ger camp to get up, cook & serve breakfast ! Breakfast was hurried and late! Further e.g. There were times that we went out on a morning excursion and could have spent the whole day at the canyon, or rock painting, or monastary, but she rushed us back to the ger camp to sit with nothing to do. So rather than asking us if we would like to take picnic lunch out there and spend most of the day exploring and walking. We were taken back to the Ger camp for lunch then to sit about. There was no activities planned so we amused ourselves by going off walking. We all wanted to make the best use of our time in Mongolia ,so following long days of driving, we wanted to stretch our legs and take the opportunity to explore and walk when we could on the excursions, but this was curtailed. We were viewed as naught children because we laughed and joked with each other and had great banter between each other and the driver. We were even told we were like children! Her style of leadership and organisation is out dated,so although she was doing her best or what she knew, it was not up to the standards that I am use to or would expect from a guide. I like all the others on the trip have worked hard to earn my money to afford to take this trip ....I not some sort of spoil rich kid!. Yes, I have high standards expect of me at work and have feedback and coaching all the time to improve. I therefore expect high standards of those people leading the trip. I therefore would suggest that Karakorum Expeditions need to take seriously the feedback that I know a number of us on the trip made to them on their blue feedback forms we handed in to Dorjo (that's if they did not get put in the bin!) and also take this feedback seriously too.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long bumpy rides off road for most of the trip. Be prepared to shower in cold water as they never seemed to have the hot water on when we were showering mornings or evenings! Take some cards or games to play in the evening after dinner which finishes by 8 pm or days when you are just left in the ger camps as there is nothing else to do!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I can not speak highly enough about the driver Samdan who made the holiday for all of us. He was an excellent driver, who care for us, looking around often on the long drivers to see if we were OK. He could not speak English but we understood each other and he was away very attentive and caring towards us. Well done that man!
  • Reviewed July 2015
    Beverley Robin

    Exciting Mongolian Adventure

    Excellent trip. It was a nice mix of big city (Ulaanbaatar) and Naadam festival and countryside/desert. Well-organized and planned. Long distances travelled by Russian van, but the scenery was beautiful and very diverse, our driver Sandam made it fun, and we had a great group of people in our van. Fun staying in ger camps.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing the sand dunes in the desert. It was physically very challenging but also beautiful and exilarating.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Erdene (Eddie) was an excellent group leader. His English is excellent and he is very knowledgable. He was very attentive and accommodated everyone on the group, despite very different needs. He was well organized and advocated for the group when necessary. I'd highly recommend him!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This trip involves lots of long drives over bumpy terrain. The scenery is beautiful and I found the drives quite relaxing. Staying in the ger camps was fun, and interesting. It was more luxurious than I expected, but having said that, there were times when there wasn't electricity, most times the water was cold, and at times water (shower and toilet) was not available. Realize though, that if you can't tolerate such drives and lack of water, or cold water, this trip is not for you (a number of people on my group couldn't, and all they did was complain). After all people, this is the desert!!
  • Reviewed July 2014
    Hugh Nolan

    Mongolian Adventure including Nadaam festival

    A great trip to a vast and interesting country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The remote ger camp where we were the only visitors, riding a horse for the first time, the unexpected horse race, the opening ceremony of the festival, seeing a couple of long eared hedgehogs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    A nice lady but her English was quite poor and she wasn't very organised.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take some sweets for sharing during the van journeys, mind your head on the ger doors and the van doors. Note that the luggage allowance for the internal flight is 15 Kg in total (i.e. checked plus carry-on) and that any excess has to be paid in local currency.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The people are friendly and were as intrigued by us as we were by them. There is a good deal of building work taking place in Ulaan Baatar which is starting to mar the place. A previous review mentioned 50 seater coaches, we only encountered anything like this at the very last ger camp which is quite close to UB and appears to be popular with day trippers, the rest of the camps might have a couple of vans of other people at most.
  • Reviewed July 2014
    John Cross

    Mongolian Adventure and Nadaam festival

    This was a trip to Mongolia with the 3 day Nadaam festival slotted in towards the end of the trip. 11 of us toured round the country in two ex Russian military 4 x4 vehicles spending a lot of time off road, bouncing up and down. We stayed in a hotel in the capital and Ger camps in the country side.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    This was driving into the edge of the Gobi desert and finding that our drivers local village were having a horse race for 2 year old horses over 15KM the jockeys were all young boys and girls under the age of 10. Some of them were riding bare backed and a girl riding like this was second in the race. We then spent 2 nights in a remote Ger camp near to the village. We were the only Westerners present for the 2 days we were there. magic. Seeing a Cinereous vulture at close hand and watching it take off was like seeing a feathered Vulcan bomber on a bomb run. They are enormous (wing span up to 2.95M)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was a very likeable lady and immensely charming. However as it has been a year since she last led a trip and had not been able to practice her English language conversational skills it was difficult to understand her pronunciation of some words. This also meant that many questions posed to her went unanswered or were met with a smile and a blank look

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a small thermarest, or similar, padded seat with you. A few small balloons to entertain the many (very, very many) small children you will encounter along the way. This helps to break the ice with their parents etc. and can lead to some very cute photographs. if you are interested in bird life, particularly Raptors take a small pair of binoculars as there is a lot to be seen.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a great trip. The country is far greener than I expected. The mode of travel is what I expected from the other reviews (ie; cramped and bumpy) but the drivers we had were magnificent and got us to places I never thought possible. The Ger camps are comfortable (except the last one in Terelj national park) and the food is mostly good with more vegetables and salads than I expected. The people are lovely and anxious to help. They are also well organised and things work and happen pretty much on time. Things are changing in Mongolia and it is rapidly becoming more modern with extensive building work going on in the capital. Things there are changing rapidly, go now before it becomes too spoilt.
  • Reviewed September 2013
    Anonymous

    MONGOLIAN ADVENTURE

    Mongolia is a country well worth a visit.   The scenery, the people, the customs and traditions combine well to make it a truly fascinating country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed the sweeping vistas of the steppes dotted with Gers and herds of fine horses.   It was good to see that customs and traditions are being maintained.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was helpful and sociable.  His English was very good (one of his many languages).  We were able to visit a couple of sites that were not on the itinerary because of his suggestions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is not a physically strenous trip as there are few opportunities for walks; however, the long journeys on really bumpy and dusty roads are bone jarring and tiring.   The food can be challenging especially if you are a non meat eater.   Be prepared to eat a lot of carbs and chocolate bars (for desserts!).   The picnics were not well done.     If thinking of arriving early I'd pick a hotel in the centre of town.  Our tour hotel in UB was  inconveniently located a long walk from the centre and its facilities were poor.   

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't rely on the trip notes for an accurate or an up to date picture of Mongolia or the trip.    It is true that Mongolia does not get a lot of tourists yet, but many companies follow the same itinerary.   As a result you do get clusters of tourists at popular sites.   Also, some of the Ger camps are big, noisy and crowded so don't be surprised to see 50 seater tour buses disgorge large tour groups.   The Russian 4wds are well suited to the task  but are not built for comfort.    We were a small group so space was not an issue, but a big group might find the long road journeys rather tight.    Also, the local company failed to confirm our group's accommodation at two places forcing us to squeeze into fewer rooms.   We managed to do it because we were a small group.   Lastly, if you are thinking of last minute shopping in UB, it might very well come to that.   We were booked on the late afternoon flight back to UB and not the morning flight as indicated in the trip notes.   That meant we were stranded in a ger camp for a whole day with nothing to do. Consequently, our last day was a very hectic one and the fact that Exodus did not secure a day room at the hotel in UB when the group left at midnight was a bit cheap.    
  • Reviewed August 2013
    Anonymous

    MONGOLIAN ADVENTURE

    This is a challenging trip through a remarkable, amazing country which still seems "new" to tourism.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The vast and beautiful grasslands of the steppe and immense landscapes of the Gobi Desert are truly amazing.  What was remarkable was that it was completely unbroken by fences or roads.  Go during Nadaam.  The festival is wonderful and colorful.  Insist that your guide allow you to stay through to the end on the last day.  It is worth watching the finals of Mongolian wrestling and all the awards to the winners.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was very sweet and worked hard, but her language skills were definitely less than ideal.  That said, she did an excellent job of arranging meals and accommodation.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When other reviewers refer to the ride on the Mongolian dirt roads as "bumpy," they are understating.  It is often lurch/twist/throw you off your seat bumpy.  Anyone with back issues should definitely think long and hard about this trip.  That said, I developed sort of an attachment to our Russian vans, even though we had to push ours twice to start it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I found the people we met to be charming and generous.  Tourism sometimes trains people to have their hands out all the time, but that was not the case in Mongolia.  I came away from the trip with a great deal of affection for this extraordinary country.  But the "roads" really are rough.
  • Reviewed January 2013
    Anonymous

    MONGOLIAN ADVENTURE

    Good outdoor, wild country trip. Attended the Naadam Festival and came away feeling that there is not a huge amount of culture but that is to be expected from traditionally nomadic peoples. Museums have a rather unloved feeling about them. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The great open plains.The hospitality of the nomadic people and the camel's cheese, salted tea and soured mare's milk that they offerred us.The Mongolian way of re-commencing religion/Buddhism in their country after Soviet rule.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was absolutely lovely. Did her best at all times.English skills required polishing up.She didn't have very much control over the drivers and we kept losing the other trucks (we were in a convoy of 3 trucks) and had to double back etc. Also, got lost in the Gobi desert twice! Ended up having extremely long drives of 12hrs and 14hrs on 2 of our travel days. She didn't want to worry us and told us that everything was fine when it was obvious that it really wasn't. It would have been better if she had told us the truth and we could have helped her look out for landmarks.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Beware of pickpockets at the Naadam Festival in UB. They are particularly aggressive and use the slash (yes, with a knife) and grab method.The view in the stadium from where tourists are seated is not ideal. We couldn't really see anything happenning in the centre of the stadium where the opening ceremony was held. Try to catch a festival outside of UB and you will get a much closer and rewarding experience.Bring travel sickness medication if you suffer from it as the truck rides are rough, bumpy and very, very long.Food isn't bad just boring. Be prepared for lots and lots of coleslaw and boiled mutton. Condiments and lots of beer will assist in washing it all down.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There was a lot of time spent on the road to get to not very much at the end of a long, hard day. I can truly say that unless you really enjoy long and rough truck rides, this is not the trip for you.

Dates & Prices

The July departures are special Nadaam Festival departures and are 2 days longer than the standard itinerary.

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