Day 1: Ulaanbaatar
We begin our adventure in Ulaanbaatar, a thriving city, where modern life comfortably blends with the Mongolian traditional lifestyle. Meet your Tour Leader and the rest of your group in the hotel lobby at 5pm for your Welcome Meeting.
Day 2: Ulaanbaatar to Kharkhorin
This morning we witness Gandan Khiid, the country's largest monastery, where we have the opportunity to mingle with Buddhist monks going about their daily rituals and view the impressive twenty-five metre gold plated Buddha, a symbol of Mongolian national pride and cultural revival.
We continue to the ancient capital of the Great Mongolian Empire in the valley of the Orkhon river, Kharkhorin. Here the main attraction remaining today is the Erdene Zuu Monastery. Built in 1586, this was the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia and today is still considered by many to be the countries most significant. Over 100 temples were constructed, but most were destroyed during the Soviet era, nevertheless, Erdene Zuu retains much of its former glory and is a remarkable site to visit. Surrounded by beautiful white walls with 108 stupas, for centuries it was a spiritual and intellectual centre of Mongolia. You will also find an extraordinary collection of Buddhist paintings, priceless religious objects, traditional costumes for Tsama religious dance and superb Buddhist iconography in true Mongolian and Tibetan style.
Day 3: Tsenkher Hot Springs
Leaving Kharkhorin we drive into Mongolia's Arkhangai Province to the town of Tsetserleg and Tsenkher Hot Springs. The hot Sulphur springs emerge from the ground at eighty-five degrees Celsius. While here you can soak in the healing qualities of the water from the springs before we make our way to the town of Tsetserleg and Zayan Gegeen Monastery.
Founded in the 17th century, Zayan Gegeen Monastery housed over one thousand monks before its closure during Stalin's purges in the 1920's. Its main temple was used as a warehouse during the communist era before being transformed into an ethnographic museum.
Day 4: Khorgo Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park
Today we make our way to the spectacular Khorgo Terkhiin Tsagaan Nurr National Park and the regions standout natural sight, Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur or the Great White Lake. There are several extinct volcans within the national park area. Khorgo volcano is the most spectacular one among them and the last of Mongolia's over three-hundred volcans to become extinct. Rare species of flora and fauna dot the spectacular basalt covered valleys.
The astonishingly beautiful Terkhiin Tsagaan, a freshwater lake that was formed after a lava flow from the volcans blocked the north and south Terkh rivers, is renowned for its fish and birdlife, including the Ruddy Shellduck and Great Cormorant.
Day 5: Khar Lake
Surrounded by sand dunes and mountains Khar nuur is one of the most beautiful lakes in Mongolia. On the lake you can see two islands, these are gathering points for the thirteen different species of migratory birds that flock here throughout the year a haven for bird lovers. The lake is 48 metres deep and 30 kilometres long. There is plenty of time for hiking by the lake shore and relaxing in the tranquility.
Day 6: Khyargas Lake
Our journey takes us through the Bor Khyariin Els Sand Dunes region and into Uvs Province. Khyargas Lake is one of the largest in the Great Lakes Depression that is a globally significant wetland area for migratory birds, and is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. A huge inland sea, spanning 75 km in length, 31 km wide and 80 metres deep and filled with brackish water (a mix of salt and fresh water), the lake is home to rare fish such as Mongolian grayling, pike, as well as the Altai and Nokhoi herrings. Here, you will feel like you are a world away from reality basking in the simple life relaxing and enjoying the wonderful stories nature has to tell.
Day 7: Uvs Lake
Continuing through the Uvs Province our first 40km are on tracks before joining the highway to Ulaangom, gateway to Mongolia's largest lake Uvs. The lake's surface covers 3351 square kilometres and is surrounded with high mountains - an area that becomes the coldest part of Mongolia over the winter months. Ornithologists have documented over 220 species of birds around Uvs Lake including cranes, spoonbills, geese, eagles and gulls. While here we take some time to visit Uvs Province Museum in Ulaangom.
Day 8: Uureg Lake
The drive to Uureg Lake passes over many of the rivers that originate in the ice capped Turgen Mountains and drain north into Uvs Lake. Situated 100km from Ulaangom and 1426 metres above sea level, Uureg Lake is salt water and home to a number of birds as well as some local nomadic camps. As the weather starts to cool here, the azure waters of the lake turn to ice and is usually frozen October through to May.
Days 9-11: Olgii and the Golden Eagle Festival
After breakfast we drive to Olgii, the capital of Bayan-Olgii, Mongolia's most western province. A region famous for its untouched snow-capped mountains and the Kazakh inhabitants that make up nearly ninety percent of Olgii's population with their rich and unique culture.
Get set for a truly unique & unforgettable experience, one that is sure to be a highlight of our Wild Mongolia & the Golden Eagle Festival journey! Each year Kazakh hunters from near and far attend the festival with their prized Golden Eagles, known as Berkut, to enter them into competitions testing their speed, agility and accuracy. Ceremonies, dance performances and a parade in the city square take place in celebration of the Kazakh heritage and traditions.
Days 12-13: Altai Mountains & Tavan Bogd National Park
Today we will travel on some of the most challenging roads of our journey, deep into the lakes region of Tavan Bogd National Park. The two main lakes, Khurgan Nuur and Khoten Nuur, are fed by streams from the surrounding mountains with a number of stunning waterfalls.
There are many nomadic Kazakh families are in the area, residing in the shadow of Tsengel Khairkhan Mountain.
Day 14: Tavan Bogd National Park to Olgii
Visiting the Museum of Bayan-Olgii as well as a local eagle hunter and their family, we gain an insight into the region as well as the Kazakh people's unique lifestyle and traditions. This sacred mountain is where some of the local eagle hunters come to find their young eagles. Enjoy strolling around the regions beautiful landscapes & lakes, before we return to Olgii.
Day 15-16: Return to Ulaanbaatar
Leaving Olgii by plane we return to where this incredible journey began.
On our final day in Ulaanbaatar we visit the impressive National History Museum and enjoy an amazing performance by traditional throat singers.