Mongolia - Naadam Festival - Off the Tourist Trail


Mongolia - Naadam Festival - Off the Tourist Trail

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 14 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Ulaan Baatar

We arrive in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia’s capital where we are transferred from the airport to our hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival this evening you will be invited by your guide to a traditional folk convert. Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar. (D)

Day 2 - Terelj National Park 

After breakfast, we drive to the giant stainless steel statue of Genghis Khan, located 50km east of the capital. From there we continue driving to Terelj National Park, a granite rocky area. We transfer to our ‘ger’ tented camp. Later we will explore the park - an outstanding region of alpine scenery and unique granite rock formations. Overnight in Ger Camp (BLD)

Day 3 - Baganuur District

This morning we drive to the Baganuur district, located 140km east of Ulaan Baatar city. Staying in a traditional ger camp, this will be our home for the next two nights and is where will enjoy Naadam, away from the crowds. Overnight in Ger Camp (BLD)

Day 4 - Naadam Festival – First day

This morning we visit the opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival and enjoy a full day watching various activities including archery, wrestling and horse racing. The colourful festival of Naadam is the highlight of the Mongolian summer, with celebrations taking place across the country. We are lucky to be out of the rush and heat of Ulaan Baatar, where we can enjoy the festival with local families in a relaxed and friendly place for a truly authentic experience. Everyone in town, as well as people from other provinces, arrive at Naadam in their best traditional suits, called a Deel. It is very colourful and everywhere Mongols wear their Deels on their horses. Competition is fierce as men compete against one another to win titles for horse racing, archery and wrestling – ‘war games’ based on ancient Mongolian soldiers’ everyday exercises. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 5 – Naadam Festival and Hustai National Park

This morning we enjoy the second day of the festival watching the horse racing. Horses have long played an important role in Mongolian history and this sport is greatly prized. The build-up and training for this event is vigorous and the crowd of onlookers are known to get quite vocal! Later we drive to the Hustai National Park which is home to the only truly wild horses on earth; the Takhi horse. Several decades ago wild horses had disappeared from Mongolia, victims of habitat loss and poaching. However small numbers survived in European zoos and from these scattered remnants, through a program of careful breeding and international cooperation, the wild population was rebuilt. Now Hustai is home to some 250 wild horses, of which 130 were born in the wild. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 6 - Kharkhorin

After breakfast we drive to Mongolia’s sand dunes, an 80km long beautiful stretch that is unlike anything else in this country. It is located in a meadow between the Hogno and Tarnin rivers right next to Khogno Mountain. We continue to Kharkhorin town, the ancient capital of Genghis Khan’s Mongolia in the13th century. We visit Erdene Zuu monastery, which was built from leftovers of Kharkhorin’s ruined city in the 16th century. Sadly a communist purge destroyed almost everything but a few main monasteries. There are numerous unusual cultural and religious exhibits here as well as a Tibetan-style monastery still active in the Erdene Zuu and important to the area. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 7 – Kharkhorin – Tsagaan Sym River Valley

We drive to Tsagaan Sym River Valley. This is Yak country and the region is rich area for local agriculture. We will visit a local herding family and experience how they tend to the animals. We then drive to our camp for the evening in an area of wetlands notable for many bird species such as Cranes and ruddy shelduck. Overnight Ger Camp (BLD)

Day 8 - Tovkhon Monastery

After breakfast we drive to the historic Tovkhon Monastery located on top of Tovkhon Mountain itself. This historic temple complex was built in 1654 by a religious leader named Zanabazar. He was a gifted artist who had come to the area to meditate and focus on his art. Many of his famous artworks, including the White Tara, are now kept in Zanabazar’s Fine Art Museum in Ulaanbaatar and Erdene Zuu Monastery in Kharkhorin. He also designed the Soyombo Symbol for a free and independent Mongolia which has been widely used as a national symbol (namely on the National Flag). Although the temple was largely destroyed by the communists during the 1930s, it has been restored with great initiatives from the local communities and many restoration projects. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 9 - Tovkhon Monastery - Ogii Lake:

This morning we drive to the beautiful steppe at Ogii Lake. It is a wonderful place for birdlife and a multitude of cranes and ducks migrate here, attracted by the rich fish-life that populates the lake. Overnight Ger Camp (BLD)

Day 10 - Bulgan

We continue through the central part of Mongolia. We will keep our eyes out for upland buzzards and steppe eagles soaring in the sky overhead. We have a packed lunch on the way and later arrive in Bulgan where we will explore the town and some of the local craft shops. Later we drive to our camp for the night with beautiful views. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 11 - Amarbayasgalant Monastery

After breakfast we drive towards Amarbayasgalant Monastery; considered the second most important in Mongolia (after Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin) and the most intact architectural complex in Mongolia. The area is famed for its stunning scenery of steppe and grasslands, its national parks and wildlife. In the afternoon we’ll have the chance walk up and visit the monastery. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 12 – Jargalant

This morning we will drive to Jargalant village. This afternoon we will have a great walk through the pine forest, picking wild berries as we go. Overnight Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 13 – Ulaanbaatar

This morning we return to Ulaan Baatar and transfer to our hotel. In the afternoon there will be an opportunity for shopping or to explore the city on your own, before our farewell dinner. Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 14 – Ulaan Baatar

The tour finishes this morning after breakfast and a transfer to the airport will be provided to coincide with your departure (B)