Mongolia
Naadam Festival

Mongolia – Naadam Festival Tour – a 14 day Small Group Tour.


The internet is full of statistics claiming one in every two hundred men can trace their lineage to Genghis Khan. He was obviously a busy chap. Tales of 13th century Mongol hordes ready to storm the gates of Vienna suggest European civilisation only just escaped a barbarian apocalypse.

In fact, as the 20th century proved, Europe fomented its own apocalypse. Soviet purges destroyed the fabric Mongolian society, levelling monasteries, exiling and murdering citizens. Emerging from a Soviet ‘iron curtain’ first drawn by Stalin, Mongolia struggled hard to reassert itself. Since its Democratic Revolution in 1990 the tide has turned.

More significant than ever, the festival of Nadaam is a joyful manifestation of Mongolian identity and a fascinating fast track lesson in the nation’s proud cultural history. For some, Buddhism, big skies, expansive steppe landscapes, and nights spent in ger camps together kindle sparks of a nomadic ancestral memory, at least for one in every two hundred men…

Mongolia – its very name is synonymous with remote, with the outer edge of the world.

Sitting between two vast neighbours, Russia and China, Mongolia is characterised by unthinkably vast swathes of wilderness populated by thinly scattered groups of nomads following time-honoured traditions, eking out an existence in the never-ending steppe.

Once at the very forefront of world civilisations, when the armies of Genghis Khan swept across the Eurasian landmass in search of conquest and glory, Mongolia is now one of the least known and least visited countries in the world.

The extraordinary festival of Naadam is the highlight of the Mongolian summer, with celebrations taking place across the country. On this tour we will enjoy the festival with local families in a relaxed and friendly setting for a truly authentic experience.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour Pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary.

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, you may be able to visit the Chinggis Khaan’s Museum. Overnight Bayangol Hotel or similar. (D)

This morning we start early as we visit the 45m tall statue of Chinggis Khan. Our journey then continues south to Baga Gazriin Chuluu, an area of picturesque granite formations in the middle of the Gobi. This area also has much wildlife that you might get a glimpse of, such as mountain sheep, white-tailed gazelle, hare, and many more. We will enjoy a walk around the amazing locations scattered around the area. Overnight in ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 30 km on dirt road and 230km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 4-4.5 hours

After breakfast, we drive through the Gobi to Tsagaan Suvarga. Tsagaan Suvarga (or White Stupa) and also known as the mini–Grand Canyon, is a sheer slope that was an ancient seabed. Over millions of years various changes in the environment have produced its famous-coloured layers. The formation is over 50 meters at its highest point, and it is a sheer slope, which from a distance seems to be the ruins of an ancient city. Overnight ger camp. BLD

Total driving: 60 km on dirt road and 180km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 4-5 hours

This morning, we head south to Dalanzadgad, the provincial capital of South Gobi. We then continue the drive to Yol Gorge. The gorge is 2800m above sea level, is about 40 km long and up to 200m high. The gorge is named after the Lammergeier, which is called Yol in Mongolia or better known as the White Bearded Vulture. The Yol is very rare and lives only in Central Asia at heights between 1500-3000m. The valley is blocked from sunlight and contains thick ice layers throughout the year, but, recently, because of global warming the ice melts down in late summer. We will explore in the gorge before we return to our ger camp. Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 30 km on dirt road and 120km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 3-3.5 hours

This morning we drive to Khongor Sand Dunes, some of the largest and most impressive white sand dunes in Mongolia. Khongor Sand Dunes stretches more than 180 km (112 miles) with majestic heights of 15-30 m. The largest dunes are northwest of the range up to 300 metres high. From the top of the dunes, the view of the desert is incredible, and one can also see the Khongoryn River flowing in amongst the desert feeding the nearby oases. We will take a camel ride before returning to camp. Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 180 km on dirt road and 50km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 5 hours

It is a lovely relaxing day spent in the Gobi. Did you know that the name “Khongor” means palomino horse in Mongolian? Enjoy walks near the camp and visit the sand dunes. The dunes make sound like a plane engine on a windy day, so they have also been named the “Singing Dunes”. Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 30 min drive to Sand Dunes

Today we drive to Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, located in the southern part of central Mongolia not far from the border. The eastern side of the park features the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains which are locally known as the “Three Beauties.” These rugged mountains account for about half of the park’s terrain.  They are also home to the endangered snow leopard. We will explore the area on foot before we drive to our ger camp. We visit to Flaming Cliffs in the evening and enjoy our sunset in the Gobi. The Flaming Cliffs are home to the fossils of ancient creatures from the dog-sized herbivore Protoceratops to the ferocious predator Velociraptor.

Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 150 km on dirt road to a camp, approx. 4 hours

Today we will drive to Ongi Monastery and transfer to ger camp. Ongi Monastery is the collective name for the ruins of two monasteries that face each other across the Ongi River in Saikhan-Ovoo district of Dundgovi Province. The Barlim Monastery is located on the north bank of the river while the Khutagt Monastery sits on the south bank. Both complexes of Ongi Monastery were completely destroyed in 1939 during anti-religious purges. Over 200 monks were killed, and many surviving monks were imprisoned or forced conscripts into the Communist controlled army. Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 180 km on dirt road to a camp, approx. 4-4.5 hours

It is an early start this morning as we set off for Arvaiheer town. It is pre-Naadam Day at town and we will visit the local horse trainers camping area. Here, jockeys and trainers will be getting ready for the race tomorrow. It is always a good to see build-up of excitement and feel the true atmosphere of Naadam Festival. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)

Total driving: 150 km on dirt road to a camp, approx. 3-4 hours

We will attend the opening ceremony for this local Naadam Festival and then spend the day here. There will be the opportunities to view the horse racing and wrestling. There are 5 horse races according to the horse ages and starting from 2-year-old yearlings. There will also be archery which will take a place near to the stadium. Overnight tourist class hotel. (BLD)

After breakfast we drive out of town and head to Kharkhorin. Back in the 13th Century, Kharkhorin was constructed as a capital city which attracted traders, dignitaries and skilled workers from across Asia and even Europe. The Mongolian Empire was governed from this city until Khubilai Khan moved the capital to Beijing. Kharakhorum was completely destroyed by vengeful Ming troops in 1380. A few relics remained, notably two granite turtles, the base of a palace, some stone lions, two columns, and a few traces of an irrigation channel. Today the only information known about the rise and prominence of Kharakhorum comes from the notes and stories of travellers who visited the city during its peak years.

Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 60 km on dirt and 75 km on tarmac road to a camp, approx. 4-4.5 hours

Today we will visit Erdene Zuu Monastery complex and Kharkhorin Museum. We will then drive to Hustai National Park. This National Park, famous for the Takhi (Przewalskii’s) wild horses. The horses were successfully reintroduced to the preserve after having been extinct in the wild since the 1960’s. The steppe and forest-steppe environment is also inhabited by maral, steppe gazelle, deer, boar, wildcat, wolf and lynx; there is interesting birdlife including Eurasian eagle-owl, boreal owl and Eurasian nightjar as well as migratory cranes. Overnight ger camp. (BLD)

Total driving: 20 km on dirt and 260 km on tarmac road to a camp, approx. 4-4.5 hours

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

Total driving: 20 km on dirt and 80 km on tarmac road to a camp, approx. 2-3 hours

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

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

Single Supplement from £295.

Return flights from London to Ulaan Baatar start from £850 subject to availability and the route taken. Contact us for a quotation.

On the first day of the tour, you can arrive any time before 17:00.

Airport transfers are an additional £15 each way if you not arriving on the start/finish dates and are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation.

Extra night accommodation pre and/or post tour in Mongolia costs from £55 per person, per night sharing a twin/double room and £64 per person in a solo occupancy room.

Please note that the prices quoted above are for the category of accommodation and hotel used for this particular tour. Depending on the hotel eventually confirmed there may be some difference in the rate advertised by the hotel, and the prices available through Undiscovered Destinations. It should be noted we will not apply a surcharge should more expensive accommodation be used. At the same time in the event that a lower rate is available for the confirmed hotel we are unable to offer a refund.

If you do not wish to be part of a group tour then you can do the same tour on a private basis. Please contact us for prices.

Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please get in touch to start planning the perfect tailormade trip.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Transport throughout
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)

The tour was absolutely brilliant, as was our guide Itchko.

 

Graham and Jackie Horsewood, UK.

Tulga is amazing man. Superb guide. A shame that ‘Modern’ Gers are being built, rather than the traditional style ones. Bayra the other driver was excellent. Extremely satisfied with everything. Everything was excellent.

Anne Pavit, UK