Mongolia: Nomads, Eagle Hunters, and the Land of Genghis Khan

Trip Overview

In June 2018, we travel to Mongolia, a land where time has stood still with landscapes that appear today much as they did when Genghis Khan led his horde across its plains 800 years ago. Mongolia holds some of the last true wilderness areas on Earth; vast tracts that are utterly untamed, untouched, untrodden, unfenced, uncut, and unspoiled.

The austere beauty of the Gobi Desert in the south is matched by the awesome breadth of the oceanic grasslands on the central steppe and by the grandeur of the 14,000-foot Altai Mountains in the far west. Also frozen in time are the traditional lifestyles of the nomadic pastoralists that still live here. Explore their magnificent country and share meals with them before retiring each night in the comfort of your own ger, the time-tested, portable shelters designed centuries ago, and still used today.

Arrive early or stay late at the Gobi Desert’s Flaming Cliffs, so named for the ruddy bluffs that seem to glow in the sunlight at the beginning and end of each day. Of all the world’s arid lands, Mongolia's Gobi Desert (which means simply “desert”) has about it the greatest air of mystery. The Gobi holds many fascinations including sites of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of this century. The Flaming Cliffs, also known as Bayan Zag, are famous for yielding the first discovery of dinosaur eggs. The red-orange color of the sandstone cliffs, give them their name.

Watch breathlessly as some of the world’s finest horsemen thunder by and let fly their arrows in astonishing feats of archery. Follow traditional Mongolian Eagle Hunters as they ride out with their trained eagles in search of quarry. Learn about the woman who, while still a young girl, broke an ancient gender barrier by becoming the first Eagle Huntress in the world.

Begin your adventure in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The contrast between ancient traditions and the dawning of a 21st century democracy is most visible in Ulaanbaatar, where traditional gers and Buddhist monasteries coexist with modern high-rises. Visit the Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia, and explore the monastery grounds, where you will hear the low tones of the horns used to call the lamas to the temple and observe their daily rituals, including the reading of sutras (teachings of the Buddha).

Head west to Tolbo Lake and explore the rugged Altai Mountains, home to eagle hunters who still practice a centuries-old tradition (named a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Site). This isolated area has preserved the language, culture, and traditions of the Kazakhs and provides some of the most spectacular scenery in Mongolia. You will have ample opportunity to meet local families and experience the unique Kazakh culture, including learning about the art of the Kazakh women and the ancient tradition of hunting with eagles. The Altai mountains have an array of habitats and are home to a diverse fauna, including the Siberian ibex, moose, forest reindeer, Siberian musk deer, and Siberian roe deer.

Stay in the Three Camel Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World to experience a luxurious version of a traditional nomadic yurt.

While in the Gobi, attend the local Naadam Festival celebrations. Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries. Naadam has its origin in sporting competitions such as archery, horseback riding and wrestling.

Visit a nomadic family living nearby the lodge where you will spend an entire day learning to make traditional handicrafts. Begin with a hands-on lesson on thread making and spinning wool. Afterwards, learn about felt making and how felt is used as an insulator for gers and as textile for clothing and boots.

Near the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, drive to Hustain Nuruu National Park, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the takhi - commonly known as Przewalski’s horse.  Twenty-five years after becoming extinct in the wild, the takhi was reintroduced to the Mongolian steppe from zoo populations. 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.

If you love remote and wild places, this very special AdventureWomen vacation to Mongolia in June 2018 is for you!

Main Attractions

  • Meet Kazakh eagle hunters to learn about their ancient practice of training and hunting with golden eagles
  • Witness live horseback riding, wrestling and archery competitions at an authentic local Naadam festival in the Gobi Desert
  • Spend an entire day with a local nomadic family for a demonstration on making traditional handicrafts and felt products
  • Look for dinosaur fossils at Flaming Cliffs, a site for important paleontological discoveries.
  • Explore Hustain Nuruu National Park for a chance to spot Takhi horses, the last remaining species of wild horse on Earth

What You'll See and Do

  • Anthropology
  • Archeology
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Handicrafts
  • Local Delicacies
  • National Parks
  • Natural History
  • Spa Element
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Women-To-Women

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Mongolia: Nomads, Eagle Hunters, and the Land of Genghis Khan

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday, June 10 - Arrive in Ulaanbaatar
The contrast between ancient traditions and the dawning of a 21st century democracy is most visible in Ulaanbaatar, where traditional gers and Buddhist monasteries coexist with modern high-rises.

You will be picked up at the Ulaanbaatar Airport by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Spend the evening relaxing after your long flights.

Overnight: Best Western Tuushin Hotel
http://bestwesternmongolia.mn/

Centrally located in Ulaanbaatar, the Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel is within walking distance of many of the attractions in the city. The comfortable rooms are an excellent place to relax between forays into the countryside.

 

 

Day 2

Monday, June 11- Ulaanbaatar
Human habitation in what is Ulaanbaatar today dates from 300,000 years ago. These Upper Paleolithic people hunted mammoth and wooly rhinoceros, the bones of which are found abundantly around Ulaanbaatar. Royal tombs of the Xiongnu era have also been discovered in the area. Many nomadic empires encompassed Ulaanbaatar throughout history.

Begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Woven through

Mongolia’s nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan-Buddhist tradition with ancient Shamanist practices still evident. Explore the monastery grounds, where you will hear the low tones of the horns used to call the lamas to the temple and can observe their daily rituals, including the reading of sutras (teachings of the Buddha). Continue to the recently renovated Chenrezi and Kalachakra Temples, as well as the magnificent statue of Migjid Janraisig (“the lord who looks in every direction”). This 82-foot high statue, gilded in pure gold and clothed with silk and precious stones, completely fills one of the Gandan’s biggest temples.

Visit the museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture. The newly remodeled museum displays traditional implements of daily nomadic life including Stone and Bronze Age artifacts, historical costumes of Mongolia’s minority tribes, sacred religious relics, and agricultural, fishing, and hunting equipment.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Learn about the different clothing styles of Mongolia’s minority tribes and talk with artists about how they intertwine traditional textile customs with modern designs.

Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening with your group!
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Best Western Tuushin Hotel

Day 3

Tuesday, June 12 - Ulaanbaatar to Tolbo Lake
At the end of the 17th century, escaping from tribal warfare, a group of Kazakhs settled in Bayan Ulgii. Dominated by the Mongolian Altai Mountains, the highest mountains in Mongolia with several peaks reaching upwards of 14,000 feet, the isolated area has preserved the language, culture, and traditions of the Kazakhs and provides some of the most spectacular scenery in Mongolia.

Ninety percent of the population of Bayan-Ulgii is Kazakh and you will have ample opportunity to meet local families and experience the unique Kazakh culture.

Fly from Ulaanbaatar to Ulgii this morning. The flight is about three hours.

Upon arrival in Ulgii, drive through stunning mountain valleys to Lake Tolbo, following the Hovd River. Spend the rest of the day exploring the lakeshore and visiting local Kazakh families. Kazakh women are renowned in Mongolia for their skills in embroidery and appliqué, and their gers are decorated in a kaleidoscope of colors. Felt carpets line the floor, each design unique to a family, and delicately embroidered tapestries cover the walls.

After lunch, explore the surrounding area on foot.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Tent with Sleeping Bag

Your tents are Northface VE25 dome tents. Each tent has a vestibule that can be used for dirty boots/other wet gear. You will be provided with a 4” NeoAir Dream mattress by Thermarest (foam+air mattress) and a zero-degree sleeping bag with a cotton sleeping bag liner. There are separate toilet (bio-chemical, pump-flush toilet) and shower tents (solar-heated water).

 

Day 4

Wednesday, June 13 - Tolbo Lake to the Altai Mountains
The Altai Mountains, in Central and East Asia, are where Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together, and are where the rivers Irtysh and Ob have their headwaters. “Altai” means “Gold Mountain” in Mongolian. The Altai mountains have an array of habitats and are home to diverse fauna, including the Siberian ibex, moose, forest reindeer, Siberian musk deer, and Siberian roe deer.

Learn about the ancient tradition of hunting with eagles. Kazakh hunters ride dressed in traditional dark coats and scarlet hats with eagles perched on their arms. Weighing as much as fifteen pounds, these magnificent birds are trained from a young age to respond to hand signals and return to their owners after capturing small game. There will also be opportunities to meet Uriankhai families, a minority tribe of Mongolians (estimated as 1% of the population) renowned for their archery skills.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Tent with Sleeping Bag

Day 5

Thursday, June 14 - Altai Mountains to Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar is one of the oldest reserves in the world; it has been protected by law since the 18th century. The forests of the mountains surrounding Ulaanbaatar are composed of evergreen pines, deciduous larches, and birches, while the riverine forest of the Tuul River is composed of broad-leaved, deciduous poplars, elms, and willows. Ulaanbaatar lies on roughly the same latitude as Vienna, Munich, Orléans, and Seattle, and roughly the same longitude as Chongqing, Hanoi, and Jakarta.

Drive back to Ulgii this morning and visit a local mosque.

Fly back to Ulaanbaatar where you will be transferred to your hotel.

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Best Western Tuushin Hotel

 

Day 6

Friday, June 15 - Ulaanbaatar to the Gobi Desert
Of all the world’s arid lands, the Gobi (which means simply “desert”) has about it the greatest air of mystery, perhaps because it lies at the heart of Asia’s remotest hinterland between the Siberian wilderness to the north and the Tibetan Plateau to the south. Contrary to the sterile sameness that the word “desert” suggests, the Gobi holds many fascinations including sites of some of the most important paleontological discoveries of this century.

Fly from Ulaanbaatar to the Gobi Desert. Drive to Yol Valley National Park, cradled between the foothills of the Altai Mountains. An ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley. Now, its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that sometimes persist as late as July.

Drive to Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia’s premier eco-lodge.

Spend the evening exploring the surrounding area on foot or by bike. You may want to enjoy a massage or a drink in the lounge.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Three Camel Lodge
http://www.threecamellodge.com/

The remote location of Three Camel Lodge is not for the impatient traveler, but those seeking a true escape which will be richly rewarded. Three Camel Lodge offers a luxurious take on the traditional nomadic lifestyle. Built in the heart of the Gobi according to environmentally and culturally sustainable development guidelines, the Three Camel Lodge offers a blend of adventure and sophistication, combining traditional style with superb service to create the ultimate expedition experience.

 

Day 7

Saturday, June 16 - Gobi Desert
Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries. Naadam has its origin in sporting competitions such as archery, horseback riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle. The three games of wrestling, horse racing and archery are called “Danshig” games.

Attend the local Naadam Festival celebrations. Wrestling, horse racing, and archery are the three age-old competitions traditionally used to measure the courage and strength of nomads and warriors.

This evening, enjoy a presentation on the creation of the solar system by a local Astrophysicist, followed by stargazing under the vast Gobi skies.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Three Camel Lodge

 

 

Day 8

Sunday, June 17 - Gobi Desert
When Marco Polo described crossing the Gobi Desert in the 13th century, he said that “this desert is reported to be so long that it would take a year to go from end to end; and at the narrowest point it takes a month to cross it. It consists entirely of mountains and sands and valleys. There is nothing at all to eat.” The word “Gobi” means “large and dry” in the Mongolian language.

After breakfast, drive to visit a nomadic family living nearby the lodge where you will spend an entire day learning to make traditional handicrafts. Begin with a hands-on lesson on thread making and spinning wool. Afterwards, learn about felt making and how felt is used as an insulator for gers and as textile for clothing and boots. Making felt is a time-consuming process and is customarily done in conjunction with other families. Felt is first beaten by hand with wooden sticks to break down the fiber and aides in the removal or dirt deep in the wool. Afterwards, water is applied and the felt mass is rolled tightly into a long column and dragged across the ground by horse in order to join the fibers. When the felt is rolled out, it is dried in the sun and ready for household use.

Enjoy an evening to relax at the lodge.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Three Camel Lodge

Day 9

Monday, June 18 - Gobi Desert
The Flaming Cliffs, also known as Bayan Zag, is a region of the Gobi Desert in the Ömnögovi Province of Mongolia, in which important fossil finds have been made. The area is most famous for yielding the first discovery of dinosaur eggs. Other finds in the area include specimens of Velociraptor and eutherian mammals. The red or orange color of the sandstone cliffs (especially at a sunset), give them their name.

Moltsog Els is one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes. Explore the sand dunes on foot or on back of a Bactrian camel. You will also have the opportunity to visit a local camel herding family and experience their hospitality.

Learn to make delicious Mongolian Buuz (dumplings) and Khuushuur at the lodge.

In the evening, drive to Bayan Zag, commonly known as the Flaming Cliffs, to experience the orange glow of its rock at dawn and dusk. It was here in 1923 that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs. Although not obvious to the untrained eye, the Flaming Cliffs are rich with dinosaur fossils and have been the site of important paleontological discoveries.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Three Camel Lodge

Day 10

Tuesday, June 19 - Gobi Desert to Ulaanbaatar
Leave the Gobi Desert and fly back to Ulaanbaatar this morning.

MIM is a Mongolian and Irish collaboration that was formed to encourage and empower Mongolian women and their families. At MIM, Mongolian women are trained in the traditional felt-making skills as part of Asral NGO’s sustainable training program.

With the support from the Irish government and the Dalai Lama, MIM’s hand crafted products have become identified as the highest quality felt in Mongolia.

This evening, enjoy a traditional Mongolian Dance and Khoomi throat singing performance at a local theatre.

Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Best Western Tuushin Hotel

 

 

Day 11

Wednesday, June 20 - Ulaanbaatar
Hustain Nuruu National Park is home to 44 species of mammals, including red deer, Mongolian gazelle, roe deer, wild boar, wild sheep, ibex, Mongolian marmots, grey wolves, Eurasian lynx, Pallas cat, red fox, corsac fox, and Eurasian badger. The 217 species of birds include golden eagle, lammergeier, great bustard, whooper swan, black stork, Daurian partridge, and little owl.

Drive to Hustain Nuruu National Park, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the takhi - commonly known as Przewalski’s horse. Twenty-five years after becoming extinct in the wild, the takhi was reintroduced to the Mongolian steppe from zoo populations by the Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the Przewalski’s Horse. Sixteen horses were flown from the Netherlands to Mongolia in 1994, and about 280 now roam in reintroduction sites in Mongolia and China. 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.

After a full day, return to Ulaanbaatar.

Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening and celebrate the end of an exceptional trip.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight: Best Western Tuushin Hotel

 

Day 12

Thursday, June 21 - Ulaanbaatar and Depart
Enjoy one last morning in Ulaanbaatar before departing for the US.

Say goodbye to your new AdventureWomen friends as you transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Breakfast

 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Mongolia: Nomads, Eagle Hunters, and the Land of Genghis Khan

Traveling to Mongolia



Traveling to Mongolia

Arrive: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (ULN) on June 10, 2018.

Depart: Depart Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (ULN) on June 21, 2018.

We are happy to help you make your flight and travel arrangements. Please contact us at:

(800) 804-8686 or (617) 544-9393
email: info@adventurewomen.com

If you’d like to do anything prior to or following the AdventureWomen trip, we’d be delighted to help you arrange any trip extensions you’re interested in.

Note: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last-minute registrants, we must often release hotel space and air reservations two to three months prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Passports and Visas

Citizens of the United States must have a passport valid for six months beyond your travel dates with at least two blank facing pages. If you do not have a passport, please apply now!

Health Considerations

We rate this trip as easy. You should be able to walk comfortably for two to three hours at a time on uneven surfaces. We have a partnership with FitForTrips, a company that will design an individualized fitness plan for you to ensure that you are prepared for the trip.
Visit https://fitfortrips.com/partners/adventure-women/ for more information.

You should come with a flexible, adventurous, and enthusiastic spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor that adventure travel requires.

Make an appointment with a travel clinic. There are no immunization requirements for travel to

Mongolia, however your local travel clinic may have recommendations for you based on your age, health, and past vaccination history.

For more health information, go to www.cdc.gov/travel and navigate to the page about Mongolia.

Money

Mongolian currency is called the tugrik. As of May, 2017, US $1 = 2,410 MNT. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Mongolia. US dollars are accepted

in many places, but you should plan to pay for incidentals and small souvenirs with local currency. ATMs are accessible in larger cities, and hotels will change money for you. Please bring unmarked and untorn bills dated within the last ten years.

Suggested Gratuities:

  • Guide(s): $10-15 per day
  • Driver: $7-10 per day
  • Other Staff: To be advised prior to departure

How to Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking "Sign Up for this Trip" on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Forms and Final Payment

Once you book, you will need to fill out and return to AdventureWomen:

  • Information Form
  • Booking Conditions Form
  • Copy of Flight Information
  • Copy of Issuing Page of Passport

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen in a cash form (check, money order, or wire transfer) on or before March 12, 2018.

 

 

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Mongolia: Nomads, Eagle Hunters, and the Land of Genghis Khan

Included

  • All hotel accommodations throughout the trip
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary
  • All ground transportation
  • Fully-guided sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary
  • English-speaking guides throughout the trip
  • Drinking water
  • One AdventureWomen Associate

 

Not Included

  • International airfare to and from Mongolia
  • Domestic airfare
  • Meals not specified in the itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fees for passports, visas, or immunizations
  • Cost of hospitalization or evacuation
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities for guides and drivers

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Mongolia: Nomads, Eagle Hunters, and the Land of Genghis Khan

What to Bring

There is a strict luggage allowance for this trip. You may bring one small suitcase or duffel bag and one carry-on. The total weight of your bags may not exceed 33lbs. Please pack accordingly.

Mongolia has a relatively cool climate with short, mild summers. The temperature at this time of year can range from 50°- 80°F. You should be prepared for fairly rapid temperature fluctuations. There is also the potential for rain. We recommend dressing in layers.

Clothing and Gear:

  • Duffel bag or  small suitcase
  • Daypack
  • Rain cover for daypack
  • Medium-weight, waterproof hiking boots (make sure they are broken in!)
  • Rubber-soled sandals/flip- flops
  • 3-4 pairs hiking socks
  • 2-3 short sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 2-3 long sleeve shirts (quick dry recommended)
  • 1 medium weight fleece sweater/jacket for cool evenings
  • 1-2 pairs of pants
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • 1-2 sets of nicer clothes for dinner
  • Gore-Tex jacket
  • Gore-Tex pants
  • Hat for sun protection
  • 5-7 pairs underwear
  • 2-4 sports bras
  • Sleepwear

AdventureWomen Essentials:

  • Travel documents (passport, airline tickets, money)
  • 2-3 spare passport photos (in case of lost passport)
  • Your AdventureWomen insulated bottle (good for hot or cold drinks!)
  • Locks for your suitcase/duffel bag (when left in rooms)
  • Travel alarm clock with spare batteries
  • Headlamp or small flashlight with spare batteries
  • Binoculars (8x40/42 models are excellent choices; center focus models are easiest)
  • Digital camera, memory cards, battery charger
  • Power adapters (three round pin sockets and two round pin sockets)
  • Sunglasses, case, and strap
  • Spare glasses, contact lenses, cleaner, saline, etc.
  • Money belt or neck pouch
  • Sunscreen and lip balm with SPF
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Hand wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Small packet of tissues
  • Tampons and panty liners (avoid plastic applicators)
  • Earplugs: We recommend Mack’s Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs. Available at most drugstores or at earplugstore.com
  • Assortment of stuff sacks and Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 heavyweight plastic garbage bags for wet swimsuits
  • 1-2 bandanas
  • Reading material/journal

Personal First Aid Kid:

  • Foot powder for moisture absorption
  • Bandaids (cloth, not plastic)
  • 10 individually wrapped alcohol pads
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Aspirin/ibuprofen
  • Cold-symptom relief tablets
  • Antihistamine
  • Cough drops
  • Tweezers
  • Ace bandage
  • Antibiotics (as advised by a doctor)
  • Prescription medicines in their original bottles
  • Acidophilus or other probiotic
  • Anti-diarrhea medicine
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Laxative
  • Emergen-C
  • Eye drops

If you prefer to buy a complete kit, we recommend the Smart Travel first aid kit.

 


If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.