Naadam Games & Altai Mountains
• Ulaanbaatar • Hokh Serkhiin Nuruu National Park • Chigertei National Park • Naadam Games
Celebrate the famous Naadam Games in the far west of Mongolia when the entire country is on its hooves for two full days in mid-July. You will also venture into the snow-capped Altai Mountains. You will experience the best of the last remaining nomadic cultures of Eurasia, both from Kazakh and Mongol ethnic backgrounds.
Days 1 & 2: Ulaanbaatar On arrival we suggest a wander around central Sukhbaatar Square containing statues of Genghis Khan and Damdin Sukhbaatar. Join your guide for sightseeing of the National Museum of Mongolia to admire its ethnographic collections of nomadic culture, the Gandan Monastery, the busiest Buddhist site in Mongolia and the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan.
Day 3: Ulaanbaatar > Delunn via Olgii Fly to Olgii and drive by land cruiser to Deluun via beautiful Tolbo Lake, with the snow-capped Sair mountain as a backdrop. The Kazakh village of Deluun is located on the west side of Hokh Serkhiin Nuruu National Park. Overnight in your private wilderness Ger camp.
Days 4 & 5: Hokh Serkhiin Nuruu & Chigertei National Parks Walk up the Ikh Yamaat (Big Goat) Valley where you might encounter hundreds of Siberian ibex. The Argali sheep, the world's largest wild sheep, is also resident here. Reach the remote border zone, summer highland pastures of Kazakh nomads and chat with the hardy nomads herding their sheep and goats, some of whom are prominent eagle hunters.
Day 6: Delunn > Hovd Break camp and drive to Hovd Province. Hovd is an appealing, multi-ethnic town of Halkh Mongols, Myangad Mongols, Kazakhs and other peoples, hence why it boasts both Buddhist temples and a mosque. Hovd also has a noteworthy local museum, the only university in West Mongolia, and a vibrant local market to explore.
Days 7 & 8: Naadam Games These two days are spent at the games, mostly featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse-racing and archery. The horse-racing takes place over distances of up to 32km, with children, aged between four and 12 years old, as jockeys. You are also likely to encounter local throat singers and horsehead fiddle players. Throat-singing is claimed to have originated from Hovd's Chandmani community in the nearby Great Lakes Basin.
Days 9 & 10: Hovd > Ulaanbaatar > Jargalant Steppe Valley Fly to Ulan Bator for overnight and the following morning cross the bridge over the Kherlen River to Hentii province and the Jargalant Steppe Valley, seasonal summer pastures for local nomads and their livestock. Visit Deer Stones dating from the 7th to 9th century AD, predating the era of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. Camp for two nights.
Day 11: Baldan Bereeven Monastery Tucked away in the nearby hills, the secluded Baldan Bereeven Monastery was founded in 1654 and rose to become one of the most important monasteries of eastern Mongolia with up to 8000 resident lamas.
Day 12: Jargalant > Onon River Break camp and visit Binder Ovoo, one of the most sacred cairns in Mongolia, and nearby Rashaant Had (Spring Rock), so named because spring waters bubble forth directly from it. Continue into the taiga forest to the hidden Oglogch Wall, a stone wall believed to date from before the birth of Christ. After hiking along the wall, stop for a picnic lunch before journeying to camp.
Day 13: Onon River or Daurian Steppe Lakes Today you can choose to explore the area of Binder and meet its Buryat Mongol inhabitants, or head to the Daurian Steppe Lakes, habitat to several crane species and kept in place by underlying permafrost. Keep an eye out for five of the world's crane species that may be seen here, including the rare Siberian crane, Hooded crane, and White-naped crane. Great bustards (Otis tarda) are also commonly seen, the heaviest flying bird in the world.
Day 15: Onon River > Ulaanbaatar Drive to the small community airstrip at Binder village, where a Cessna Caravan aircraft, landing and taking off directly on to the grass, will fly you the one-and-a-half hours to Ulan Bator's international airport in time for your connecting flight out of Mongolia.
• Tailor-made journey • English speaking local guides • 13 nights' accommodation in hotels and luxury gers • Al transportation by land cruise (3 people per vehicle) • Domestic flights • All sightseeing • National Park entry fee • 13 breakfasts, 11 lunches and 11 dinners
Pricing (per person) $NZD
2021 5 July
Booking conditions A good level of fitness is required
A good level of fitness is required