Gobi Trek: Camel Trekking through the Desert

Gobi Desert, Mongolia

For More Information:

Contact Debbie Dos Santos at Journeys-Yacht & Travel Company to discuss this itinerary and design it to your preferences. 

 

843-647-1645  

debbie@journeysatc.com

Program Overview:  

Of all the world’s arid lands, the Gobi Desert has about it the greatest air of mystery.  This adventurous Gobi trek is designed to provide adventure enthusiasts with a desert experience like no other, through a land of boundless sand dunes, hidden mountain springs, isolated forests of saxaul bushes, and canyons where ibex roam among prehistoric rock paintings.   Follow in the footsteps of the many explorers who have been drawn to the dramatic Gobi Desert, such as Marco Polo, who crossed its trade routes over 700 years ago, and Roy Chapman Andrews, the legendary adventurer who in 1923 discovered the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen.  Explore the dramatic Flaming Cliffs, followed by a trekking expedition on foot and by camel, touring the Gobi deep into its magical landscapes.  This thrilling journey through Mongolia’s diverse landscapes includes the ruins of ancient cities and monasteries, visits with families who live and raise their herds in the semi-arid desert environment, and nights spent camping under the stars in the shadow of the Gobi Altai Mountains.   

 

Highlights:

  • 14 Day/13 night trekking experience through the mystical Gobi desert by foot and by camel to discover the traditional nomadic culture of Mongolia.
  • 13 nights accommodations to include 2 nights at Three Camel Lodge, an award winning eco-lodge in the Gobi, 3 nights hotel in Ulaanbaatar,  6 nights in tents and 2 nights in Ger camps.  What is a Ger Camp?  It is the traditional home of the herdsman which offer an authentic experience of Mongolian culture and provide the unique opportunity to visit areas which otherwise lack visitor accommodations.
  • Spend 4-6 hours a day hiking or camel trekking viewing herds of gazelle and looking for the elusive snow leopard.  Hike through Gorkhi-Terelj National Park home to unusual rock formations and rich bird and plant life.
  • Travel to the Flaming Cliffs, where legendary explorer Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first nest of dinosaur eggs.
  • Visit Kharakhorum, site of the 13th century Mongol Empire, and explore Erdene Zuu, Mongolia’s largest monastery.
  • Optional personalized trip extensions to include attending local festivals and Trans Siberian Rail travel. 

Itinerary & Destination Background:

Day 1: 

The contrast between ancient traditions and 21st century democracy is most visible in Ulaanbaatar, where traditional gers and Buddhist monasteries sit side by side with modern high-rises.  You will be welcomed by your guide at the airport and taken to a centrally located hotel within walking distance of the various museums and shops.  In the afternoon, your guide will drive you to the Zaisan Memorial, built by the former Soviet Union to commemorate fallen soldiers of World War II.  Those who climb the 300 steps will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the capital city, the Tuul River, and the surrounding countryside.  In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant

Accommodations:  Selected hotel in Ulaanbaatar

 

Day 2: 

In the morning fly over vast steppe land to the Gobi, Mongolia’s southernmost province of semi-arid desert.  For the next eight days, explore the stunning landscape of the Gobi, habitat for Bactrian camels, Argali mountain sheep, goitered gazelle, Golden Eagles, Saker Falcons, jerboas, and many endemic reptiles.  Upon arrival in the Gobi, drive to the Yol Valley National Park, cradled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains.  An ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley and its remnant streams create ice formations that sometimes persist as late as July.   A hike through the valley leads to the habitat of indigenous vulture-like Lammergeiers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks and Argali mountain sheep.   Next, drive to the award winning Three Camel Lodge for dinner and overnight.

Accommodations:  Three Camel Lodge  

 

Day 3: 

Drive to the land of ibexes and snow leopards-- the Gyalaan Canyon and begin trekking through rocky canyons of the Gobi Altai Mountains.  During the trip you will be trekking within the boundaries of the “Gobi Gurvan Saikhan” or the “Three Beauties of the Gobi” National Park, where the richest localities of the late Cretaceous dinosaurs are found.  Many species found in the Park are unique and not found elsewhere.  Fifty-two species of mammals are found here.  In the early evening, watch for Argali mountain sheep and ibex which appear on the cliffs.   Your guides will set up a tented camp outfitted with sleeping bags and mats.

Accommodations:  Tents

 

Day 4: 

Wake in the morning to the sun rising above the legendary Gobi.  Continue trekking along rocky canyons, which are famous for their rock paintings.  The Gobi is a place of not only the Beauty of Nature, but the stage of history of Mesozoic, Paleolithic Eras and modern times.  The Park is famous for the stone tool artifacts and rock paintings of the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages, found in the 1960s by the joint Russian-Mongolian expedition.  Even today Mongolian-Russian-American expedition groups find thousands of stone tools providing clear pictures of evolution in the development process.

Accommodations:  Tents

 

Day 5: 

As you continue to trek, you will leave the canyons and come to a mountainous valley with a view of the Gobi sand dunes on the horizon- 139km long, 5-7km wide and 185m high- the Hongoryn Els sand dune strip.  During or before storms these “walls-sand” dunes start to sing, resembling sounds made by planes.  This is why they are called “singing dunes”.   Watch for herds of black-tailed gazelle and other wildlife frequenting this area.

Accommodations:  Tents

 

Day 6: 

Continue trekking until you meet your camels and camel herder.  Begin riding camels through the sand dunes, traveling as Mongolia’s nomads have for centuries.  Arrive at Serun Bulag- a treasured water place by the local nomads.  The spring water is very cold in summer and warm in winter and believed to be good for the stomach, due to the high content of brimstone.

Accommodations:  Tents

 

Day 7: 

Spend the day camel trekking along the sand dunes.  For miles and miles you will see only dunes and you can appreciate the feeling of a real caravan, similar to the ones used during the Silk Road period.  Arrive at Elsen Us, a crystal clean fresh water well made by the locals.

Accommodations:  Tents

 

Day 8: 

Anticipating another day of exploring the spectacular panoramas of the world’s northernmost desert, your ride will bring you to some of the most remote sites in the Gobi.  It is believed that this area was the bottom of an ancient ocean.  There are splendid views of fantastic sandy and clay cliffs that rise upwards in stunning shapes, and of dense forests of saxaul bushes that are well preserved in this remote area.

Accommodations:  Tents

 

Day 9: 

Return to Three Camel Lodge, located near Gobi Gurvansaikhan National park.  In the afternoon, you will travel to the legendary Flaming Cliffs, named for the orange glow of the rock in the light of the setting sun.  It was here in 1923 that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team form the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen.  Although not obvious to the untrained eye, the red sandstone of the Flaming Cliffs is rich with dinosaur fossils and paleontological expeditions continue to make significant discoveries at this site.

Accommodations:  Three Camel Lodge

 

Day 10: 

Begin driving towards Kharakhorum, site of the 13th century capital of the Mongol Empire.  Stop for lunch at Ongiin Hiid, the ruins of the ancient temple built in the 17th century.  Once one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Ongiin Hiid is still known as the “Pearl of the Great Desert”.  Destroyed during the communist purges in 1939, the ruins of this monastery are situated in a beautiful mountainous region

Accommodations:  Ger Camp

 

Day 11: 

The adventure continues at Kharakhorum.  Chinggis Khan’s son Ogodei created Kharakhorum but abandoned it forty years later, moving the capital to Khanbalik, in what is now Beijing.  Traces of this once-celebrated city still exist in Erdene Zuu, Mongolia’s largest monastery, which was reputedly built from the ruins of Kharakhorum in the 16th century.  Surrounded by 108 stupas, this temple has been a place of Buddhist activity or centuries.

Accommodations:  Ger Camp

 

Day 12: 

Today you will drive back to Ulaanbaatar, stopping for visits at local families and a picnic lunch in the countryside along the way.  Enjoying true Mongolian hospitality!

Accommodations:  Selected hotel in Ulaanbaatar

 

Day 13: 

Begin the day with a visit to the Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia.  Woven through Mongolia’s nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition in which ancient shamanist practices are still evident.  Although Buddhist monasteries were either destroyed or converted into museums during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Gandan Monastery continued to operate as a showpiece for government officials.  However, in spite of the government’s efforts to suppress Buddhism and other religious beliefs, Mongolia’s spirituality persisted and a significant resurgence of Buddhism began in 1990 when Mongolia became a democracy.   Next visit the dinosaur halls of the Natural History Museum, showcasing the spectacular fossils found in the Gobi Desert.  In the afternoon visit the National History Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture.  Enjoy the evening with a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and khoomi throat singers.  

Accommodations:  Selected hotel in Ulaanbaatar

 

Day 14: 

Transfer to the airport for your departure home.  If you wish to remain in Mongolia or cross borders into Tibet, Siberian, Bhutan or China, we are happy to personalize programs designed to your interests.  


This Journeys-Yacht & Travel Company sample itinerary for independent travel is provided merely as a glimpse of the type of customized travel experiences we create.  We would be delighted in developing a travel program for you or a group based on your preferences.