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Marco Polo Journeys

Mongolia: Naadam Festival & the Gobi Desert 2017


12 Days from TBA

Limited to 18 guests

Venture into the far-flung wilds of Mongolia as you uncover hauntingly beautiful landscapes, the vivid spectacle of a centuries-old festival and an enduringly rural way of life rarely glimpsed by Western eyes.

A&K Advantages

Journey through landscapes of rugged beauty, witnessing a deeply rooted local festival, meeting with a Buddhist lama, and riding a camel in the Gobi along the way

Witness one of the world's oldest spectacles of skill, strength and daring at the annual Naadam Festival

Share perspectives with a Buddhist lama at Ulaanbaatar's Gandan Khiid Monastery

Discover Khustain Nuruu National Park, haven for the last truly wild horse species on earth

Ride a Bactrian (two-humped) camel through the vast dunes of Moltsog Els

Explore the shifting sands of the fossil-rich Flaming Cliffs, a site of groundbreaking paleontological discovery

Itinerary at a Glance

DAY 1
Arrive Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
DAY 2
Ulaanbaatar | Mongolia’s Capital
DAY 3
Ulaanbaatar | Life of Genghis Khan
DAY 4
Naadam Festival | The Three Games of Men
DAY 5
Kharakhorum | 13th-Century Capital
DAY 6
Kharakhorum | Museum & Monastery Visits
DAY 7
Khustain Nuruu National Park | Wild Horse Haven
DAY 8
Gobi | Dunes, Canyons & Verdant Oases
DAY 9
Yol Valley National Park | Valley of the Eagles
DAY 10
Moltsog Els Sand Dunes | The Flaming Cliffs
DAY 11
Ulaanbaatar | Past Meets Present
DAY 12
Depart Ulaanbaatar
DAY 1
Arrive Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar
DAY 2
Ulaanbaatar | Mongolia’s Capital

This morning, visit Gandan Khiid Monastery with its 75-foot statue made of copper, gold and precious stones, accompanied by a top-ranking lama who discusses monastery life. Visit the National Museum of Mongolian History, where a local historian delves into the life of Genghis Khan. In the afternoon, stroll through Sukhbaatar Square where you see the Great Khan’s Memorial. Tonight, attend a welcome dinner.

Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 3
Ulaanbaatar | Life of Genghis Khan

Begin your day with a drive to Tsonjin Boldog to see the 131-foot statue of Genghis Khan. At 13th Century Park, wander the various villages to learn about life and traditions in the time of this great conqueror.

Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 4
Naadam Festival | The Three Games of Men

Attend the annual Naadam Festival, where the nation’s best athletes compete in archery, horse racing and Mongolian wrestling. Watch the elaborate opening ceremony that features dancers, athletes, horse riders and musicians. This evening, attend a traditional performance with folk dancing.

Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 5
Kharakhorum | 13th-Century Capital

Today, journey to Kharakhorum to view the ruins of the Erdene Zuu Monastery, and observe the monks as they perform their prayers and rituals. Tonight, check in to your traditional ger camp and dine on horhog, a classic barbecued meat dish.

Munkhtenger Ger Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 6
Kharakhorum | Museum & Monastery Visits

After breakfast, visit the Karakorum Museum to view exhibits of recent or archeological explorations in the area. Continue to Shankh Hiid, a monastery that was once frequented by Zanabazar, the renowned Buddhist artist and religious leader. After lunch, drive to Kultegin Monument, erected during the Turkic Empire in the eighth century.

Munkhtenger Ger Camp
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 7
Khustain Nuruu National Park | Wild Horse Haven

This morning, drive back to Ulaanbaatar. En route, visit Khustain Nuruu National Park, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the takhi. Learn about current conservation efforts and the status of the herds found within the reserve, while trying to spot these beautiful horses in their natural habitat.

Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 8
Gobi | Dunes, Canyons & Verdant Oases

Fly to the Gobi, home to Bactrian (two-humped) camels, mountain sheep, golden eagles and many endemic reptiles. In the late afternoon, drive to Hoorhon Devseg Valley to see the Bulgan Temple. Climb atop the mountain to visit the monastery and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Three Camel Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 9
Yol Valley National Park | Valley of the Eagles

Journey overland to Yol Valley National Park, a contrasting landscape of ice formations and desert. Hike through the valley, and spot exotic local wildlife.

Three Camel Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 10
Moltsog Els Sand Dunes | The Flaming Cliffs

Set off on the back of a Bactrian camel through the towering dunes for insight into a way of life that has endured for centuries. Visit with a local camel herding family in their home. Afterward, visit the Flaming Cliffs, a region rich with dinosaur fossils and the site where dinosaur eggs were first found.

Three Camel Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 11
Ulaanbaatar | Past Meets Present

Fly to Ulaanbaatar. See the palace museum of Bogd Khan, emperor of Mongolia, and an exhibit of Buddhist art and artifacts at the Fine Arts Museum. This evening, join fellow guests for a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and khoomi throat singers, followed by a farewell dinner.

Shangri-La Hotel Ulaanbaatar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
DAY 12
Depart Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and board your departing flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Program Note: Travel in this remote region entails lodging in basic accommodations (some with shared restrooms); extended, scenic drives over unpaved roads; limited access to Western cuisine; and an unpredictable climate.


Prices are in USD, per person, based on double occupancy.

Journey Details

Internal Air: Ulaanbaatar/Gobi Desert/Ulaanbaatar (from $395)

Minimum age is 10 years.

First group event: welcome briefing at 8:30 a.m. on Day 2.

Last group event: farewell dinner at 7:00 p.m. on Day 11.

Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Program Note: Travel in this remote region entails lodging in basic accommodations (some with shared restrooms); extended, scenic drives over unpaved roads; limited access to Western cuisine; and an unpredictable climate.


Destination Information

Download all the information you need to prepare for your journey, from visa requirements to packing recommendations.

Download PDF

Visas & Passports

Visit our partner Visa Central for convenient, one-stop visa and passport processing.

Visit Visa Central

Climate

See the average temperature and rainfall for your destination.

CDC Information

Familiarize yourself with health and immunization requirements for your destination at the Center for Disease Control’s website.

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