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The Alpine Lakes of Naimen Nuur
 Exploring the Mountains of Mongolia's heartland on Horseback

Day 1. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar (D)

Arrival in Ulaanbaatar and transfer to our hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, we may go on a short sight-seeing tour of the city. In the evening we enjoy a welcome dinner. Overnight in our 4-star hotel.

Day 2. Ulaanbaatar/ Mongol Nomads/ Elsiin Tasarkhai (B,L,D)
After breakfast at the hotel, we board our 4×4 vehicles. Today we drive back in time, to a place that recreates the lives of Mongolian nomads at the beginning of the 20th century. This was when Mongolia gained its independence from the Qing Dynasty and established itself as a reemerging nation under a living god-king. We shall attend a demonstration of how the nomads lived their lives during this era, and we shall see a stunning performance of Mongolian horsemanship. After lunch we head out west. Marking the northern edge of the great Gobi Desert, Elsiin Tasarkhai is a sand dune that stretches for more than 130 km northwards into the heart of central Mongolia. After having lunch at a ger camp, we visit a family who make a living from herding Bactrian (two-humped) camels. In the afternoon we go for a hike along the sand dune, and, if the weather permits, we will enjoy a beautiful sunset over the dune. Overnight in the ger camp.

Day 3. Elsiin Tasarkhai/ Tuvkhon Monastery/ Orkhon Valley (B,L,D)
Leaving the sand dune, we reach the Mongolian steppes. Here there is a great variety of birds of prey, including eagles and falcons, constantly on the watch for a meal. Our first stop is for a 2½- hour trek (the first hour being uphill) to Tuvkhon Monastery, established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia’s most respected religious leaders. The monastery’s wooden buildings are integrated into a natural system of caves near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests. With its unique natural features, this was a perfect location in which the great religious leader could meditate. Continuing south, we reach the Orkhon Valley. Overnight in a ger camp.

Day 4.  Orkhon Valley/ Red Waterfall/ Khangai Mountain Range (B,L,D)
Leaving our camp, we take an hour’s drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon through which the Orkhon River flows. Here we will take an easy hike along the canyon floor and end up at the pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfall. For the brave at heart, a cool swim awaits! From here we go on to visit with a nomadic family who have a base on fertile land beside the Orkhon River, spend some time with them, and learn about their unique traditions and way of life. In the afternoon we leave our hosts and drive deeper into the Khangai Mountain Range to camp for the night. Overnight in our camp.

Day 5. Riding to Huis Lake (B,L,D)
Early in the morning we meet our support team for our forthcoming horse trek. We pack our luggage on the pack animals that will carry it during our ride, and start climbing up into the Eight Lakes Protected Area. The steep climb takes us through lush green pine forests and on through the Bodingiin Davaa (mountain pass) to Huis Lake, the first and one of the largest lakes in the Protected Area. Overnight in our camp on the lake shore.

Start (elevation): 2074 m/ 6805 feet above sea level
End (elevation): 2209 m/ 7247 feet above sea level
Highest point of the day: 2411 m/ 7910 feet above sea level
Approx. 13 km

Day 6. Riding to Shireet Lake (B,L,D)
Today we cross the Eight Lakes Protected Area, lying at some 2500 meters above sea level. On the way we ride past several small lakes and in the afternoon we reach Shireet Lake, probably the most beautiful of all the lakes in this nature reserve. Overnight in our camp on the lake shore.

Start: 2209 m/ 7247 feet above sea level
End: 2446 m/ 8025 feet above sea level
Highest point of the day: 2446 m/ 8025 feet above sea level
Approx. 11 km

Day 7. Riding to the White Stallion Valley (B,L,D)
This is our last day of horse riding in the nature reserve. During the morning, we explore the surroundings of Shireet Lake and climb up to an observation point for a panoramic view over the lake and its surroundings. We then ride to Duruu Lake, on the western edge of the nature reserve. We leave the Eight Lakes Protected Area and descend into the White Stallion Valley, with its dramatic walls hemming us in. Overnight in our camp on the shore of a small creek in the valley.

Start: 2446 m/ 8025 feet above sea level
End: 2137 m/ 7011 above sea level
Highest point of the day: 2446 m/ 8025 feet above sea level
Approx. 28 km

Day 8. Riding to Amgalan Lake (B,L,D)
We begin the ride through the White Stallion Valley. We then emerge from the valley into the vast plains of the Khangai Mountains, where nomadic families graze their herds beside clear blue streams in the lush green steppes. In the afternoon we arrive at Amgalan Lake. Overnight in our camp beside the lake.

Start: 2137 m/ 7011 feet above sea level
End: 2050 m/ 6727 feet above sea level
Highest point of the day: 2137 m/ 7011 feet above sea level
Approx. 16 km

Day 9. Riding to Uliastai River (B,L,D)
Today we cross a low range on our way to the Uliastai River. On reaching the river, we cross it and then ride along it to the point where it flows into the Orkhon River. Overnight in our camp on the river bank.

Start: 2050 m/ 6727 feet above sea level
End: 1894 m/ 6214 feet above sea level
Highest point of the day: 2228 m/ 7310 feet above sea level
Approx. 16 km

Day 10. Uliastai River/ Gyalaan Valley/ Tsenkher Hot Springs (B,L,D)
In the morning we board our 4×4 vehicles and head north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes to the trailhead where we begin our day’s hike – a truly enchanting walk up a stream, where we hop from one stone to another, to the top of the hill for an amazing view of the surrounding valleys. We then reach the area Mongolians call ‘the paradise of the horse herders’ because of its lush grass and open valleys. We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82° C (180° F) and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak. Overnight in a ger camp.

Day 11. Tsenkher Hot Springs/ Kharkhorin/ Hustaiin Nuruu Strictly Protected Area (B,L,D)
Built by Chinggis Khan about 800 years ago, Kharkhorin – better known as Karakorum – was famed throughout Asia as the capital of the Mongol Empire. Within the walls of this spectacular city, kings were chosen, laws were made and the fate of the next city to be conquered was determined. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area. After lunch we head back eastwards. In the late afternoon we arrive at Hustaiin Nuruu Strictly Protected Area (SPA). The SPA was established as part of a unique project to reintroduce the world’s last surviving wild horses to their natural environment. On the brink of extinction during the 20th century, the very few takhi, or Przewalski’s horse, that remained were kept in European zoos. This graceful steppe horse was returned to Mongolia, and today, thanks to this special project, two herds again roam the Mongolian steppes. Overnight in a ger camp.

Day 12. Hustaiin Nuruu/ Terelj National Park (B,L,D)
We leave Hustaiin Nuruu and head towards Terelj National Park. The park features unique rock formations, scenic valleys, a winding river, and restful groves of trees. Many nomads live in the park itself, where they find good grazing for their animals. On arriving at the park, we take an easy hike to the famous Turtle Rock, a symbol of wisdom and longevity for the Mongolian people. We then continue hiking to Ariabal Temple. The temple has been recently reconstructed because the original one was destroyed during the communist purges of the 1930s. A site of great tranquility, it functions today as a meditation center for Buddhist monks. After lunch we take a horse ride through the vast meadows of the park. Overnight in a ger camp.

Day 13. Terelj/ Ulaanbaatar (B,L,D)
After breakfast in the park, we drive back to Ulaanbaatar. We begin the day with a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item that Mongolians might need, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers. Goods brought from all corners of Mongolia are on sale here. A visit to the market is a colorful experience which gives the visitor an insight into the everyday life of the people of Ulaanbaatar. After lunch we visit the National History Museum, which has a permanent exhibition on the different civilizations that have risen and declined in the territory of Mongolia from prehistoric times to the present day. The exhibition includes a significant display of objects from the era of the Great Mongol Empire. There will be free time for shopping in the afternoon. Mongolia is world renowned for its fine cashmere and you will find this and many other souvenir items in the city. In the evening we enjoy a farewell dinner, followed by a visit to Zaisan Hill for a view over the city at night. Overnight in our 4-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

Day 14. Departure from Ulaanbaatar (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Chinggis Khan International Airport for our departure flight.

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Blue Bandana Expeditions Co. Ltd. --- Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia --- --- Copyright 2012