Mongolia is a vast and underpopulated country, nomadic folks sparsely scattered across its enormous steppe. Mongolia is a great place to get closer to mother earth and nature. This is a road trip with hardy Russian Jeep, traverse the great steppes, roam the expansive grasslands, and visit the magnificent Chuluut Canyon. Admire scenic autumn view of White Lake and Khovsgol Lake, stay in yurt camps run by local shepherds. Gain insights into local culture and tradition, and experience the authentic nomadic lifestyle.
Board a late-night flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, fly to Mongolia via a transit in Seoul, Korea. (Remarks: tour members embarking from other countries may opt to meet the group in Ulaanbaatar on D2)
Early morning arrive in Seoul, afternoon catch a connecting flight to Ulaanbaatar and arrive at destination late afternoon, transfer to hotel in city center. After dinner, rest at hotel to relief fatigue from the long-haul flight.
After breakfast depart for the countryside and the Mongolian steppe. Urban structures disappeared from sights within tens of kilometers after exiting Ulaanbaatar, replaced by views of vast grassland, grazing livestock, and nomadic shepherds tending the herds. Today mainly travel on well-paved road, arrival in Mongol Els by afternoon; the place is also known as the Little Gobi, enjoy camel riding on sand dunes, and overnight stay in yurt camp.
After breakfast, drive to Kharkhorin, Mongolia’s ancient capital. Visit Buddhism sacred site Erdene Zuu Khiid, the country’s largest and oldest monastery. It is enclosed in an immense walled compound; spaced evenly along each wall are 108 stupas (a sacred number to Buddhists). The three temples inside the monastery are dedicated to the three stages of Buddha’s life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The monastery has collection of tangkas, scriptures, and paintings dated from 15 century. Overnight stay in yurt camp.
Today, drive further north; en-route stop for lunch at Tsetserleg, before pushing on to Chuluut Canyon. This is a basalt canyon extending for some 100 kilometers, and the Chuluut River flows by. The canyon was formed thousands of years ago from lava of nearby extinct volcanoes. By night, arrive at Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur, or more commonly known as the White Lake.
A day of rest and relax by the beautiful White Lake, which is surrounded by extinct volcanoes and thick woods. The freshwater lake was formed by lava flows millennia ago. Pine trees lined the hills enriched by black volcanic soil, wild plants and flowers carpeted the meadow. Horse riding to visit the crater of Mongolia’s oldest extinct volcano. Other leisure activities include hiking around the lake environs, or bring your own kites to play by the lake shore.
Long drive to reach Moron, a none-descriptive town but good for topping up provisions. When traveling in Mongolia, the best experience and view usually take place “on the road”; along the way, admire the view of grassland stretching into the horizon, dotted with white yurts and sheep here and there, and local shepherds on horseback roaming the steppe. In addition, be impressed by the stunts a Russian Jeep could perform on rough terrains – such as crossing rapid rivers and negotiating rocky off-road paths.
Today’s destination is Khovsgol Lake, Mongolia’s biggest freshwater lake and the most important reservoir. It holds nearly 70% of Mongolia’s fresh water and 0.4% of all the fresh water in the world. With depths exceeding 244m, it lies near the Russian border at an elevation of 1,645m. There’re 96 tributaries flowing into the lake, but only drains out through one river – Egiin Gol, which connects to the Selenge and finally flows into the world’s deepest freshwater Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia.
Enjoy a leisure day by the lakeside of Khovsgol. One could take a stroll along the shoreline, opt for horse riding, catch up with reading, or simply laze around to enjoy sun bathing. Tour members could also fetch buckets of fresh water from the lake for bathing, washing hair, and for laundry. The lake is surrounded by thick virgin forest, and if lucky, one might chance upon the nomadic Dukhan people living in the woods, they raise reindeers for a living.
Today journey to the countryside of Ondor, upon arrival, set up tents for overnight stay by the Khutag-Undur River. Experience camping in the wild; by night, start a bonfire to keep warm, and gather around the fire to eat, drink, chit-chat, and be merry. In addition, admire the starry-starry night, if lucky, one might spot the Milky Way.
Rise early to admire sunrise over the river valley. After breakfast, pack up tents and depart for the next destination – Amarbayasgalant Khiid, one of the three largest Buddhism centers in Mongolia, built between 1727 and 1737 by the Manchu emperor Yongzheng. The monastery was partly destroyed during the Stalinist purges of 1937; restoration work began in 1988 with funds provided by UNESCO. Overnight stay in yurt camp near the monastery.
Today, return to the “civilized world”, estimate to arrive in Ulaanbaatar in late afternoon. Upon arrival, check-into hotel and get a good scrub in the shower, a luxury after days in the wilderness. At night, one could choose from a diversity of food for dinner, including international cuisines such as Korean, Chinese, and western.
Free and easy day in Ulaanbaatar; one could go for souvenir shopping at the State Department store in city center, or visit the Museum of Natural History which houses dinosaur fossils. At night, arranged visit to the Mongolian National Song and Dance Academic for an hour long performance, which showcases the unique Mongolian “throat singing”.
Transfer to the airport in early morning, fly back to Kuala Lumpur via Seoul, arrival at destination in late night. End of tour.
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A nature lover, she guides forest tours, and started organic farming to lead a self-sustainable lifestyle. She’s interested in learning the relations between nature and humanity; she even traveled abroad to study the ancient ways of life of the American Indians. She believes nature shapes the culture and traditions of human life.
She thinks of travel as a process of cultural learning, which provides insights into human migration trail, just like the eco-system of a forest, where nature forces come in play. She cares about the world, not just the humankind, but also the nature and wildlife.
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