Highlights

Famed grasslands, nomad life, sweeping deserts and the Naadam Festival form the ultimate Mongolian journey. Join us as we take you into the heart and soul of nomad country and introduce you to some of the worlds most spectacular landscapes and one of the richest cultural festivals on the planet.

The Naadam Fesitval is truly one of the world’s most exciting and colourful traditional festivals. Taking place across the country, these traditional games are so unique, they are listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Crooked Compass offers a more intimate encounter by venturing to a remote town in the country's north, to embrace the Naadam festivities. Uncrowded and authentic, this immersive experience is the perfect event encompassing sport, tradition and history alongside the locals.

Dating back to when Mongolia was ruled by warlords and emperors like Genghis Khan (and prior to that!), the event officially celebrates the Mongolian revolution and independence. Experience one of Mongolia's oldest spectacles focused on skill and strength whilst exploring the remote and dramatic lands.

Day 1 - Arrival Ulaanbaatar

Welcome to Mongolia! Upon arrival in Ulaanbaatar the capital city of Mongolia, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon following lunch, you will set out to explore the city. Start with exploring the city square, a short distance from your hotel. You will also visit the National Museum of Mongolia where you can learn about the history of this fascinating country through their collection of artefacts from Mongolia and Central Asia dating from the Stone Age to the present day. This evening, enjoy a traditional art performance and welcome dinner where you can get to know your fellow travellers. (L,D)

Overnight Khuvsgul Lake Hotel or similar

Day 2 - Gyn Galuut National Park

This morning, you will drive to the world’s biggest statue of Genghis Khan! Here there will be the chance to climb to the top for unparalleled views out over the Mongolian steppe. Afterwards, you will head into the Gyn Galuut National Park where you will walk in the famed grasslands and truly appreciate the beauty of this sparsely populated country. Gyn Galuut National Park was founded in 2003 to protect endangered wildlife and their habitats. There is also a developing environmental friendly and community based tourism initiatives in this remote area.

Those wishing to have a horse ride can do so while beginners are also able to have lessons. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 3 - Terelj National Park

Today you will explore Terelj National Park. Walk through meadows carpeted with edelweiss and wild flowers, view fascinating rock formations against a backdrop of pine covered mountains and wander along the wooded banks of a mountain stream. You will also visit the Aryabal Meditation Temple. As you climb the 108 stairs to the temple (the number 108 holds great significance in Buddhism), stop and take time to read the Buddhist teachings that are on signs along the way. You will also find 108 prayer wheels and 108 small stupas at the temple. The 108 stairs leading up to the temple are said to symbolise an elephant’s trunk, the long path is designed for walking meditation and reflection.

The main temple hall has beautiful carvings on its wooden posts and beams, and the walls of the interior space are brightly decorated with paintings and stories depicting the lives of famous Arhats. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 4 - Jargalant Village

This morning, you will drive to Jargalant village. This area is known for its joinery and carpentry, the making of the yurts and traditional furniture as well as saddlery and yak breeding. You will visit one of the beautiful granite rock formations as well as Aglag Buteeliin Temple in the mountains. This temple is a small rural Buddhist temple that is two-storey and pyramid shaped. It is surrounded by carved stones and mythical creatures. Enjoy a gentle hike in the surrounding area. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 5 - Sukhbaatar village - Pre Naadam day

After breakfast, you will drive to Sukhbaatar town, the provincial capital of the Selenge province and located in close proximity to the Russian border. Here, you will visit a horse trainers camping area and taste Airag-fermented mare’s milk. Enjoy spending time with the locals as you learn about their incredible lifestyle. You will also meet with the young jockeys who are training their horses for this years Naadam Festival. Their skill, strength and power will blow you away. (B,L,D)

Overnight at Hotel 9 or similar

Day 6 - Naadam Festival

Today is the day of the Naadam Festival’s opening ceremony which starts with parade. The colour, passion and skill will capture your attention for hours. Enjoy witnessing the country’s traditional sports including archery and ankle bone shooting in the morning – the locals accuracy is mind boggling. There are performances of folk music and dance which will pulse through your veins throughout the day, as well as various rounds of Mongolian wrestling, a truly unique form of the sport. You then visit the horse racing field where you may witness racing, equestrian competitions and other horse skill related activities. Mingle with the locals and learn stories of their Naadam experiences over the years and their beliefs surrounding this historical event. (B,L,D)

Overnight at Hotel 9 or similar

Day 7 - Naadam Festival in Sukhbaatar and Amarbayasgalant Monastery

Enjoy your second day at the festival. In the morning, enjoy further horse racing and possibly some more wrestling depending on the schedule, before you drive to Amarbayasgalant monastery complex. This monastery is considered to be the second most important in Mongolia (after Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin) and the most intact architectural complex in Mongolia. The area is famed for its stunning scenery of steppe and grasslands, its national parks and wildlife. In the afternoon, you will have the chance walk up and visit the monastery. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 8 - Amarbayasgalant Monastery – Ogii Lake

After breakfast, drive to the beautiful steppe at Ogii Lake. It is a spectacular place for bird life and a multitude of cranes and ducks migrate here, attracted by the rich fish-life that populates the lake. Spend time relaxing on the shores, relfecting on your journey so far, or go for a gentle walk through the breathtaking surroundings. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 9 - Ogii Lake - Kharkhorin

Today you head to Kharkhorin town, the ancient capital of Genghis Khan’s Mongolia in the 13th century. You visit Erdene Zuu monastery, which was built from leftovers of Kharkhorin’s ruined city in the 16th century. Sadly, a communist purge destroyed almost everything but a few main monasteries. There are numerous unusual cultural and religious exhibits here as well as a Tibetan-style monastery still active in the Erdene Zuu and important to the area. Explore the monastery and chat to some of the monks. Learn about their fascinating lifestyle in this remote part of the country. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 10 - Kharkhorin - Elsen Tasarkhai (Little Gobi)

After breakfast, you will drive to Mongolia’s sand dunes, an 80km long beautiful stretch that is unlike anything else in this country. This is a unique combination of Mongolian mountains, forests and Gobi-type landscape in one location. Keep your eyes peeled for Maral stag (elk), wolves, deer and fox. The Elsen Tasarhai literally means “an isolated torn-off piece of sand” and it is a small section of real desert in the midst of the green Mongolian steppe. It feels like in the Gobi Desert, hence the name ‘Little Gobi’. For those keen to get active, time permitting, you may get to climb the sand dunes. Others may prefer to go for a camel ride or spend time with a local nomadic family. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 11 - Elsen Tasarkhai - Hustai National Park

After breakfast, you drive to the Hustai National Park which is home to the only truly wild horses on earth; the Takhi horse. Several decades ago, wild horses had disappeared from Mongolia, victims of habitat loss and poaching. However, small numbers survived in European zoos and from these numbers, through a program of careful breeding and international cooperation, the wild population was rebuilt. Now, Hustai is home to some 250 wild horses, of which 130 were born in the wild. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 12 - Hustai National Park - Ulaanbaatar

This morning, you return to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon, there will be an opportunity for last minute shopping and time at leisure before our farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Overnight Khuvsgul Lake Hotel or similar

Day 13 - Departure

Today is yours at leisure until it is time to depart for the airport for your flight to your onward destination. (B)

What's Included

  • Return airport transfers
  • 12 nights accommodation
  • 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • English speaking local certified Guide
  • Bottled water
  • Private transportation
  • Entrance fees
  • Festival fee

Exclusions

  • International & domestic flights
  • Visas
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All services, meals other than those indicated above
  • Personal porters
  • Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program
  • All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc

**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.

* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.

* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.

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