Naadam Festival

14 Days
from AUD$ 6,576

Highlights

  • Explore the Gobi Desert including the Singing Sand Dunes
  • Spend time with nomad families as they prepare for the festival
  • Experience the Naadam Festival
  • Walk around remote monasteries and engage with monks
  • Search for the rare Takhi horse only found in Hustai National Park

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 Festival 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.

Journey map

Fitness level

Easy
Moderate
Challenging
Tough

Itinerary

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 Best Western Premier Tuushin or similar

Day 2 - Mongol Nomadic Cultural Resort

Following breakfast, depart for Mongol Nomadic Camp. This camp will introduce you to the way of life of “Mongolian nomads” you will witness the traditional way of life for Mongolian nomads. Learn about their animal breeding and how they live with five kinds of livestock and also their continuous movement from one place to another using their ox, yak, camel and horse carts. You will also learn about the process of building a traditional ger as well as understanding that a lot of furniture, pots and clothing are antiques reflecting the Central Khalks from the beginning of 20th century. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 50 km on tarmac road and 12 km om dirt, approx. 1.5-2 hours.

Overnight Ger Camp

Day 3 - Hutsai 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)

Total driving: 30 km total on dirt road and 40 km on tarmac road. approx. 1.5-2 hours

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 4 - Hutsai National Park – Elsen Tasarkhai

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)

Total driving: 18 km on dirt road and 140km on tarmac road to ger camp, approx. 3.5 hours

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 5 - Elsen Tasarkhai – 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)

Total driving: 90 km on tarmac road to our ger camp, approx. 1.5-2 hours.

Overnight in a Ger Camp

Day 6 - Kharkhorin – Arvaiheer Town

It is an early start this morning as you set off for Arvaiheer town. It is pre-Naadam Day in town and you will visit the local horse trainers camping area. Here, jockeys and trainers will be getting ready for the race tomorrow. It is fascinating to see the build-up of excitement and feel the true atmosphere of the Naadam Festival. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 50 km on tarmac dirt road to a camp, approx.. 3-4 hours

Overnight local hotel

 

Day 7 - Naadam Festival

Today is the day of the Naadam Festival’s opening ceremony which starts with a 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 local’s accuracy is mind-boggling. There are performances of folk music and dance that 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)

Total driving: 135 km on dirt road and 150 km tarmac road to our ger camp, approx. 7.5-8 hours 

Overnight local hotel

Day 8 - Ongi Ruined Monastery

Today you will drive to Ongi Monastery and to your next ger camp. Ongi Monastery is the collective name for the ruins of two monasteries that face each other across the Ongi River in Saikhan-Ovoo district of Dundgovi Province. The Barlim Monastery is located on the north bank of the river while the Khutagt Monastery sits on the south bank. Both complexes of Ongi Monastery were completely destroyed in 1939 during anti-religious purges. Over 200 monks were killed, and many surviving monks were imprisoned or forced conscripts into the Communist-controlled army. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 180 km on a dirt road to a camp, approx. 4-4.5 hours

Overnight Ger Camp

Day 9 - Khongor Sand Dunes

This morning, drive to Khongor Sand Dunes, some of the largest and most impressive white sand dunes in Mongolia. Khongor Sand Dunes stretch more than 180 km (112 miles) with majestic heights of 15-30 m. The largest dunes are northwest of the range up to 300 metres high. From the top of the dunes, the view of the desert is incredible, and one can also see the Khongoryn River flowing in amongst the desert feeding the nearby oases. Enjoy a camel ride before returning to camp. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 180 km on dirt road and 50km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 5 hours

Overnight Ger Camp

Day 10 - Khongor Sand Dunes

It is a lovely relaxing day spent in the Gobi. Did you know that the name “Khongor” means palomino horse in Mongolian? Enjoy walks near the camp and visit the sand dunes. The dunes make sound like a plane engine on a windy day, so they have also been named the “Singing Dunes”. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 30 min drive to Sand Dunes

Overnight Ger Camp

Day 11 - Yol Gorge

This morning, head south to Dalanzadgad, the provincial capital of South Gobi. Continue your drive to the Yol Gorge. The gorge is 2800m above sea level, 40 km long and up to 200m high. The gorge is named after the Lammergeier, which is called Yol in Mongolia or better known as the White Bearded Vulture. The Yol is very rare and lives only in Central Asia at heights between 1500-3000m. The valley is blocked from sunlight and contains thick ice layers throughout the year, but, recently, because of global warming, the ice melts in late summer. Explore the gorge before you return to your ger camp. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 180km on dirt road and 40 km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 4-5 hours

Overnight Ger Camp

Day 12 - Tsagaan Suvarga Cliffs

After breakfast, drive through the Gobi to Tsagaan Suvarga. Tsagaan Suvarga (or White Stupa) and also known as the mini–Grand Canyon, is a sheer slope that was an ancient seabed. Over millions of years various changes in the environment have produced its famous-coloured layers. The formation is over 50 metres at its highest point, and it is a sheer slope, which from a distance seems to be the ruins of an ancient city. (B,L,D)

Total driving: 35 km on dirt road and 150km tarmac road to a camp, approx. 4-5 hours

Overnight Ger Camp

Day 13 - 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)

Total driving: 400 km tarmac road and 25 km on dirt approx. 6-7 hours

Overnight Best Western Premier Tuushin or similar

Day 14 - Departure

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

Total driving: 50 km tarmac road to Airport 1.5-2.5 hours depending on the traffic

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What’s included

  • Return airport transfers
  • 13 nights accommodation
  • 13 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 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 4 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.

Gallery

Availability

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Availability
Price
Start Date
04th Jul 2024
End Date
17th Jul 2024
Duration
14 Days
Availability
Limited availability
Price
$6,576 AUD
Start Date
04th Jul 2025
End Date
17th Jul 2025
Duration
14 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$6,904 AUD