From: July 1 to July 14, 2018

Destination: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

  • Magic of Mongolia

    Mongolia has fascinated travelers for centuries. Sandwiched between Russia and China, it's known for its vast and rugged landscape, its nomadic peoples, and a history that has literally shaped much of eastern and western civilization. Once the largest empire in the world, and then shrouded behind the veil of Russian communism, Mongolia is now proudly emerging as a modern nation while trying to hold on to its rich heritage. It is a time of rapid change, where 25% of the population still live a nomadic lifestyle and 50% live in the modernizing city of Ulaanbaatar. During our two week journey we will explore the many different aspects of Mongolia, both past and present, as we experience the warm hospitality and wide-open landscape of the least densely populated country in the world. Maximum group size: 12

  • July 1, Sunday
    After a long flight, we arrive in Ulaanbaatar (also called Ulan Bator, "Red Hero"), the capital city of Mongolia, and immediately know that the arduous travel will be totally worth it. As we drive into the city, we see gers next to modern apartment buildings and young fashionably dressed women sharing the sidewalk with men who clearly just arrived from the countryside. Ugly block buildings that were constructed during the years of Communist domination stand next to gleaming new architecture. Clearly this is a country in transition. The afternoon will be filled with a guided city sightseeing tour. We'll visit Gandan Monastery, one of the few monasteries that escaped the destruction of Stalin's purges in the 1930s. It is the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia and is best known for its seven-story-tall statue of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, gilded with gold leaf and encrusted with over 2,200 gems - it really is magnificent. We'll also visit Chinggis Khaan square, a potent symbol of Mongolia's turning away from its Communist past and embracing a new national identity rooted in its proud past. In the evening we'll gather for a traditional art performance, including Mongolian throat singing, and a welcome dinner. Driving: minimal. Accommodation: trip hotel. Hiking: sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar. D

    July 2, Monday
    This morning we pack up and leave Ulaanbaatar and travel to a nomad community in Gurvanbulag soum (a local administration unit in Bulgan province). On the way we will visit Khar Bukhiin Balgas, an interesting remnant of an ancient town that dates back to 10th century. In the afternoon, we will reach the nomad community. We'll experience the traditional hospitality of a nomad family, as they welcome us with offers of special home-made dairy products, such as "aaruul"- dried curds and Mongolian salty milk tea - Suutei tsai. During our visit we'll learn more about their lifestyle. Tonight we'll stay in a community-based Ger camp. A Ger is a traditional round yurt-like structure, still used by the nomad population today. Bathrooms with private toilets and showers are usually located in a communal building a short walk from the gers. Gers, because they can easily be broken down, are the perfect solution to a tourist season that is made short by some of the most brutal winter conditions of any country. Hotels virtually do not exist outside of Ulaanbaatar. After settling into our gers, we can explore the neighborhood a bit, experience horseback riding Mongolian style, enjoy a horse demonstration show by our Mongolian hosts and friends and even get in a little archery practice (a favorite Mongolian sport). After dinner, we will be mentored with a lesson on "Shagai", a traditional Mongolian game and enjoy playing with the family members. A fully packed day followed by our first night in a traditional ger. Driving: 1 hour Accommodation: Gers Hiking/Walking: Will vary depending on personal choices. B,L,D

    July 3, Tuesday
    After breakfast we'll hop back into our jeeps and head for Elsen tasarkhai, a beautiful national park with mountains, forests, steppes, Bobi-type desert and mineral water sources. We will arrive at our next get camp by lunch. The area is famous for both its massive sand dunes and its historical sights. At the base of the Mount Khugnu Khaan, there are ruins of temples. These temples are as well-known among the history of Mongolian Buddhist Monasteries and Monks as Erdenekhamba Khiid. We will visit an active small temple and start our hiking to the ruins of the Uvgun monastery. The first half of the path will be rocky and a bit challenging, but the rest will be easy and comfortable to walk. In the evening, you can walk around the sand dunes and enjoy the beautiful sunset. Driving: 2- 3 hours Accommodations: Gers Hiking 1 - 3 hours B,L,D

    July 4, Wednesday
    While Mongolia is best known for its horse culture, camels are more important in some parts of the country so today we'll try camel riding. We'll visit a camel herder's family and learn something about their lifestyle. Then, following some brief instruction about how to ride Mongolian Bactrian camels (the kind with two humps), we will get acquainted with the camels and their tack. Our camel ride across the sand dunes of Ikh Mongol Els. After our morning camel ride we'll hop back into our jeeps and drive to Kharakhorum (aka Kharkorin), about 60 miles. Kharakhorum is the ancient capital of Mongolia, where Chinggis Khaan (the correct name of Ghengis Khan) established his headquarters in 1220, choosing this location to be on the major trading route of the Silk Road. Kharakhorum was a cosmopolitan city and the heart of the Mongolian Empire until Kublai Khan, Chinggis' grandson, moved the capital to Beijing. Destroyed by clan infighting, nothing remains of the original city. However building materials were later salvaged and used to build Erdenezuu Monastery in the 16th century, the largest and first Mongolian Buddhist temple complex. Best known for the 108 stupas that surround it, it is still quite magnificent and we will spend a couple hours visiting it. In late afternoon we will visit a local cooperative to attend a workshop for making small felt items. Driving: 1 hour Accommodations: Gers Walking/sightseeing: 2 - 4 hours B,L,D

    July 5, Thursday
    Today we travel to the very popular Tsenkher hot spring, about 60 miles away. Set between forested hills, several ger camps have been built around the hot spring. Its water stays about +86.5 degree Celsius and is reputed to have healing properties, especially for arthritis and other joint and nervous system problems. After a rest we can hike in the surrounding forested mountain and in the evening enjoy taking a hot spring bath. Driving: 1- 2 hours Accommodation: Gers Hiking: 2 - 3 hours/optional B, L, D

    July 6, Friday
    Today we'll make our way to the famous Orkhon valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that stretches 75 miles. The area is known as the cradle of Mongolian nomadic civilization, where many of Mongolia's ancient monuments lie within its borders. On the way we will explore Tuvkhun temple, high on the mountain, that marks the north side of the Orkhon valley. We'll visit the site that the first Mongolian religious leader, Zanabazar, founded in 1653 and where he lived, worked, and meditated for over 30 years. Several pilgrimage sites have grown up around the temple and hermit's caves, including one that is said to be Zanabazar's boot imprint. We'll then continue our drive to Orkhon valley. Driving time: 2 - 3 hours. Accommodation: Gers Hiking time: 3- 4 hours. B, L, D

    July 7, Saturday
    After breakfast , we will walk for about 1 km to the Waterfall Orkhon. After a heavy rain the magnificent seasonal Orkhon waterfall is one of the best sights in the Central Mongolia. About 250m downstream from the waterfall, you can climb down to the bottom of the gorge; it is 22m deep and dotted with pine trees. The Orkhon river, longest river in Mongolia, begins at the state worshipped mountain Suvraga Khairkhan in the Khangai range. The drainage basin of the river is 132835sq km. The river is 10-60 m wide to begin with but it becomes 120-150m around the end and the speed of the river flow decreases. The view of the falls from the bottom of the gorge is spectacular and lends itself to both picture taking and a bit of relaxing by the water. After that, we will visit yak herding family and do hiking for 1-2 hours in the valley. Driving time: 0 hours. Accommodation: Gers Hiking time Will vary depending on individual choice. B,L,D.

    July 8, Sunday
    Today we will start our hiking through the 8 lakes area. The area is mountainous and untouched and our hike will sometimes in the forest bur most of the time on beautiful steppe. Our accommodations for tonight will be in a community ger camp run by local families. This ger community is most like what most Mongolian families experience on the steppe. There are no shower facilities or 'indoor plumbing' but wonderful starry skies at night and friendly Mongolian families to enjoy. All of our trip supplies and our luggage will be transported by horses and yaks. There are many memorable days and moments on this trip but the days spent at the family ger camps may be the best! Driving time: 0 hours Accommodations: Primitive community gers. Hiking: 5 - 6 hours B,L,D.

    July 9, Monday
    After breakfast, we will hike to the biggest lake of the area, Shireet. This lake has the reputation of being the most beautiful and breathtaking. Along the way we'll see other lakes, enjoy the beautiful landscape and relish our breaks to both enjoy the scenery and take pictures. Driving: 0 miles Accommodations: Primitive community gers Hiking: 5 - 6 hours B,L,D.

    July 10, Tuesday
    Today our hike begins alongside Shireet lake. We’ll get to enjoy once more both the beauty and the solitude of this magnificent lake before we turn our feet to the mountains. We will cross over the Shireet mountain pass and walk to the other side to meet our 'non-foot' transportation (our jeeps). We’ll travel about 7 miles to our next community ger (this time with a shower AND indoor bathroom! One very interesting site along the way is a large rock, named Shurange. The story of this rock is, if you throw a stone over the rock, your wish will come true. Make the wish a good one! Driving time: 30 minutes Accommodations: Gers Hiking: 5 – 6 hours B,L,D

    July 11, Wednesday
    After having a good night near the Shuranga rock, today will be a travel day - headed to Ogii Lake. Ogii Lake is one of the beautiful lakes in Mongolia and is located in Arkhangai province. It has 25.7 km squire area, average depth is 6.64m, in some sections 15.3 m and coastal length is 24.7 km. It is an amazing place for birdwatching, fishing and swimming. There are 150 species of birds along with many extremely rare species of birds who come to the "Ogii". Upon arrival, there will be time for exploring around the lake, birdwatching and swimming. Driving: 2 - 3 hours Accommodations: Gers Hiking: Will vary depending on individual choices B,L,D

    July 12, Thursday
    After a short morning walk, we'll hop back into our jeeps and travel to Khustai National Park. It's a bit of a drive (about 150 miles) but well worth the effort. On the way, we'll stop by an ancient ruin of a Palace dated back to 8th century and try to imagine life in the 8th century as we walk along the ruins. Arriving at our ger for the night, we'll settle in, have dinner and then head to Khustai National Park. The park encompasses an area of 125 acres and is the habitat of the resurrected wild Mongolian horses, popularly known as Takhi (Przewalski's Horse). On the verge of extinction, by 1950 the only remaining 12 horses lived in zoos. Fortunately, the species is a conservation success story and through a successful joint program between English and Mongolian scientists, the horse has been successfully reintroduced and no numbers over 1500. 300 of them live in Khustai National Park where they are protected. We'll start with a visit to the Information Center for an introductory presentation of the National Park. Around sunset we'll enter the park to see the Takhi horses in the wilderness. Driving: 1 - 2 hours Accommodation: Gers Hiking: 1 - 1.5 hours B,L,D

    July 13, Friday
    After taking a morning walk in the national park, we will head back to Ulaanbaatar, arriving in time for lunch. After checking into our hotel, there will be time for a bit of shopping for cashmere and other souvenirs before gathering for our Farewell dinner. Driving: 1 hour Accommodation: Trip Hotel Hiking: 1 - 1.5 hours B, L, D

    July 14, Saturday
    After breakfast there will be a group transfer to airport for departure. B
  • $2995  (click here for travel discounts) $400 deposit. If you prefer a single room, ger, and tent, the additional cost is $300. You can find our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • 13 nights double occupancy lodging as described
    • All meals from dinner on Friday through breakfast on Thursday
    • All transportation during the trip
    • Adventures in Good Company guide, local English-speaking guide, and staff
    • Gratuities for the staff

    Not included: Travel to and from Ulaanbaatar, beverages (including bottled water), guide gratuities, and emergency evacuation/medical insurance.
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Experiencing many facets of a little known and very intriguing country
  • Learning about traditional nomadic culture
  • Exploring some of Mongolia's magnificent landscapes
  • Visiting ancient towns and temples while learning about Mongolia's complex history
  • Riding across the Mongol Els astride a Bactrian camel

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