Magic of Mongolia

Destination: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

| Activities: Hiking, Culture, Horseback Riding

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


  • 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


  • A local English-speaking guide and an Adventures in Good Company guide. (depending on registration numbers)
  • 13 nights double occupancy lodging as described
  • All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 14
  • All transportation during the trip
  • Gratuities for drivers, cook, and activities noted in itinerary
  • Drinking water where water to purify is not available from Day 2 - Day 13

Not included: Travel to and from Ulaanbaatar, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (other than drinking water noted above), guide gratuities, and emergency evacuation/medical insurance.

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is suitable for active women in good health and physical condition who are flexible and have a sense of adventure. We have given the rating of 2 and 3 because of the availability of vehicle transport during all or part of the longer hikes. To prepare for a rated 3 trip participants should be engaging in aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, cross country skiing or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. Please note the ‘driving’ times listed in the itinerary. We cover a lot of territory which means there will be time spent riding in vehicles. Rating: 1 [2] [3] 4 5

Our trip to Mongolia combines moderate hiking with sightseeing, camel and horseback riding, and learning more about Mongolian history and culture, both traditional and modern. No hiking experience is necessary.

We will be spending 2 nights in 3-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, 9 nights in Community/Family/Tourist Ger camps, and 2 nights in primitive community gers. Gers are very roomy and large canvas structures, the perfect accommodation in an area that only sees visitation about four months out of the year. Please note: Single supplements are offered but only guaranteed for the hotel portions of the trip. Where possible at Community/Family/Tourist Ger camps they may be possible. There is no possibility for singles at primitive community ger camps.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

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 Sukhbaatar 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 time: minimal. Hiking/sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar. Accommodation: trip hotel (D)
This morning we pack up and leave Ulaanbaatar and travel to a nomad community in Altanbulag 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. Hiking/Walking time: will vary depending on personal choices. Accommodation: Gers (B,L,D)
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. Hiking: 1 - 3 hours. Accommodations: Gers (B,L,D)
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. Walking/sightseeing: 2 - 4 hours. Accommodations: Gers (B,L,D)
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+ degrees 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. Hiking: 2 - 3 hours, optional. Accommodation: Gers (B, L, D)
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: 2 - 3 hours. Hiking: 3- 4 hours. Accommodation: Gers (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will walk for about 1 kilometer to the Waterfall Orkhon. After a heavy rain the magnificent seasonal Orkhon waterfall is one of the best sights in the Central Mongolia. About 250 meters downstream from the waterfall, you can climb down to the bottom of the gorge; it is 22 meters 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 132,835 square kilometers. 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: 0 hours. Hiking: will vary depending on individual choice. Accommodation: Gers (B,L,D)
Today we will start our hiking through the 8 lakes area. The area is mountainous and untouched; our hike will sometimes be in the forest but most of the time on the 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: 0 hours. Hiking: 5 - 6 hours. Accommodations: Primitive community Gers (B,L,D)
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 hours. Hiking: 5 - 6 hours. Accommodations: Primitive community Gers (B,L,D)
DAY 10
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. Myth tells us that if you throw a stone over the rock, your wish will come true. Make the wish a good one!

Driving: 30 minutes. Hiking: 5 - 6 hours. Accommodations: Gers (B,L,D)
DAY 11
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 6.64 meters, in some sections 15.3 meters and coastal length is 24.7 kilometers. 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. Hiking: will vary depending on individual choices. Accommodations: Gers (B,L,D)
DAY 12
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 joint program between English and Mongolian scientists, the horse has been successfully reintroduced and now numbers over 1500. Three hundred 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. Hiking: 1 - 1.5 hours. Accommodation: Gers (B,L,D )
DAY 13
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. Hiking: 1 - 1.5 hours. Accommodation: Trip Hotel (B, L, D)
DAY 14
After breakfast there will be a group transfer to airport for departure.



(18 reviews)
4 Food
4.4 Lodging
4.6 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Anne-Marie Q.
3 years ago

- sharing the gers, having meals under the tent, talking to the families and understanding about their lives, watching the drivers cut across fields, streams and uneven gravel road, seeing the Mongolians and their love of horses, going to the National Museums, and the felting place that employed disabled folks. It was disappointing to go to the field on Nadam day. We spent our time walking across the field in the hot sun, and craning our necks to see/find out what was happening. For future trips, can there be tickets obtained so we can watch the wrestling finals (I saw it on TV at the hotel) or tickets to see a Nadam event.

Jinous S.
3 years ago

It was a unique experience and a very memorable trip.

Christine F.
3 years ago

So many things/places were amazing; our Mongolian crew were so wonderful. I know its difficult to follow exact timelines, etc. but I think some of us would have liked to have seen more of the Nadaam festivities....but again, can't see and do it all , I know!

Antoinette K.
3 years ago

Need better descriptions of daily activities, ie hiking on horse trails that can be muddy and in bogs and marshy areas

Mary M.
3 years ago

The highlight were the family gers as well as the Kings Monument (not listed on itinerary) which I found by accident. Things that would have made for a better preparation include: 1) knowing that the 2 day hike was behind horses (with no alternate parallel hiking trail) and through two wetland meadows would have been a huge advantage 2) access to daily weather forecasts would be useful. 3) although our Mongolian guide was resourceful and very enjoyable, I found that I only received information by asking was on the last day that she mentioned that she preferred not to be considered a guide but as a friend who is accompanying the group.

Beth M.
3 years ago

Since I signed up at the last minute, I didn't have much time to research Mongolia or what to expect. What I found was something so beautiful and so different than anywhere I've ever been. It was challenging at times not to have electricity or showers or air conditioning. And there were bugs and critters and scat to deal with but it didn't matter. The trip was so special that all the little things were nothing. I'm so thankful to have gone.

Mary P.
4 years ago

Nancy L.
4 years ago

Exceeded my expectations because I had no idea what to expect, although I read the materials. Just didn't expect the primitiveness of the Mongolian countryside, nor the expansive beauty.

Maria P.
4 years ago

Visiting the Mongolian families and experiencing how and where the Nomads live and their live style.

Betty B.
4 years ago

I was very comfortable traveling to this far away place to be with this company. I have heard great reviews from friends and others on how well run these tours are, and I have to agree.

Cherie P.
4 years ago

Yes. The pure adventure and variety. Highlights were the sense of freedom on the trek and the interaction with the Mongolians and nature

Carol M.
4 years ago

Cross-country jeep to remote ger communities Experiencing the hospitality of the nomadic families Horseback riding and hiking Sleeping in the gers

Cynthia R.
6 years ago

Wildflowers. Monasteries.nomadic families. My fellow travellers

Jennie J.
6 years ago

I loved going to Mongolia as I always wanted to see it. I loved hiking to the monasteries, staying at the first community Ger (the one owned by Tour Mongolia), and meeting the families. I did not see the point of camping as a pretty nice tourist Ger camp was right around the corner.... Being this was the first time in Mongolia, I should have asked more about it. I do wish the trip had been better scouted as I would have loved to hike a day less in the sand and more in the wild flowers of the valley. Overall, I am happy I went and I saw things most people will not see!

Claudia P.
6 years ago

The first couple of nights at community Ger camps -- all activities and feeling like we were meeting the community around there.

Cynthia F.
6 years ago

Being the 'wanderer' that i am, i really enjoy long, non-destination's what i most looked forward to in going to Mongolia. But i would have preferred our long hikes to be in an area like the Orkhon Valley rather than the arid, sandy (hard to hike in) area where we were.

Marie C.
6 years ago

I did not enjoy the two days of hiking to nowhere. It was too hot and no shade, landscape monotonous. Loved the camel ride. Enjoyed also getting to meet the nomad families.

Erin C.
6 years ago

Although the trip was not as I had expected, it was nonetheless an incredible trip. I was not fully prepared for the day-to-day conditions traveling and lodging conditions.

  1. Where do we eat?

    In town you will be eating in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Once on the trek, we travel with a cook, supplies and kitchen. Lunches are cooked by our traveling kitchen. Breakfasts and dinners are a mixture of buffet and family style. There are several nights when our meal is cooked by the family we stay with. In these cases, no dietary issues can be accommodated - basically 1 pot meals which will include potatoes, maybe vegetables, and either yak, goat or sheep. Food at tourist gers varies widely but these do cater a bit more to Western tastes.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerant and other restrictive dietary options for this trip are severely limited and cannot be guaranteed in most of the accommodations we will be using. Please contact the office prior to committing to this trip to make sure your dietary needs can be met during the trip; you will need to bring items with you from home to supplement the available diet.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.