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Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar

  • Duration: 107 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Trekking, Hiking, Active/Adrenaline
  • Physical rating: Moderately Active
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: EUUW1/240960
  • Starts: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Finishes: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Istanbul
  • Gallipoli Peninsula
  • Selcuk
  • Troy
  • Pamukkale
  • Olympos
  • Egirdir
  • Göreme
  • Zara
  • Sumela
  • Batumi
  • Kutaisi
  • Tbilisi
  • Lake Sevan
  • Yerevan
  • Armenian Highlands
  • Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
  • Vardzia
  • Mtskheta
  • Stepantsminda
  • Telavi
  • Lagodekhi
  • Sheki
  • Lahij Village
  • Baku
  • Gobustan
  • Caspian Sea
  • Turkmenbashi
  • Ashgabat
  • Darvaza
  • Kunye Urgench
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Nurata
  • Samarkand
  • Tashkent
  • Fergana Valley
  • Arslanbob
  • Kyrgyz Fergana Valley
  • Song Köl Lake
  • Kochkor
  • Jeti Oguz Valley
  • Karakol
  • Chong Kemin Valley
  • Cholpon Ata
  • Bishkek
  • Tash Rabat
  • Kashgar
  • Aksu
  • Bayanbulak
  • Turpan
  • Hovdiin Bulgan
  • Altai Tavn Bogd National Park
  • Ulgii
  • Tsambagarav National Park
  • Tsenkher Caves
  • Khongor Sand Dunes
  • Gobi Desert
  • Bayanzag
  • Yolyn Am
  • Baga Gazryn Chuluu
  • Ulaanbaatar
  • Ögii Lake
  • Kharkhorin
  • Orkhon Valley
  • Tsenkher
  • Tsetserleg
  • Tamir River
  • Chuulut Canyon
  • Khorgo
  • Zuun Lake
  • Mörön
  • Khövsgöl Lake
  • Selenge River
  • Bulgan
  • Amarbayasgalant Monastery

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Istanbul

Border Information: If joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IATA code: IST).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10.00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting. If you are travelling beyond Tbilisi, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip.

The afternoon will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River, Hagia Sophia and the phenomenal Blue Mosque!

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Istanbul before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Dragoman Sales Team or your Sales agent if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Istanbul.

* Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details. *

02

Day 2: Gallipoli Peninsula

This morning following breakfast we will depart Istanbul and begin our journey to the shores of Gallipoli.

After lunch we will get an insight into what happened between the ANZAC, Allied and Turkish foreces during the first World War and have a guided tour of the Battlefields and Anzac Cove.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours

Tonight we will stay in a local hostel in Ecebat

03

Day 3-4: Selcuk

Today we will cross the Dardenelles by ferry and head to Helsik where we will do a short tour of the Troy Ruins.

We will then continue onto Selcuk where we will be staying for two nights. In the evening we will have free time to explore the area or simply relax in one of the many cafes or tea bars which are great for people watching.

The second day we will spend the day exploring the Ephesus Ruins and Terraced Houses.

Estimated Drive Time 7 - 8 hours

For the next two nights we will stay in a local hostel

04

Day 5: Pamukkale

Following breakfast we will drive inland towards the small village of Pamukkale.

After lunch we will have free time to visit the thermal hot springs and traverse through the travertine pools and terraces.

Estimate driving time 3 - 4 hours

Tonight we will either camp near the village or stay in a local hotel

05

Day 6-7: Olympos

Today we continue our drive south and aim to reach the popular beach town of Olympos by lunchtime.

We will have free time in the afternoon to relax or explore the local area.

Estimate Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

On the second day there will be plenty of time to explore and participate in optional activities, in the evening we will walk up to the Chimera Fire Mountain and toast some marshmallows

Tonight we will stay in a basic guesthouse

06

Day 8: Egirdir

After breakfast we will leave the beachside town of Olympos and make our way north.

We will have an included visit of Termessos on the way before continuing our journey towards Egirdir where we will find a good spot to bush camp for the night.

Estimated Drive time 6 - 7 hours

Tonight we will wild camp near Egirdir

07

Day 9-10: Göreme

We have an early start this morning to reach the small enchanting town of Goreme in the heart of the Cappadocia mountians.

In Goreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are generally used here.

Estimated Drive Time 6-7 hours

We now have a full day to explore Goreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will also be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during your time here.

08

Day 11: Zara

Today we continue our journey east with a full day's drive towards the Sumela monastery.

We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

09

Day 12: Sumela

Today we will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will visit in the afternoon.

We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

10

Day 13: Batumi

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Sarp, enter Georgia at Sarpi.

This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Georgia, reaching the port town of Batumi.

In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

11

Day 14: Kutaisi

After a relaxing morning, we leave the port town of Batumi behind us and make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bagrati Cathedral and the Gelati monastery.

In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

12

Day 15: Tbilisi

Border Information: if joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6.00pm - please meet at the joining hotel reception at this time. Please do not be alarmed if there is no note from your leader on arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the crew and they will not arrive until about 4.00pm.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Dragoman Sales Team or your Sales Agent if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tbilisi.

In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - Please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

13

Day 16: Tbilisi

Today we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.

We will have a second night in our comfortable local hotel in Tbilisi.

14

Day 17: Lake Sevan

Today we will have a short drive to the border and cross into the country of Armenia. Once the formalities are over we will continue on through the beautiful Dilijan National Park stopping for a truck lunch along the way.

Tonight we will either stay in the National Park or continue on to Lake Sevan where we will camp.

15

Day 18-19: Yerevan

After breakfast we will leave the sparkling waters of Lake Sevan behind and make our way towards the city of Yerevan. On the way we will visit the World Heritage - listed Geghard Monastery which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We will also spend some time exploring the Garni Temple before finally arriving at our destination.

We will have 2 nights in Yerevan on the 2nd day we will have free time for optional activities or simply relaxing and soaking up the city atmosphere.

For the next 2 nights we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Driving Time 4 - 5 hours

16

Day 20: Armenian Highlands

Today we leave the city of Yerevan. We will start off with a visit to the Khor Virap Monastery before we begin to make our way north through the beautiful Armenian Highland.

Tonight we will wild camp in the Northern Armenian Highlands.

Estimated Driving Time 2 - 3 hours

17

Day 21: Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

Today we continue north and head towards the Georgian border. We aim to arrive after lunch and if time permits have an included visit to the Vardzia Caves. If we arrive too late we will be able to explore the caves tomorrow morning also.

Tonight we will find a wild camp in the valley close to the caves.

Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

18

Day 22: Mtskheta

After breakfast we will make our way to Borjome National Park where we will have time to do a small hike through the ancient forest and an optional cable ride up the mountain.

We will then continue on to Mtsehketa, the ancient capital of Georgia. Whilst here we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

In Mtskheta we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Driving Time -

19

Day 23: Stepantsminda

Today our journey begins with a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi).

Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Chruch (the church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.

In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local family run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 - 5 hours

20

Day 24: Telavi

This morning we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore the are on arrival.

In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive time 2 - 4 hours

21

Day 25: Telavi

The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyars and winereies - there are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety. We will visit some of the local vineyards today, where we can hopefully see some of the local traditions including grape harvesting and wine making, and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality.

We will spend a second night here in a local family-run guesthouse.

22

Day 26: Lagodekhi

Today we leave the wine region behind us as we make our way towards the Azerbaijan border. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route.

We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodekhi National Park close to the Azeri border.

Estimated Drive Time 2 - 3 hours

23

Day 27: Sheki

Border information: Exit Georgia at Lagodekhi, enter Azerbaijan at Balakan.

Today we cross the border to Azerbaijan and continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace.

In Sheki we wills tay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time 3 -4 hours

24

Day 28: Lahij Village

This morning we will continue on to Lahic Village. An old coppersmiths village, nestled in the mountains.

Tonight we will camp with facilities.

Estimated Drive Time 4 - 5 hours

25

Day 29: Baku

We will continue our journey this morning to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea where we will have a visit to the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volanoes that this area is famous for.

This afternoon we will continue on to the Old City of Baku where we will have free time on arrival to explore.

Estimated Drive Time 3 - 4 hours

26

Day 30: Baku

Border Information:

For everyone that is continuing with us onto Turkmenistan there will be short group meeting at 10.00am to explain the next few days until Ashgabat. Your leader will also collect the kitty for this linking section.

Our itinerary in Baku and over the Caspian Sea must remain very flexible and is very much determined by sailing times of the local ferries. Please note that there is no regular schedule for the ferries, they are notoriously unpredictable, and information from the ferry operators regarding the sailing times constantly changes (or is non-existant) up until the point of departure. Maximum flexibility, open-mindedness and co-operation with your tour leaders are absolutely essential here!

In Baku we will stay in a local hotel for as many nights as is needed until we finally depart on the ferry over the Caspian Sea.

27

Day 31: Caspian Sea

From Baku, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. The boat docks at the city of Turkmenbashi.

The ferry is a fantastic local experience, but please do not expect any luxury whatsoever! These ferries are budget vessels for the locals and cargo hauliers, and are not designed with tourists in mind. We must be prepared for very basic conditions and limited provisions on board.

Please also note that the time that the ferry takes to cross is also very unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Turkmenbashi while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.

There will be basic cabins on the ferry overnight.

28

Day 32: Turkmenbashi

Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Baku, enter Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi.

Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Turkmenistan.

We will be either staying at a local hotel in Turkmenbashi or we will start our journey towards Ashgabat and wild camp en route.

Turkemenistan Visa Note - as the timing of the Caspian ferry crossing can be very unpredictable, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least 2 'flexible' days before the entry date listed on these notes. If you arrange the visa through The Visa Machine they will be aware of all the correct dates for your visa according to the date of your trip. Please see the detailed visa notes below.

29

Day 33: Ashgabat

This morning we will have a full day drive to Turkmenistans bizarre modern capital, Ashgabat. The evening will be free to relax and explore.

In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time 7 - 9 hours

30

Day 34: Ashgabat

Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book.

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

31

Day 35: Darvaza

Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!).

We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

32

Day 36: Kunye Urgench

Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.

We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

33

Day 37-38: Khiva

Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.

This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town.

In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

34

Day 39: Bukhara

Today we will have a full day's drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights.

In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

35

Day 40-41: Bukhara

Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.

36

Day 42: Nurata

Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert!

In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

37

Day 43: Samarkand

This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights.

In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

38

Day 44-45: Samarkand

Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.

39

Day 46: Tashkent

This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

40

Day 47: Tashkent

Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.

41

Day 48: Tashkent

Border Information: if joining in Tashkent, you will most likely enter Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

The rest of the day is free to explore the Uzbek capital.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tashkent before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

*Another important note - please be aware that all itineraries in Kyrgyzstan are highly weather-dependent. The itinerary described in these notes are a statement of best intention, but we must approach each trip in Kyrgyzstan with a large degree of flexibility, as our leaders and local guides will have to 'play things by ear' according to the local conditions and weather. In low season certain routes become impossible and it may become far too cold to camp - in all cases there are fantastic and well-tried alternatives in place which means we can always run an excellent and comprehensive trip here, but please do not treat the exact details of the itinerary listed here as gospel - thanks for your understanding!*

42

Day 49: Fergana Valley

This morning we travel in local transport over the Kamchik Pass to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey to Fergana.

The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin us this evening in Fergana.

In Fergana we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

43

Day 50: Arslanbob

Border information: Exit Uzbekistan at Andijon, enter Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik.

This morning we leave Uzbekistan behind and make our way into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan!

Once we have crossed the border we continue our journey to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley - if we are delayed at the border we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead.

In Arslanbob we will stay overnight in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

44

Day 51-53: Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside.

During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead.

Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.

45

Day 54-55: Song Köl Lake

Today we complete the drive to the incredible Song K l Lake, where we will spend the next two nights.

We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking and horse-riding.

At Song K l we will stay in traditional felt yurts.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-8 hours.

Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song K l Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk K l.

46

Day 56: Kochkor

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

47

Day 57-58: Jeti Oguz Valley

Today we drive along the southern shore of Lake Issyk K l and up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz. En route we will have an included demonstation from a local 'eagle hunter'.

The next day we will have a free day to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads!

In Jeti Oguz we will camp close to a local family yurt.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti Oguz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti Oguz Valley (allowing time for some day walks) and then move via a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation.

48

Day 59: Karakol

Today we will move on from Jeti Oguz or Altyn Arashan to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free afternoon to explore and relax!

In Karakol we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

49

Day 60-61: Chong Kemin Valley

Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk K l and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. We will then continue to the beautiful area of Chong Kemin where we will spend 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

The next day we will have a free day to explore and hike in this stunning area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion!

In Chong Kemin we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms.

50

Day 62: Bishkek

Today we have a short drive to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, with the opportunity to visit the Burana Tower en route. We will have free time to relax and explore the city upon arrival.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

51

Day 63: Bishkek

Border Information: If joining in Bishkek, you will most likely enter Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Manas International Airport ( IATA code: FRU ).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10.00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting as well.

The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Please note many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Bishkek before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Dragoman Sales Team or your Agent if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Bishkek.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

52

Day 64: Tash Rabat

Today we will have a full day's journey south to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.

In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather ( or if simply the group prefers or there is no availability ), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8 - 10 people per yurt.

Estimated Drive Time 8- 9 hours.

53

Day 65: Kashgar

Border Information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Torugart, enter China at Torugart.

Today we will drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass, crossing into China and heading down to the Uighur city of Kashgar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

54

Day 66-67: Kashgar

This morning we will have an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world!

In the afternoon we will have free time to explore the town, the central Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, while your crew finalise the customs procedures for our truck to continue further into China.

Tonight we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

55

Day 68-69: Aksu

Our journey through China begins as we leave Kashgar and head east through the Taklamkan Desert! Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2nights and we will plan to stay in local hotels along the way.

Estimated Drive Times 8 - 9 hours each day ( please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for comfort or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip! )

56

Day 70: Turpan

Today we will travel to the oasis town of Turpan, where we will have time to explore the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

57

Day 71:

Today is mostly a travel day as we make our way closer to the Chinese/ Mongolian Border.

We will either wild camp tonight if possible or stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Driving Time 7 - 8 hours

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Day 72: Hovdiin Bulgan

Border Information: Exit China at Takeshiken, enter Mongolia at Hovdiin Bulgan.

This morning we will complete the drive to the border and cross into Mongolia. We will stop in the small town of Bulgan to stock up on supplies for the next few days before we find a place to camp for the night in this remote area of Western Mongolia.

Tonight we will wild camp near Bulgan

Estimated Drive Time 7 - 8 hours

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Day 73-75: Altai Tavn Bogd National Park

Over the next 3 days we will be driving mostly offroad making our way further west towards Altai Tavn National Park wild camping along the way. On the first day we will drive through Bodnach Canyon and then onto Tal Lake. On the way we will visit one of the biggest deer stone sites in Western Mongolia.

We will then continue on to Khoton & Khurgan Lakes where we will have 2 nights wild camping next to the beautiful lake in the National Park. From here we will have time to simply relax and take in the beautiful landscapes or opt to do a full day hike to Turken Waterfalls.

We will be wild camping for the next 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Times 7 -8 hours ( please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip! )

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Day 76: Ulgii

This morning we will leave the national park and continue on to the town of Ulgii.

In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the local museum to understand more about Ulgii and the surrounding areas. We will also head to the local markets to explore and stock up on supplies again.

Tonight we will stay in a basic local hotel or guesthouse

Estimated Drive Time 6 -7 hours

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Day 77: Tsambagarav National Park

Today we drive out of the town of Ulgii and do a full day's drive off road onto Tsambagarav National Park.

We hope to arrive early afternoon where there will be free time to explore this beautiful national park and admire the view of Tsambagarav which is one of the highest mountains in Mongolia sitting at 4195 metres.

Tonight we will wild camp in the National Park

Estimated Drive Time 6 - 7 hours

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Day 78: Tsenkher Caves

We have an early start this morning to begin our drive to Tsenhker Caves.

Once we arrive and have set up camp we will have a chance to stretch our legs and walk to the caves to see the rock paintings which have been there for thousands of years.

Tonight we will wild camp near the caves

Estimate Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

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Day 79-80:

Over the next 2 days we will continue our journey east, edging closer to the famous Gobi Desert.

We will bush camp on the first night near the Antaishir Mountain range and on the second we will find a place to camp at Taats Lake which has a beautiful sandy beach giving us a good opportunity to relax and enjoy the peacefulness surrounding this area.

We will spend the next 2 nights wild camping.

Estimated Drive Time each day 7 -8 hours

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Day 81-82: Khongor Sand Dunes

Leaving Taats lake we will drive to Khongor Sand Dunes.

Late this afternoon we will hike to Duut Mankhan which is the highest point of the dunes to see the stunning sunset over the dunes.

We will have a second night in Khongor to enjoy and take in the incredible landscape with an opportunity for Camel Riding in the day.

We will stay in a local Ger Camp

Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

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Day 83: Bayanzag

This morning we will leave the sand dunes behind and drive to Bayanzag known as the site of the Flaming Cliffs. Late in the afternoon we will see them change colours with the sun direction and enjoy another stunning sunset.

We continue on through the Gobi Desert taking in the vast open lands in all directions taking in another beautiful sunset as we reach our camp for the night.

Tonight we will stay in a local Ger Camp

Estimated Drive Time 6 -7 hours

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Day 84: Yolyn Am

Today we will continue through the Gobi and Yol Valley, we will eventually start to head north to Tsagaan Suvraga which is translated to White Stupa. This sediment structure is over 60 metres high with steep slopes which appear to be the ruins of an ancient city.

Tonight we will wild camp

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Day 85: Baga Gazryn Chuluu

Today we will drive to Baga Gazrynn Chuluu. When we arrive we will get a chance to explore the impressive rock formations rising from the desert steppe.

Tonight we will spend our last night wild camping before we reach Ulaanbaatar.

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Day 86: Ulaanbaatar

This morning we will leave the desert behind and make our way to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

In the afternoon we will have free time to explore the city.

Tonight we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

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Day 87: Ulaanbaatar

Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital!

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ulaanbaatar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ulaanbaatar.

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

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Day 88: Ulaanbaatar

This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum.

This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into people's lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.

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Day 89: Ögii Lake

Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon.

Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era.

After our visit to the ruins we will drive to gii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans.

In gii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds.

Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards.

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Day 90: Kharkhorin

Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram).

Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen Monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin.

Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.

In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.

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Day 91-92: Orkhon Valley

Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim!

We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.

The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests.

After our visit we will wild camp nearby.

Please note that on occasion it is impossible to reach the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot.

Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.

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Day 93-94: Tsenkher

Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys.

We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82 C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak.

The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback.

In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.

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Day 95: Tsetserleg

This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum.

We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight.

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Day 96: Chuulut Canyon

Today we continue noth past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano.

In Chuulut Canyon we will stay at a nearby ger camp.

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Day 97: Khorgo

This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon.

We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo.

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Day 98-99: Zuun Lake

Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route.

We hope to arrive at M r n, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Kh vsg l Lake.

We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of M r n.

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Day 100-101: Khövsgöl Lake

This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Kh vsg l Lake.

Kh vsg l Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration.

The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'.

In Kh vsg l Lake we will stay at a ger camp.

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Day 102-104: Selenge River

We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulaanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes.

We will aim to wildcamp in the plains east of M r n on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that.

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Day 105: Amarbayasgalant Monastery

This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style.

Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.

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Day 106: Ulaanbaatar

Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a well-earned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants!

In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel.

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Day 107: Ulaanbaatar

Border information: If you are leaving in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely exit Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ulaanbaatar. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Pay your respects to the fallen at Gallipoli on a guided tour through the battlefields
    • Guided tour around the ancient ruins of Troy
    • Guided Tour of Ephesus Ruins and the Terraced Houses
    • Walk the marbled streets of one of the best-preserved ancient cities
    • Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries
    • Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era
    • Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
    • Camp on the shores of Lake Sevan 
    • Visit the  Garni Temple and learn about its fascinating pre-Christian history
    • Visit the Medieval Geghard Monastery
    • Explore the beautiful Khor Virap Monastery near the Turkish border. On a clear day you will have stunning views of Mt Ararat in the background
    • Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda
    • Head out on Telavi's 'Big Day Out' - a tour of the town's monasteries, bee-keepers and textile-weavers, followed by lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery
    • Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheiki
    • Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797
    • Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs
    • Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
    • See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvasa, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'
    • Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench
    • See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva
    • Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873
    • Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva
    • Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument
    • Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark
    • Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva
    • Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water
    • Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty
    • Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared
    • Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark
    • Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts
    • Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur
    • Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia
    • Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world
    • Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire
    • See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda
    • Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan
    • Experience the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds
    • Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village
    • See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here
    • See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor
    • Trek into the wilds of the Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains
    • Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan
    • Tourist time: pedalos, sand, sun. On Lake Issyk-Kul, it?s a time warp
    • Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border
    • Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world
    • Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan
    • Learn about the Karez water system, the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town
    • See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
    • Day hike to Turgen Waterfalls
    • Discover the mysterious Deer Stone sites one of the biggest in Western Mongolia
    • Visit the old fashioned museum and learn more about the history and culture of Ulgii and surrounding areas
    • Hike to Duut Mankhan the highest point of the Khongor Sand Dunes and enjoy a spectacular sunset
    • Visit Baga Gazryn Chuluu, the intriguing granite rock formations
    • Take a guided tour of the Gandan Monastery, the largest Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia
    • Visit the infamous Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, and explore the traditional clothes stalls and saddle markets within
    • Explore the incredible history of the country from the Neolithic era to the present day, at the National Museum of Mongolia
    • Take a guided tour of the Gandan Monastery, the largest Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia
    • Visit the infamous Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, and explore the traditional clothes stalls and saddle markets within
    • Explore the incredible history of the country from the Neolithic era to the present day, at the National Museum of Mongolia
    • See the ancient Orkhon Inscriptions, two large monoliths with inscriptions in Old Turkic script
    • Explore the ruins of the 10th-century Kitan fortress of Khar Bukh Balgas, an interesting slice of Mongolia's pre-Genghis Khan history
    • Visit the huge monastery of Erdene Zuu, Mongolia's oldest Buddhist monastery to survive the purges of the 1930s
    • Learn all about Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire that once stood here, at the Kharkhorin Museum
    • Explore the stunning volcanic and forested landscapes of the Orkhon Valley and see Ulaan Tsutgalan, Mongolia's largest waterfall
    • Hike up through the forests to the beautiful Tuvkhon Monastery on the summit of Ulaan Uul mountain
    • Walk around the surrounding valley and visit one of the local nomadic families to learn all about their way of life (if available)
    • Enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs
    • See the huge rock monolith of Taikhar Chuluu, covered in inscriptions in a myriad of different scripts dating from the 6th century to the modern era
    • Explore the incredible volcanic landscape of Khorgo and Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake by foot
    • Discover the mysterious ancient Deer Stones near Mörön, erected by Bronze Age nomads over 3000 years ago
    • Walk through the beautiful area of Khovsgol and try to meet the local Tsataan Reindeer Herders (if available)
    • Visit the Chinese-style Buddhist monastery of Amarbayasgalant near the Selenge River
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew in certain areas
    Accomodation
    • 35% Camping - 65% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • Adventure Activities