The Meaning of Mongolia - Discover Northern and Central Mongolia

Departure Date



16 days



Maximum Seats


Quite possible to modify this program according to your wishes!!!


Day – 1: Arrive in Ulan Bator city


Arrival at Ulan Bator and transfer to your hotel for a warm shower and a moment to relax after this long flight (no lunch included).

Afternoon, visit of Gandantegchinlin Monastery. Built in 1809, the Gandantegchinlin Monastery – formerly known as the Gandan Monastery – is a Tibetan-style Bud­dhist monastery located in Ulan Bator. Its name of Tibetan origin can be translated as “Great site full of Joy”.Several hundred monks currently reside there.

It contains a statue of Megjid-Janraiseg (Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara – called Chenrezig in Tibetan) by 25 meters high.

The original statue, made of copper, was erected in 1911 and was dismantled in 1937 by Soviet troops (the remains of the statue were subsequently used to make bullets during the siege of Leningrad). Following the fall of com­munist regimes, it was rebuilt in 1996 with donations of gold from Nepal and Japan.

Adorned with gold and nearly 2,286 precious stones, the statue weighs over 20 tons and is covered with nearly 100 kg of silk clothing.

Visit of the National Museum of Mongolian History. The National Museum of Mongolian History tells the story of the country, from prehistoric times to today. In this museum there is also an ethnographic section with cos­tumes and jewels from various ethnic groups of countries: Kazakhstan, Buriats, Clzemchins…

Dinner and overnight at the hotel.


Day – 2: Ulan Bator to Amarbaysgalant Monastery


Breakfast and departure for Amarbayasgalant Monastery  (6 to 7-hour drive, depending on the condition of the road).

Lunch at a roadside restaurant.
Planned activities: visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery.
Located in the enchanting and unspoilt chain of Bürengiyn Nuruu (Buren Khan), the Amarbayasgalant monastery is aptly named the “Monastery of the calm bliss.”
Indeed, the natural environment of this very important monastery had to be conducive to harmony and serenity, and the beauty is still intact today, thanks to its magnificent isolation, and the lack of paved roads to join the monastery.

To reach it, you have to drive through several valleys on 35 km of sometimes difficult tracks. The valley where it is nestled has been carved by a tributary of the Orkhon River, and is crowned by Mount Budlan Uul (1567 m). The Monastery is at the foot of Toylvïn Davaa Pass (1226 m).
The Amarbayasgalant monastery is one of the three largest Buddhist centers in Mongolia. It belongs to the Tibetan Gelugpa school, also called “Yellow Hat school.” It was built in the early 18th century to house the remains of Zanabazar, the first Bogd Gegen and is one of the few monasteries to have escaped the destructions of the communist period.
The monastery has remained remarkably preserved, even if the nature sometimes takes a little ease, with few weeds that colonize tiled roofs, which do add charm to the ancient buildings!
Amarbayasgalant‘s beauty also lies in its greater unity since all the buildings are Manchu style. The different temples are circled by red walls topped with glazed ceramic tiles.
On the hill overlooking the monastery, you can find a large statue and a stupa which reminds irresistibly that of Boudhanath in Kathmandu.

We set up camp in a valley near the monastery.
Dinner and overnight in tents.


Day – 3: Amarbayasgalant Monastery to Uran Togoo Mountain


After breakfast, we hit the road west to the “Natural Monument” Uran Togoo Tulga Uul, a nature reserve that protects the craters of two extinct volcanoes towering the surrounding steppes.
We set up camp in these huge open spaces, like a postcard from Mongolia
Short hike in this impressive scenery.
Dinner and overnight in tents


Day – 4: Uran Togoo Mountain to Ikh Uul


After breakfast, we continue our journey to the northwest, towards Lake Khövsgöl.
We visit the ruins of the ancient city of Baybalik, which was the capital of the Uyghur Khaganate 1200 years ago.
We set up our camp in a region called Ikh Uul.
Dinner and overnight in tents.


Day – 5: Ikh Uul to Lake Khuvsgul (Eastern Side)


Transfer to the Yurt Camp at Lake Khovsgol.
Lunch at a roadside restaurant.
The Lake Khovsgol (Hövsgöl) is the second largest lake in Mongolia, and the deepest. It is located north of the country, in the province of Hövsgöl. It is 136 km long and 36 km wide. Its waters are cold, frozen four months a year (January to April).
It represents 2% of global world freshwater supplies and the water is particularly pure.
The origin of Lake Khovsgol is very old, its age is estimated at several million years.
Located in a region prone to drought, this large lake is considered sacred by local people (especially Tsaatans, reindeer herders who live in remote areas of the region).
Ninety-six rivers flow into the lake, but only one comes out, the Egiin Gol River.
Many species of fish live there, as well as abundant wildlife in the surrounding area and a typical flora. The lake is also an important transit point for migratory birds from Siberia. The vast Hövsgöl National Park (838,000 hectares) was established in 1992 to protect this environment.
Dinner and overnight at the yurt (ger) camp on the lake shore (2-4 persons per yurt in single beds, shower and toilet in a separate building).


Day – 6: Lake KHUVSGUL – 2 days horseback ride with pack yaks


Breakfast at the yurt camp.
The next two days are devoted to a horse ride in the forests surrounding the Lake Khovsgol.
This ride is open to riders of all levels, even beginners.
Yaks carry a yurt on carts. We assemble the yurt at the place where we set the camp. It will be used as a shelter for meals if needed.
We also assemble the rest of the camp consisted of tents for 2 people.
Picnic lunch at our camp.
After a little rest, we can ride or hike to explore the surrounding area.
Dinner and overnight in the great outdoors at our camp


Day – 7: Lake Khovsgol – End of the horse ride and crossing to West side


Breakfast by the lake.
It is time to dismantle the camp and make our way back through the forests and hills, always with the blue reflections of the lake as a backdrop.
Arrival at the yurt camp for lunch.
Afternoon relaxing by the lake.
Dinner and overnight at ger camp (2-4 people per yurt in individual beds, showers and toilets in a separate building)


Day – 8: Lake Khovsgol to Lake Dzuun Nuur


After breakfast; we leave behind us the peaceful landscapes of Lake Khovsgol and drive to the south.
We cross the vast steppes dotted with mountains.
After the privacy of our camp on the shores of Lake Khovsgol , the feeling of space is breathtaking: the mountain passes and valleys succeed each other, with views over several tens of kilometers, without any human construction on the horizon.
Only a yurt, from time to time, is nestled in a valley like an island on a sea of greenery.
Picnic lunch en route.
As we move towards the south, the landscape becomes more mountainous and wooded.
We arrive late afternoon at Lake Dzuun Nuur, where we set up camp for dinner and overnight in tents.


Day – 9: Lake Dzuun Nuur – Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur 


After breakfast we continue to drive southward.
We have to cross several mountain ranges on sometimes difficult tracks before joining Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur where we spend 2 nights in a yurt camp.
Picnic lunch en route.
Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur Lake, also called “White Lake”, is nestled in the mountains of Khangai to 2,060 m. It measures 16 km wide and 20 km long, and its waters are of exceptional purity.
It is the heart of a protected area for its biodiversity, as diverse ecosystems cohabit: taiga (boreal forest), mountain steppe and wetlands supporting a rich fauna.
East of Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur Lake is the extinct crater of the Khorgo volcano, which is responsible for the birth of the lake as the lava blocked the flow of a river, creating a natural dam.
The Khorgo volcano is located at an altitude of 2200 meters, its slopes are covered with basalt and its crater forms an almost perfect cone of 200 meters in diameter and 100 meters deep.
Its last eruption was 8000 years ago, it was the last active volcano in Mongolia.
Dinner and overnight in our tents in the wilderness.


Day – 10: Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur – Tsenkher Hot Springs


Back on the roads southward through the mountains and forests of the Khangai.
At Tsetserleg, capital of the Arkhangai Province , we visit the Buyandelgeruulekh Khiid Monastery Museum.
Buyandelgeruulekh Khiid is one of the Buddhist temples in Mongolia that has survived the destructions of the communist era.
It is located in Tsetserleg, the provincial capital of Arkhangai at an altitude of 1691 m. It was founded in 1586 and enlarged in 1679 by the first Khalkh Zaya Pandita.
Guden, the main temple, was turned into a museum.
Off to Tsetserleg Market.
Picnic lunch en route.
Arrival in the afternoon to the Tsenkher hot springs.
Located in a green valley with forested slopes, Tsenkher hot springs are deemed for centuries among the nomads for their healing qualities.
Today, these 86 ° C waters flow into several thermal pools located in yurt camps.
Relaxing in the thermal baths will erase the rigours of the journey, especially if you opt for massages (not included).
Dinner and overnight at ger camp (2-4 people per yurt in individual beds, showers and toilets in a separate building)


Day – 11: Tsenkher Hot Springs to Orkhon Valley (Tuvkhen Monastery)


Breakfast and departure to the mountains above the Orkhon Valley, to the Tovkhon monastery.
The Tovkhon monastery towers the Orkhon Valley, at an altitude of 2400 m.
It includes several small temples, the oldest of which was built in 1654 for Zanabazar, who was the first spiritual leader of Buddhists in the line of Gelugpas in Mongolia.
Zanabazar brought a new start to the region on issues related to spirituality, including theology, language, art, medicine and astronomy. He composed sacred music, mastered the art of bronze and painting, and invented Soyombo writing in 1686.
You have to hike to access the monastery, about one hour climbing through a beautiful mountain forest. You can visit the temples and caves which are related to beliefs, like that of a spiritual rebirth after a stint in a very narrow pipe carved in the rock.
The view from the top extends over tens of kilometers beyond the mountain ranges surrounding the Orkhon Valley in long undulating waves, sometimes covered with dark forests, sometimes lined with lush green meadows.
We are progressing slowly on tracks surrounded by the famous landscape of the Orkhon Valley.
Classified in 2004 as World Heritage by UNESCO as the cradle of nomadic Mongolia, the “cultural landscape of the Orkhon Valley”, about 121 967 hectares, covers an extensive area of pastureland that stretches approximately 80km from long and 15 km wide on both banks of the Orkhon river.
The site also includes Karakorum.
Grasslands are still used today by Mongolian nomadic herders, and many families keep perpetuating the traditional way of life. In the valleys and around the rivers are nestled yurts that house the nomadic families. In the wild, herds of horses, yaks, sheep and goats are moving in these protected areas.
Late afternoon we arrive at the yurts of the nomadic family where we will spend 2 nights.
Dinner with our host family.
This 1 night, we will sleep in a “guest-yurt” close to our nomad family’s yurt.
The comfort is more simple than in the yurt camps as there are no showers, but you will experience the real nomadic way of life…


Day – 12: Orkhon Valley (Tuvkhen Monastery) – Orkhon Valley (Khyatruun)


Breakfast.The day is devoted to the discovery of the traditional lifestyle of the nomads of Mongolia.
Each yurt camp is home to a family whose daily lives are punctuated by the care of herds: milking mares, sheep, goats and dris (female yaks), caring for sick or debilitated animals, moving animals to new pastures…
Women also take care of children, they cook, prepare different milk products (butter, cheese, fermented mare’s milk, drinking milk …) and maintain the interior of the yurt.
The men look after animals, maintenance of hardware and harness horses. They also cut wood for cooking.
We can participate in these activities, and become acquainted with the various family members.

You’ll find simple tips to facilitate contact with your host family on the site by clicking here.
During the day, we can easily reach the famous Orkhon Falls, hiking or on horseback.
The Orkhon Falls are actually the Ulaan Tsutgalan River Falls. The river falls into a spectacular canyon formed after an earthquake and a volcanic eruption more than 20 000 years ago, forming a cascade of 20 meters high and 10 meters wide.
The site is enchanted by the contrast between the whiteness of the foam and the black rock that forms the canyon walls. Going down along the walls to the foot of the fall, you will discover trees and flowers (wild peonies) that take advantage of the abundance of water to grow.
In the evening, our hosts will prepare a traditional specialty, the Khorkhog, the “Mongolian barbecue”.
The Khorkhog is a traditional nomadic specialty of the Mongolian steppe. You will almost never find it in a restaurant.
To prepare the Khorkhog, nomads cut mutton or goat into pieces, keeping the bones. Twenty stones the size of a fist are heated in the fire.
When hot enough, they are placed in layers with the meat in a metal container, which is often a milk can.
Other ingredients are added over the stones and meat, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, seasoning …
Water is added in sufficient quantity for all of the ingredients to be cooked both by the steam and the heat of stones. The container is closed and placed on the fire for an hour to an hour and a half.
At the opening of the container, the Khorkhog is ready to eat.
The family takes out the meat and vegetables, and the stones which turned black, both because of the fire and the fat that they have absorbed.
These stones are still warm and the guests keep them in their hands because Mongols consider them as beneficial to health.
We usually eat the Khorkhog with fingers, with the help of a knife to cut the meat.
This night, we will sleep in a “yurt of hosts” close to the yurts of our nomadic family.

The comfort is simpler and you will discover the real nomadic way of life …


Day – 13: Orkhon Valley to Kharkhorin (is the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire)


After breakfast, it is time to say goodbye to our nomad friends, the end of a wonderful human experience, having shared moments of unparalleled freedom.
We must resume our journey to new Mongolian horizons
We drive towards Kharkhorin (Karakorum) through the Orkhon Valley.
Picnic lunch en route.
Visit of Erdene Zuu monastery.
Karakorum (Kharkhoryn) is the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, founded in 1235 by Ogödei, the son of Genghis Khan.
In 1260, Kublai Khan transfers the capital to Beijing. Karakorum was destroyed in 1388 by troops of the Ming Dynasty. Of its former glory remain mere turtle statues guarding the entrances to the city walls.
In 1585, the Erdene Zuu has been built just outside the walls of the ruins of the ancient capital after the introduction of Buddhism in Mongolia as the state religion. Stones from the ruins of Karakorum were used in the construction.
It is surrounded by a wall with 108 stupas. 108 is a sacred number in Buddhism, and it is also the number of beads in a Buddhist rosary (mala).
The monastery was damaged in the 1680s, but was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and in 1872.
For centuries, Erdene Zuu was the most important religious shrine in Mongolia.
In 1939 the communist leader Horloogiyn Choybalsan destroyed the monastery, in a purge that resulted in the disappearance of hundreds of monasteries in Mongolia and killed over ten thousand monks.

Three small temples and the outer wall with the stupas remained; the temples became museums in 1947.
After the fall of communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was given to lamas and Erdene Zuu again became a place of worship.

The site was restored at the end of the century and regained part of its religious aspect. Today Erdene Zuu remains an active Buddhist monastery as well as a museum that is open to tourists.
We set up camp in a valley near Karakorum.
Dinner and overnight in tents.


Day – 14: Kharkhorin to Khugnu Khan


After the breakfast; will drive to Elsen Tasarkhai.

The day is devoted to the discovery of the traditional lifestyle of the nomads of Mongolia.
Each yurt camp is home to a family whose daily lives are punctuated by the care of herds: milking mares, sheep, goats, caring for sick or debilitated animals, moving animals to new pastures…
Women also take care of children; they cook, prepare different milk products (butter, cheese, fermented mare’s milk, drinking milk …) and maintain the interior of the yurt.
The men look after animals, maintenance of hardware and harness horses. They also cut wood for cooking.
We can participate in these activities, and become acquainted with the various family members.

During the day we can easily reach the famous Elsen Tasarkhai dunes, on foot or on horseback.

Elsen Tasarkhai is a sand dune that stretches to 80 km long, 3 km wide across Burd canton of Uvurkhangai province and Gurvanbulag canton of Bulgan province. Dividing the southern part of the sand dune with the so-called Mongolian sand, the northern part of the sand dune is called Khugnu Tarna. Due to the suddenness resulted from Tarna River flowing in the western part of the sand dune; it is covered with rare plants such as willow, elm, and dogwood etc. There is a rocky mountain called “Khugnu Khan” in the north and the Ikh Mongol Mountain lies in the south that defines the central point of Mongolia. The widest part of the sand dune is located on the skirt of Ikh Mongol Mountain and at the sight of Sharlin and Jargalant River covering 9-10 km square area.

This night, we will sleep in a “yurt of hosts” close to the yurts of our nomadic family.

The comfort is simpler and you will discover the real nomadic way of life …


Day – 15: Elsen Tasarkhai to Ulaanbaatar


Breakfast and drive to Ulan Bator.
Lunch on roadside.

Afternoon is dedicated to shopping in stores downtown, or at the Narantuul “black market” where you will find traditional clothing and objects of daily life.
Visit a cashmere factory.

In the late afternoon, you will attend a show with traditional dances, music and songs from Mongolia, especially the amazing Khoomei.

The Khoomei is an overtone singing (throat singing) in which the singer produces two distinctively audible pitches at the same time including a low pedal note, or drone, derived from the fundamental frequency of the vocal cord vibrations, and higher melodic notes that result when the singer’s mouth acts as a filter, selecting one note at a time from among the drone’s natural overtone series pitches.
The sound is reminiscent of the Jew’s harp.
This type of song is recorded in Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.
Dinner downtown and overnight at a 3* hotel (local standard) in the center of Ulan Bator.


Day – 16: Return Home


Breakfast (depending on your flight schedule) and transfer to airport for your flight back home.


  • Airport / hotel / airport transfers
  • 2 nights in a ** hotel in Ulaanbaatar, breakfast included
  • Full board during the excursion
  • Meal at Ulan Bator
  • Mineral water
  • 4 nights in a comfortable yurt camp with hot shower
  • 3 nights homestay, in guest yurt
  • 6 nights in a tent
  • Travel in 4×4 or mini bus + driver
  • Gasoline
  • English speaking guide
  • Cook for groups> 4 participants
  • Horse riding
  • Equestrian equipment with Kazakh or English riding saddles
  • Grooms
  • Camel ride
  • Local horse guides and camel guides
  • Entrance fees to the parks and museums mentioned
  • Traditional show
  • IRIDIUM satellite phone
  • Kitchen equipment (mess tent, camping tables and chairs) and for sleeping (tent, sleeping bag, ground mattress), sanitary tent


  • International transport
  • Passport & Visa Fees
  • Repatriation insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Extra drinks / alcohols
  • Phone calls
  • Any excursion not mentioned in the program
  • Baggage supplement if you are carrying more than 15Kg (hold and cabin baggage combined)

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Tour Name Price Per Adult Price Per Child Available Seats Departure Date Duration
The Meaning of Mongolia - Discover Northern and Central Mongolia $ 1,850 $ 1,850 40 Anytime 16 days

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