The is a great opportunity for a mixed adventure! Taking the Trans-Mongolian Railway to absorb not only the energy point commonly referred to as "Shagrila" by Mongolians, but also the vast and wondrous Eastern Gobi landscapes that are mainly visited by locals and a handful of international travelers. This region offers great opportunities to also experience desert nomadic lifestyle and it a great platform to even extend your journey, as an option, to the Middle Gobi's Ih Gazriin Chuluu protected area - check out our Dundgovi's Noble Rock Palace itinerary.
Difficulty of trip: Moderate
Community Fee: $231 USD for 5 days/ 4 nights
Additional In-Country Travel Expenses
Rural transport (approx.): $123 USD
Note: Jeep cost can be divided among number travelers (1-4 persons)
Booking & travel orientation w/ handbook: $25 USD
Day One - Travel the Soviet Relic along The Trans-Mongolian Railway to Shangrila! (D): At 9am the ADVENTURE BEGINS! Imagine the old days of screeching hollering over intercoms, well organize lines to enter the trains, and the strong smell of burnt coal in the air… are you hearing the soviet music yet? Well, all that has changed! But it’s always good to have that image in your mind as you travel southwards to Sainshand – with transition period many new freedoms have flourished and even in the most inhospitable Gobi locations that are believed to be sources of mystic power only known and uncovered by Buddhist Monks have flourished as well. Yes, you will be visiting what Mongolian’s have referred to as the sacred Shangrila – nope it’s not in Nepal, Tibet, nor anywhere in China, if they are going to hold claim to the Qin Dynasty we have Shangrila! We will arrive in the late evening time in Sainshand town – Mr. Damba, Ger to Ger local facilitator, will greet you at the train station and take you to the local hotel where you will have a later dinner and overnight.
Day Two - Visit the Shangirla and nomadic family (B, L, D): We will depart the hotel after breakfast and start the local sightseeing walk that includes the provincial Museum as well as the Danzan Ravjaa museum – a renowned 19th century artist-prince. From the town we will have a 18 kilometer drive to a local camp “Tavan Dohio” for our afternoon lunch. Soon after we will start by heading towards Hamriin Khiid, acknowledge and commonly referred as an “energy center”, much investment has been made to rise up and adorn this local holy land – known as “Shagrila” of Mongolia. For us expats and Mongolians that have traveled to these locations years ago, we are all amazed with the amount of human effort that has gone into this location’s development and how it is coinciding with the region’s geography. Afterwards, we’ll have a chance to visit some nearby desert caves where local Monks escaped persecution from the soviet forces, visit other locations with dinosaur eggs and petrified trees as well as drive see a Saxual Forest and White Sands. In the afternoon, we shall make our way back Mr. Henchbish, a nomadic family, for a bit of rest, relaxation and food, as I am sure that all of you will be requiring something of a solid state. Now high consumption of meat and drink in the Gobi region produces the following result – zzzzzzz, yep you guessed it – there is a high probability that most of you will crash out and want to rest for a couple good hours. Before retiring to your tent for the evening, you will have a great cultural opportunity to try your hand at milking some camels and learning how to make nomadic yogurts.
Day Three - Desert travel by camel cart and nomadic immersion (B, L, D): Its morning, you had your breakfast and now we will start our soft adventure by camel cart and/or horses across the desert for 18 kilometers to the next herder family. Upon arrival, Mr. Danzanvaanchig will welcome you into his home where he will prepare and serve you with a nomadic lunch and tea. After your meal, you will have a unique photo opportunity as he will show you how to make “distilled spirits” by fermented yogurt as well as techniques of how to milk sheep. The late afternoon will be filled with the lessons on “Shagai” (a traditional game) followed by warm challenges and competitions between you and his family before the evening meal, hot tea and a cozy evening in your tent.
Day Four - The night train to Ulaanbaatar (B, L, D): Desert mornings are a great time to enjoy your breakfast and enjoy an easy gallop around the landscapes for 5 kilometers and return back to the family for your afternoon lunch. In the evening, after your farewell dinner, the local driver will pick you up and take you back to the train station (50 kilometers). Your train will depart back to Ulaanbaatar at 9pm.
Day Five - Arrive in Ulaanbaatar: Around 8am you will arrive in Ulaanbaatar.
Visiting nomadic families
All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Herder guide service on route
Horse riding according to itinerary
Traveling by camel cart according to itinerary
Pack animals on route
Cultural activities (milking camel, play ankle bone game etc)
Boiled water on route
Domestic train tickets
1 night at local hotel /share four per room/
Museum tickets and entrance fee to Shangirla
Mongolian Cultural Travel Tips & Information
Horseback Riding in Mongolia
Mongolia's Gobi Desert Camels
Mongolians and horses have historically co-exist since the early times and It’s impossible to imagine Mongolians without horses. There are many horse related folk legends, stories about horses, epic literature and songs written about horses. Mongolians prohibit the cursing of horses, beating horses and whipping of horses on their heads and chests. Mongolia’s horse culture according to their traditions teaches to show to respect to the horse during its life and honorifically place the horse’s head on an Ovoo or other sacred place to show their respect to the nobility of their horse’s life. The head of a horse is often decorated with white stones or horse dung. Heads of especially fast racing horses are usually wrapped in a blue scarf. The Mongolian traditional horse head fiddle further glorifies the station of the horse by its artistic design and traditional sounds. The culture of the Mongolian horse even spreads to embroidery, handicraft, wooden carving, metal and silver crafts – Mongolia’s respect of the horse can be found everywhere throughout the country.
The world’s rare two-humped Mongolian Bactrian Camel is considered to be the tolerant and noble animal among five animals (horse, cow, sheep, goat and camel) and is sand colored herbivores mainly found in the Gobi Desert region of Mongolia. Mongolia leads the number of Bactrian camels in the world and Mongolian camels were domesticated in olden days and are traditionally used as nomadic transport. When Mongolian camels are used for nomadic transportation their noses are pegged and they are outfitted with a leading rein, halter, saddle, saddle cloth and stairs. Mongolian camels weight is between 400-800kg and camel meat is low in fat and lean. Mongolian camel milk is a staple food for Gobi Desert nomads and is more rich in fat and protein than cow’s milk. A female camel produces about 3 to 4 liters of milk a day; camel milk can readily be made into airag (fermented beverage), hoormog (yogurt diluted with milk) and dried curds. Mongolian camel wool is produced as a natural insulation against the cold and easily sheds in the heat. Mongolian camel wool has unique characteristics of silky softness and strength.
Riding Mongolian Camels
Mongolian nomads say that it’s much closer to the sun from the top of the tallest animal of desert - so while you are riding a Mongolian camel you will always have a panoramic view of the Gobi Desert. Generally, Mongolia’s camel guides are Mongolian nomads that are born and live in the Gobi Desert. Mongolians often start to ride camels at a very early age and have plenty of experience to share with you about how to saddle, groom and command to lay down a camel to mount and dismount. During your camel trek, you can help the Mongolian nomad by looking after your camel; learn how to groom it, saddle and unsaddle it as well as bring water and feed it. Kind attention between the camel and the rider always contributes towards establishing a close. Almost any traveler can ride a camel (in reasonable physical condition) and learn how to control it quickly – though its highly recommended to review the camel riding tips that can be found in the Ger to Ger Travelers’ Handbook. Its good to apply your knowledge and practice on a camel with a Mongolian nomad around their Ger (traditional dwelling) before starting a long trek. A camel trek could cover between 5 to 25kms a day between nomadic families or even for a short roundtrip for sightseeing.