Trek to the peak of the Hentii Mountain Range known as Asralt Khairkhan, though a challenging route that involves trekking up to 23 kilometers a day it is truly an unforgettable way to experience nomadic culture in the semi-mountainous region without having to travel across the country. Much of the landscapes are unspoiled, scenic and remarkable - while you are trekking, you will learn the techiques in managing your own pack yak as well as enjoy some horseback riding along the way.
Difficulty of trip: Semi-Challenging
Method of travel: mainly trekking with some horseback and ox-carts(camping)
Community Fee: $399 USD for 10 days/ 9 nights
Additional In-Country Travel Expenses
UB to Terelj Park Bus Fee (approx.): $2 USD
Booking & travel orientation w/ handbook: $25 USD
National Park Fee: $3 USD
Day One - Visit Nomads and Herd Livestock (L, D): You will depart Ulaanbaatar and will take a 2 hour bus ride to the Terelj National Park - one of Mongolia’s travel destination highlights. Upon arrival at Terelj Village, a nomad guide will take you across the Terelj River by ox cart northwards for one kilometer to their home where they will prepare and serve you a hot nomadic lunch and tea. After lunch, you will have plenty of time to abosorb the breath taking landscapes, refresh your mind to the natural sounds of the flowing river nearby as well as spend some quality time with the family learning techniques of livestock herding and milking cows before your evening dinner.
Day Two - Salhit Mountainside Day Trek (B, L, D): After an enjoyable nomadic breakfast, you can assist in the packing of luggage on the ox cart (useful to learn the ways from the beginning) – and start your 22 kilometer trek to Salhit Mountain. Do be sure to pull out the camera from time to time as you will be venturing through truly picturesque mountain valley landscapes along Terelj River. While you are trekking 20 kilometers a day (appox.), the ox cart will carry all camping equipments, personal items and kitchen supplies. Along the way, you will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor picnic lunches with prestine views of the surrounding valleys carpeted with wildflowers, green ocean-like meadows as well as spoting the abundance of bird and wildlife in the region.
The Zaan River starts from the eastern face of Asralt Khairkhan and flows 50 kilometers southwest into the Terelj River. There is an ancient legend associated with the region - they say Mrs. Dondogdulam, wife of Bogd Khan, used this location to care and feed her Elephants that were honorifically bestowed to her from foreign dignitaries. This evening we will be camping on ancient royal grounds where you could image king and his queen, with dignitaries would roam the valleys with their spectacular gifts in the lush mountain river valleys.
Day Three - Trek Suv Mountainside (B, L, D): After breakfast you will trek for 20 kilometers to the Mountainside of Suv – along the way you will have a picnic lunch. Upon arrival at the camp site, a hot dinner and tea will be prepare and served before retiring for the night in your tent. Keep in mind that you will want to rest early in order to keep up your stamina for the following days.
Day Four - Trek to Tugul Forest (B, L, D): After your morning meal, you will continue your trek for 23 kilometers to the Tugul Forest through some truly picturesque landscapes – along the way you will have a picnic lunch. Upon arrival at the camp site, dinner will be prepared and served with hot traditional tea before getting some much needed rest.
Day Five - Trek to Asralt Khairkhan, Highest Peak within the Khentii Mountain Range (B, L, D): After breakfast, you will begin the 25 kilometers trek to Asralt Khairkhan Mountain that is measured 2800 meters above sea level. There are alpine trees, cliffs, and a glacial face that can be seen from a distance as well as tributaries of the Zaan and Nemekh rivers that flow from the eastern and southern slopes of Asralt Khairkhan Uul. On the way, you will have a picnic lunch before arriving on the sunny side of Asralt Khairkhan Mountain where you will have your much deserved hot dinner and tea before retiring for the night.
Day Six - Trek Asralt Khairkhan Mountain (B, L, D): Soon after breakfast, you and the local nomadic guide will start the trek up Asralt Khairkhan. Today you won’t need to pack everything, instead you will only take day packs but make sure that you have plenty of water, some snacks, warm layers as well as your camera and other small items you may require. The entire round trip will average at 22 kilometers – this is a great time to enjoy the beauty of this mountain with a packed lunch at its summit before returning to the camp site for the evening. This is the moment that you have been waiting for - the day that you can enjoy the stunning beauty of the region from this vantage point - do not forget to capture it on film!
Day Seven - Trek to Zuun Mod “Hundreds of Trees” (B, L, D): Today is going to be a good trek of 25 kilometers after breakfast to Zuun Mod - On the way you will be served by picnic lunch. Upon arrival at the camping site you will be served a hot dinner and tea before retiring for the night.
Day Eight - Trek to Traditional Naadam Preparation Location (B, L, D): After having a hearty breakfast, you will continue trekking for 18 kilometers to the location locally renown for its rocks that are used as training tools for wrestlers to build their strength (the old style) before going to the National Naadam. As you continue trekking, you will have an outdoor picnic lunch before reaching your overnight camp site where you will have a hot dinner and tea.
Day Nine - Trek to North Saihan Mountain (B, L, D): After breakfast, you will continue your trek for 21 kilometers to North Saihan Mountain – along the way a picnic lunch will be prepared and served after crossing Zaan River. Upon arriving at the camp-site, your dinner and hot tea will be prepared and served before retiring for the night.
Day Ten - Trek to a Local Nomadic Family (B, L, D): Early in the morning after breakfast, you will trek for 14 kilometers to of Mr. Enhee’s family where you will have a farewell lunch with his family. This a great time to have some rest or just pull out the camera and immerse yourself in nomadic culture. Mrs. Urnaa will show how to make dried curds during your free time before the local guide will take you for one to two kilometers by ox cart or horse to Terelj were you will depart by bus at 7pm.
All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Herder guide service on route
Pack animals (ox cart) on route
Visit nomadic families
Cultural activities (make dried curds, pack on yak cart etc)
Boiled water on route
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.