This is a serious ‘southern’ adventure and the best of all worlds! The Great Gobi Nomadic Quest is a combination of all three Dundgovi routes and communities making it the first Regional Community Route! You will travel along the border from the north to the southeast and over to the southwest and back! This trip has been perfectly balanced to ensure all your days are focused on meaningful experiences rather than just jeep travel. From community to community you will travel and have amazing opportunities to experience real southern Nomads. It’s a classic! I am sure that Roy Chapman Andrews and other early explorers of Mongolia would be proud of GertoGer’s attempt to bring back those early day adventures.
It’s a claasic! I am sure that Roy Chapman Andrews and other early explorers of Mongolia would be proud of GertoGer’s attempt to bring back those early day adventures.
Difficulty of trip: Moderate
Method of travel: Jeep, horseback, camels, carts and trekking
Community Fee: $627 USD for 12 days/ 11 nights
Additional In-Country Travel Expenses
UB to Mandalgovi Bus Fee (approx.): $8 USD
Rural jeep for regional route (approx.): $601 USD
Note: Jeep cost can be divided by number of persons
Booking & travel orientation w/ handbook: $25 USD
Day One - Travel to Mongolia’s Desert Region to Learn Local Folk Songs (L,D – Overnight in Tent): You will depart Ulaanbaatar City by rural bus and will start your southern journey overland to Mandagovi (the Provincial Center of the Middle Gobi) and as you travel you will witness the transforming power of the Gobi Desert. From Mandalgovi you will begin the 46 kilometer desert jeep ride to Mr. Sogaar’s Ger where his wife, Ms. Uuganbold, will prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and tea. Afterwards, you will be entertained by her homely traditional Mongolian songs and her artistic abilities with traditional embroideries.
In the early evening you will continue a short desert journey for 13 kilometers to Mr. Munh Od’s Ger where you will be greeted with a hot dinner before overnighting in your tent. During your stay with Mr. Munh Od, you will have a chance to learn a national Mongolian game called “Shagai”; it is a lot like the game “marbles” that children play but with the ankle bones of sheep however there are many variations of games that Mongolians enjoy i.e. horse race, archery, etc.
Day Two - Desert Trekking and “Shagai” (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): After breakfast, you will have a great morning of desert trekking for two kilometers to next nomadic family and during this leg of the journey, your nomad guide will take your luggage by his motorbike. This is a great opportunity to absorb the wondrous environment of the Gobi Desert, enjoy the silence and marvel at pristine desert ecology that has significant historical roots dating back 65 million years ago; to which this will become even more evident, day by day, as you make your way to the truly monolithic Ih Gazriin Chuluu Strictly Protected Area. Upon your arrival at Mr. Nyamsuren's Ger, you have a chance to show off some of your mastery “Shagai” and even have opportunity to compete with him or his son Nyamsuren. Later his mother, Mrs. Dashzeveg, will show you how to make traditional ropes using sheep wool before they prepare and serve you with an early nomadic lunch prior to departure. Around lunchtime, you will have opportunity to enjoy the melodies of the horse fiddle melodies and even try your hand at it. After lunch Mr. Nyamsuren will guide you for ten kilometers by camel cart across truly picturesque desert landscapes to Mr. Gundambuu’s Ger. Though traveling by camel carts touches the romantic senses in most people, please note that it is definitely an experience and a humorous one in most cases too! But experiencing is believing. Once you arrive at Mr. Gundsambuu, they will begin to prepare and serve you with hot nomadic tea and ‘boortsog’ a staple nomadic snack like is similar to fried donut holes. While you are having your tea, this is a great chance to relax and spend some quality time with your nomadic hosts and try to get to know the family. Afterwards, Mr. Gundsambuu will show you how to make Mongolian traditional wooden carvings before they prepare and serve you with your evening dinner. Before you retire to your tent for the night, and if you brought a ball along, this is a great opportunity to play some volleyball or even go out for a light trek and take some wonderful landscape shots with the kids as they are playing or evening singing songs.
Day Three - Intellectual Games and The Art of Wood Carvings (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): This morning you will wake up to a hot cup of milk tea and fried bootsog – when fresh they are truly delicious! Before departing, Mr. Gundsambuu will show you how to make Mongolian traditional wooden carvings and his children will share some Mongolian songs with you before you start your 12 kilometer horseback journey to Mr. Tsogtsaikhan’s Ger where you will have your afternoon tea.
Upon arrival, Mr. Tsogtsaikhan’s family will prepare and serve you with a nomadic lunch and tea. This afternoon you will have an opportunity to test your intellect with some Mongolia wood puzzles before Mrs. Altai will shows you how to make ‘uya’ a homemade nomadic rope that is used for constructing Mongolian Gers. In the early evening or late afternoon, you will journey for 11 kilometers by horse cart with Mr. Tsogtsaikhan to Mr. Chimiddorj’s family where upon arrival they will prepare and serve you with dinner. Along this portion of the travel, you will begin to see Ih Gazriin Chuluu immerge in the distant horizon, it’s an amazing site and exceeds all expectations; from this point onwards you are nearing one of Mongolia’s truly unique ‘off the path’ destinations. If you made good travel time, this is the point to capture some brilliant wide angle or fish eye lens shots of Ih Gazriin Chuluu as you will be travel adjacent to it as the soft sunset rays will provide a brilliant luminance for some truly classic evening landscape shots.
Day Four - Nomadic Art of Felt Making and Trekking through Mongolia’s Monolithic Ih Gazriin Chuluu (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): Today is the day that you have been eagerly been anticipating, after your breakfast Mr. Chimiddorj will share how Mongolian nomads produce the all necessary felt for their gers with you. In the afternoon, you will now start you unforgettable 13 kilometer trek through Ih Gazriin Chuluu and be truly over taken by the massiveness of this location. Like a National Geographic documentary, let your imagination free, 65 million years ago these were ocean canyons and before that it was the stomping grounds of herds of TREXs. South East of Ih Gazriin Chuluu it herds of TREXs have been reported to be found. As you trek, you will have opportunities to capture some of the most amazing rock formations i.e. Tangad rock, Chinggis Khan Rock, Khur khartsag’s memorial place and monument as well as visit the Open Air Theatre that is home to the annual horse head fiddle and long song concert. Imagine this location filled with Mongolian performers located not only at the stage but also all around on the rocks providing a natural surround sound acoustics that rivals any home theatre systems. This is truly the time to make sure that you have your camera completely charged with back up batteries as from personal experience, from morning till late at night, you will be shooting and capture some of the most remote and truly spectacular images that are unique to Mongolia. This afternoon you will have a picnic lunch here and let the location add that extra element which will fuel your desire to keep on exploring. In the early evening you will arrive at Mr. Tsembeldorj’s family to which upon arrival they will begin to prepare and serve you a hot nomadic dinner and traditional Mongolian tea. Now Mr. Tsembeldorj is an icon to the region, professionally he has been the National Park Ranger for 37 years and knows Ih Gazriin Chuluu like nobody else. So this is a great opportunity to not only marvel at his incredible knowledge of the locality but if you see his blue motorbike – take a snap shot of it with him. That bike has been his pride and joy for 30 something years, he often boasts about how well he has taken care of it and it’s a true classic – the history associated to the both of them in the region have made them truly unique and even local legends. After dinner, you are going to have a great opportunity to try your hand at construct a Mongolian Ger (a small homemade model) which will provide you the stepping stones of knowledge of how Mongolian nomads construct and deconstruct their nomadic dwellings several times a year during the traditional migrations seasons.
Day Five - More Desert Trekking, Learn How to Build a Mongolian Ger (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): Before breakfast, it a great time to go out for a light trek in the area and capture some brilliant early light silhouettes. After breakfast, you will have more opportunities for trekking and evening a little bouldering (for the more advanced) around the location and visit the surrounding caves as well as the monument erected in memory of Mongolia’s most famous long singer, Mrs. Norovbanzad. On the way you will stop at the local “Ovoo” (stone mound of Shamanistic culture, it believes that local deities listens to the people’s wishes and fulfills them) and put small stones. Around 11AM our local driver will arrive and you will continue your overland travel across the Middle Gobi’s Desert by local jeep to Mr. Khadbaatar’s Ger where his wife, Mrs. Alimaa, will welcome you a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. Soon afterwards, you will have a great opportunity to learn about community life with his son Mungunshagai who will guide you around his native village. In the evening you can enjoy a game of Basketball or even “teveg” (traditional hacky sack) and even try your hand at a traditional Mongolian game that uses the ankle bones of sheep called “Shagai” with the locals before returning for you evening dinner with the family and retiring for the night.
Day Six - Visit Gandanchoinhorlin Monestary and Learn the Art of Making Sheep Wool Ropes (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): After breakfast, Mr. Mungunshagai will guide you through the village to the head Monk of Gandanchoinhorlin Monastery, Mr. Ravjir’s home, where he has been working at monastery for many years. Upon your visit he will show you a monument located at the top of an ovoo to which afterwards the local driver will pick you up and you will continue your journey to continue to next nomadic family. Once you reach Mr. Ayush’s Ger his wife, Mrs. Testsegee, will begin to prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch. Afterwards, his son will begin to explain how nomads use sheep’s wool to make rope before explaining the techniques of milking camels - to which you can give it a try yourself. In the late afternoon, you will continue your journey to Mr. Batbekh’s Ger where you will have your evening dinner with the family. Tonight you can have a great evening playing “Shagai” (traditional Mongolian game that uses sheep’s ankle bones) or even a game of chess before retiring for the night.
Day Seven - Traditional Long Song, Horse Head Fiddle and Some Fun in the Sun (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): After breakfast today, Mr. Batbekh will guide you to Uush Sand Dunes and Zag Mod by his motorbike – which is an adventure by itself. Uush Sand Dunes are medicinal and used for treating back, rheumatic fever, kidneys etc., domestic inhabitants annually go to Uush Sanatorium which is located near the sand dunes. Afterwards, you will continue your four kilometer desert journey to the ruins of Hutul Monastery and then onwards for another kilometer of trekking to “Tagtaa Amni Agui” (local cave). From this location you will have a 75 kilometer overland journey to Ulziit village, home to famous Mongolian Horse Head Fiddle Players, where upon arrival Mrs. Uigarmaa’s family they will prepare and serve you with a wonderful afternoon lunch and tea before you start your late afternoon six kilometer journey to Ban Cliffs. This is going to be a truly special evening as the sunsets you will greatly enjoy the atmosphere while a traditional long song will be played to the melodies of the horse head fiddle. Upon returning to Mrs. Ulzii’s home, they will prepare and serve you with a hot dinner before retiring for the night for a much deserve rest and homely rest. Apart from the above you can use other paid services – hot shower, laundry, telephone and medical shop etc.
Day Eight - Del Mountain's Petroglyhs (lots of ancient petro glyphs!): After breakfast around 11 a.m. you will continue your trip to Tsagaan suvraga toruist camp. You will have a lunch at ger camp. Then continue your journey to Petroglyph Gallery of the Del Mountain and Bold cliffs. Camels, horses, wildsheep, animals and people who holds javelin etc were described on 20 separate petroglyphs. Mongolian scientists defined that Petroglyphs of Del Mountain were inscribed 3000 years ago. Afterwards, you will continue to drive for 20kms and reach Bold cliffs. Bold cliff are famous for an ancient tale of one monk that escaped from his monastery and lived in cliffs because he fell in love with woman. In the cliffs you will find a rock bed, chairs etc which were used by the Monk. You will have dinner at a remote ger camp and have an opportunity to take a hot shower there.
Day Nine - The famous wind canyons of Tsagaan Suvrag (B,L,D – Overnight at local guest house): After breakfast at ger camp you will drive to Tsagaan suvraga cliffs. It is interesting to see the sheer slope, facing east; from a distance it seems to be the ruins of the ancient city. The cliff is 30 meters high and 100 meters wide. Over thousands of years the wind has created this amazing structure. Then continue your driving to Saikhan – Ovoo by local jeep. On the way you will have a picnic lunch. Upon arrival at Zambagiin tal guest house Mr. Enkhbayar’s family will prepare and serve you with a hot dinner and tea followed by an evening spent with his mother, Mrs. Tsendsuren, who will guide you through the village so you may experience a bit of their community life as well as visit the sea-buckthorn garden before returning back to the guesthouse.
Day Ten - Trekking to the Ancient Ruins of Ongiin Monastery (B,L,D – Overnight at Ger Camp): After breakfast, you will start your nine kilometer overland jeep journey to Mr. Undral’s Ger where you will visit the locally famous pierced rock called ‘Senjit’; where Chinggis Khan used to tie his horses too. Upon arrival at Mr. Undral’s Ger, they will begin to prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. Afterwards, you will begin your ten kilometer trekking excursion to the ancient ruins of Ongiin Monastery. Along the way, you will visit Zambaga Khairkhan that is a locally worshipped mountain and the historically significant cave that once served as refuge to Mongolia’s “Robin Hoods” from local authorities. After a brilliant day of trekking in these remote desert landscapes, redden by the desert sun, you will begin your journey back to Tsagaan Ovoo Ger Camp where you will have dinner and overnight.
Day Eleven - Ongiin Monastery, Gobi Desert’s Largest Archeological Ruins Site (B,L,D – Overnight in Tent): Today is the day! After breakfast you are in walking distance of Ongiin Monastery, historically it was established 300 years ago and was the Gobi Desert’s largest monastery throughout the Gobi Desert Region. During the repression of 1930s, the monastery was completely destroyed and around 300 monks were persecuted by revolutionists – today its one of Mongolia’s most important gateways in between the central pastoral region and the internationally famous Khongor Sand Dunes in the deep southern region of Mongolia. After a wonderful afternoon of trekking around this amazing historical site, you will begin your ten kilometer horseback journey to the next nomadic family. Upon arrival at Mr. Munkhbayar’s Ger, his family will begin to prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. After lunch, you will have opportunity to learn how Mongolian nomads milk animals and make dairy products with his wife. Afterwards, you will continue by horse-cart for seven kilometers to your overnight destination at Mr. Jenkhuu’s Ger. Upon arrival you will have a wonderful opportunity to learn a Mongolian traditional game called ‘Dembee’, which does involve the drinking of mare’s milk and most likely some singing! If you survive (a little joke), you will have a great dinner before retiring for the night.
Day Twelve - Departure Back to Mandalgovi (B, L – Overnight at Hotel, Independent): After breakfast you will have the opportunity to learn how Mongolian nomads tie a halter and hobble for a horse by leather strap. After lunch, our local driver will pick you up and you will begin your 220 kilometer journey by Russian jeep back to Mandalgovi. Once you reach Mandalgovi, you will have one additional overnight at the local hotel to catch the 8AM morning bus to Ulaanbaatar.
All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Two overnights at tourist camp according to itinerary
Two overnights at herder families’ extra Ger according to itinerary
Herder guide service on route
Horse riding according to itinerary
Traveling by camel cart according to itinerary
Camel riding according to itinerary
Pack animals on route
Cultural activities (make a felt, play ankle bone game etc)
Small cultural show in Ulziit village
Boiled water on route
Entrance of Ongi monastery
Reservation services for two ways bus tickets between UB and Mandalgovi
Local jeep arrangement by facilitator
Guest house and hotel reservation by facilitator in Mandalgovi
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.