All of us go through times where the thrum of the modern day and the buzz of constant connectivity can become too much. Sometimes, we just need to shut it all out as we hit pause and escape to another world. For times like those, there’s Mongolia. Partnering with The Lost Explorer, we’ve been inspired to curate a 10-day immersion into the lives and traditions of the country’s nomadic communities, traveling across the singing sands of the Gobi desert into the tranquillity of vast national parks – all with our experts’ knowledge to guide you. Venture into places so remote that even Google can’t pinpoint them and spend time living with local families, discovering their way of life – and turning your hand to it too. Saddle up atop famous Mongol horses, learn how to milk a yak and spend your nights slumbering in traditional ger camps. A country rooted in natural beauty and shamanic culture, a trip to Mongolia will calm your senses as you disconnect from the distractions of the modern day and retreat to a simpler way of being.Read more
The Three Beauties
Arriving into Ulaanbaatar, we’ll make sure you get a bit of cultural background to your adventure with a visit to the National History Museum and Chinggis Khan Square – as well as a few of the capital’s quirkier sites. The next morning, you’ll fly out to Dalanzadgad, the capital of the Gobi Province. From the lush greens of central Mongolia, the landscape changes to the vast browns, reds and golds of the plains which spread across the Gobi Desert in the south of Mongolia.
Khongoryn Els, just a short drive, is home to the biggest sand dunes of the Gobi desert (also known as the Singing Sands). Notice the sounds that the dunes make when you walk across them as strings of acoustic notes dance in the air. The sense of awe and achievement when you reach the summit is second to none. After an overnight stay at Gobi Erdene Camp, the next morning visit a local camel herder and head straight to Gobi Lodge. Settle into your ger and then drive to Bayanzag to explore the legendary site with a Mongolian palaeontologist. Comprised of red sandstone formations that stretch over 3 kilometers in width, hundreds of dinosaur fossils have been discovered at the Flaming Cliffs over the course of the last century.
The next morning, Argali sheep and ibex will pick their way across sheer cliffs and even a lammergeyer soaring above looking for carrion as you enter Yolyn Am National Park. With its high walls, it will feel cooler as you travel deeper into the canyon and as it narrows, you may see ice that hasn’t melted yet from the winter. The next morning, you’ll fly back to Ulaanbaatar before heading out east to the site of the country’s iconic statue of Chinggis Khaan on horseback, where you can learn more about the leader before climbing atop the horse’s head and admiring panoramic views of the Tuul River and beyond.
From here, you’ll then make like Khan himself and saddle up your steed to make your way by horseback through Gorkhi Terelj National Park. Ride over mountain passes, across a river and through wooded glades and flowering meadows, all the while taking in the stunning vistas, before coming to the site of a Shaman Ovoo, where it is customary to add a rock and a circle for good luck. After several hours horse trekking, your camp tonight brings a touch of eco-luxury. Tucked away in a protected area of Gorkhi Terelj, Jalman Meadows Ger Camp offers a tranquil getaway in the depths of Mongolia where you can spend your days rafting along the Tuul River before relaxing in the library ger with a traditional game of Ankle Bones.
From the national park, you’ll then link up with a nomadic family in Bayandelger with whom you’ll spend the next two days, embracing the local nomadic culture. Welcoming you with a traditional lunch, Oidov and Gerlee will open up their home to you as you become one of the family, with your own private pop-up ger set up nearby. Join them in their day-to-day errands as you swap dry-cleaning and vacuuming for herding cattle and milking yaks to make fermented airag milk (a local delicacy well worth a taste). You’ll also spend time with Gerlee learning how to make tradition Mongolian buuz dumplings which you’ll then enjoy for dinner while Oidov regales you with his tales of life as a horse trainer in the home of the Mongol Derby.
The Call of the Wild
Tomorrow, you’ll join a local park ranger at Gun Galuut Nature Reserve where you’ll set out in search of Argali sheep. As elusive as they are iconic, these local creatures are easily recognisable for their large curled horns which make for perfect protection against any golden eagles that may swoop in to steal their young. A beautiful corner of Mongolia, made all the more remarkable by its abundance of unique wildlife, head deeper into the park on foot before enjoying a lakeside picnic with nothing and no-one around to spoil the peace.
After bidding farewell to Oidov and Gerlee, you’ll make your way back to Ulaanbaatar, stopping off on the way at a local felt boot factory to learn about this traditional craft – we recommend trying a pair and seeing for yourself just how warm they keep your feet. Back in the capital, you’ll join an expert guide for a visit to the famous Black Market, a home for all manner of nomadic goods. From gers to hats and from shamanic items to the boots we know you are no doubt now eyeing up, the Market has everything you need to give up the daily grind. After sampling local delicacies from the food section, you’ll have the rest of the afternoon to tick off any remaining ‘must-see’ sites before enjoying a traditional music and dance performance in the evening ahead of a farewell dinner.
A trip that has no doubt hit the reset button, it’s enough to convince you to escape city living once and for all.