Mongolia: Steppes, Deserts & Nomads - Naadam Festival

15 days
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Small Group Tour
The rolling steppe of Central Asia makes way to stark desert; across this vast landscape, nomadic ger camps are peppered, camels and goats are herded on horseback, fermented mare’s milk is the tipple of choice, dunes sing and the first intact dinosaur eggs were found. Genghis Khan went forth from here to conquer the biggest land empire in history and, to this...
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$7,493
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Overview

Trip type
Small Group Tour
Lodging level
Standard - 3 star
Physical level
Moderate

Highlights

    • Discover the spectacularly varied Mongolian landscape: rolling steppe, mountains and deserts
    • Sleep in traditional style ger camps (Mongolian tents)
    • Experience Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire
    • See the rolling dunes and landscape of the Gobi Desert
    • Interact with one of the last remaining nomadic cultures in the world
    • Enjoy the wrestling, archery, horse riding and bone flicking of the Naadam Festival

What's this trip about?

    The rolling steppe of Central Asia makes way to stark desert; across this vast landscape, nomadic ger camps are peppered, camels and goats are herded on horseback, fermented mare’s milk is the tipple of choice, dunes sing and the first intact dinosaur eggs were found. Genghis Khan went forth from here to conquer the biggest land empire in history and, to this day, Buddhist and Animist traditions mix. In July, all over the country, people unite to compete in wrestling, archery, horse racing and ankle-bone flicking during the Naadam Festival but traditions can be witnessed throughout the year. We travel through steppe, mountain and the Gobi Desert exploring the nature and culture of this fascinating, yet little known, country. This itinerary is for departures starting in Ulaanbaatar on 9 July 2024. For a departure on 30 June 2024, please click here for an alternative itinerary.Discover the remote Mongolian steppe, the Gobi Desert and nomadic traditions, including the vibrant Naadam Festival

Details

Itinerary focusClassic Highlights
Group sizeSmall Group - max of 16 people
Age range16 years and up
Flights and transportN/A
Start CityUlaanbaatar
End CityUlaanbaatar

Travel Themes

  • Cultural
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Festivals & Special Events

Destinations

  • Asia
  • Mongolia

Attractions

  • Ulaanbaatar

Activities

  • Culture
  • Festivals & Special Events
  • Nature

Trip includes

    • All breakfasts, lunch and dinners
    • All accommodation
    • All transport, including 4WD Jeeps
    • Itinerary listed activities
    • Tour leader throughout

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Ulaanbaatar

The adventure begins in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. There are no activities planned for today to allow for different arrival times and to rest after the flight. However, if you arrive into Ulaanbaatar early, you could explore some of the city sites including...

Day 2 Visit Terelj National Park, including Aryabal Temple; first night in a ger camp

As we head out of Ulaanbaatar city, we visit the giant Genghis Khan statue at Tsonjin Boldog. Standing 130ft (40m) tall, the statue depicts the Mongolian ruler astride his horse and sits atop the visitor centre (itself 33ft/10m tall). It is possible to climb onto the ...

Day 3 - 4 Naadam Festival

We leave Terelj National Park early this morning to drive back to Ulaanbaatar for Naadam Festival. The Naadam Festival celebrates the ‘three games of men’ (or Erin Gurvan Naadam): wrestling, horse racing and archery. More recently, a fourth game, knuckle-bone flickin...

Day 5 To Khustain Nuruu National Park; search for Przewalski's horses

We drive towards Kharkhorin, making a detour to Khustain Nuruu National Park, two hours’ west of Ulaanbaatar. Khustain Nuruu is famous for the re-introduction of Przewalski’s horses (also known as takhi horses), which were once native to Mongolia and almost became ext...

Day 6 To Karakorum; visit Erdene Zuu Monastery

We continue our drive to Karakorum, the 13th-century capital of the Mongol Empire, making a brief stop to see the dunes of the Little Gobi along the way. Karakorum was established by Ogedei Khan and remained the Mongol powerbase until Khublai Khan established Beijing ...

Day 7 Along northern edge of Gobi Desert to Arvaikheer via Shankh Monastery

We continue along the paved road to Arvaikheer, the capital of Ovorkhangai Aimag, on the northern edge of the Gobi Desert. On the way, we visit the Shankh Monastery, once the home of the great Mongolian theologist Zanabazar. We should arrive at Arvaikheer mid-afternoo...

Day 8 To Bayan Gobi via Ikh Bogd mountain

Today is a long day as we head properly off the tourist route into some of the wilder parts of the Gobi Desert. After an early breakfast, we start our journey and rapidly leave the paved road behind. The landscape changes as we head deeper into the Gobi and the majest...

Day 9 Cross the Gobi via White Cave

After going over a desert pass and visiting the quartz-rich White Cave, our journey continues through classic Gobi Desert scenery of flat stony plains mixed with small rocky outcrops and patches of sand across the Khatan Suudal Steppe. We stop for a picnic lunch on th...

Day 10 Visit singing sand dunes, the largest dunes in Mongolia

We have a full day to explore the dunes and surrounding area. The Khongoriin Els stretch for 125mi (200km) and are as high as 985ft (300m) in places. They are known as the Singing Dunes because of the beautiful sound that resonates through them on a windy day. The Sou...

Day 11 Travel through rocky plains of Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park

This morning, we drive through Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. Gobi Gurvansaikhan means Three Beauties of the Gobi and this range marks the eastern end of the Gobi Altai range. The park landscape is extremely varied, with rocky and sandy desert plains, precipitous c...

Day 12 Hike around the Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag

Today we have time to relax in our luxury ger camp. Either in the morning or afternoon, we drive 45mi (70km) to Bayanzag. Known as the Flaming Cliffs, their red/ochre colour can be striking and we have the opportunity for a short hike among sands of red, yellow and or...

Day 13 Fly to Ulaanbaatar

We leave the Gobi Desert and fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Our flight time determines when we get back to Ulaanbaatar. Accommodation: Corporate Hotel (or similar)

Day 14 Ulaanbaatar

We visit the Gandan Monastery, the largest functioning lamasery in Mongolia and the seat of Buddhist studies in the country. Here we may see monks praying and the 65ft (20m) gold-and-bronze statue of Migjid Janraisig. The remainder of the day is free for some last-minute shopping or sightseeing  Accommodation: Corporate Hotel (or similar)

Day 15 End in Ulaanbaatar

The tour ends after breakfast and we begin our return journeys home, full of tales and magnificent photos to share.

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Dates & Availability

Price From $5,550
Price per day$370
Last Updated: 6/11/2024
Departure Date
Finish Date
Shared Room
Single Room
Availability
22 Sep 2024
08 Oct 2024
$6,900
$7,815
30 Jun 2025
14 Jul 2025
$6,450
$7,605
09 Jul 2025
23 Jul 2025
$6,450
$7,605
21 Sep 2025
07 Oct 2025
$7,650
$8,805

Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Exodus Travels.

The total tour cost includes the tour price (regular or promotional) and the compulsory local payment. The promotional price is subject to change. Check directly with the operator for the latest price offer. The tour operator requires you to pay only the tour price to purchase your travel. The compulsory local payment will be paid when you join the trip. All prices are based on double, twin or triple share occupancy. Solo passengers will be accommodated in a double, twin or triple room according to availability with a passenger(s) of the same gender. Single supplement only needs to be paid if the passenger does not want to share and requests their own room. Discounts can only be applied at the time of booking and cannot be added at a later date, regardless of any changes made to the original booking.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

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Tour Operator

Exodus Travels

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It is all about adventure. That is what Exodus was founded upon and what the company is still all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

At Exodus, we know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, we always remember that we are only guests. So we travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise our impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.

This is a philosophy we take with us around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across over 90 separate countries. We also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as we possibly can, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.

Exodus started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.

All our office staff have a passion for travel and adventure, and between us we’ve notched up experience that spans 171 different countries. That’s not all. In their former lives, our team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – so no-one is better placed to create tours that appeal to a wide range of specialist interests.

Their care in putting all the details in place really shines through too. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are a sign of our commitment to providing a holiday where your enjoyment, value for money and safety come first. It’s a telling reason why we remain one of the leading worldwide adventure tour companies. It is no exaggeration to say that our tour leaders can make a world of difference to the enjoyment of your holiday – so we choose them carefully. The result is that, in 2013, 93% of our clients stated that their leader exceeded their expectations. Where possible, we train and employ local leaders because they can provide invaluable insights that enrich the trip. What’s more, this investment in local staff really helps us benefit both them and their community.

Why we love this operator
With a wide range of trip styles, Exodus caters to every type of traveler out there- even those with specific interests from cycling to winter hiking.
What they’re known for
Global trips to a wide array of destinations with a focus on themed adventures, exciting physical activities and learning about local cultures.

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Logistics

What's excluded

    • Travel insurance
    • Single accommodation (available on request)
    • Visas or vaccinations

Accommodation

,We use hotels in Ulaanbaatar and Arvaikheer and ger camps elsewhere. Gers are similar to yurts, generally airy and comfortable with beds and, normally, a stove (though in the summer the stoves are not normally needed). The bathrooms are normally shared and all have hot water (due to the remoteness of the camps, this can be erratic at times). Many of the ger camps now have 24-hour electricity in the ger itself for charging batteries. If there is no charging facility inside the ger then there are charging facilities in the common area (though this may be during limited periods, when the generator is turned on). There is normally no more than two people per ger; however, due to availability issues, we may need to have triples in the ger in some cases. There may also be rare occasions when a single cannot be guaranteed in a particular ger camp.
Cancellation policy

The cancellation policies of this trip when booked through Travelstride are determined by the stated policies of the tour operator - Exodus Travels.

If you or any other member of your party decides to cancel a confirmed booking you must notify Travelstride in writing. Your notice of cancellation will only take effect when it is received in writing by Travelstride and will be effective from the date on which we receive it.

If You Cancel Your Holiday
You, or any member of your party, may cancel your travel arrangements at any time. Written notification from the lead name or your travel agent must be received at our offices. 

Since we incur costs in canceling your travel arrangements, you will have to pay cancellation charges as follows (see also the exceptions below): 

  • More than 42 days - No cancellation fee. Deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original booking. Any remaining balance will be refundedThis excludes all non-refundable costs as set out in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 41 and 21 days (inclusive) - No cancellation fee. Balance and deposit can be transferred to a new booking departing within 2 years of date of travel of original bookingThis excludes all non-refundable costs as further explained in clause 4 above (for example international and domestic flights and local services).
  • Between 20 and 15 days (inclusive) - 80% of the holiday cost
  • 14 days or less; or failure to join the holiday (inclusive) - 100% of the holiday cost

Certain trips may involve different cancellation charges; you will be advised if this is applicable to your holiday during the booking process.For Polar holidays, the following cancellation charges will be made for all Polar holidays. Period before departure in which you notify us: 

Cancelation charge

  • More than 133 days - Deposit only
  • 133 days or less (or failure to join the holiday) (inclusive) - 100% of the holiday cost

Notes (i) Your deposit is non-refundable, even if the cancellation charge calculated is lower than the deposit amount paid; (ii) If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges; (iii) certain travel arrangements may be subject to higher cancellation charges and could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements from the moment the booking is confirmed.

If You Change Your Booking

If, after our Booking Confirmation has been issued, you wish to change your travel arrangements in any way, for example your chosen departure date or accommodation, we will do our utmost to make these changes but it may not always be possible. Any request for changes to be made must be in writing from the lead name or your travel agent. You will be asked to pay an administration charge of $60, and any further cost we incur in making this alteration (including those charged by third party suppliers who provide the component parts of your booking).  You should be aware that these costs could increase the closer to the departure date that changes are made and you should contact us as soon as possible. Note: Certain travel arrangements may not be changeable after a reservation has been made and any alteration request could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements.

You can transfer your booking to another person, who satisfies all the conditions that apply to this booking, by giving us notice in writing at least 7 days before departure provided that the new lead passenger accepts the transfer and these Terms and Conditions. Both you and the new traveler are responsible for paying all costs we incur in making the transfer. Please bear in mind that certain airlines and other transport providers treat changes as a cancellation and charge accordingly, up to 100% of the cost for that part of the arrangement. Where applicable these charges will be passed on to you.

If We Cancel Your Booking

Exodus reserves the right to cancel an itinerary before departure for any reason whatsoever, including too few participants ,logistical problems, a Force Majeure Event (as defined in Section 8), or any other circumstances that may make operation of the trip inadvisable. All trip payments received will be promptly refunded, and this refund will be the limit of Exodus’s liability without any further obligation on Exodus’s part. Exodus is not responsible for any expenses incurred by trip members in preparing for the trip, including non-refundable or penalty-carrying airline tickets, special clothing, visa or passport fees, or other trip-related expenses.

If We Change Your Booking

  1. Changes to the price. We can change your holiday price after you’ve booked, only in certain circumstances. Changes in the price of the carriage of passengers resulting from changes to the cost of fuel or other power sources, the level of taxes or fees imposed by third parties including tourist taxes, landing taxes or embarkation or disembarkation fees at ports and airports, or exchange rates mean that the price of your travel arrangements may change after you have booked.

  2. Changes other than the price. It is a term of your booking that we are able to make changes to any aspect of your booking. If the change is insignificant, we will ensure that you are notified about it. Examples of insignificant changes include alteration of your accommodation to another of the same or higher standard. If we are forced by circumstances beyond our control to alter significantly any of the main characteristics of the travel services that make up your package you will have the rights set out below.

    2.1 - We will contact you and you will have the choice of accepting the change or having a refund of all monies paid. You can also accept an alternative holiday, where we offer one (we will refund any price difference if the alternative is of a lower value). We will tell you the procedure for making your choice. Please read any notification of changes carefully and respond promptly as if you do not respond to us within the timescale given your booking may be canceled.

    2.2 - If you choose to accept a refund then that is the only liability we have and we will not be liable for any further sums, compensation or otherwise and you are advised to adequately insure yourselves against cancellation for any reason

Please note that insurance premiums and amendments charges are not refundable in any circumstances. 

Once you have put down a deposit for a tour, you are unable to cancel and re-book within a promotional period and we reserve the right to amend the pricing on any new booking you make within that time. If you cancel a tour and book the same tour under a promotional code, we reserve the right to decline the booking.

Important Note: Certain arrangements may not be amended after they have been confirmed and any alteration or cancellation could incur a cancellation charge of up to 100% of that part of the arrangements in addition to the charge above.

If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges.

Where possible, we will deduct the cancellation charge(s) from any monies you have already paid to us.

For more additional details, see the booking conditions of TruTravels at the following web address: https://www.exodustravels.com/us/about-exodus/exodus-booking-conditions.

Travel Insurance
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance alongside your travel package to safeguard against unforeseen circumstances such as medical expenses, trip cancellations, and other contingencies. It offers you peace of mind and ensures you are prepared for unexpected events that may occur before or during your journey
Visa requirements
Visa requirements vary depending on your country of origin and your country of destination. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the relevant requirements. For a handy tool that can help you quickly find the requirements, please visit this link .
Meals Included
Traditional Mongolian diets are very meat and dairy heavy. While there are opportunities to try some of these products, such as dry curd and fermented mare’s milk, the meals provided in the ger camps are generally Western meals, at times with an Asian influence. There is normally some form of soup and salad plus a main course and desert. Vegetarians are generally well catered for; if you are vegetarian or have other dietary requirements, please inform us in advance. Breakfasts can vary from place to place, some are buffets while others are set, normally cereal, bread and possibly a hot dish. On some days, a pack lunch is provided, this is often still a proper meal (though without the soup). Water is provided and is generally from large water containers, so make sure to bring a refillable water bottle. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, beer, vodka and (most of the time) wine are available to buy at the ger camps. There is the opportunity to buy snacks in Ulaanbaatar and on a couple of other occasions along the way when we drive through towns or villages.
Age Requirements
16 years and up
Additional Information
  • Six nights in hotels and eight nights in ger camps
  • Travel by 4×4 Jeeps, bus and one internal flight
  • Some long drives through very remote country
  • Eagle Festival and non-festival departures also available
  • Alternative Naadam itinerary for departure on 30 June 2024
Trip ID
exodus-ACMC

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