DAY 1, June 15, 2020 | Arrival to Ulaanbaatar
Welcome to Mongolia!
After arriving at Chinggis Khaan International Airport (ULN), you will be welcomed by our representative holding a People to People International sign with your name on it. They will assist you in transferring and checking into the hotel.
Enjoy your welcome dinner that evening with your fellow delegates.
DAY 2, June 16, 2020 | Ulaanbaatar
Your journey begins with a tour of the 19th-century Gandan Monastery, one of the few Buddhist structures that survived destruction by the Communist government in the 1930s. The bejeweled 20-ton Migjid Janraisig Sum statue, a replica of the original copper statue erected in 1911, stands as the monastery’s prime attraction. Listen for monks chanting as you tour the grand temple complex. Afterwards, the delegation will visit the “Magic Mongolia” child protection and development center in a nearby local suburban area. Magic Mongolia acts as a haven for abused, exploited, and neglected children, and consists of a library, music room, playground, greenhouses, and more. The center was built on donations from public and private organizations from around the world and is a nationwide project.
DAY 3, June 17, 2020 | Ulaanbaatar - Hustai National Park
After breakfast, we’ll have a special opportunity to visit a local minority family in the nearby mountains and witness the traditional Felt Making Ceremony. People in rural communities craft felt towards the end of summer and celebrate its completion with friends and family.
After lunch, ride to Hustai National Park with an English-speaking specialist, who will spot and share their vast knowledge of the wild horses, steppe gazelles, deer, and marmots.
DAY 4, June 18, 2020 | Ulaanbaatar – Karakorum
Today, travel overland to the ancient capital of Mongolia, Karakorum, and visit the beautifully designed Karakorum Museum. This area is part of A UNESCO World Heritage site. Under Genghis Khan and his lineage, Mongolia grew into the largest empire the world has ever seen. At its height in 1279 AD, it covered nearly all of Asia and part of Europe. Thanks to Karakorum’s strategic placement along the Silk Road, the city became the biggest trade center of the ancient world. On the way, we’ll stop and travel by horse to the ruins of Erdene Khamba monastery, also known as Khogno Tarnyn Khiid, located at the Khogno Khan Uul Mountains. The monastery was split into two sections: Zaluu Khiid, the “Novice Temple,” and Uygun Khiid, the "Elders’ Temple" that sits atop the mountain. The delegation will meet up with monk, who will give a private presentation about the temple as well as Buddhism.
DAY 5, June 19, 2020 | Karakorum
After a relaxed breakfast, we will drive to Ongi monastery, a large monastery known as the "Pearl of the Great Desert." Formerly one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, Ongi monastery was founded in 1660 and consisted of two temple complexes on the Ongiin Gol River’s north and south banks. The older southern complex consisted of various administrative buildings and 11 temples, and the northern complex consisted of 17 temples, including one of the largest temples in all of Mongolia. Unfortunately, the Communist authorities destroyed the buildings and arrested and killed many monks in the 1930s. Decades later, several monks returned to rebuild amongst the ruins.
DAY 6, June 20, 2020 | Karakorum - Bayanzag
Today, we travel about four to five hours through this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to Bayanzag, with its striking Flaming Cliffs, the red-rock bluff reminiscent of areas in the American West. Internationally renowned as the place where celebrated explorer and naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews first discovered dinosaur eggs on his ground-breaking expedition in the 1920s, Bayanzag boasts a treasure trove of important fossils can be seen all over the rocks. Andrews’ discovery of the 80-million-year-old dinosaur eggs stunned the scientific community by revealing for the first time how dinosaurs reproduced. His expedition also unearthed fossils of three Cretaceous Period dinosaurs previously unknown to the world: the Oviraptor, Saurornithoides, and Velociraptor.
Human traces from the Stone Age also have been found in this archeologically rich site that once was the floor of an ancient inland sea. You will spend time exploring this stunning landscape of canyons, cliffs, and desert floor before returning to our ger camp late today.
DAY 7, June 21, 2020 | Gobi Desert
After a leisurely breakfast, drive to Khongor Sand Dune in the Gobi Desert. Like Mongolia’s nomads of the past and present, we will travel three hours through the desert today along the Altai or “Golden” Mountain range to Khongoryn Els, home of the “singing” sand dunes that dramatically rise 2,600 feet from the desert floor, creating a distinct sound as they shift in the wind. Here we are surrounded by the classic – and iconic – Mongolian desert landscape. Those cattle-herding nomads, along with Han Chinese farmers on the other side of the border, comprise the Gobi’s sparse population, with a density of fewer than three people per square mile.
Though largely inhospitable to human settlement, the Great Gobi does support a remarkable variety of flora and fauna—more than 400 plant species, 150 bird species, and nearly 50 mammal species, some unique to this Central Asian habitat, including Gobi bears and Bactrian camels. To promote sustainable land use and conservation of the Gobi’s unique natural heritage, UNESCO designated the Gobi Desert an international Biosphere Reserve in 1991, the largest such reserve in Asia and fourth largest in the world.
DAY 8, June 22, 2020 | Gobi Desert
Today we will go camel riding, hike the sand dune, and visit a local family where we will make traditional homemade cookies together. Locally known as Boortsog, these cookies are made by cutting flattened dough into pieces. The dough contains flour, water or milk, sugar, butter, sometimes yoghurt, and yeast. The shape can vary, but sometimes Boortsog is twisted, knotted, and deep-fried golden brown. It is offered in every yurt home when the traveler enters, together with tea or milk, and a silent, nirvanic countenance that is hardly found anywhere in the West. Next, the delegation will get to ride Bactrian camels. The Bactrian camel is a large, even-toed ungulate that is native to the steppes of Mongolia. Of the two species of camel, it is by far the rarer.
The Bactrian camel has two humps on its back, in contrast to the single-humped dromedary camel. For the Mongolians, they use camel riding to move from one place to another. While riding camels around the Khongor Sand dune, the delegation will stop and visit a local herder family and learn more about their lifestyle, culture, and traditions. On this special program, you will have an opportunity to learn traditional ways of making homemade dairy products such as dried curd, cheese, and cream. This will be an extremely enjoyable way to be immersed into the culture of the Gobi Desert.
DAY 9, June 23, 2020 | Eagle Valley
This morning you will travel to the Eagle valley, locally called “Yolyn Am.” The delegation will explore Eagle Valley’s great arid region, look for wild sheep and goats grazing high on the cliff walls, and spot majestic soaring eagles hunting for prey. The small but charming Natural History Museum displays information about the animals in the area. This delightful museum will add an authentic touch to your travel experience in Mongolia.
DAY 10, June 24, 2020 | Ulaanbaatar to Tuul Riverside Lodge
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Ulaanbaatar where you will be introduced to vibrant young entrepreneurs at the WorkCentral Mongolia office. The delegation will have the chance to discuss and find out more about start-ups and entrepreneurship in Mongolia. This is a wonderful way to network and understand the immense growth happening in Mongolia at the moment. On the way back to Tuul River lodge, you will visit the Zaisan Hill where you can see the beautiful panorama of the capital while learning about the historic Soviet Russian-Mongolian diplomatic relationship.
DAY 11, June 25, 2020 | Tuul Riverside Lodge
Situated within an hour’s drive east of Mongolia’s bustling capital Ulaanbaatar, the Tuul Riverside Lodge is a small, fully sustainable, traditional Mongolian camp surrounded by a sea of grass and rolling hills, which stretch down to the nearby River Tuul and beyond. Here, you can see the Mongolian gers and the Kazakh gers, which are constructed from a wooden lattice frame with 88 roof poles and are covered with layers of felt to insulate against the harsh Mongolian climate. Both strong and reliable, they are perfect places to spend your time in Mongolia. The delegation will ride horses towards the stunning mountain and hills of the area (Ox-cart ride and hiking are also an option). On the way, we’ll stop and visit a local herder family to learn more about Mongolian traditional lifestyle. We have lunch together at our lodge. In the afternoon, you will get to try your hand at archery. Legendary for their prowess with the bow, Mongols perfected this ancient practice with bows constructed from wood, animal sinew, bone, and glue made from fish bladders in a process that could take up to a year. A stone inscription dating from the 13th century claims that one of Genghis Khan’s generals hit a target from a distance of 1/3 of a mile. While you may not be able to shoot your arrow quite as far, you will certainly get to try. After dinner, the delegation will go on a botanical hike around the camp area.
DAY 12, June 26, 2020 | Tuul Riverside Lodge
Today we have the special opportunity to set up a traditional Mongolian ger. The ger’s structure comprises an angled assembly of pieces of wood or shrubs for walls, a door frame, poles, and a wheel. The roof structure is often self-supporting but large yurts may have interior posts to support the crown. Many modern yurts are permanently built on a wooden platform and use modern materials such as steam bent, wooden framing or metal framing, canvas, and wire rope.
In the afternoon, we’ll meet the Eagle Hunter with his golden eagle! The delegation will be able to hold it and take pictures. Enjoy a private traditional concert in the afternoon, including Tsam dancing, throat singing, and contortion. Throat singing has been a part of Mongolian culture for centuries; these singers are able to produce more than one pitch simultaneously. The art of contortion, called “Uran Nugaralt,” means artistic bending. Contortion has been an art form since the 12th century. It is believed that the art of bending and contorting was first observed in Mongolian royal palaces during festivals and celebratory events in the time of the great empire.
Tonight, we will dine on traditional Mongolian barbecue around the lodge’s campfire. Enjoy your last night with the delegation by reminiscing over the many great moments of the trip.
DAY 13, June 27, 2020 | Departure from Ulaanbaatar
Today, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight.