14 days

Mongolian Yak Safari

Mongolian Yak Safari

Former Soviet Union-influenced Ulaanbaatar

Low-impact ger camping in Gobi's Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

Tuul River trek and rafting

Khan Khentii's protected environmental zone

Trip rating
  • Explore one steppe beyond – so far off the beaten track there's no track at all! We wander the countryside at a leisurely pace using yaks as our support vehicles in true nomadic style. There is time to relax in our eco-friendly ger camps, as well as a train trip to give you a taste of the Trans Mongolian Railway! You won't find a more authentic Mongolian experience anywhere – we guarantee it!

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Ulaanbaatar

    On arrival in Ulaanbaatar, you are transferred to your hotel. As Ulaanbaatar hotels are subject to change, please check the itinerary your final documents to confirm your correct hotel. In the evening, you meet your tour leader and the other group members for a pre-tour briefing. This is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.

    Puma Imperial Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

    After breakfast we transfer to the railway station for our train into the Gobi. We travel for 6½ hours by local train to the station of Shivee Gobi, where we step off the platform into the wilderness of the arid Dorngobi (East Gobi) steppe. Our rugged vehicle awaits us and transports us 60 kilometres to our camp. This is not a huge distance, but in terrain like this we must go slowly. In the late afternoon we arrive at our destination - Ikh Nart Nature Reserve. After dinner we can relax and get used to our accommodation, which is traditional gers (also known as 'yurts' in Central Asia). Gers are the nomadic Mongolian homes, yet they are as portable as any tent. Our gers are furnished - each with three or four beds complete with linen, blankets and pillows. There are small stools, a table and a fire stove. Three quarters of the Mongolian population still live in gers throughout the year, despite enduring sub-zero temperatures for many months.

    Ger camp
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 3-4 - Ikh Nart Nature Reserve

    We have two full days to explore Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, a community reserve protected by the local authorities and a place remote enough that very few tourists have found their way there as yet. The Mongolian Academy of Science has established a partnership with overseas zoologists to study wildlife here and by visiting we are helping to support both these conservation efforts and provide a sustainable income for the local people during the summer months. We are guests of the local Dalanjargal community and for our visit a low-impact ger camp has been set up. The premise is simple – when the camps are dismantled at the end of the summer, there should be no signs of where we have been, or at least no more than would be left by a nomadic family living according to centuries-old traditions. During our stay we have the opportunity to explore the reserve on foot and discover that it is a unique mix of arid Gobi steppe and huge rock formations and crevasses. Our local hosts will also offer us activities – whether learning about traditional crafts or teaching us the basics of Mongolian wrestling! This is a beautiful place to relax and simply appreciate the solitude of the Gobi.

    Ger camp
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Ulaanbaatar

    Today we drive for four hours back to Ulaanbaatar, with the afternoon left free for us to explore the capital. Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia's largest city - the name means 'Red Hero' and it is indeed shaped by the influences of the former Soviet Union in that most of the city is full of Russian-style apartment buildings. Sukhbaatar Square is the central point in town and is dominated by the Parliament building and a statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar (on horseback), the man who confirmed Mongolian independence from China. There are also statues of Genghis Khan and his sons – in recent years acclaimed as heroes from an earlier age. One optional sight you may wish to check out is the Winter Palace of Bogd Khaan - a controversial figure and the last king of Mongolia. His death in 1924 ushered in over 65 years of communism for the country. The Museum of Natural History is also fascinating, particularly the Dinosaur Hall.

    Puma Imperial Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6-8 - Khan Khentii Protected Area

    Before leaving Ulaanbaatar we visit the magnificent Gandan Monastery - the largest and most important in the country (please note that no photography is permitted inside). From here we head back out to the countryside as we travel for about three hours (110 kilometres) into the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area. The undeveloped nature of this diverse country is demonstrated for us as we travel for the first hour on tarmac roads and the second hour through a beautiful steppe valley and past many herdsmen, before finally making our way through forests to reach our second ger camp. Again, we are fortunate to stay here in a high protected environmental zone - our ger camp being the only one allowed within this area. We are located next to a river and use solar and wind power for our few electrical needs. The local herders will come to us to offer basic services - we can learn how to construct a ger, fish by traditional methods, ride mountain bikes or even read up on local history in a 'library ger'!

    Ger camp
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9-12 - Yak Trek

    Today is the start of our unique adventure! After breakfast we load our luggage on to yak carts and start our trek around the southern fringes of Khan Khentii, a wilderness area three times the size of the USA's famous Yellowstone National Park. Our equipment is loaded on traditional wooden carts, which are then pulled along by yaks. The carts carry not only our personal gear and camping supplies, but all the components of a ger. Each night we will work together to assemble it so there is a communal space to share - this can be done surprisingly quickly with a little practice and everyone helping! You need to bring your own sleeping bag, preferably a 'three seasons' bag, since even during summer the temperatures can drop close to freezing on the steppe at night. We travel without support vehicles - we don't need them for our trek (maximum of 20 kilometres per day), nor would they be practical in this terrain! Instead we are accompanied by local herdsmen who monitor our slow and steady progress from their horses. It is said that Mongolians are 'born on horseback' and after watching them work with their animals, you will quickly understand why! We are also accompanied by a cook who provides each day with a mix of western and Mongolian cuisine. We are in a scenic area where rivers flow down broad steppe valleys, and we are certain to feel as if we are on the very edge of human civilisation. We have no particular end destinations nor do we looking to complete a particular number of kilometres each day. Our trek is in the spirit of a nomad, unpressured by targets or deadlines, simply appreciating the natural environment and choosing an idyllic camp each night. We are so far off the beaten track that the only sounds around us are of the rivers flowing, the nearby animals and the traditional songs of our herder friends. This will be the experience of a lifetime.

    Camping
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 13 - Ulaanbaatar

    After breakfast we return to Ulaanbaatar, with the afternoon free to explore further or do some final shopping. As well as choosing from the international cuisines available in the capital, there is an opportunity to enjoy an optional folk music performance tonight. This is a fantastic opportunity to witness the traditional 'throat singing' that Mongolia is famous for - a performance that really does have to be seen to be believed!

    Puma Imperial Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Ulaanbaatar

    The tour ends after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • An experienced, English-speaking local Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Authentic Accommodation includes: 4 nights camping, 7 nights ger tent (4-share), 2 nights comfortable hotel
    • Meals: 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners
    • Arrival transfer
    • Entrance fees to Ikh Nart Nature Reserve, Jalman Meadows & Khan Khentii National Park
    • 4 days trekking with yak carts
    • Tents and camping equipment

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Tips - this is something to consider, and it might be worthwhile speaking to your group about making a group contribution at the end of the trip
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Sleeping bag

    Safety Information

    Mongolia is relatively safe, but muggings and attacks do occur. Petty crime is common in Ulaanbaatar, particularly in markets or other crowded public places. Watch out for pickpockets. Be wary of large groups of street children and teenagers, who sometimes harass pedestrians for money when entering and leaving vehicles, pubs and restaurants. Keep passports, money and other valuables in a safe place. Report any theft to the Pick-pocketing Department of the Police: telephone +976-93022480; the police can provide a letter for insurance purposes.

    Mongolia experiences extremes of weather, from +35C in summer to -40C in winter. Even in summer, evenings can be cold because of the altitude and weather conditions can change without warning. There are long distances between settlements. Take appropriate provisions, including warm clothing, food and water if you are travelling outside main urban areas.

    In recent years there have been occasional instances of civil and political unrest resulting in demonstrations and in some cases violence. On 16 September 2013 there was a political demonstration in central Ulaanbaatar during which several rifle shots were discharged. No injuries were reported. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCYS
Group size 4 - 16
Start City: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
End City: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

What to know

A good level of fitness is required for the trek. You will be walking on hilly terrain, and not always on well-defined paths. Venturing well away from cities and remote areas, this trip takes you right off the beaten track. Accommodation and facilities may be basic but the rewards are immeasurable.

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