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Mongolia Expedition: Wilderness of the West


Mongolia Expedition: Wilderness of the West

Start: Ulaanbaatar
End: Ulaanbaatar

This journey takes you into the wild west of Mongolia, a place where crystal-clear lakes...

Duration15 days
Start / EndUlaanbaatar / Ulaanbaatar
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel


Mongolia Expedition: Wilderness of the West

15 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Ulaanbaatar
End: Ulaanbaatar


This journey takes you into the wild west of Mongolia, a place where crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped peaks and giant dunes whisper the legendary stories of nomads and nature. Be mesmerised by khoomii (traditional throat singing), stay with nomadic families, search for wildlife including ibex, argali sheep and the elusive snow leopard, then join Kazakh eagle hunters at a local celebration. Begi...

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Day 1Ulaanbaatar
Sain baina uu! Welcome to Mongolia, a vast country known as the Land of the Blue Sky. Your trip officially begins with a group meeting at 6 pm and afterwards you'll have the option to join your fellow travellers for dinner at a local restaurant. If you arrive in town earlier and find yourself with some spare time, be sure to get out and explore Ulaanbaatar – UB – a fascinating city where modernity mixes with tradition. The Fine Arts Museum and Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan are well worth visiting.
Day 2Ulaanbaatar
Modern Mongolia is a fiercely independent nation that's trying to hold on to its traditional heritage and wild spirit in the face of immense challenges and change. Learn more about the country's storied history on a tour of Ulaanbaatar, beginning with a visit to Gandan Monastery, one of the largest and most important Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. Climb Zaisan Hill for a bird's-eye view of the ever expanding city and its ger suburbs, then explore the National Museum of Mongolia and learn about the country's past struggles and glories before finishing up at Sukhbaatar Square. The rest of the afternoon and the evening are for you to do as you please, but we recommend checking out the International Intellectual Museum, an institution dedicated to all things puzzles and games. 
Day 3Uliastai - Ereen Lake
The adventure proper begins today as you depart UB and take an early flight to Uliastai, a trip of approximately three hours. Located in Western Mongolia, Uliastal is the capital of the Zavkhan Province and surrounded by mountains, over one thousand kilometres from Ulaanbaatar. Meet your drivers and hop in a 'furgon', a trusty Russian van and the main form of transport for the rest of the journey. You'll drive approximately three hours to Ereen Lake, which is surrounded by the the biggest sand dunes in Mongolia. Explore the area by camel and listen to the famous singing of the sand dunes, which evoke a unique sound in a strong wind or when the top sand slides across the surface. Tonight you'll enjoy your first 'ger' experience in the Mongolian wilds. Settle in to camp – which has toilet and shower facilities – and enjoy the serenity and getting to know your fellow travellers.
Day 4Dörgön Lake
Buckle up for a long drive today (approx. six hours) to Dorgon Lake, stopping en route at the Soljir petroglyphs site to view carvings dating back to the Bronze Age. These carvings depict wild animals including ibex, camels and more, as well as some hunting scenes, and the site has never been fully researched nor studied so it's a little known destination. There's a short hike to reach the site and after lunch you'll continue to Dorgon Lake, which covers an area over 300 square kilometres in size. With an average depth of 14 metres, this salt water lake makes up part of the Khar Us Nuur National Park, a huge region encapsulating lakes, mountains and vast open plains. Once again, tonight's accommodation is a tourist ger camp, so soak up the stillness and majesty of the area with your group.
Day 5Chandmani
Travel approximately four hours today to the Chandmani district, the legendary birthplace of 'Khoomii', also known as overtune or throat singing. The origin of this mesmerising style of singing is said to be the sound of water running between rocks in the mythical River Eev, while some theories connect the practice with other natural and supernatural events. Though nobody knows the exact location of the mystical river, the Tuvans, Uriangkai and Western Khalk Mongolians all agree that khoomil is connected to the river's magic. Many Chandmani men are gifted in the practice and tonight you'll stay with a local family in their ger, sharing a meal and learning about this unique practice.
Day 6Tsagaan Sair Valley
Farewell your local hosts as you drive approximately three hours to Tsagaan Sair Valley. This valley lies in the Jargalant Khairkhan mountains, an area sacred to the locals because the range determines the local climate and pastures that are of such importance to their lives. Mongolian nomads utilise the area for pasture during winter and spring and it is home to hundreds of ibexes, argali sheep and an estimated two dozen snow leopards, among others. These mountains are also where the first ancient Altai Harp was unearthed, from the tomb of a fully armed young warrior. Take a hike through the beautiful landscape and spend the evening at a guest ger that was set up by some of the local nomads.
Day 7Tsaagan Sair Valley
Make the most of another day spent in this incredible landscape as we continue to explore the Tsagaan Sair Valley. The group will take a short drive and begin hiking, looking out for ibex and wild argali sheep among the rocky surroundings. These majestic sheep live in high alpine areas and can weigh a mammoth 180 kilograms when fully grown, and the males have particularly impressive curved horns. They're also a favourite prey of the enigmatic snow leopard, and if you're lucky you may see evidence of the leopard's presence in the area. The length and nature of the hike today will depend on the weather and the group's fitness level, but one thing is certain: this is a spectacular region to explore on foot. Spend the evening back at the guest ger sharing a meal and stories with your group.
Day 8Khar Us Lake
Start the day with an approximately two-hour drive to Khoid Tsenkher Cave. Located above the Khoid Tsenkher River, this cave is famous for its rock art paintings, which were discovered in the 1960s and date back to the Paleolithic period (15–20,000 years ago). Entering the cave involves a bit of a scramble, which your leader can help you with, and once inside you'll find images of argali sheep, ibexes and camels, and even lions, elephants and ostriches. After visiting the cave, it's another two hours to Khar Us Lake, one of the largest fresh water lakes in all of Mongolia. It's the upper lake of the Great Lake Depression and of critical importance to the local plant and animal life. With the mountains providing a stunning backdrop, the lake covers an area of 15,800 square kilometres and and the little islands dotting the surface are home to wild ducks, geese, wood grouse, partridges and even rare migratory sea birds. Spend a memorable evening in a tourist ger camp by the lake.
Day 9Khar Us Lake - Khovd
The best time for birdwatching is early morning and you may well be rewarded if you manage to drag yourself out of your ger. Enjoy a few more hours at the camp then depart for Khovd after lunch. The journey should take around two hours, and after the last few days of nature and wilderness, the small, multicultural town of Khovd will feel like a thriving metropolis. Established in the 18th century by the Manchus of China's Qing Dynasty, Khovd has long been a trade and business centre in Mongolia's west. It's now home to many different ethnic groups including the Zakchin, Uriankhai and Torguud peoples. Explore the city with your leader then perhaps take some time to shop for supplies or connect with your friends and family back home to share some of the incredible experiences you've had so far. Mix things up in the evening and swap a traditional ger for a local hotel – talk about cosmopolitan!
Day 10Ölgii
Today you'll travel approximately five hours to the town of Olgii, the capital of Mongolia's Bayan-Olgii Province. Stop for lunch en route with views of Tsambagarav, a permanently snow-capped mountain that attracts alpinists from both Mongolian and international alpinists. Its peak sits at just over 4000 metres and the surrounding national park, replete with glaciers and lakes, is also inhabited by snow leopards. Stretch your legs after lunch on a short hike to an impressive viewpoint where you can really get a feel for the scale of the landscape. Continue to Olgii, which sits among the Altai Mountains and was first established by Kazakhs fleeing the Russian empire during the 1840s. It's a similar size to Khovd – around 30,000 people – and hosts the Golden Eagle Festival every year to showcase the ancient form of hunting. A documentary about the festival, The Eagle Huntress, was released in 2016 and tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who became the first woman to ever win. Other Kazakh traditions are also being revived in the town following a period of power struggle between China and the USSR that led to the suppression of traditional Kazakh culture. Stay overnight in a tourist ger camp.
Day 11Sagsai
Travel to Sagsai this morning (approx. one hour) for the opening ceremony of a local festival. Though it's not the famous Golden Eagle Festival, this smaller event is a celebration in honour of the opening of the local eagle hunting and falconry season. It's organised by a close network of friends and attended by about 40 'berkutchi', or eagle hunters. Though the event is traditionally male only, a few female hunters have also attended in recent years. The eagles are considered sacred by the Kazakh people, who treat them with reverence and respect and the understanding that you can never truly tame the natural world. The celebrations include competitions and events, including prizes for the best-looking eagle, best-dressed berkutchi and best-decorated horse. Other contests include 'tenge ilu', where horsemen grab coins from the ground at full gallop to determine the most skilled, and a competition to see whose eagle catches a dummy rabbit or fox in the shortest time. Spend the night in a ger managed by some local friends.
Day 12Sagsai - Ölgii
Visit a recently opened falconry school and meet the eagle hunters to learn more about their training and traditions. The school plays an important role not only in educating eager young Kazakhs about traditional hunting, but also in preventing eagle hunting from becoming commercialised or exploitative and protecting the wild eagle population. The hunters will share some fascinating insights into how they catch eaglets, communicate and feed the birds, train them to hunt, and how and when they release them back into the wild. Spend some time discussing these things with both the hunters and students on a walk, during which you'll learn more about the local landscape and wildlife from those that know it best. Return to Olgii (approximately one hour) in the afternoon and enjoy a Kazakh folk concert in the evening before retiring to the hotel. 
Day 13Ölgii - Ulaanbaatar
Say goodbye to Western Mongolia and its mountains and eagles and pristine landscapes. Today you'll take a flight back to Ulaanbaatar (approx. three hours), where you'll have free time to continue exploring the city and, in the evening, dine either by yourself or with the rest of the group.
Day 14Ulaanbaatar
Enjoy a free final day in Ulaanbaatar. There's plenty to do, whether you're keen to shop for souvenirs or just soak up the city's vibe. If you didn't find time for the Fine Arts or Intellectual Museum earlier in the journey, be sure to check them out before gathering your group together for a farewell dinner to celebrate and toast your adventure through this vast, eclectic land.
Day 15Ulaanbaatar
Your journey through Mongolia comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities planned today and you're free to depart any time.

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Trip title

Mongolia Expedition: Wilderness of the West

Trip code



Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019


This journey takes you into the wild west of Mongolia, a place where crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped peaks and giant dunes whisper the legendary stories of nomads and nature. Be mesmerised by khoomii (traditional throat singing), stay with nomadic families, search for wildlife including ibex, argali sheep and the elusive snow leopard, then join Kazakh eagle hunters at a local celebration. Beginni... Read more






Private vehicle,Plane,Furgon (Russian van)

Physical Rating


Joining point

Guide Hotel

Joining point instructions

The best way to get to our joining point hotel is by taxi. Taxis are easily available at any time of the day from the parking lot just outside the airport or the train station. The Guide Hotel is located in the east side of the city center 2-3 mins from the well known Zaluuchuud Hotel and about 30 min drive from the airport (25-40.000 MNT). It is 15 min drive from the main train station (5000-10... Read more

Finish point

Guide Hotel

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leade... Read more


Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more


As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and l... Read more

Why we love it

Travel to the far west of Mongolia, where the landscape drastically changes from the largest sand dunes in the country to crystal clear lakes and snow-capped mountains. 

Is this trip right for you

We stay mostly in ger camps once outside of Ulaanbaatar, where you will experience simple conditions such as outdoor (squat) toilets and some nights without hot or running water. Gers are the traditional nomadic dwellings of Mongolians - spacious, wooden framed tents covered with felt and tarps. Some gers sleep up to eight people. All ger stays will be multi share and at times mixed gender dependi... Read more


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS Those with special dietary requirements may choose to supplement included meals with supplies brought from home. Vegetarian lacto-ovo options (while limited) can be offered for all included meals, provided we are notified at time of booking.

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so ... Read more

What to take

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, ... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Emergency contact

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential nega... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multisha... Read more

Transport notes

This is a trip that includes extensive travelling in some remote terrain away from modern facilities and conveniences. As we spend a lot of time on the road each day, it is important to realise that the emphasis on this trip is on the journey, travelling through amazing landscapes and staying in some stunning locations. As we travel by private transport for the duration of the trip we spend a lot ... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more


Tourist Ger Camp (4 nights),Family/Guest Ger Camp (4 nights),Hotel (6 nights)
€3,495per person
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Sep 19
Oct 3
Seats left: 12
Sep 19
Oct 3
Seats left: 16