- Get a firsthand look at the everyday life of Mongolian nomads at a Gobi camel-herding camp.
- Stay in a ger—a traditional Mongolian tent—at the award-winning Three Camel Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World set amid the Gobi's vast desert landscapes.
- Look for dinosaur fossils amid the ruddy sandstone landscape of the Flaming Cliffs, where paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews made stunning discoveries in the early 20th century.
- Listen to the mesmerizing sounds of khoomi throat singing during a traditional dance performance.
The timeless spirit of Mongolia can be found amid its rolling steppe and endless deserts. Embrace the intriguing way of life of Mongolia’s nomads as you explore the soaring Altay Mountains, spot yak and ibex in the rugged Yolyn Am valley, and traverse the Gobi’s undulating dunes. In Ulaanbaatar, climb up to the the monumental statue of Genghis Khan, Mongolia’s national hero, and visit museums and monasteries with a private guide. Then head into the countryside to sleep in the serenity of a traditional ger tent and spend time with nomadic families.
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s bustling and expansive capital. Ride from the airport to your downtown hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.
Today's private city tour begins with a visit to Gandan Monastery, one of the few monasteries in the city that survived Stalin’s religious purges of the 1930s. Greet red-robed monks and explore intricately decorated temples in this Buddhist sanctuary. Get an overview of Mongolia’s past at the National Museum of Mongolia, where galleries display Stone and Bronze Age artifacts, sacred relics, and tribal costumes. After lunch, tour the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, home to one of the world’s greatest collections of Buddhist art and artifacts.
Venture outside the city to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, home to the Siberian musk deer and Gobi bear—the rarest species of bear in the world. Visit the Genghis Khan Statue Complex en route, where a colossal equestrian statue of the Mongolian emperor faces east towards his birthplace. Amid the alpine landscapes of Gorkhi-Terelj, set out on a hike towards the Aryabal Buddhist monastery and meditation center. Cross a wooden suspension bridge to reach a steep flight of steps, bringing you to the entrance of this early 19th-century sanctuary. Spend the remainder of the day exploring the meadows and forests of the park on foot or horseback.
After breakfast at your ger camp in Gorkhi-Terelj, return to Ulaanbaatar for an afternoon at leisure. This evening, visit the Zaisan Memorial—an imposing Soviet Era monument perched on a hill in the southern part of the city, commemorating Russian soldiers killed during World War II. Climb a few hundred steps to reach the memorial, featuring an elaborate circular mosaic, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Mongolian capital and the Tuul River valley from the summit.
Fly over Mongolia’s vast wilderness to the mystical Gobi, a landscape where undulating sand dunes give way to stretches of green shrublands teeming with diverse wildlife. Land in Dalanzadgad and drive to Yolyn Am—the "valley of the eagles”—nestled in the foothills of the Altay Mountains. Spot yaks, Altai snowcocks, ibex, and lammergeier vultures as you trek through this dramatic gorge; and learn more about the surrounding flora and fauna at a local natural history museum. Later, head to Three Camel Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World and our home for the next three nights.
Make your way to Bulgan, a small city built around a natural spring. Stop at one of the only farms in the area, which supplies most of the locally consumed fruits and vegetables, and visit a local school. Continue to Khavtsgait Valley, where ancient rock art left by the Gobi’s earliest inhabitants remains preserved on the mountaintop. Spend the afternoon with a family of desert nomads, getting a glimpse of a way of life that has changed little over the centuries; and perhaps lend a hand with daily chores, such as herding animals and preparing goat milk tea.
This morning, discover the sculpted dunes of Moltsog Els, one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes. Explore on foot or on the back of a two-humped Bactrian camel, and visit the camp of a camel-herding family to learn about the practical and spiritual importance of these animals for Gobi nomads. Later, drive to the Flaming Cliffs—also known as Bayanzag—a landscape of rust-red sandstone concealing a trove of dinosaur fossils just below the surface. Trek beneath these rock formations, looking for fossils at your feet and taking in the otherworldly scenery.
Return to Ulaanbaatar and visit the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan. Home to Mongolia’s last emperor, Bogd Jebtzun Damba Hutagt VIII, the ornate temple complex is now a museum displaying his personal possessions and regalia. The remainder of the afternoon is free for exploring downtown. Consider stopping at the Black Market, where you can browse traditional Mongolian clothing such as dels (tunics) and riding boots. This evening, enjoy a mesmerizing performance of Mongolian dance and traditional khoomii throat singing.
Transfer to the airport and catch your international flight home.