detailed description


Today we will set off for a driving day to Karakorum also called Kharkhorin. Kharkhorin is the site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Genghis Khan. The founding of Karakorum started on the ruins of Gokturk and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khangai Mountains in 1220 by the Genghis Khan’s order. It completed 15 years later during the Ugedei Khan’s reign. The town was a very cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant place. The silver tree, part of Mungke Khan’s palace has become the symbol of Kharkhorin. The highest peak of its prosperity was from 1220 to 1260. The specific feature of this stage is that Kharkhorin existed as the great capital of the Euro-Asian Empire with Mongolia as its core and as the centre of politics, economy, culture, religion, intellect, and diplomacy and the prominent tie of international relations. At the arrival, we will visit one of the biggest Buddhist monastery Erdene Zuu.  Now Erdene Zuu Monastery is all that remains of what once was a huge monastery of 100 temples and about 1.000 lamas residing there. We will explore the grounds of Erdene Zuu Monastery surrounded by its massive 400 m X 400 m walls. We will be guided around the 3 remaining temples: Dalai Lama, Zuu of Buddha and Lavrin Temple. Another place we will visit will be Karakorum Archaeological Museum. It is a small museum but housed in a modern well-run building with good lighting and display cases with clear English labels. The exhibits include dozens of artefacts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries which were recovered from the immediate area, plus others that were found from archaeological sites in other parts of the provinces, including prehistoric stone tools. You’ll see pottery, bronzes, coins, religious statues and stone inscriptions. There’s also a half-excavated kiln sunk into the museum floor. Perhaps most interesting is the scale model of ancient Kharkhorin, which aims to represent the city as it may have looked in the 1250s, and is based on descriptions written by the French missionary William of Rubruck. Another chamber exhibits a Turkic noble tomb with wall paintings and artifacts, including gold items and jewelry. There is a short video of actual burial site. We will also see the Turtle Rock and the Phallic Rock, visit little market behind walls exposing local arts by locals.

(Ger camp L, D)

Erdene Zuu
Karakorum Temples

Orkhon Valley and Waterfalls

After our breakfast at the Ger camp, we will set further westwards into to Orkhon valley where the Orkhon River flows. The Orkhon valley is surrounded by the foothills of the Khangai mountain range. Meadows and fir forests are prominent here. The Orkhon river valley is lined with the remains of an ancient lava flow. We will have our lunch at our host family located nearby Orkhon Waterfalls which cascades down a basalt canyon to a depth of 20 meters. After lunch we will have plenty time to explore the waterfall, its canyon and surrounding area. This is where we will leave our vehicles behind and load our gear and food on pack horses. Tomorrow we will set off for a ten-day trekking in the mountainous area of the Khangai. Our translator will help us to forge contact with the local population.

(Family stay B, L, D)

Orkhon Waterfall
Mongolian Young Men

Boorog Camp site

We will leave the Orkhon Waterfalls and start the horse riding stream upwards along the Bituu River until we go through a pass that leads us to the Eight Lakes valley. This totally remote area was created by volcanic activities. It is locked between several extinct volcanoes and high mountain peaks. As it name says, the valley shelters a large number of small lakes, all interconnected by rivers. The lakes are supplied with fresh water running from the mountains.

(Tented Camp B, L, D)

Khuis Lake

The first lake we will reach is Khuis Lake. This lake is dotted with a large rock island. Our riding path becomes a mix of everything such as rocks, forests, bushes and mud, and it gets more adventurous. We only see few nomadic families at the end of today’s trekking. Our local horse guides might give us an opportunity to visit their remote neighbors’ home for short break.

(Tented Camp B, L, D)

Khuis Lake

Shireet, Bugat and Khaliun lakes

We will continue our horse riding towards the biggest one Shireet Lake. On the way to Shireet Lake, our riding takes through other several smaller lakes. The Eight Lakes valley is one of the most beautiful, untouched and picturesque place of Khangai Mountain range. You will enjoy hearing only nature, the stream going downward to the lakes and birds tweet. One can feel deeply relaxed and refreshed. In the afternoon we come back to the Khuis Lake camp site and overnight here.

(Tented Camp B, L, D)

Shireet Lake

Khokh Davaa mountain pass 

Today our horse ride continuously takes us to the west-north of the Eight Lakes region. We will pass big valleys that are rich of alpine forest with many little streams along the way. Even though it is not that much far from the Eight lakes it requires some effort to pass big hills and forests.

(Tented Camp B, L, D)

Khangai Mountains
Horses at Break

Yol Khad Rock

In the morning we will be riding further westward of the eight lakes area. Along our adventurous horse riding path we will pass several mountain hills and small streams. Yol Khad (Vulture Rock) is a natural rock on the edge of the Tamchiin Khavtsal Cliff. There is a good opportunity to see the whole picturesque scenery on the top of the cliffs.

(Tented Camp B, L, D)

Erkhet Khairkhan Mountain

Today’s horse riding will take us to the highest peak Erkhet Khairkhan (3535m) in the region, which is located not far from Tamchiin Khavtsal Cliffs. You will see comparatively different landscape rich of small rivers and mountain passes. Here, we might have a chance to observe wildlife. Later in the afternoon we will reach our camping spot where there is a local family of nomads.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

Lake from Mountain

Tongorgyn Davaa Pass 

Each day of the horse riding is peaceful and relaxing. From now on, we will start going east-north of the mount Erkhet Khairkhan. We will be traveling in the same mountain range Khangai.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

Horseman at Volcano Region

Doloon Bulag 

This riding is quite longer in distance and also worth traveling. The wind blows mildly and the birds tweet melodiously from the side forest. It makes the horse riding more natural and meaningful.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

Scenery from Khangai Mountain

Ar Denj 

We will continue our journey in a big volcanic rocky valley where there are several families live with their livestock. You will bear witness to awesome views of the lakes and volcanic craters. This is truly a sight that needs to be seen to be believed.  It lies beyond the imagination.

(Tented camp B, L, D)

Horses at Family

Orkhon Waterfall 

Today our horse riding ends and we will be travelling back to our host family at the waterfall in the later afternoon. Compared to past few days it is easier. We don’t go up and down but mostly following Orkhon River until we get to the waterfall. As we keep following the river, the number of herds and families come up more and more. The Orkhon valley is registered as world cultural heritage by UNESCO due to its ancient findings, artefacts related to early 6th century and even before that. As well as, 12th to 13th century great Mongol empire had expanded its capital Karakorum here. Moreover, pasture nomadic lifestyle still remains here and it keeps both historic and nomadic view of life.

(Family stay B, L, D)

Nomad Family

Khogno Khan Mountains

After a good rest we will drive to Khogno Khan Mountains. Khogno Khan Mountains is an impressive massif in the open steppes. Not far from here runs the Tasarkhai Els Sand Dune, a 100 km long sand dune. End the afternoon we will hike in the region of Khogno Khan Mountains, walk up the mountain and enjoy the incredible view over the plains, the sand dune and grasslands. We will also visit the nice little Ovgon Monastery.

(Ger Camp B, L, D)

Nomad Family

Drive to Ulaanbaatar

We will have a driving day back to Ulaanbaatar. You may enjoy the free afternoon to catch up all the places you haven’t visited yet. You might as well check the beautiful cultural show enjoy the colorful and rhythmic Mongolian dance, throat singing & admire the contortionists.

(B, L)

Elsen Tasarkhai

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june 1971
july 1971
july 1971
july 1971



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