Central Mongolia and Khuvshol Lake
Expeditions in North and Central Mongolia
Detailed Tours Description
Day 1: Karakorum
After an early wake up, we will set of for a long driving day to Karakorum (also called Kharhorin).
Kharkhrin is the site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Chinggis Khan. The founding of Karakorum started on the ruins of Turug and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khanggai mountains in 1220 by the Chinggis Khaan's order. It completed 15 years later during the Ugedei Khaan's reign. The town was a very cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant place
The silver tree, part of Mngke Khan's palace has become the symbol of Karakorum.
The highest peak of its prosperity was from 1220 to 1260. The specific feature of this stage is that Karakorum 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.
Between 1260 and 1380 Karakorum lost the status of the Great Mongolian Empire and became the capital of Mongolia. When Kublai Khan claimed the throne of the Mongol Empire in 1260, as did his younger brother, Ariq Boke, he relocated his capital to today's Beijing. Karakorum was reduced to the administrative centre of a provincial backwater of the Yuan Dynasty.
In 1368, the rule of Mongolian Yuan Dynasty collapsed and the centre of Mongolian government was shifted to its homeland after 110 years since Khubilai Khaan moved the Empire capital to China in 1260. It gave Karakorum a chance to prosper again.
In 1388, Ming troops under General Xu Da took and destroyed the town.
Today nothing is left from this legendary city.
In 1580, when Abtai Sain Khan together with his brother, lord Tumenkhen, visited the 3rd Dalai Lama and expressed their wish to build a temple in Mongolia, he advised them to reconstruct one old temple in Karakorum. The temple in Takhai ruins that was restored in 1588 according to the Dalai Lama's recommendation is the Main Zuu temple of Erdene Zuu monastery.
Now Erdene Zuu Monastery is all that remains of what once was a huge monastery of 100 temples and about 1.000 lamas residencing 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.
We will also see the Turtle Rock and the Phallic Rock.
Day 2: Tsenger Hotwater Springs and Baths
This morning we will driving westward in the direction of Khangai Mountains. On average, the Khanggai mountains are 2500-3000 M above the sea level and are composed of mainly granite, intrusive chert and sandstone belonging to Paleozoic era. The Khanggai Mountains is about 800 km long, ranging from Zavkhan province territory to Tuv province. They function as the continental divide of the world water system.
The green mountainsides and the network of smaller and larger rivers offer excellent pastureland for the herds of horses, yaks and cows.
In the afternoon we will reach Tsenkher hot spring resort. This resort has a large open-air pool at its customer's disposal. The hot water of the pool flows continuously in from the hot water spring. At the spring, the temperature of the water is over 80 C. A complex pipelines system regulates the water temperature. Some will spend hours sitting in the pool talking to their friends while staring at the stars or scanning the nightly nature around them.
Day 3: Tsetserleg and the White Lake
At lunchtime we will reach Tsetserleg, capital city of Arkhangai province (180 km, 6 hours). It is a lovely little town surrounded by forested hills. Here we will visit the Buyandelgeruulekh Monastery, the town main functioning monastery and the nice little Museum of Arkhangai located in Zayaiin Gegeenii Monastery. From the museum we will walk hill upward to a small abandoned monastery and enjoy the beautiful view we have from there over Tsetserleg and the surrounding hills.
We will eat lunch in a local restaurant. In the evening we will reach Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. It is one of the most beautiful lakes of the country. The lake is surrounded by extinct and craterous volcanoes, and was formed by lava flows from a volcanic eruption many millennia ago. As a result of the volcano eruptions the landscape is covered with black volcanic rocks.
Day 4: Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur and Khorgo Uul Vulcano
Today we will relax around the White Lake (also named the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur). We will make an excursion to the top of Khorgo Uul Volcano and we will pass the gorges that lead from Tariat to the volcano.
The volcano crater is 200 m wide and 100 m deep and is covered with trees at the back and around the opening of the crater. To the south of Khorgo there are numerous basaltic "gers" formed during the cooling of lava; some of the gers have gates and upper holes and reach 1.7 m high.
Day 5: Dzuun Lake
We will drive for 2 consecutive days northwards to reach Khovsgol Lake. We will drive through the central grasslands where you will see large herds of horses, cows and yaks. You will cross several rivers, smaller and larger ones, all full of fish.
Tonight we will reach Dzuun a small lost lake in the middle of the Mongolian steppes. Youll have a chance to observe several water birds on the lake.
Day 6: Moron (Murun) City
After a second day of intensive driving we will reach Moron, capital city of Hovsgol province. We will stop at the local market to stock up food after what we will go on driving North. On the way we will visit the Uushig Deer Stone complex.
Read more: Shamanistic Elements in Mongolian Deer Stone Art
Read more: Mongolian Bronze Age
Day 7: Khuvsgul Lake
After an intensive driving on a path climbing up to the north we will at last reach the Mongolian blue pearl, the Hovsgol Lake. It is a huge 2.760 square km alpine lake (130 km in length and 40 km in width), surrounded by mountain chains of more than 2.000 meters high, thick pine forests and lush meadow with grazing yaks and horses. More than 100 small rivers and streams feed the lake with crystal clear water. Water exits the lake through only one river, the Egiin, whose waters eventually reach the Baikal Lake. The lake contains about 1.5% of the world's fresh water (excluding water contained in the icecaps). The lake and rivers are full of fish. Around a dozen species of fish inhabit the lake and rivers. The most well known are the sturgeon, grayling, lennok, salmon, taimon, etc.
Day 8: Extra day at Khovsgol Lake
We will spend a full day exploring the lakeshore and surrounding mountains. For those interested they will have the possibility to go horseback riding, visit Mongolian families, go hiking, go fishing, etc. Please bring your own rod and tackle, or buy it in Ulaanbaatar.
Day 9: Selenge River
After having enjoyed a full day along the Hovsgol Lake, we will take the road again, south-eastwards to Amarbayasgalant Monastery. This trip will take us two days through the Mongolian grasslands, arriving at Amarbayasgalant Monastery on the 3rd day in the evening.
We will overnight in a family close to the Selenge River.
Day 10: Bulgan: Uran and Togoo Uul Vulcano
About 60km directly west of Bulgan city is the extinct volcano of Uran Uul and nearby Togoo Uul, now part of the 1600 hectare Uran-Togoo Tulga Uul Natural Reserve in the sum (district) of Khutag-Ondor.
Trails to the top of the relatively unimpressive volcano lead up from the west side, which also has some nice camping areas.
Day 11: Amarbayasgalant Monastery
After a second day of intensive driving we will finally reach Amarbayasgalant Monastery. The monastery is set in an exquisite valley surrounded by mountains. After Erdene Zuu Monastery, Amarbayasgalant Monastery is considered as the second most important monastery and the most intact architectural complex of Mongolia. The monastery was built in the 18th century by the Manchu emperor Yongzheng and dedicated to the great Mongolian Buddhist Zanabazar.
Day 12: Drive Back to Ulaanbaatar
We will have a whole day driving to reach end of the afternoon Ulaanbaatar.
Optional Day: Tovkhon Monastery and Orkhon Water Falls
Our next stop will be at Tuvhon Monastery, established during the 1650s by Zanabazar, one of Mongolias most respected religious leaders. The monasterys wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched hear a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests. On the top of the cliff, a pile of stones to worship a god of this mountain forms a hill. It is called Ovoo.
In the Quaternary era a volcano erupted near the beginning of the Tsagaan Azarga or White Stallion River and the lava flowed down the Orkhon valley forming the 10 meter thick layer of basaltic rocks. The basaltic layer was crosscut by the Orkhon River continuously and the canyon was formed as a result.
At the beginning of this canyon lays the 20 meters high, 10 meter wide waterfall. The most adventures of you will climb down the canyon and swim the lake located at the food of the waterfall.
Optional Day: Przewalski's Horse at Hustai National Park
Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii, also known as the Takhi horses) is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia. The Takhi became extinct in the middle of the 20th century. They then could only be found in the zoos. Special breeding programs increased their numbers. At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu National Park, Takhin Tal Nature Reserve and Khomiin Tal. Khustai Nuruu National Park was declared reserve status (category III) for over 50,000 hectares of the Khustain Nuruu area in 1993 but after significant scientific field researches into the area it was upgraded to a national park in 1998. Khustai Nuruu National Park is located about 100 km southwest from Ulaanbaatar. It protects today Mongolian's Takhi wild horses. Today there are about 150 Takhi horses in Khustai. After arrival at the camp of the Khustai Nuruu National Park we will meet the staff of the park and be introduced to the project. In the afternoon we will explore the beauties of the Park by jeep, on food or on horseback.
Optional Day: Khogno Khan Mountains
We will drive to the foothills of the Khogno Khan Mountains (also written as Khungnu Khaan). It is an impressive massif of Paleozoic granite and magma rocks in the open steppes. We will visit the nice little Uvgun Monastery and the ruins of the old monastery. Those who want will have the opportunity to climb the sand dunes or to walk up the mountain and enjoy the incredible view over the plains, the sand dune and grasslands.
Not far from here runs the Tasarkhai Els (also named Mongol Els, Elsiin Tasarkhai), a 100 km long sand dune. Here you can ride a camel.
Optional Day: Family Stay in Central Mongolia and Horse Riding
The Family lives close to a river in the wide open Mongolian steps. We will experience the warm hospitality offered by the Mongolian families. For dinner we will be offered a typical Mongolian meal that will be prepared by nomads. Those who want will have the opportunity to try the airag or fermented horse milk. Our guide - translator will help us to forge contact with the local population.
Those interested will have the opportunity to do horse riding.
We offer 3 different price categories for our tours:
Please contact us for the updated prices. We offer special discount prices for off season tours.
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