Mongolia Wild

GUIDED ALASKA Private

DATES

September 09, 2023 - September 24, 2023

REGION

Mongolia

TRIP COST

Aprox $11,000/ person. Party of 6

calendar

DATES

September 09, 2023 - September 24, 2023
region

REGION

Mongolia
price

TRIP COST

Aprox $11,000/ person. Party of 6

From the brilliant cold of the Altai Mountains to the warmth of traditional nomad’s tea shared with new friends, our journey in Mongolia mixes horse trekking, wilderness, culture, and wildlife with lots of room for spontaneity and adventure.

TRIP DETAILS

Central Mongolia’s premier wilderness is, like America’s Yellowstone, at the ecotone of grasslands and the northern forest. In the Kahn Khentii Protected area the central asian steppe and the Siberian larch forests intertwine in a mosaic of mountains, grasslands, desert, and woods.

We will ride horses each day and camp each night in a Ger camp. Yak-drawn carts haul the camp from place to place while we explore the high country on horseback with local Mongolian guides. Long stony ridges offer views of the broad valleys with fingers of forests stretching over the horizon. For four days we ride ever deeper into the mountains, camping in the pastoral valleys each night, always on the lookout for wildlife and for opportunities to learn about the pastoralists who move through the country with the seasons.

These rugged mountains and intermountain pastures are home to our guides. We will savor not only the grandeur of the landscape but the long history of the people who are part of it, a wonderful introduction to the life of the nomad.

The second half of the adventure is in the wild west of Mongolia and starts with a festival to test and honor those who hunt with trained eagles. It just gets wilder from there.

We will travel amongst the herding families, learning about their history, culture and religion while basking in their hospitality and plan to explore the rugged Altai Mountains right up to the border with China where snow leopard hunt argali sheep and ibex.

From a wonderfully built ger (yurt) camp we will have the opportunity to venture into mountain valleys each day searching for argali sheep, wolves, and perhaps even wolverine. The area is not often visited by outsiders and our contacts in Mongolia are eager to explore a new area with us.

Wildlife researchers, eagle hunters, and Kazakh herders share their stories and knowledge with us as we explore the high and dry mountains on foot, horseback, and by vehicle (and perhaps camel). Learning about the regions history, cultural traditions, and wildlife. Where exactly we will explore will be determined by the weather, the movements of the nomads, and your desires.

This trip is planned and operated by our friends at 360° Mongolia

Last updated: August 4, 2022

Itinerary

What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

Sept 9

On arrival at the new international airport, Chinggis Khaan, you are met by your guide and driver.  The transfer to the hotel in Ulan Bator is about 1 hour depending on traffic. Once settled, we suggest a walk to nearby Sukhbaatar Square for an orientation briefing of the layout of the city and the parliament buildings with its Genghis Khan statues.

Accommodation & meal plan: Shangri-la Hotel /D

Sept 10

In the morning we visit the Gandan Lamasery, the center for the Buddhist revival in Mongolia, possibly in time to see the prayers. Mongolians follow Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism), with the Dalai Lama being the supreme theocratical leader.

We then drive out of the city, and gradually the wide-open Mongolian landscape unfolds before our eyes. We have a picnic lunch en route, near some nomadic families. Crossing across the Zamt Pass, we will descend into the Upper Tuul River Valley, bisected by the river itself. There are alluvial meadows of poplars and willows. Here we will meet the local herders with their yak carts and our horses.

We will get to know the horses and go for a short trial ride to our pre-selected camp site.

Accommodation & meal plan: Camp/BLD

Sept 11

Today all our provisions, camping equipment and luggage will be loaded onto yak carts. At least one ger (yurt) will be brought, and we will learn how to set it up.

We ride across the open steppe, but also cover hilly terrain with patches of larch and birch forests. Throughout the ride we will have the chance to meet with local herdsmen, who are often relatives and friends of our horse trail guides.

Accommodation & meal plan: Camp/BLD

Sept 12

On the second day, forests will start to appear, and we are now riding towards the Khentii wilderness area, which includes the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area and Gorkhi-Terelj National Park.

In Mongolia the Siberian boreal forest meets the Central Asian desert and steppe and we will be riding through the transitional zone between grasslands and northern Larch forests.

Accommodation & meal plan: Camp/BLD

Sept 13

Today we cross a pass and ride into the upper part of the Tuul River Valley. We are now near the main ridge of the Khentii Mountains.

The horses will allow us to go up onto the ridges where the panoramic views across this forested mountain area are extraordinary. Our yak cart caravan will make its way through the valleys on another route.

Accommodation & meal plan: Camp/BLD

Sept 14

After a morning ride, land cruisers will arrive for our drive back to the capital. We will now bid farewell to our hosts.

The drive to Ulan Bator is 3 hours. After washing up, see the capital city on your own. Distances are short and nearly all points of interest may be reached on foot. Your local trip leader is stand-by to assist for any shopping or exploration on foot.

Accommodation & meal plan: Shangri-la Hotel /B

Sept 15

The most likely departure time for our scheduled commercial flight today is early morning. It is subject to confirmation latest in April 2023.

We will transfer to the airport and fly the approx. two and a half hours to Ölgii. Ölgii has mostly ethnic Kazakh people. Tuvan, Mongol and Uriankhai minorities also live here. Check-in at a local hotel and tour the town.

Like so many things in Mongolia, plans are hard to make in advance and flexibility and spontaneity are required. Travel days will unfold as they will.

Accommodation & meal plan: Makhsum Hotel / BLD

Sept 16

Mid-morning opening ceremonies of the Altai Eagle festival. The 30- 50 signed up berkuts (eagle hunters) will ride on horseback across the pitch with their majestic Golden Eagles.

The festival is always organized in the third weekend of September. The locations shift between communities near Ölgii. The festival is a spectacle with eagles released from the hills, hunting for a fox skin in tow behind a horseman.

We will see various horse games such as the Central Asian bouzkhasi, which is a horseback tug-of-war with a goat carcass. Other games put riders skills to the test, like picking up objects from the ground in full gallop. It can be quite wild at times.

We will experience the eagle hunters’ traditional custom and culture and are made to feel welcome. The festival is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible world heritage treasure and an event not to be missed.

Accommodation & meal plan: Makhsum Hotel / BLD

Sept 17

If we want to spend more time amongst eagle hunters we can return to the Eagle Festival. Eagles fly, camels race.

When we’ve had our fill of the fascinating chaos of the festival grounds and head the 4ish hours to Chigertei Lake area with the stunning Sair Mountain as a back-drop..

We hope to set-up your private mobile yurt camp at Chigertei Lake, but will choose the best location based on the migration patterns of the local Kazakh nomads. Chigertei Lake  and the adjacent wetlands host abundant birdlife, some of the best of the trip. And this camp will serve as our base for the next 3 to 5 days.

Settle into your ger, get to know our hosts and their stock, and take a long walk on the steppe.

Accommodation & meal plan: 360°Wilderness Ger Camp/BLD

Sept 18

We are now in Chigertei National Park. The nomads here are Kazakhs, likely they are now on the autumn pasture at the lake itself. The Kazakhs are sunni-muslims. Unlike Kazakhstan proper here they remain as nomadic pastoralists and we will learn of their life-ways and migratory patterns.

Chigertei borders KekeTuoHai National Park in China. On the Mongolian side of the border there is ongoing carnivore research, often with camera traps deployed for wolverines.  Here it overlaps with Asian species such as the Pallas’s Cat and Snow Leopards. In addition, there are lynx and grey wolves. 

Depending on conditions and interests we can walk, ride, or drive into the high country in search of wildlife, or we can delve deeper into Kazakh culture.

Accommodation & meal plan: 360° Wilderness Ger Camp/BLD

Sept 19

One option for today is to embark on a full day excursion by car. We will first drive one and a half hours across the Buyant Valley, through Deluun village to the Ikh Yamaat (Big Goat) Valley, where with luck we can see hundreds of Siberian ibex. Argali sheep are less numerous, but the largest wild sheep in the world. Both are key prey animals to snow leopards, wolves and lynx.

With luck, there has been snowfall on the elevations of the surrounding ridges, which forces game downwards. It is a 7 km hike to arrive at the inner sanctum, which is prime snow leopard habitat. This is where wildlife researchers deploy snares to capture snow leopards, to fit GPS collars on to the cats and is a good place to look for signs of their passing.

Accommodation & meal plan: 360° Wilderness Ger Camp/BLD

Sept 20 and 21

Depending on the weather, the amount of snow in the high country, and the movements of nomads we may elect to move camp. If there is no snow we can load camels with the camp and move into the mountains.

Regardless of where we camp, we have two more full days to hike and/ or ride horses. The goal is to explore along the China frontier lands border zone. We have arranged for a borderline permit ahead of time.

The area is little visited and we will see what we will find! The opportunity to explore along the border is unique and not possible for those not willing to spend the extra time in the Altai.

Accommodation & meal plan: 360° Wilderness Ger Camp/BLD

Sept 22

After a morning hike and a fond goodbye with our hosts, we drive the four hours to Ölgii or Hovd. We will fly from either of Hovd or Ölgii airports, reliant on the confirmed flight schedule for 2023. These airports are equidistant from our camp site at Chigertei.

Accommodation & meal plan: Makhsum Hotel or Steppe Hotel/BLD

Sept 23

Chartered flight to Ulan Bator and prepare for flights home either late this day or the following day.

Accommodation & meal plan: Shangri-la Hotel /B

Sept 24

International flights home.

Michael listened to our descriptions of what we wanted in a trip and investigated the possibility of making that sort of trip happen. Unlike some other guide services, he was attuned to what we were saying and did not outright say he could not accommodate us because Arctic Wild only provided trips like X, Y, or Z. In my opinion, the major difference between Arctic Wild and the 4 other guide services I talked to was that Michael tried to design a trip meeting our trip objectives and wishes.

- Rochelle , Missouri, USA

DETAILS

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Details TBD

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Lunch & dinners in Ulan Bator

Laundry

Gratuities

Visa fee and international flight tickets

Cancellation insurance

Global Rescue insurance and rescue (mandatory)

WEATHER & BUGS

Cool days and cold nights are typical in September. And though overcast days are common rainfall is not. Expect snowfall in the Altai and frost at night. But you can also expect sunny mild days for hiking, and riding.

RECOMMENDED READING

Forthcoming…..

"The wilderness was spectacular, the leadership perfect."
"I am just finishing my tenth trip with you guys. As always, the trip was more than I expected and I had a great time. See you next year!"
"Of all outfitters with whom we have worked (and that is quite a number), you were by far the most organized and responsive."
"That feeling of wide open wonder, the possibilities for nearly limitless wandering, and the image of those proud caribou...that will stay with me a long time"
"Our guide was an encyclopedia on legs. He was always willing and ready to teach, to talk, to listen, to do another hike, or to lie low in camp if we were beat. He truly gave us the trip we wanted!"
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Eileen - Canning River