Day 1-2 Travel to Ulaanbaatar

Upon arrival in Mongolia you will be met by your guide and together you will transfer to your centrally located hotel within walking distance of many of the capitol's museums, sights, and shops. En route you will see Ulaanbaatar 's unique blending of the old and new; where traditional ger tent suburbs and ancient Buddhist temples coexist with the city's modern high rises. The late afternoon is free to relax after your long journey or if you like to explore a bit by foot before meeting for a traditional Mongolian welcome dinner. Accommodations: Hotel Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe Room) Dinner

Traveler's Note: Please note many travelers chose to make a stop in Beijing en route to Mongolia to explore the bustling capitol's famous sites and the Great Wall.

Day 3 Ulaanbaatar

We have a full day to explore Ulaanbaatar . We begin our look at Mongolia 's rich history and culture with a visit to Ganden Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia . One of the few monasteries to escape the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Ganden today is the center of Mongolia 's Buddhist resurgence with over a hundred practicing monks in residence. With our guide acting as an interpreter we will discover the monastery's brightly painted temples filled with centuries old religious artifacts and wander through the grounds listening the to sounds of monks performing their daily rituals. The highlight of our visit will be the impressive statue of Migjid Janraisig. This 82-foot high statue, gilded in gold and clothed with silk and precious stones, completely fills one of Gandan's biggest temples. Our next stop will be the Natural History Museum 's dinosaur hall which showcases the Gobi dessert's rich paleontological sites. The museum's display include Tarbosaurous fossils (closely related to Tyrannosaurus Rex), dinosaur eggs, large Hadrosaur fossils (duck-billed dinosaurs), and many others found in the Gobi 's sands. Our introduction to Mongolia will conclude with a visit the National Museum of Mongolian History and a trip to Zaisan Hill for an expansive view of the city. Tonight enjoy dinner in one of the city's down town restaurants. Accommodations: Hotel Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe Room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Ulaanbaatar - Hogno Han

Not very long after leaving the bustling capitol we find ourselves in the Mongolia we imagined; the most sparsely populated country in the world. We head to the steppe and the foothills of the Hogno Han Mountains . The vastness of the Mongolian landscape spreads out in front of us interrupted only by nomadic ger camps and herds of grazing animals. Reaching our ger camp we find ourselves at the stunning confluence of three geographical zones: the steppe, desert and forest. This afternoon we have a chance to begin our exploration with a walk in the dunes and a visit with a family to learn about their unique horse based culture. One of the remaining horse based cultures, Mongolians nomadic pastoralism has been a way of life for thousands of years; leading to the Mongol saying, “a Mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings”. This evening we will stay in gers; the traditional felt tents of the nomads. Made of a latticed wood structure covered with layers of felt and canvas, each ger is heated by a wood stove and furnished with beautifully painted wood-framed beds. Accommodations: Ger Camp Breakfast , Lunch, Dinner

Traveler's Note:

Often traveler's most memorable stays are in ger camps as they allow us to visit areas where hotel accommodations are not yet available. Ger camps offer a taste of Mongolian culture and a chance to better understand the lives of the rural nomadic. However it is important to note that ger camps throughout Mongolia do not have private bathrooms and all facilities are located in a clean central bath house.

Day 5 Hogno Han Mountains

We have the morning to explore the region by foot, jeep or horseback. Most guests prefer to ride horses to get a true taste of the Mongol culture. Our ride may bring us onto the dunes, across the vast steppe or into the pristine forests. In the afternoon there is a chance to visit the nearby Uvgun Monastery. Built by the medieval religious figure Zanabazar, the monastery once was home to over a 1,000 practicing lamas. Later destroyed by in the 18 th century by the Manchus the monastery was restored in 1992 when Buddhism began to again flourish across Mongolia . In the evening relax and enjoy dinner and the company of fellow travelers and our hosts in the ger camp's restaurant. Accommodations: Ger Camp Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Kharakhorum

Crossing the plains we reach the cradle of Mongolian civilization and Kharakhorum; the ancient capitol of the 13 th century Mongol Empire. It is from here that Chinggis Khan and his descendants ruled the largest contiguous land empire in recorded history. Today only a few traces of his empire exist, but it is believed that the neighboring monastery, Erdenezuu was constructed of the ruins of Kharakhorum in the 16 th century. Mongolia 's largest monastic center the area has a long Buddhist tradition dating back over a thousand years. Today we will explore the complex of Erdenezuu as well as the neighboring monastery of Shankh Hiid. Walking amongst the temples and the monastery's 108 stupas we further learn about both Mongolia 's storied history and deep religious beliefs. In the afternoon we return to our ger camp to enjoy another silent night under the open skies of the steppe. Accommodations: Ger Camp Breakfast , Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 Kharakhorum- Hustain Nuruu National Reserve

This morning we will drive overland to reach Hustain Nuruu National Reserve. The reserve is known for its population of Takhi, a wild horse commonly referred to as Przewalki's Horse. The native horse reach extinction in the wild in the late 1960s, but through the efforts of The Foundation for the Protection of the Przewalski's Horse, a Dutch organization, the horse was successfully reintroduced into the wild from zoo populations in 1994. From the original 16 introduced horses more than 100 healthy foals have been born in Mongolia . We begin our exploration at the visitor center before trying to spot these beautiful horses in their natural habitat. This evening we again enjoy a night in a local ger camp next to the park. Accommodations: Ger Camp Breakfast , Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 Ulaanbaatar

After a relaxing morning, with a chance to further visit the area by foot on the look out for wild horses as well as ibex and soaring l ammergeyers, we head back to the capitol. The afternoon is free to independently explore before enjoying a performance of traditional Mongolian dancers and khoomi throat singers. The day ends with dinner down town. Accommodations: Hotel Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe Room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Ulaanbaatar - Gobi / Flaming Cliffs

This morning we will fly over Mongolia 's steppe to reach the desert sands of the Gobi . The Gobi , literally meaning “waterless place”, is one of the world's most arid regions. Hidden between the Siberian Wilderness to its north and the vast Tibetan plateau to its south the Gobi offers travelers a fascinating collage of natural wonders and cultural encounters. For four days we explore the Gobi 's dramatic landscape discovering the region's important paleontological finds, visiting remote nomads and spotting diverse wildlife. The Gobi is home to Bactrian camels, Argali mountain sheep, goitered gazelle, golden eagles, saker falcons, jerboas and many endemic reptiles as well as some of the northern hemisphere's rarest and most elusive mammals including the dhole, snow leopard and Gobi Bear. In the afternoon travel to the legendary “Flaming Cliffs,” named by Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History who found the first nest of dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen. To this day the Flaming Cliffs remain one of the Gobi 's significant discovery sites. In the evening light return across the vast expanse to our ger camp. After dinner enjoy your first night under the Gobi 's endless desert skies. Accommodations: Three Camel Lodge (Standard Ger) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 Hongoryn Els Sand Dune

This morning we drive overland to the base of the Hongoryn El Sand Dunes. The towering dunes in places are over 2,500 feet high and stretch over 62 miles in length and 7 miles in width along the base of the Altai Mountain range. Locally called the “Singing Sands” due to the eerie sounds the moving sands make when the wind sweeps across the range. We have the afternoon to climb on the dunes before we spend the evening beside our lush riverside ger camp. Before us are the rocky ridges of the Altai and the endless expanse of the dunes. Accommodations: Ger Camp (Standard Ger) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 Hongoryn Els Sand Dune- Three Camels Lodge

Today we will visit a nomadic Gobi family. Hospitality toward strangers is the rule across Mongolia and we will be welcomed and have a chance to learn more about their lives and the adaptations they have made over centuries to live in their harsh environment. Here we will have an opportunity to explore the surrounding region riding a Bactrian (two-humped) camel. Critical to the nomad's existence the camels are used not only for transportation, but camel hair is woven into clothing, camel hides are fashioned into saddles, and camel's milk is a daily staple of the nomad's diet. After enjoying a picnic lunch including a traditional Mongolian barbecue (horhog) we will retrace our route to the Three Camels Lodge. Accommodations: Three Camel Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 Yol Valley

Today we will drive to the Yol Valley , named for the Mongolian Lammergeyer; a bearded vulture with up to a ten foot wingspan. Nestled in the Altai Mountains the valley's dramatic landscape and impressive bird life have lead to its protected status. We will embark on a hike though the valley spotting not only yol, but Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks and Argali mountain sheep. Before returning to our ger camp we will make a short visit to the natural history museum to further discover the region's flora and fauna. Tonight enjoy our final evening in the Gobi . Accommodations: Three Camel Lodge Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 Ulaanbaatar

This morning we will return to the airport for our flight to Ulaanbaatar . After lunch, visit to Bogd Khan Winter Palace museum, home of Mongolia 's last theocrat, Bogd Jabzan Damba Hutagt VII I (who was referred to as Mongolia 's 8th Living Buddha). The museum displays elaborate ceremonial robes and other personal effects of the leader. The rest of the afternoon is free for individual sightseeing and shopping. Mongolia is known for its high quality cashmere clothing and blankets, ornate costumes and boots, hand made leather goods and paintings. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner. Accommodations: Hotel Ulaanbaatar (Deluxe Room) Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14 Depart Mongolia

Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Breakfast

Day 15 Arrive Home