MONGOLIA JOURNEY

June 28 – July 15, 2021-Featuring the Naadam Festival

Photo tour to Mongolia in a small group; limited to 14 people

I have traveled to Mongolia about a dozen times.  Over the years I have visited many places in this beautiful country and the itinerary below reflects the cultural and scenic highlights of his 2021 photo tour.

 

After leaving Ulaanbaatar we journey to Hustain Nuruu National Park to watch and photograph the Takhi wild horses (Przewalski’s horse) which is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia. At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced from zoos around the world – a conservation success story!

 

Every time I return to Mongolia there are new places to discover and new adventures to experience.  This trip will be packed with exciting photo opportunities and experiences.  In Bayan Olgii, Mongolia’s westernmost province where majority of the population is ethnic Kazakh, we will experience the life of the eagle hunters and Uriankhai families.

 

In the Gobi Desert, we will visit the Yol Valley located in the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park where I have seen a lot of wildlife and beautiful wildflowers in the past.  In the Gobi Desert, which is a diverse ecosystem of Mongolia where high mountains, dry basins and grasslands all co-exist. Here are the Gobi’s tallest sand dunes, the magnificent Hongoryn Els for various photo opportunities. You will be surprised by the beauty of the Gobi.

 

At the Lake Hovsgol we experience the traditional Naadam Festival in a small town.  This gives us access to colorful photography.  Walking along the lake we hope to see more wildlife and take beautiful landscape photos.  Anyone with an interest in people, landscapes and culture will be impressed by the things we will be seeing.

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MONGOLIA JOURNEY 2021

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Trip Details

Trip Itinerary   June 28 – July 15, 2021

Portrait of the Kazakh Eagle hunter Dalaikhan and his Golden eagle near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1, June 28 Arrival

Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to the centrally located hotel in downtown Ulaanbaatar. In the evening, we will provide your pre-trip briefing and then host a welcome dinner at a fine local restaurant.

(Blue Sky Hotel or similar; D)

Herd of Przewalski horses with foals (Equus przewalskii) or Takhi, the only still living wild ancestor of the domestic horses, at Hustai National Park, Mongolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2, June 29 Ulaanbaatar / Hustain Nuruu National Park

Today we will drive to Hustain Nuruu National Park where the Mongolian Takhi or Przewalski’s horses have been successfully re-introduced. In the afternoon we set out to explore the park and its majestic horses and other wildlife.

Dinner and overnight at the camp. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

Przewalski horse (Equus przewalskii) or Takhi, the only still living wild ancestor of the domestic horses, at Hustai National Park, Mongolia.

A tourist is photographing the Ungut complex, a Turkik monument ensemble consisting of man stones and numerous tombs from the 6-8th centuries AD in Hustain Nuruu National Park, Mongolia.

Woman in traditional costume welcoming tourist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait of a herder woman inside a ger at a herder camp at the Hongoryn Els sand dunes in the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 3 June 30 Ulaanbaatar/Bayan Ulgii

Today, we fly to Bayan Olgii, westernmost province where majority of the population is ethnic Kazakh. Kazakhs are a group of Central Asian nomads with Turkik origins and nowadays live in Kazakhstan, North Western China and Mongolia. Upon arrival meet your local drivers, transfer to Altai Sum, located in 125 km west of the capital. Bayan Olgii province consists of 14 sub-districts called Soum. Kazakh women are renowned for their skilled embroidery, and their homes are beautifully decorated with ornate tapestries on the walls, ceiling and floor, with each design unique to a particular family.

(Tents with communal gers; B, L, D)

Day 4, July 1 Photographing Kazakh families

Today, we spend a full day at the host Kazakh family observing their daily rituals from milking their yaks to making traditional dishes. The colorful Kazakh gers in the picturesque summer camping landscape offer excellent photographic opportunities. Each ger is decorated with tapestries woven by Kazakh women and each tapestry is decorated with unique patterns designed by the family. Kazakh women are renowned for their handcraft and tapestry skills and Kazakh men train Golden Eagles for hunting, an age-old tradition that has survived amongst the Mongolian Kazakh population during the 20th century. Learn about daily chores of Kazakh herders looking after their yaks and sheep. Overnight in tents. (B, L, D)

A group of Kazakh Eagle hunters and their Golden eagles on horseback on the way to the Golden Eagle Festival near the city of Ulgii (Ölgii) in the Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5, July 2 Photography with eagle hunters

We will spend a day with about one dozen Golden Eagle hunters for exclusive photography. Eagles are caught from the wilderness and trained for hunting for over 10 years before they are released back into the wilderness. Normally, a female eagle is used. Because of her maternity instincts she is more aggressive and determined in hunt and usually outweighs the males. Learn all about different techniques and gadgets used in for the eagle hunting. The Kazakhs hunters will show you how eagles are trained.  (Tents with communal gers; B, L, D)

A Kazakh eagle hunter showing off his golden eagle

A Kazakh Eagle hunter with his Golden eagle and tourist

Portrait of a Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6, July 3 Visiting Local Uriankhai archers

Today, we continue driving along with about 3 eagle hunters into Holtsiit valley, visiting local Uriankhai families. Each Uriankhai family has an archer who still practices the ancient technique of making traditional arrows and bows.

(Tents with communal gers; B, L, D)

Whooper swans (Cygnus cynus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7, July 4 Tolbo Lake / Ulgii

This morning, we will drive to back Ulgii, passing through Tolbo Lake. In the afternoon we will check into your local hotel. (Local Hotel; B, L, D)

 

Day 8, July 5 Ulaanbaatar

In the afternoon, fly back to Ulaanbaatar and transfer to your hotel.

Dinner and overnight at hotel. (Blue Sky Hotel or similar; B, L, D)

MONGOLIA, GOBI DESERT, YOL VALLEY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9, July 6 South Gobi

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departure to the Gobi Desert (1.5 hour flight). Upon arrival, our local drivers will meet us and we transfer to a ger camp in the center of Dalanzadgad Valley.  After lunch, we will drive to the Yol Valley located in the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park, the largest park in the country. Yol Valley is named after the Yol or Lammergeyer, one of the largest vultures who dwell on the higher cliffs of the valley. Ice built up by a small stream over winter persists in the valley’s canyon as late as July. This starkly picturesque valley is home to many of the Gobi’s wildlife, including Pica, Ibex, Argali sheep, and Snow leopard.

We will return to our ger camp for dinner and overnight. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

MONGOLIA, GOBI DESERT, NEAR DALANZADGAD, YOLVALLEY, EDELWEISS (Leontopodium alpinum),

MONGOLIA, GOBI DESERT, NEAR DALANZADGAD, YOL VALLEY, DAURIAN PIKA (Ochotona daurica)

MONGOLIA, GOBI DESERT, NEAR DALANZADGAD, YOL VALLEY, IRIS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10, July 7 Hongoryn Els

MONGOLIA, GOBI DESERT, NEAR DALANZADGAD, KHONGORYN ELS (SAND DUNES)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we will drive to the Hongoryn Els sand dunes (3 hours). These dunes run for 60 miles alongside the Gobi Altai Mountain Range. The wind is blowing on the tallest of these dunes which causes the sand to slide, creating a strange humming sound. That is why these dunes also are called “Doot Mankhan,” or “singing dunes.” These “Singing dunes,” reaching upwards some 300 meters, and are the Gobi’s most magnificent sand dunes. Because of their isolation this area’s beauty has been kept safe for thousands of years. In the evening, we will climb the tallest of the dunes.

Enjoy dinner, overnight at the ger camp. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

A Mongolian herder is riding with Bactrian camels at sunset (sunburst) on the Hongoryn Els sand dunes in the Gobi Desert, Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park in southern Mongolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11, July 8 Photographing camels and sand dunes in the Gobi

After breakfast, we will travel to the lesser visited section of the majestic sand dunes. Later there will be an opportunity to photograph camels in a caravan along the dunes.

Dinner and overnight at ger camp. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

The orange rocks of Bayan Zag, commonly known as the Flaming Cliffs in evening sunshine in the Gobi desert, Mongolia where important dinosaur fossils were found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 12, July 9 Flaming Cliffs

After breakfast, drive back to the main ger camp in the valley of Dalanzadgad with a chance to see herds of black-tailed and white-tailed gazelles galloping across the desert. In the evening, we will drive to the legendary Flaming Cliffs (4 hours), consisting of red sandstone and stretching for about 3 km in width. They were first discovered by the Central Asiatic Expedition led by Roy Chapman Andrews of the American Museum of Natural History in the early 20th century. The cliffs are home to thousands of dinosaur fossils. The first dinosaur eggs ever to be discovered were found here. Paleontological expeditions from many countries, including from the U.S, Poland, Japan, and Russia have worked here. Each year, the rain and wind reveal yet more fossils and every summer new discoveries are made. We will visit one of the lesser-visited areas and spend the evening looking for dinosaur fossils. Enjoy a picnic dinner at the Flaming Cliffs. Transfer to the ger camp for overnight in gers (1 hour). (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

Demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo) in flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 13, July 10 Ulaanbaatar / Muron / Lake Hovsgol

The morning is available for additional sightseeing. In the afternoon, we will drive to the airport for our flight to Murun, the provincial capital of Hovsgol province. Upon arrival we transfer to Lake Hovsgol, the Blue Pearl of Mongolia, and an alpine lake containing 70% of Mongolia’s fresh water resources. Transfer to your ger camp located on the shore of the lake.

Dinner and overnight in a local ger camp.

(Ger Camp; B, L, D)

MONGOLIA, MONGOLIAN WRESTLING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14, July 11 Naadam Festival

In the morning, drive to the southern Hatgal Village to attend the Naadam Festival. Known as “Three manly” sports” in Mongolia, the Naadam games consist of wrestling, horse racing and archery. It is also an occasion for family re-unions and big feasts. This is the happiest time for nomads as they put on their best costumes and celebrate the games for two full days. Enjoy tasting local festival food and mingle with the locals. Return back to the ger camp in time for dinner. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

 

Day 15, July 12 Trekking and photographing at Lake Hovsgol

After breakfast, enjoy a half-day of trekking along the lakeshore. This will offer an excellent view of the landscape in the surrounding area.

Overnight in gers. (Ger Camp; B, L, D)

The Sukhbaatar statue on the Sukhbaatar Square or Genghis Khan Square also called Chingis Khan Square with the Government Palace in downtown Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 16, July 13 Muron / Ulaanbaatar

In the morning, drive to Muron for your return flight to Ulaanbaatar. Upon arrival, we transfer to your hotel. In the evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

(Blue Sky Hotel is similar; B, L, D)

MONGOLIA, ULAANBAATAR, GANDAN HILL MONASTERY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day17, July 14 Ulaanbaatar

Begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery, which always is a good way of starting the trip by exploring the country’s spiritual heritages. Next, visit some of the outstanding museums in the city including the National History and Fine Arts Museum of Mongolia. In the evening, we will enjoy a wonderful performance of traditional Mongolian music and dance, featuring Khoomii or “throat” singing followed by a farewell dinner at one of the city’s fine local restaurants.

Overnight at hotel.

(Blue Sky Hotel is similar; B, L, D)

Day 18, July 15 Departure

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B)

B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner

Wolfgang Kaehler Photography (Run with the Wolfies) reserves the right to alter the above itinerary if deemed necessary!

I hope you can join me.  In order to book this trip, please click on the BOOK THIS TOUR link on top of the page.  Thank you.