Tour Duration: 8N 9D
Group Size: 1 - 10
Destination(s): Ulaanbaatar - Khuvsgul
Specialty Categories: Cultural Journey, Adventurous travel
Season: Winter, Summer
Tour Customizable: Yes
Tour price per person:
Mongolian winter is a quiet season for tourists. Explore Mongolia on foot and horseback, and in four-wheel drive vehicles, on this adventurous trip through unforgettable steppe, desert, and mountain scenery when all these wildernesses dressed in white. This trip is designed for explorers who want to travel off the beaten-track to sense this special season that people come together, that challenges are faced as one, which unique experiences become everyday occurrences. A true adventure, this trip includes visiting the Hustai and the Khuvsgul Lake National Parks which will give you a chance to contrast completely different landscape and lifestyle of locals.
A.m. after picking you up at the hotel in Ulaanbaatar and we will make our way to Hustai National Park by four wheel drive. The Hustai National Park is located around Hustai (Birch) Mountain, 2 hours’ drive west of Ulaanbaatar. It is a home to the last remaining species of wild horse, Przewalski’s Horse, believed to be the ancestor of all horses on Earth. It became extinct in the 1960s, and has been returned to Mongolia in 1992. A dozen animals were airlifted from Holland and the Ukraine in one of the most ambitious horse projects ever attempted. After full course lunch in Hustai camp please feel free to make some shorter hikes to discover Hustai area or if your jet lag does not bother you, you can hike to Moltsog Els, the sand dunes stretches for about 20km. It is just 7 km far from your camp. Overnight in a ger.
Hustai National Park
Hustai trek. Today we will take a game drive to see some of the free roaming herds of the Takhi, while having a reasonable chance to see red deer, black vultures and other numerous raptors such as eagles and falcons. Before the journey, please, visit a small Information Center at the camp and listen to its remarkable tale about the rescue of the Przewalski horse. Overnight in a ger.
After breakfast we will continue our overland journey heading to Khuvsgul province, the remotest northern province of Mongolia. It is 700 km drive across steppes to high mountains. Late evening we will reach Ashihai Lakeshore resort in Khuvsgul Lake National Park. In small restaurant in the main lodge we will serve you a dinner which concludes with delicious dessert. Our gers have floor heating which guarantee you a warm and comfortable sleep. Moreover, here you can treat yourself to a pleasant few moments in our Sauna to soothe your body after a long day of driving. Overnight in Ashihai Lakeshore Resort.
Relax day. The Lodge surroundings allow you to hike in any direction; hourly, half days and full day. Ask our cook to pack your lunch and stray away into the hills for the day. You may also explore the area by horse with local horsemen having opportunity to visit local families and taste real nomadic delicacies and beverages. Overnight in Ashihai Lakeshore Resort.
Trip to Tsaatan. This is a day that starts a real adventure. After full breakfast with fresh bakery from our Chief cook, we will drive to Khatgal town. Here you can visit a local school, a hospital, National Park Administration or even we can arrange for you a meeting with your Mongolian colleague of your profession. Then, we will drive to the Khirvesteg spot to meet our houses and guides to a Tsaatan family. After hot picnic lunch we will begin the fully animal supported trip continuing for 5-7 hours via Khirvesteg pass, on the western side of Khuvsgul Lake into the Khoridol Saridag Mountains. Our cook will serve you Mongolian traditional food, a specialty for this evening. Overnight in tent close to the Tsaatan tribe. Bonfire… . (Average altitude over 2000m )
Tsaatan (reindeer people) are the last groups of nomadic reindeer herders in the world, who survived for thousands of years inhabiting the remotest subarctic taiga, migrating over 5 and 10 times a year. Historically, these people considered to be Tuvan (Tozhu Tuvans) Turkic community who were separated from their people in Tuva due to the demarcation between Mongolia and Russia in early 1900s. Presently, there only about 200 tsaatans of 44 families remained. The Tsaatan rely on the animal for most, if not all, of their basic needs: milk, which is also used to make cheese; antlers, which they use to make tools; and first and foremost, transport. They do not use the reindeer for meat. Scientists believe that their unique lifestyle still keeps some of imprints of pre-state tribalism; hunter-gatherer bands, which are generally egalitarian.
Today we will visit Tsaatan teepee. Usually, there are many toursist from all over the world come to see these indigenous people. However, in this time of a year with no other tourists in evidence which is guaranteed, it is easy to feel that you have the country to yourself. Explore this unique culture which differs from nomads who you visited a day before. Ride reindeer, taste their milk tea... You will be thrilled by hospitality and warmth of this unique ethnic group, despite their diligence to overcome harsh winter with temperatures plunging as low as -40 degrees Celsius. After early lunch we will head back to the Ashihai Resort. If weather permits us we will get back to the Khirvesteg spot around 4 p.m, the most convenient time to visit Shaman, famous for her power and generosity among all Tsaatan tribes. Drive to Ashihai Lakeshore Resort. Late dinner and overnight in Ashihai Lakeshore Resort.
Shamanism: Shamanism is believed as the first religion in Mongolia which has a long history from the time of clan structure. Unlike other religions, Shamanism worships the Blue Sky, namely the power of Eternal Heaven. And the Shaman is a kind of a priest or medium who acts as a conduit between the human world and the realm of the gods, demons, and spirits of ancestors. Shamanism in Mongolia could survive against enormous persecution to eradicate this ancient tradition by Buddhism and Stalinism for dozen centuries only thanks to the nomadic life style and Tsaatan tribes.
Today is a relax day for you. You may enjoy silence of snow while sipping a good selection of wine, vodka, beers, and sodas, including domestic varieties like Chinggis Vodka and Golden Gobi Beer with a picturesque Khuvsgul Lake setting.
After early breakfast we will head to UB back. Our driver will see you off right at the entrance of UB hotel. Picnic lunch