Gobi to Kharakorum (7n/8d)

National History Museum

National History Museum

Day 1
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar. Lunch at the hotel. City sightseeing tour with a visit to the National History Museum, home to numerous dinosaur skeletons and displays on the diversity of Mongolian wildlife. The Museum was founded in 1924 and includes sections on geography, botany, fauna and paleontology.  The highlight of a visit to the museum is spectacular huge skeleton of a Tarbosaurus, an Asian cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, along with other complete skeletons and nests full of eggs.  A new addition to the museum is the Golden Camel Museum section, which will tell you everything you ever needed to know about the two-humped Bactrian camels of Mongolia. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 2  
Start your motorbikes and ride to the Middle Gobi tourist camp 260 km away. Visit the sacred Zorgol Khairkhan Mountain (1,686m above sea level) on the way, and stay overnight in a ger camp.  The area traversed on this day is pure steppe, seemingly never-ending grass plains broken by the spectacular mountain ranges of central Mongolia.

Day 3 
Spend the day underway to the South Gobi, 300km away, and overnight in the Tuvshin ger camp.  Steppe gives way to the beginnings of one of the most famous deserts in the world, one of the harshest environments on the planet. Ride along stony desert floors, past huge sand dunes and wind-swept cliffs.  Arrive in the Tuvshin ger camp in time to witness the colors of the desert transformed at sunset.

Day 4  
Sleep in and spend a relaxing day exploring the South Gobi area. Visit the Yoliin Am canyon, otherwise known as Eagle Valley, where thick ice rivers remain frozen throughout summer, and catch up on the fascinating history and wildlife of the region at the Gobi Natural Museum. Later pay a visit to local camel-breeding family, experience the lifestyle of the people who live in this harsh place and be introduced to some of their desert ships. Camp overnight in the ger camp.

Day 5
Ride on to the tiny and picturesque village of Saikhan Ovoo, 240 km away, via Mandal Ovoo, and set up camp for the night.

Day 6
Complete the 280km ride to Karakorum, the ancient imperial capital of the Mongol Empire, via Arvaikheer and Khujirt.  Arvaikheer, situated between the pasture land of the north and the arid gobi-steppe to the south, grew from a large monastery and is now is the provincial capital.  Both Arvaikheer and Khujirt are full of mineral and hot springs, and you may also find time for the rock carvings and temples located in or near these two towns. On arrival in Karakorum, visit the site of the imperial city and the Erdene-Zuu monastery.  Karakorum existed as a city for 140 years but served as the country’s capital for only 32 years.  It was a cosmopolitan city, where religions and cultures coexisted under the patronage of the Khan.  Today, a sense of the grandeur of the old city can be felt, although most of the bricks and stones from the ruins of Karakorum were used to build the Erdene Zuu Monastery.  The Monastery was constructed in 1586 and once held over 600 temples with 1000 monks in residence.  Today it is both a museum and a working monastery.  Spend the afternoon immersed in the history of Mongolia. Overnight in the Karakorum tourist camp.

Day 7
Ride the 360km back to Ulaanbaatar. Evening performance by a Mongolian folk group. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 8 
Transfer to the airport and depart.

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