Mongolian archery competition, competitor dressed in traditional Buryat Mongolian suit, Nadaam Festival Ulaanbataar, Mongolia

Itinerary: Mongolia - Mongolian Horizons

7 July to 21 July 2019

Journey through the Gobi Desert’s distinctive landscapes of towering sand dunes, wide open steppes, iced gorges, Rocky Mountains, red cliffs, stunning sunsets and sunrises. Then there are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape; an extensive area of pastureland which includes numerous archaeological remains dating back to the 6th century, and Karakorum – the ruins of the ancient Mongolian capital. All in a cultural landscape set between Buddhism and Shamanism.

As with many Zen Oriental Journeys we aim to coincide with national or religious festivals and events. Mongolian Journey is no exception as we have ‘ring-side’ seats to the most colourful and amazing Naadam Festival. All Mongolians celebrate the three sports of horse racing, archery and wrestling. The festival is registered with the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund of UNESCO.

On this Journey you will:

• Gain insights into traditional nomadic life by living as the Mongolians do
• Enjoy the great Nadaam Festival, UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
• Engage with the lifestyle of Kazakh families
• Visit Karakorum city, a UNESCO World Heritage site with magnificent Buddhist temples and monastic complexes
• Discover Przewalski's horses in their natural environment
• Explore the legendary Flaming Cliffs, where the first dinosaur eggs were discovered
• Be awed by the “Gandan” Monastery, seat of Mongolian Buddhism
• Climb the extraordinary sand dunes of Khongor in the great Gobi Desert
• Attend the Deeltei Mongol National Costume Festival

Our Hotels:

We understand that travel isn't all about a fleeting glimpse of popular mass tourist spots, or staying at luxury hotels, but is also about time, space, privacy and those special destinations and moments that turn your Journey into a truly magical experience. Mongolian Horizons is a tour for everyone wanting to see Asia on roads less travelled and explore new horizons rarely encountered. On this adventure, we use 4-star hotels in Ulaanbaatar and Ger (Mongolian traditional yurt), elsewhere. The Ger camp is the most popular accommodation style for journeys outside the capital. These camps consist of 20+ Ger, a large Ger restaurant and some entertainment facilities. Each Ger has 2-4 beds and furnished with a table, chairs and a wood-stove. The restaurant serves both European and Mongolian cuisine. Western standard flush toilets and showers are in separate blocks from the Ger accommodation used by all guests in the Ger camp. Most visitors prefer to stay in Ger, which provide an authentic taste of Mongolian culture and adventure, and for most, their most enjoyable experience in Mongolia.

Participants should note that the order of visits and activities described may be modified to accommodate changes in flight schedules, special access to museums and crafts and ethnic peoples, the pathways chosen by our experienced and knowledgeable local guides, local road conditions and unexpected contingencies such as festivals, street processions or religious ceremonies and village customs.


Daily Breakfasts in our hotels and other meals are indicated as B (Breakfast), L (Lunch), D (Dinner).

Ulaanbaatar gers panorama, Mongolia


Day 1: 6 July 2019

Depart your capital city and fly to Beijing where you may require an overnight stopover. (To be advised once 2019 flights are released).

Day 2: 7 July 2019, Arrival at, Chinggis Khaan (Buyant Ukhaa) International Airport, D

Arrive this morning in the nations’ capital, Ulaanbaatar. Our guide & driver will be waiting for us in the arrival hall. Transfer to the hotel in Ulaanbaatar. In the afternoon we drive to Zaisan Memorial, built by the Russians to commemorate fallen soldiers of World War II. Situated on one of the hills surrounding Ulaanbaatar, the area provides excellent views of the capital and the surrounding countryside. There is an opportunity to walk higher up the stairs to see the monument itself for a view of the other side of the mountain, overlooking the new district of Zaisan with a backdrop of the Bogd Khan National Park. To welcome us to Mongolia, we sample traditional Mongolian dishes while dining in a large ger at the Abtai-Sain Khan Palace.

Accommodation: Hotel 4 star

Day 3: 8 July 2019, Gun Galuutai National Park, B/L/D

In the morning, we will drive to Gun Galuutai Natural Reserve, where the high mountains, steppes, rivers, lakes and wetlands are in perfect harmony and remain pristine environments. Later we arrive at our Steppe nomad’s ger camp, where we will have lunch. The rest of the day is free for relaxing, walking, fishing, riding horses, and archery.

Orkhon National Park, Central Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 130km, driving for approx. 3hrs

Day 4: 9 July 2019, Genghis Khan’s Statue Complex - Terelj National Park, B/L

Drive to the Genghis Khan Statue Complex, which is currently the biggest (40m high) equestrian statue in the world. There is a recreation area, restaurants, and souvenir shops which occupy the base structure. From here, we use an elevator or walk to the head of the horse from where we have a good panoramic view over the area.

The world's largest statue of Genghis Khan, Mongolia

We will continue to the Terelj National Park, which is one of the most visited national parks in Mongolia. You can see the extraordinary formation of rocks and stones.

After lunch at our Ger camp, we take short drive to see Turtle Rock – an interesting rock formation reminiscent of a turtle, and then visit the Ariyabal meditation temple. The temple sits atop the mountain and is surrounded by spectacular scenery with massive rock formations. The distance between the gate and the actual temple is about 1 km and it is only accessible by walking. Then we may cross the suspension bridge and climb 108 stairs, the number of beads on a Buddhist mala. From the top, you can enjoy the breath-taking view overlooking the Terelj National Park.

We’ll also visit a local nomadic family to experience first-hand how people live in the country side, experiencing a lifestyle which has not changed for centuries. Here we can help the herders with their daily tasks to gain an idea of how nomadic people live alongside their livestock.

Young woman in traditional yurt, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 120km, approx. 3hrs

Day 5: 10 July 2019, Nalaikh settlement - Ulaanbaatar half day city tour, B/L

In the morning we will drive to the Nalaikh settlement where we will visit the Kazakh ethnic minority peoples who are famous for their elaborate handcrafted carpets and clothing. Here we can explore the lifestyle of Kazakh families.

Kazakh ethnic minority, Nalaikh, Mongolia

Kazakh ethnic bags with ornament in the market at Nauryz celebration in Almaty, Kazakhstan, central Asia

Return to Ulaanbaatar and after lunch visit the Museum of Mongolian National History which presents Mongolian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present day. Then visit Sukhbaatar Square which lies at the heart of the city surrounded by important buildings such as the government palace, banks, theatres and post office.

The Bogd Khan Palace, Ulanbaartar, Mongolia

Naadam traditional festival on Chinggis Square (Sukhbaatar Square), Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

We have planned the program to attend the Deeltei Mongol National Costume Festival which is held annually on Sukhbaatar’s square. At the festival a friendly competition is held amongst locals who are dressed in colourful traditional garments, and elect the best traditionally dressed men, women, children, and couples.

Mongolian couple in a traditional 13th century costume, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Mongolian woman in traditional outfit, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

In the evening we will be transferred to the Hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel 4 star

Total distance: 70 km, approx. 2hrs

Day 6: 11 July 2019, Naadam festival opening & horse racing at Hui Doloon Hudag, Ulaanbaatar, B/L/D

Today, we will be attending the opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival in the Ulaanbaatar National Stadium. Naadam has been registered with the Intangible Heritage Fund of UNESCO elevating the Mongolian Naadam to a global festival. We have reserved seats to witness the Opening Ceremony which has the most colourful and amazing parades. It’s Mongolia’s biggest, most colourful and most important annual cultural event, focusing on three sports: horse racing, Mongolian-style wrestling, and archery. It's no coincidence that all three skills derive from the capabilities of Genghis Khan's legendary military - a force that conquered and controlled the largest empire the world has ever known.

Nadaam Opening Ceremony, the most important festival of the year, includes competitions in horse racing, wrestling and archery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Traditional mongolian wrestling, Nadaam Festival, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Mongolian horse riders take part in the traditional historical show of Genghis Khan era in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Here is today’s program:

• 8am departure from the hotel lobby and visit central Naadam stadium
• Witness the ‘ankle-bone shooting’ competition
• Visit the archery field, filled with archers in colourful ethnic national costumes
• We will wander around outside of the Naadam stadium to watch the locals who are dressed in their national costumes and we visit the food and trade corners
• Afterwards, we enter the main stadium for the opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival
• Then we can watch part of Mongolian national wrestling

After lunch, we will drive 1-1.5 hours to Hui Doloon hudag (horse racing field of the Naadam Festival) to witness the horse races, where children ride small but sturdy horses across the steppe. We will learn about interesting traditional beliefs such as the one who stands in the dust of the Soyolon (strongest horse aged 4) race will be blessed until the next Naadam. So don’t be surprised if you see businessmen, crowds of people donning traditional garments, as well as the Mongolia ‘strong-men’ waiting for the fastest horse.

Horse racing, Nadaam Festival, Doloon Hudang, Mongolia

In the evening return to Hotel for dinner

Accommodation: Hotel 4 star

Day 7: 12 July 2019, Hugnu Khan National Park, B/L/D

In the morning we drive to the Hugnu Khan National Park. It is a picturesque area of Rocky Mountains, semi desert, Gobi sand dunes and steppes all in one location representing three different natural zones. This place is ideal for hiking, wild life observation and photography. There we will visit Uvgun Monastery while driving through the semi-desert and the Rocky Mountains offering beautiful mountain views.

Singing Sand Dunes at Khongoryn Els at Sunset, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 290km, approx. 5.5 hours

Day 8: 13 July 2019, Karakorum & Erdenezuu Buddhist Monastery, B/L/D

Drive this morning to Karakorum - a small village and one of the country's major tourist destinations; historically known as Karakorum city. A UNESCO World Heritage site.

Karakoram was once the capital of the Mongolian Empire, which was the largest continuous empire in world history, and consisted of much of Asia and parts of Eastern Europe. In 1220, Karakorum was founded by Genghis Khan in the Orkhon valley at the crossroads of the Silk Road. The city flourished with wealth and culture, especially as artists and intellectuals were brought over from Europe to enhance the Eurasian capital.

We will visit the magnificent and the oldest Buddhist Monastery complex, Erdene Zuu, built in the 16th century, with 108 stupas. The monastery is still active, and there are temple museums and buildings where monks live and pray. Here you can listen to the monks chanting Buddhist sutras.

Erdene Zuu regarded as the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery of Mongolia, founded in 1585 by Abatai Khan, a descendant of Ghengis Khan

Exterior of one of the Erdene Zuu monastery buildings Kharkhorin, UNESCO World Heritage site, Mongolia

Buddha Statues at Erdene Zuu Monastery, Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kharkhorin, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 95km, approx. 2 hours

Day 9: 14 July 2019, Hustai National Park (Wild Horse Park), B/L/D

In the morning, we will drive to the Hustai National Park, home to the Mongolian wild horse known as Przewalski's horse (takhi) with a unique landscape that features mountains and steppe.

Lunch at Hustai Ger camp

In the evening, we will take a short drive and we may to see the horses in their natural habitat. Seeing these truly wild horses which existed hundreds of thousands of years ago, will make us feel like we have travelled thousands of years back in time. There are great opportunities to take photos of these endangered horses. If we are lucky, we may also see fox, deer, roe deer, eagles, and more.

Przewalski's horses (takhi), Orkhon Valley, Kharkhorin, Mongolia

Przewalski's wild horses, Kharkhorin, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: approx. 290km, driving for approx. 5 hrs

Day 10: 15 July 2019, Mongol Nomadic Exhibition - Ulaanbaatar, B/L

Temple of Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Gandantegchinlen Monastery, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

This morning we will drive to the Mongol Nomadic Ger camp for the Mongolian Nomads exhibition which will demonstrate the Mongolian nomadic way of living and traditional customs and culture. Enjoy a traditional Mongolian lunch in the camp and then drive to Ulaanbaatar where we will visit the “Gandan” Monastery, Mongolia’s largest functioning Buddhist monastery; the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Woven through Mongolia’s nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition in which ancient shamanic practices are still evident. Walking through the monastery grounds, we will hear the low tones of horns used to call the lamas to the temple and observe their daily rituals, including the reading of sutras - the teachings of the Buddha. We visit the recently-renovated Chenrezig and Kalachakra Temples, as well as the magnificent image of Megjid Janraisig, “the lord who looks in every direction.” This 28 m high statue, gilded and clothed with silk and precious stones, completely fills one of Gandan’s temples.

Nomadic way of living, traditional customs and culture, Mongolia

Please Note:

Chenrezig is Tibetan for the Sanskrit Bodhisattva Avolokitesvara. It is the name given to HH The Dalia Lama (as an incarnation). Megiid Janraisig is Mongolian for the same Bodhisattva.

Accommodation: Hotel 4 star

Total distance: approx. 120km, driving for approx. 2 hrs

Day 11: 16 July 2019, Flight to the Gobi Desert Bayanzag (Flaming cliffs), Gobi, B/L/D

Today, we fly for around 1.5 hours to Dalanzadgad in the Gobi province and drive to Bayanzag to the legendary Flaming Cliffs, where the first dinosaur eggs the world had ever seen were discovered during the third Central Asiatic Expeditions of the American Museum of Natural History in 1923. The expedition leader was the energetic Roy Chapman Andrews, who is often thought to have inspired the Indiana Jones character later in Hollywood! If you are lucky, it’s possible to find an egg and bones of dinosaurs from here. (a likely story!!). White fossilized bones and eggs are still found nowadays by palaeontologists, local herdsmen and travellers.

After checking in and having lunch at the Ger camp we will watch a documentary about the Gobi. Rest of the afternoon is free for individual activities.

After dinner, drive to see the ‘flaming’ red cliffs at Bayanzag. This area is well known for its red rocks that were formed through wind and water erosion. From a distance the cliff looks like a fire in the sunset.

Flaming Cliffs (Bayanzag), Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Colorful Rock Formations and Natural Desert Cliffs, Tsagaan Suvarga, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 170km, approx. 3.5 hours

Day 12: 17 July 2019, Khongor sand dunes, the biggest sand dunes in Gobi, B/L/D

In the morning we will drive west to the extraordinary sand dunes of Khongor. This is the largest area of sand dunes and one of the most scenic areas of the Gobi. The dunes rise abruptly from the plain, in some places reaching a height of 300 meters, and extend over an area between 2-12 km in width and 180 km in length.

Sand dunes, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

After lunch, free time to relax in the Ger camp before visiting a local camel herder family in their Ger, exploring their unique nomadic lifestyle. Why not try drinking Hormog? (fermented Mongolian camel milk).

The sand dunes are the perfect place for camel riding and we will discover this magnificent place on camel back. Mongolia is home to two thirds of the two-humped Bactrian camels in the world. It is a gentle, calm and extraordinarily patient animal and can carry on without water for a month. The two-humped camels are very comfortable to ride, as they walk slowly and gently to the largest sand-dune.

Sitting two-humped Bactrian camel with saddle, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

In the evening, we will climb the Singing Dune, one of the highest dunes, giving us the opportunity to see the breath-taking panorama of the ‘endless’ sand dunes. When it is windy some of the dunes generate a strange sound like the engines of an aeroplane, for which they are named the “singing dunes”.

Camel silhouette, Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 150km, approx. 4 hours

Day 13: 18 July 2019, Dungenee Canyon & Yol valley in Gobi, B/L/D

This morning, our tour guide and driver are ready to escort us to the Yol valley, situated in the “Three beauties of Gobi” National Park. We will search for the elusive Yol or Bearded Vulture, one of the most endangered carnivorous bird species. On the way, we will see a small Gobi village at Bayandalai and pass through the spectacular Dungenee canyon.

After lunch, explore the valley, which is notable for its deep ice field; remaining frozen for most of the year, only thawing in late summer. There will be walks through grassy meadows, small streams, long and narrow valleys with sheltering high cliff walls, sunlight bouncing off amazing rocks, covered with wild flowers and Gobi plants. You may be lucky enough to spot wild sheep and goat, grazing high on the cliff walls.

Snow in Narrow Valley Gorge, Yolyn Am, Gobi, Mongolia

Accommodation: Ger camp

Total distance: 220km, approx. 5 hours

Day 14: 19 July 2019, Flight back to Ulaanbaatar, B/L/D

Today we will return to Ulaanbaatar and be transferred to the Hotel and have some free time. In the evening we farewell Mongolian Journey with the “Wonders of Mongolia” folklore show by the famous Tumen-Ekh ensemble – one of the most successful folk-art groups to share traditional Mongolian music with the world, having travelled to over 40 countries. After dinner, transfer to the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel 4 star

Day 15: 20 July 2019, Departure, B

As your memorable trip comes to end, you will have some last minute free time before being transferred to the airport for your flight to connect with home

Traditional Mongolian Boots, Mongolia

Day 16: 21 July 2019, Arrival in Australia


• Escorted from Australia by Ruth Flaherty, subject to 10 participants
• English speaking tour guide throughout the Mongolian Journey
• 13 nights’ accommodation based on twin/double occupancy
• Good 4 star hotel in the city - 5 nights
• Best Ger camps in countryside trip - 8 nights
• All meals as indicated in the itinerary
• All transfer & transport including experienced driver
• Naadam Festival Opening Ceremony Ticket(s) with best seat(s)
• Car entry permission to Naadam stadium and horse racing field
• All sightseeing and entrance fees as mentioned as program
• Cultural performance by the famous Tumen Ekh Ensemble
• Camel riding in the Gobi Desert
• Complimentary drinking water during the tour
• Visa invitation letter
• All service charges, local and Gov’t taxes


• Visa to Mongolia (Zen Oriental will apply on your behalf (approx. USD 75.00)
• Overnight transit hotel in Beijing if required
• Tipping and other personal expenses
• International flights & Travel insurance (compulsory) Please obtain once you have paid for your ticket. If you need assistance, go to:

Sharon Evans
Owner / Manager
helloworld Marion Westfield Mall Level 2
Westfield Marion
Oaklands Park SA 5046
Telephone: (08) 8358 1949
E-mail: Sharon

Prices may fluctuate due to changes in charges, taxes and currency. Prices and flights are correct at time of preparing this program and are subject to availability at time of booking. Special conditions and seasonal surcharges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of travel. Flight times are subject to change by the airline. Please visit or ring 1300 139 281 for information on current Government traveladvice.


On Land package cost

• FULL REFUND if trip is cancelled 91 days (or earlier) prior to start of the trip. MINUS any costs incurred by our Mongolian travel partners
• 90 to 65 days prior to departure date: the deposit is non-refundable
• 65 to 15 days prior to departure date: 30% of the total price
• 14 to 7 days prior to departure date: 50% of the total price
• 6 to 0 days prior to departure date: 100% of the total price

For further information, don’t hesitate to contact Zen Oriental Journeys by emailing Lee Grafton or ring 0401 123 347

Bookings will be processed in order of receipt. Any bookings after this date will be accepted subject to visa processing, flight availability, land content and room availability. Such booking must be paid in full after confirmation of your acceptance in the tour. Special conditions and additional charges to airfares and package prices may apply depending on date of booking.

Costs associated with the Asia In-Country Study Tours can be tax deductible. Educators may be able to claim their study tour expenses under a number of tax deduction categories which include: self-education expenses; excursions, school trips and camps if these trips have an educational benefit and are related to the curriculum or extra-curriculum activities of the school; acquisition of teaching aids used for curriculum development and teaching programs. Participants must contact their tax advisor or visit the Australian Tax Office website to confirm eligibility.
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