South Gobi – sands and mountains
The most classical of all Mongolian routes brings you to South Gobi. The Gurvansaikhan Mountain range, the scenic Hongor Sands, and the iconic so-called Flaming Cliffs – Bayanzag. The journey wraps up at Hustai National Park, where the zebra-like Przewalskii Horse, has been re-introduced into its native land. Stay at Mongolia’s only high-end lodges, Three Camel Lodge and HS Khaan Ger Resort.
PRICE On request
SEASON June to September
TRIP TYPE Jeep Safari
ACCOMMODATION Private 360° Camps, lodges and hotel in Ulan Bator.
ACTIVITIES Landcruiser roundtrip to amazing landscapes and protected areas.
DURATION 9 days ex-Ulan Bator
This experience brings us to South Gobi and the post-card landscapes of southern Mongolia. We will cover the large Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. The Gurvansaikhan Mountain ranges bisects the Gobi plains. Here the Yol Valley and other ravines are located, ice and snow remaining well into June. The Hongor Sands is one of the more scenic sand dunes in all of the country. The first-ever fossilized dinosaur eggs in the world were found at Bayanzag in the 1920s.
Hustai National Park, west of Ulan Bator, is one of three re introduction sites for the Przewalskii Horse. A wild, once extinct horse species, closely related to zebras. There are also numerous Wapiti Deers at Hustai.
We would love to tailor a custom trip to the South for you
TO ULAN BATOR
On the arrival day, to orient yourself we suggest a stroll on to central Sukhbaatar Square. The square is flanked by state buildings from the mid Soviet Era, and contains statues of Genghis Khan (seated) and Damdin Sukhbaatar (on horseback). A full day of explorations of Ulan Bator. The National Museum of Mongolia to admire its ethnographic collections of nomadic culture and examine the history which led to the imperial era of Genghis Khan. The Gandan Monastery, the busiest Buddhist site in Mongolia. Mongols share a strong religious affinity with Tibet, and the Dalai Lama as its supreme leader. The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan.
TO HONGOR SANDS
Fly 1½ hours from Ulan Bator to Dalanzadgad in South Gobi province. By landcruiser(s) we will make our way west 240 kilometers to Hongor Sands, passing south of the Gurvansaikhan Mountains. After four to five hours, you will reach the giant dunes, flowing in a broad sweep some 150 kilometres from northwest to southeast. The narrow dunes sit on a plain between two mountain ranges; crosswinds sculpt some of them up to 80 metres high. After exploring the area, you will retire for two overnights to your private, away from other tourist’s, and secluded 360° Wilderness Camp, set up in a remote location in right in front, to make the most of dramatic views across the sand dunes.
HONGOR SANDS & BAYANZAG
Today you will spend a full day exploring the stunning landscape around Hongor Sands, where you’ll likely encounter a few nomadic families and their livestock. You will travel south by jeep to the Zöölöön mountain range and hike through the highland valleys, with more chances to run into local pastoralists. In the evening you’ll see the dunes at their brilliant best when the fading light emphasizes their shapely forms. The next morning we depart to Bayanzag, 120 kilometers to the east across prairie rich in wildlife; you will probably see goitered gazelles and foxes. The name Bayanzag translates to 'Rich in Saxaul'. The main attraction, though, is the ‘Flaming Cliffs’ made famous by American explorer (and some say the inspiration for ‘Indiana Jones’) Roy Chapman Andrews, who made the world’s first discovery of fossilized dinosaur eggs here in the early 1920s. ‘Flaming Cliffs’ are so-called due to their red and orange hues that combine to create an awe-inspiring tableau, especially at sunset. We will spend the following two nights in iconic Three Camel Lodge.
Drive for half a days outing into the heart of the Gurvansaikhan Mountains and ascend into the Yol Valley, a dramatic ravine which we will explore on foot. Ice usually blankets the narrowest parts of the ravine until mid-summer. Birdwatching is rewarding here; you are sure to see the bearded vulture, also known as the lammergeier, soaring high above the ravine. ‘Yol’ is the bird’s Mongolian name. There are also rare wallcreepers, and the ravine floor is usually teeming with rabbit-like pika.
TO HUI DOLOON HUDAG
Today you will return to the capital by plane. At Ulan Bator you will be met at the airport for a one-hour transfer to the Hui Doloon Hudag plains, a steppe area west of the city where the famous horse races take place every July. Here you will recharge in the comfort of mansion-like, modernized gers with windows and a terrace. Afternoon time is your own; you’re free to relax at the resort or venture off with your guide. Stay for the last two overnights in Mongolia at HS Khaan Ger Resort.
HUSTAI NATIONAL PARK
We begin the day by driving a short distance south to Hustai National Park, to meet with nomadic herders and community members. A lunch of traditional buuz (mutton dumplings) and hushuur (mutton pancakes) will be served by your hosts, who are partners in conservation work at Hustai. You will then embark on a game drive through the park to see Wapiti deers and Przewalski horses, called takhi in the Mongol tongue. The takhi, a truly wild horse closer to zebra than horses, became extinct in Mongolia in the 1960s but were successfully rehabilitated after animals were donated from zoo parks across the world. Dinner will be served at Hustai National Park restaurant before your return to Hui Doloon Hudag for the night. On the last day, there is a two hours transfer to the international airport, for your onward journey.
This is our easiest trip. In landcruiser(s) you will reach all sites by landcruiser. a relatively accessible location my Mongolian standards, only a 3hr drive from Ulaanbaatar, yet feeling surprisingly wild and remote. The trip can suit varying levels of fitness as there are options to hike, ride or travel by yak cart.
It’s an outdoor experience with camping in comfort and a unique style.
- All overnight accommodations in hotels, lodges and private 360° wilderness camp.
- All transport, incl domestic flights, and Land Cruiser, max 3 guest per vehicle.
- All meals outside Ulan Bator.
- Camp entourage including cook, camp master, and guide.
- National Park entry fee.
- Air or train tickets to/from Mongolia.
- Lunches and dinners in Ulan Bator, and one dinner at HS Khaan Ger Resort.
For a longer stay in Mongolia you may wish to consider adding on 3 to 4 days, which could comprise a walk in the Khentii hills supported by yak carts. The forested Khan Khentii region, with its gurgling rivers, presents a different kind of landscape than you will see on this itinerary. You may also choose to replace the Hustai National Park section of this trip with Khan Khentii. With sufficiently early bookings we can offer charter flights by Cessna Caravan bush plane (max 8 people) between all locations on the itinerary, taking off and landing at private remote airstrips. You may request a quote for any or all of the trip segments.
Ulan Bator Arrangements
Our trips can be customized and combined in a modular fashion. Your stay in Ulan Bator will be quoted separately, allowing you the choice of hotels and experiences matching your entries and exits in our capital.
All Ulan Bator services include:
- private chauffeur service to and from the airport at the start and end of your trip;
- city guide and private driver available as required;
- the services of our Ulan Bator guest relations team;
This trip is suitable for all fitness levels.
The Eastern Steppes is a region of global conservation significance. Khar Yamaat SPA is now under management by WWF, while TNC is supporting Tolsonhulstai SPA. WCS has done extensive scientific research on the Gazelles, and are working with herder community groups to support Gazelle conservation in the region.
South of the Onon River, Wildlife Science and Conservation Centre undertake research on the plains on Cranes, partnering with The International Crane Foundation. Five different species of Cranes can sometimes be seen here!
Three Camel Lodge is an iconic steppe retreat comprising 40 well-appointed gers, each with their own bathroom, set around a central clubhouse made from stone and wood beams. The location is in the heart of South Gobi, close to the famous sights of Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs) and Yol Valley in the Gurvansaikhan Mountains.