10 Days Gobi Desert in Winter with Camel Festival

Buddhist temple in Gobi Desert

Great views from even small peaks of the foothills.

The Gobi landscapes

The windblown patterns of rippled sand dunes with dustings of snow make for great works of art and photo opportunities.

10 Days Gobi Winter with Camel Festival

10 Days / 9 Nights

The camel festival takes place in South Goi prov- ince, in Bulgan District. It’s a colorful show of the skills and traditions of the camel herders of the Gobi, and becoming a popular event. From the festival location, there is easy access to some of the iconic sites of the Gobi – the Flaming Cliffs and the sand dunes of Moltsog Els, as well as to cultural sites such as a Buddhist temple, built by the local community on a rugged mountain top in Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park – “The Three Beauties of the Gobi , Mongolia’s largest National Park.

The Camel Festival is a feast of color and action, and offers great photo opportunities. You will be brought close to the local culture, and to the diversity of desert landscapes.

Remarks:

This trip is based on a minimum of 4 persons are needed before the trip will go. You can form your own group if you have 4 participants. Otherwise, you may need to join the trip with other guests from other countries.

Itinerary subject to changes

Day 1  Ulaanbaatar
Arrive Ulaanbaatar, pickup at airport and check in hotel. Orientation meeting, dinner.

Day 2  Ulaanbaatar to Tsagaan Suvraga
Drive overland from Ulaanbaatar to the South of Middle Gobi province, where the amazing landscape of Tsagaan Suvraga (“White Shrine”) and the Bronze Age rock art/petroglyphs at Del Uul Mountain start your journey into the ancient human history and amazing scenery of the Gobi. After exploring these sites, we stay overnight in a family ger camp nearby.

Day 3  Tsagaan Suvraga to Yoliin Am
Travel on to South Gobi province and stop in the provincial capital Dalanzadgad. Located in the plains, one can see the mountain range of the Eastern Beauty Mountains from here. South Gobi’s capital is one of the more modern provincial centers in the country, and the town is an interesting mix of new and old buildings. Being the service and commercial center of the province, you will see business people and traditional herders alike in town. We shop here for supplies and you have opportunity to visit with local women making handicrafts.

From Dalanzadgad we drive to the mountains and enter Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park to visit Yoliin Am. A short hike brings you into the scenic gorge, known for being ice filled even in the midst of the desert summer in most years. Often, you can see Himalayan griffon, the large vultures that the gorge is named after, see sore in the blue skies high above the rugged mountains. During summer season, you can also chose to ride into the gorge on horseback with one of the local guides who will await you at the entrance to the gorge.

After exploring Yoliin Am in the afternoon, we travel a short distance to meet the herder family in the foothills of the mountains, where we will spend the night in a traditional ger. Guests can join in the daily activities of the nomads – milking goats, making curd and preparing local food.

Day 4  Yoliin Am to Khongoriin Els
Today we travel further westwards, beginning with a scenic drive through the Dungene Valley. There is a fair chance to see wildlife here, as the surrounding hills are habitat for Ibex, and Argali.

At its western end, the valley narrows, with the creek meandering amongst rocky cliffs. We leave the valley and emerge to a view of the vast desert expanse to the South, before we return to the valley and cross it at the site where the remains of an ancient monastery are now marked by a stupa.

The afternoon drive is through the desert landscape, reaching the first outliers of the dunes of “Khongoryn Els”, often called the “Singing Sands”. The dunes stretch over 180 kilometers and we continue travel with the dunes in sight, until we reach the area where a desert river and green vegetation contrast with the sand dunes in the background, and where the sand forms the highest dunes, with steep walls of sand. We spend time walking in the sands, and there is opportunity for a camel ride before we stop for overnight with a local family.

Day 5  Khongoryn Els to Dalanzadgad
We have reached the westernmost point of our Gobi travels and begin the journey back. Depending on the season, weather and road conditions, we travel along the Northside of the mountain ranges, or take the route through the mountains, via Gegentiin Am, another gorge where wildlife can often be spotted. We can hike up a small side valley in the summer time, and enjoy a coffee break near the creek.

Following the winding gorge with high rock walls on both sides, we emerge at the Northern entrance to the gorge, and the view to the desert plains opens again. We turn East and later in the afternoon, we reach the landscape of red sandstone, known as “Flaming Cliffs” that was made famous by early 19th century expeditions lead by Roy Chapman Andrews of the American Museum of Natural History and the location of important paleontological finds, including the first discovered dinosaur eggs and specimens of Velociraptor and Protoceratops. The area’s local name is “Bayanzag” for the abundance of Saxaul forest here.

A late afternoon/early evening visit to the area lets you best enjoy the spectacular landscape as it glows in the light of the setting sun. From the top of the cliffs, you have a great view onto the saxaul forests in the red desert landscapes below and to the mountain ranges of the “Three Beauties of the Gobi” to the South.

“Baynzag Park” has been established here recently to educate about and protect this important paleontological site, and a visitor center is being planned to further promote outreach, awareness and research. With the establishment of the “Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs”, and the repatriation of many dinosaur fossils, most notably the complete skeleton of Tarbosaurus baatar, great efforts are underway now to preserve this important natural heritage of Mongolia. Learn more..

In the summer time, with longer day light and warm evenings, we stay longer to enjoy the sunset with snacks and wine, and we may choose to stay in a nearby ger accommodation overnight. In the cooler season, we continue to Dalanzadgad to stay overnight in a modern hotel.

Day 6-7 Camel Festival
Day One of Camel Festival:Travel to the Camel Festival. Check in Ger accommodation and proceed to the festival. Watch the opening ceremony, parade of camels with riders in traditional costumes, camel polo competition, local arts and crafts shows, cultural performances.

Day Two of the festival is busy with camel racing, shows of training and taming camels, and a competition of packing camels – an essential skill of nomadic herders to move with their household to new grazing areas. Opportunity to ride a camel.

Day 8  Dalanzadgad to Baga Gazriin Chuluu
Today you travel back towards Ulaanbaatar, the day’s destination is the picturesque landscape of the Nature Reserve of Baga Gazriin Chuluu. Granite rocks here make for very interesting land forms, the area is habitat to Argali, and other wildlife, and the remains of a Buddhist monastery are interesting to visit. Overnight at a local ger camp.

Day 9  Baga Gazriin Chuluu to Ulaanbaatar
Travel back to Ulaanbaatar. Arrive afternoon and transfer to hotel. Time for shopping/sightseeing in the evening.

Day 10  Departure
Transfer to airport, depart Mongolia<

10 Days Mongolia Winter Camel Festival
Tour Code: MNG-WCF10
LAND Cost per person in SGD : $ 3300
Based on min 4 pax. Max is 10 pax

A deposit of S$1500 per person is required and balance to be paid 1 month prior departure.

Price Includes:

  • All in country travel, food and accommodation is covered while on the tour, along with park entrance fees and permits.
  • In the city, hotel accommodation, breakfasts and airport transport are covered in the cost.
  • Airport transfer
  • transportation during the tour
  • Briefing prior departure
  • 15% discount for gears at X-Boundaries

Price does not include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Air tickets+ taxes
  • Personal belongings and expenses
  • All personal items, clothing and tequipment, (headlamps, camera’s, personal toiletries, etc.)
  • Lunch and dinner in the city
  • Tipping to the guides

What to Bring
The Camel Festival takes place in the Gobi desert in early March. It may be mild, but spring time can be windy and still cold in the Gobi. Therefore, your outfit should include warm parka/coat or down jacket, insulated pants, warm boots , gloves, hat, scarf, long top and bottom underwear, sweater or other mid layers. Sun glasses. Day pack.

Accommodation
In Ulaanbaatar and Dalanzadgad in modern hotels. One night at the Camel Festival in traditional Mongolian Ger sharing with several guests. It’s cozy and clean in the Ger. But no shower for that night, and no indoor plumbing. That one night will be authentic country side accommodation – part of the adventure!