16 Day Mongolia Explorer

8 August 2023

Trip price: $5,340

Deposit: $1,500

The most complete Mongolia experience. On this women-only trip, you will experience the magic that is the Mongolian way of life.

Stay with nomads and slow down to the pace of this ancient culture while you meet the local women and see how they maintain centuries-old tradition. You’ll enjoy rolling hills, see the Gobi deserts, and explore the heart of Mongolian Buddhism in monasteries. Stop for a day to enjoy the traditional Naadam festival in local village.

Highlights

Experience the traditional Naadam festival - the highlight of the Mongolian year - in a small town in the middle of nowhere

See the highlights of the Gobi; walk sand dunes, enjoy a camel trek, and meet camel herders

The BEST thing about Mongolia is the nomadic culture; we have organised three nomad homestays

Plant trees at the Gobi Oasis project and contribute to Mongolia sustainable for future generations

Get your heart pumping with multiple opportunities for short hikes, horse rides and afloat down a river through untouched countryside

Participate in Mongolian cooking and learn their centuries-nomadic cooking traditions

Trip Details

Price

$5,340 AUD (twin share)

  • $1,500 deposit.
  • 2 week cooling off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.
  • Private supplement available: $1,640 AUD, max 2 spots

Trip length

16 days, 15 nights


Dates

Starts: Ulaanbaatar, 8 August 2023

Finishes: Ulaanbaatar, 23 August 2023


Meeting point

Tuushin Hotel, Ulaanbaatar


Ending point

Tuushin Hotel, Ulaanbaatar


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Participation” section to see the requirements.


Included

  • Airport transfers
  • All entrance fees
  • Transportation in a private vehicle with an English-speaking guide
  • All meals: breakfasts, lunches and dinners included
  • All listed activities
  • All accommodation

Not included

  • Visa fees
  • International Flights
  • Travel Insurance must be obtained in order to join a Patch Adventures trip
  • Additional hotel nights
  • Tips & Gratuities: Please bring a minimum of $150 USD equivalent for tipping (We know that tipping is not part of the Australian way of life, but it has become de rigueur for international travel.)

Why Choose This Tour?

This is Mongolia, the way it SHOULD be done. We're going to some of the famous sights, sure, but it's so much more than that - you'll experience the magic that is the Mongolian way of life on this in-depth cultural experience.

Maybe you’ll come for the Flaming Cliffs or the Gobi, but your most treasured memories will be of your interactions with the Mongolian culture. That’s why we’ve organised homestays and have planned for real, unrushed time with one of the last truly nomadic cultures on the planet. You’ll stay in gers in the middle of nowhere in the Mongolian countryside

Don’t just sit in a vehicle - get out and experience nature with horse rides, hikes and kayaking

Click the tabs to find out more

Itinerary

Mongolia's capital with a large open square and some modern high-risers in the background
Day 1:  ULAANBAATAR

Arrival in Ulaanbaatar. A friendly face will be waiting to meet you at the airport. The group will meet at the reception at 2pm for a walk across the expansive Sukhbaatar Square to the National History Museum – a fantastic snapshot of the country’s past.

Next, we drop into a small theatre for a performance of traditional music and dance by the Tumen Ekh Ensemble. Perhaps a bit touristy, but well worth seeing. 

Dinner is at our favourite local restaurant.

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Drive time: 45 minutes

Beautiful view over a green valley and jagged mountain tops
Day 2: TERELJ

Terelj National Park is wonderful, but very popular. So, after visiting the iconic ‘Turtle Rock’, we’ll get away from the crowds to visit a nomadic family for a homemade lunch. Then we saddle up for a beginner friendly afternoon horse ride.

Make sure you keep an appetite – a nomadic evening feast is waiting for us! Cooking alongside Mongolian women in a ger is magical, so you can help out if you wish. We’ll sleep in the family’s guest gers. (Ger is the Mongolian word for Yurt, and is pronounced like the word ‘gear’.)

Accommodation: Terelj Family Ger
Drive time: 2.5hrs/74km

A group of kayakers heading out on the lake together
Day 3: COUNTRYSIDE KAYAK

We’re going to get out the inflatable kayaks this morning and reconnect with nature on a wide, shallow, beautiful river. Breathe in the air and relax: it’s just us, flowing water and the steppes. It’s a gentle paddle and beginner friendly.

Next, Sanjaa is a local park ranger tasked with protecting the local Takhi horses. Chill out with him as dusk falls, watching these wild horses gather nearby for a refreshing drink.

Dinner and fun follows with Sanjaa’s beautiful family for your second homestay experience.

Accommodation: Ger homestay with Sanjaa’s family
Drive time: 3hrs/180km

2 locals crouching down in the middle of a field smiling for the camera
Day 4: GOBI OASIS PROJECT

After a leisurely breakfast, drive to meet Byamba Tseyn, who runs the Gobi Oasis tree planting nursery, an NGO that works to conserve the local environment. Today, we’ll plant some of the seedlings ourselves, and contribute back to Mother Nature. A small portion of your trip fee is contributed to this project.

Back at Byamba’s home you will have a Mongolian cooking lesson. Together, we’ll prepare a traditional nomadic dinner and then eat.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 4hrs/240km

Orange cliffs in the middle of a vast, open desert
Day 5: THE FLAMING CLIFFS

This morning, we’re on the road again. Mongolia is a country of wide open spaces, so this trip will involve quite a few days with extended time driving through the countryside. 

Today, you’re stopping at the impressive rock formations of Tsagaan Suvarga, where you can explore the area on foot for an hour or so before continuing on to Bayanzag Bayanzag is one of the most famous paleontological sites worldwide, known for dinosaur bone discoveries.

Walk around the spectacular sandstone formations, known as the Flaming Cliffs due to their deep red hue.

We’ll stay the next two nights at a deluxe ger camp.

Accommodation: Deluxe Ger camp
Drive time: 6hrs/400km

A small river trickling its way through a large gap of cliffs
Day 6: KHAVSGAIT PETROGLYPHS

Yolyn Am is a beautiful local gorge and perfect for a leg-stretching 90 minute hike. We’ll head over there in the morning.

In the afternoon, we’re visiting the Khavsgait Pteroglyphs (Bronze Age rock engravings) depicting life thousands of years ago. It’s intriguingly pleasant to walk amongst the rocks and discover the drawings for yourself. Take a moment to pause and let your mind wander back to those ancient times.

Accommodation: Deluxe Ger camp
Drive time: 1.5hrs/70km

huge double-humped camels and one small woman holding the rope
Day 7: CAMELS & DUNES

It’s a driving day today as we head towards the Singing Dunes where you will visit a camel herding family.

Enjoy the hospitality in their ger where you will be able to try camel milk and other traditional Mongolian fare.

Afterwards, saddle up for a camel ride alongside the dunes. You’re in the Gobi; let’s make the most of it.

Around sunset we’ll hike up to the top to hear the dune song, a phenomenon written about since the times of Marco Polo.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 4hrs/180km

2 colourfully dressed locals wrestling in a circle while onlookers enjoy the show
Day 8: NAADAM

Today, you will witness the celebrations of a rural Gobi Naadam – the local Khongor Khurd Festival. This is the highlight of the year for local Mongolians, who train for months to compete in different competitions. The traditional events include wrestling, horse racing, a concert and soaking up the festival atmosphere.

Like all Naadam festivals in Mongolia, it is a little touristy, but much less touristy than the Naadam in Ulaanbaatar.

Accommodation: Ger Camp
Drive time: No driving today.

Small stone hut with a red temple-style roof on the mountain top
Day 9: ONGIIN KHIID

Today is a road trip day as we start the scenic journey north towards the heartland of Mongolia. Driving is part of the fun when it comes to this vast country. Most areas are still unpaved, so the driving can get a bit bumpy as the vehicle winds its way following tracks made by other vehicles.

After we enjoy the usual photographic and picnic stops en route, you’ll settle into your Ger camp next to the temple complex of Ongiin Khiid. 

Enter the tiny, reconstructed temple and see the monks who run the Monastery.

Like many nights, tonight you will be staying in a Ger camp. Because Mongolia has very few towns and cities, it also has very few hotels.

Ger camps have been built to recognise this need, and they cater for travellers. A typical ger camp has 20-40 gers, each containing 2 single beds. There are showers, toilets, and a food hall where visitors eat dinner each night. This is where the group will gather to eat and have a Mongolian vodka or two. Beer and wine are also typically available.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 7hrs/350km

2 people riding horses through an open green valley
Day 10: URTIIN TOKHOI CANYON

After breakfast we continue north. The open flat plains give way to greener undulating countryside, with more grazier families and livestock. By this point in the trip, surrounded by this beautiful scenery, all the cares in the world are forgotten as you totally disconnect.

We will arrive at our camp by 3pm. You can go horse riding, wander through the Urtiin Tokhoi Canyon of the Orkhon Valley, or unwind – get your hair washed and massaged in a ‘spa’ ger.

Accommodation: Ger Camp
Included: Breakfast, lunch, & dinner
Driving time: 6hrs/250km

White tents set up for camp on a lovely sunny day in a luscious green valley
Day 11: ORKHON VALLEY

We continue up the Orkhon valley today – the scenery is beautiful, but the roads are particularly rough! Although today’s drive is only about 90km, it will take 3 hours to arrive.

Galaa is our local host for 2 nights near Orkhon Waterfall, where the group will enjoy another stay with a family of true nomads. As you settle into the rhythms of life of the Mongolian countryside, the hustle and bustle of our modern world will feel a million miles away.

During your time with Galaa’s family you will get a chance to erect a ger – with a little help from the experts, of course! In the evening, enjoy a nomadic feast. Simple, hearty and delicious.  

Note: for these 2 nights, there is a portable shower only.

Accommodation: Family Homestay Ger
Drive time: 3hrs/90km

Overlooking a huge green valley is a camp dotted with large white tents
Day 12: GALAA’S FAMILY

Today is a special experience as you experience the day to day life of a nomadic family. 

This is yak-herding country, so you can help milk the yaks and see how the milk is made into a variety of foods. Galaa’s family will welcome you into every aspect of their activities!

You will also have time to explore and relax in the beautiful surroundings. including heading off on a horse ride if you like. Try your hand at archery as well. This is a day you won’t forget quickly.

Accommodation: Family Homestay Ger
Drive time: None

Small village with green and grey coloured roofs, overlooking a green forest and rolling hills
Day 13: TOVKHON KHIID

Say a reluctant goodbye to your nomadic hosts after breakfast for a 3 hour hike of intermediate difficulty up to and from Tovkhon Monastery. We’ll walk up to the unique hilltop temples through the scenic forested countryside and catch a beautiful view. Those who want to sit out the hikes, of course can do so.

Afterwards continue to the historic area of Kharkhorin. There will be time to visit the Monument of the 3 Kings, overlooking the Orkhon River, and the fertility stone on the edge of town. Then settle into your gers, complete with thoroughly deserved hot showers! After two nights of nomadic hospitality, it’s nice to enjoy a few Western comforts.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 2hrs/70km

Huge white statues placed upon walls of brick on a beautiful sunny day
Day 14: ERDENE ZUU

This morning, we’ll get to Erdene Zuu Monastery – the most important in Mongolia – in time to hear the monks chanting, followed by a guided tour around the main temples.

In the afternoon, come with us to the beautiful nature reserve of Khogno Khaan, where we’ll visit the lower temple complex of Uvguun Khiid. Check out the reconstructed temples, prayer-wheels and look around the ruins. We’ll also go for a short hike to take in some beautiful nature.

Accommodation: Ger camp
Drive time: 2hrs/90km

Statue of a knight and a horse overlooking a very modren looking city of glass high risers
Day 15: ULAAN BAATAR

Back to Ulaanbaatar today. Is the trip finished already? Nearly! It’s time to say goodbye to the slow pace of the Mongolian countryside as we head back to the city, tarmac roads all the way! You’ll also get the chance to do some last minute shopping – cashmere, anyone?

After freshening up at the hotel, enjoy a farewell meal at one of our favourite restaurants.

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Drive time: 4.5hrs/290km

Outside of an airport, with people wheeling their backs along inside
Day 16: ULAAN BAATAR

And that’s it! There’ll be hugs and tears aplenty as we say goodbye to our trip leader and driver. After two weeks, you’ll have fallen in love with them.

You’ll then be transferred to the airport with a head and heart full of new memories.

We can tell you from experience – Mongolia will stay with you for a long time.

The Essential Info
WHAT ABOUT ACCOMMODATION?

Mostly you’ll be in ‘ger camps’ during the trip. These are specifically set up for travellers. There are two people to a ger, and if you want to go to the toilet or shower, you need to step out. You get used to it quickly. The toilets and showers are clean and well-maintained, almost without exception.

Do the gers get cold? Not a huge amount. The gers are good at keeping the warmth in and they also have stoves for heating which the staff maintain. You’ll need warm clothes for cool evenings and we also recommend bringing pyjamas.

Homestays are a bit different – they’re more rustic but quite comfortable. Each ger sleeps 3-4 people. It definitely doesn’t feel like a hotel – expect random things like Mickey Mouse pillowcases and each bed to be different.

WHAT ABOUT FOOD?

Mongolian food is simple and hearty. While there is a lot of meat, milk and cheese in Mongolian cuisine, we can cater for most dietary needs including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

We guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised by the food available in Mongolia. This is partly because your expectations will below (!), but also because, contrary to popular belief, dietary options are not just limited to mutton and fat. In Ulaanbaatar, there is a range of great local and international restaurants, and although in the countryside the choice and ingredients are more limited, there are some traditional culinary specialities to enjoy and savour.

We like to vary meals during a trip – lunch may be with a nomadic family, or at a roadside cafe, or a picnic. Sadly, we cannot cater to those with severe nut allergies. In all of our homestays, you’re welcome to participate and learn, as much or as little as you like. It’s a great way to spend extended time with local Mongolian women, who traditionally occupy this role.

Frequently Asked Questions
This is the most frequently asked question we get!

Nearly everyone is in their 50s and 60s, with some people above and below (but of course, everyone is welcome!)

Most Patchies come alone and are matched with a room-mate. Remember, you don’t need to pay for a single supplement if you come solo. We will place you with a similarly-aged roommate.

The typical Patchie has travelled a LOT, is a well-seasoned adventurer, and is not easily thrown by small things. However, many Patchies tell us that this is their first ever group tour. Many of our guests have avoided tours to this point as they’re not attracted to being herded around in large groups.

Oh, and one last thing:
Patchies are warm, generous, and kind. We knew it would be like this, but we weren’t expecting it to be *quite* like this. We’re so blessed as a business to have the customers we do; we consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world.

We can easily accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets, or any variation of the above. Let us know in advance so we can prepare as much of the food that needs to be brought with us from Ulaanbaatar. Note: the food will be simple and may get repetitive. We cannot cater for those with severe nut allergies. If you have any other medical requirements, please advise.

All travellers require a visa to enter Mongolia. We’ll send you visa application instructions upon reservation, and will gladly assist where needed.

A deposit of $1,500 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Note: prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate; this trip pricing is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD: 0.71 USD.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

Alcohol is widely available in Mongolia. It will be available for sale at all ger camps at affordable prices and can be bought in Ulaanbaatar.

Airfares are not included. There are lots of good options through Japan, Korea and China.

Solo travellers will be matched with a room-mate. Of course, if you prefer to have your own space, you can reserve the private room supplement.

Note: In the home stays, the private supplement is not available.

It is not recommended to bring the Mongolian Togrog currency to Ulaanbaatar, as you can obtain it easily at money changers and ATMs. In countryside towns, you can obtain money but it’s best not to rely on chjangers or ATMs available. Your expenses during the trip will be minimal and mostly confined to the alcohol you buy at ger camps. Bringing gifts for your host families is also highly encouraged. Aussie-themed gifts and clothing are highly welcomed as are toys for the kids. Fabric, scarves, warm socks, and gloves are also very welcome.

Private transport, with the same drivers, and the same vehicle, available 100% of the time. Modern, spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned. Our trusty transport is a UAZ Purgon, comfortable and built to withstand off-road Mongolian driving conditions. Our hand-picked local drivers are safe, experienced, and friendly. Reliable private transportation is the key to seeing Mongolia.

You will need a universal power adaptor on this trip as Mongolia uses multiple types of power outlets. There are no power plugs at our ger camps, but you can charge your devices in our vehicles.

You’re visiting Mongolia at the perfect time, with warm days and cool evenings. The potential for days over 30 degrees is real, so be ready with light layers. Rain showers are not uncommon, so please come prepared for this. On the long driving days, it’s recommended to wear blouses with long sleeves and pants for your comfort. For the cool mornings and evenings, we recommend you bring at least one warm jacket or sweater, and a light sweater. Comfortable walking shoes will serve just fine.

We take animal welfare seriously and do not work with providers who treat their animals poorly. Please note that animals often coexist with their owners in what can be very difficult conditions. This is part of the reality of life for them and we accept this.

Airport transfers are included. You can plan to arrive at any time, but we recommend arriving in the morning to give yourself time to settle in.

You’ll need a reasonable fitness level to participate in this trip, but nothing extreme. If you can walk for several hours e.g. 8-12km at a moderate pace on undulating terrain, you’ll be fine. There will be some uphill/downhill walking and the dune walk will be tiring, although very much worth the effort. All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it.

Some days do involve long stretches of driving and you need to be the kind of person who enjoys road trips. Any such necessary long drives are offset by photo stops, picnic lunches, roadside pit stops, tea/coffee breaks, and of course seeing points of interest, leg stretching walks and dropping in on nomadic families. Our trusty transport is a UAZ Purgon, comfortable and built to withstand off-road Mongolian driving conditions. We’ll have 2-3 of these. You will adore our skilful drivers.

Whilst a few ger camps will have Wi-Fi we advise all guests not to rely on this being available, and if you absolutely must have access during a trip, you can purchase a local SIM card with data. Just ask your trip leader for assistance.

Our guide for this trip will likely be female, but this is not guaranteed. We have a pool of highly capable guides, but the nature of Mongolian culture means that our planned guide may be called away before the trip to assist their family.

We recommend flying to Mongolia, as the train times are not conveniently matched with our departure day and time. Continuing your trip via train, may be possible, but given the current conditions it is possible that onward travel to both Russia and China is not possible.  Also, August is a bad time of year to visit Beijing due to the weather (too hot!) with bad air quality and we do not recommend it.

Have more burning questions?

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