17-Day MONGOLIA WINTER EXPEDITION

Women Only

Max Group 10

Lifetime Deposit

Are you dreaming of a White Christmas?

Chances are, you’ve never considered Mongolia your ideal Christmas destination. But that’s because you’ve never come across a trip like this before! On this 17-day Mongolia winter adventure, we’re pulling out all the stops to give you the White Christmas of your dreams – with a twist.

Out in the Mongolian wilderness, it’s easy to leave the stress of the Christmas period behind, and focus on just two things: your blissful snowy surroundings, and the awesome group of fellow female travellers you’ll travel with! 

Explore snow-covered landscapes and frozen lakes on the back of a horse-drawn sleigh, ride reindeer on Christmas Day with a nomadic Mongolian tribe, and watch the stars twinkle overhead as you dine around a campfire in the Mongolian wilderness on New Year’s Eve. 

Does it get any better than this?!

Highlights

Experience Christmas magic by riding reindeer with nomads in Mongolia on Christmas Day.

Dash across Mongolia's icy lakes on horse-drawn sleighs, surrounded by snowy mountains.

Explore Mongolia's ancient deer stones, glimpses into ancient storytelling.

Immerse in Mongolian life, staying with reindeer herders in wooden huts.

Embark on an unforgettable adventure hunting with eagle with the Altai Mountains nomads.

Have lunch with the kids at Lotus Children's Centre

Trip Details

Price

$8,865 AUD (per person twin share)

  • $1,900 AUD 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.
  • Partial private supplement available (x6 nights’ homestays are shared): $1,044 AUD, max 2 spots
  • Tip Kitty: $250USD

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs.


Trip length

17 days, 16 nights


Dates

Starts: 19 December 2024, Ulaanbaatar 

Finishes: 04 January 2025, Ulaanbaatar


Meeting point

Tuushin Hotel, Ulaanbaatar


Ending point

Tuushin Hotel, Ulaanbaatar


Group size

Maximum 10


Participation requirements

Please see our “Is this trip right for you?” section under the Participation Tab.


Included

  • Meals: 16 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 13 dinners
  • 4 x domestic flights: Ulaanbaatar – Ulgii, Ulaanbaatar – Muron
  • Reindeer and horse riding in the North
  • Accommodation: 8 nights in hotels, 7 nights in traditional gers, 1 night in wooden hut
  • English-speaking tour leader throughout
  • Entrance tickets to all sites listed in the itinerary
  • Comfortable transport from start to finish
  • Water and snacks in the vehicle
  • Camping equipment (except sleeping bags)
  • All listed activities and more!

Not included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any visas required
  • Late check-out at hotels
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks with included lunches and dinners
  • Photography/filming charges at museums and monasteries
  • Horseback riding in the West is optional and charged extra – you can decide on the day!
  • Tip kitty. Note: as Aussies and Kiwis, we are not used to tipping! However, guide and driver tipping is customary for tours in Mongolia.
  • Personal expenditure

Click the tabs to find out more
Day 1 – Welcome to Mongolia!

As you step off the plane in Mongolia, take a calming, deep breath of the crisp December air – this is finally the year you’ll spend Christmas in the snow, and it’s going to be mind-blowing! You won’t need to worry about a thing on arrival, as one of our Mongolian team will meet you at the airport and drive you straight to the hotel.

Tonight, you’ll meet your group of new best friends over a welcome dinner. Tear into a traditional Mongolian feast as you get to know each other and share your excitement. This once-in-a-lifetime Christmas adventure is only just getting started!

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Included: Dinner

Day 2 – Ulaanbaatar

Yesterday was your first day in Mongolia, but today is when the adventure begins. 

You’re in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, so it’s time to bundle up and embrace the cold as you check out the city’s highlights. The Gandan Monastery, the most popular monastery in the city, is a truly extraordinary place – its walls have withstood the test of time, standing tall through Mongolia’s Soviet takeover. Today you’ll get to witness the monastery’s monks take part in a spellbinding ancient ceremony filled with powerful chants and hypnotic music. It’s sure to knock your socks off!

Tonight will be a night to remember! Not only will your taste buds be tantalised by delicious Mongolian cuisine, but you’ll also have the pleasure of enjoying traditional music and dance performances. It’s an evening of toe-tapping, hand-clapping, feel-good fun, and you won’t be able to get enough of it!

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 – Lake Khovsgol

Today’s the day you leap into an adventure so cool, it’s practically frozen. First up: a quick flight to Muron, your launchpad to the untapped northern wilderness of Mongolia. After a quick stop for snacks at the Muron market, you’ll swap tarmac for snowy tracks on the road to Lake Khovsgol. The lake here completely freezes over in winter, with ice so thick that even trucks used to drive across it. This is definitely one for the photo books.

Then, your expedition continues, climbing to the Jankhai Pass with scenery so mesmerising your camera will be practically begging for a moment’s rest. 

Your accommodation tonight is something very different to what you’re used to, but we’re certain you’re going to love it. Do you see those tent-like structures in the distance…? Peek out at them against the starry sky and remember, this is the unbeaten path – and you’re smack in the middle of it!

Accommodation: Ger Homestay with a Nomadic Family
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

What is a Ger?

You’ve heard of yurts before, but here in Mongolia they’re called gers, and they’re the place to be if you’re hanging out with Mongolian nomadic families. Sure, gers are used for shelter, but they’re far more than just a warm place to rest your head. The ger is a hive of activity, the beating heart of family life.

You’ll be amazed by just how homely a ger can look and feel. This is no simple tent! Inside, every available surface is put to good use, and you’ll find the ger’s shelves and walls adorned with photos, memorabilia, and other keepsakes. Spending the night in a ger is the most authentic Mongolian experience you can get!

But won’t it be freezing cold? Nope! The nomads of Mongolia have been sleeping in gers for as long as anybody can remember. Gers are designed to be toasty and warm – even in the middle of winter! You’ll dive head-first into this style of communal living by sharing a ger with three to five of your fellow Patchies. We’ll provide mattresses and extra blankets to keep you toasty, so all you’ll need to bring with you is a winter sleeping bag!

Day 4 – Horse Sledding

Dashing through the snow, on a one horse open sleigh…

Chances are you sing this every Christmas, and chances are you’ve even dreamed of doing it for yourself! We can do better, though. How about dashing across one of Mongolia’s biggest frozen lakes on a one horse open sleigh? As you race across the frosty countryside, you’ll make memories that will stay with you long after the snow melts. We’ve planned a quick break for lunch so you can catch your breath and really appreciate your mind-bending surroundings of snow-capped mountains and then… it’s back on the sleighs! We’ve done the research for you to ensure we’re supporting a quality operation that has the horse’s welfare as the top priority. 

After this heart-pounding journey, you’ll return home for the night to your cosy ger. Settle into your sleeping bag and relax, knowing that after so much fresh winter air you’ll fall asleep in no time!

Accommodation: Ger Homestay with a Nomadic Family
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 – Jargant River

This morning, you’re setting off on a 5-hour journey that’ll take you through some of the most stunning winter landscapes you can imagine. It’s a long drive, that’s for sure, but with front-row views of Mongolia’s unspoilt frosty wilderness, you’ll wish it was even longer! 

Depending on your arrival time and the weather, you have the opportunity to take a walk along the frozen Jargant River. Do you hear that? It’s… absolutely nothing! The silence here is so striking that it feels like the world beyond has been paused, leaving just your group of Patchies and the crunch of snow underfoot.

Rounding off your day at the unbelievably cosy Jargant Lodge, give yourself some time to let the day’s memories settle in. This has got to be the most relaxed you’ve ever felt at Christmas!

Accommodation: Jargant Lodge
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 – East Taiga

Say goodbye to this lovely part of the world. You’ll miss it, but we promise what’s next will have you buzzing with excitement: you’re going to live with reindeer herders for a few days! Does it get any more Christmassy than that?

The drive this morning will take around 3 hours, weaving through the untouched wilderness as you venture closer to the remote reaches where the Tsaatan community thrives. Your first waypoint is Tsagaannuur, the village that acts as your gateway to this secluded world and the place where the group will register with the authorities. Then, with the bureaucracy over, it’s time to get this party started!

Pulling into the reindeer herder’s camp, the air crackles with the warmth of the welcome you receive here as you’re introduced to each member of your new Mongolian family. As far as Christmas Eves go, this one has been close to perfect.

Accommodation: Reindeer Herder Family Stay in a Wodden Hut
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 – Merry Christmas!

This morning you’ll be unwrapping a gift unlike any other – a full day experiencing the wonders of the Tsaatan way of life with your hosts. Learning the ins-and-outs of reindeer husbandry is an activity that feels like it was made for Christmas morning, so dive in!

The magic of Christmas continues as you pay a visit to the local shaman for a crash course on the spiritual practices and beliefs of the Tsaatan community. Then, it’s time for our Christmas gift to you: the opportunity to ride reindeer in the snow!

As the afternoon light begins to fade, it’s time to head back to the cosy lodge to warm up and dive into a hearty Christmas dinner before tucking up in bed with warm blankets and a full belly. Mulling over today, you realise it’s not just been merry; it’s been legendary. 

A Christmas spent riding reindeer and hanging with shamans? This Christmas beats them all!

Accommodation: Jargant Lodge
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 – Delver River

It’s the lull between Christmas and New Year, so you could spend it sitting around munching on dry leftover turkey at home… OR you could spend it delving deep into the daily lives of the nomads who live in one of the most remote areas of the world. We know which option you’d prefer! 

Home tonight is a ger camp with a new host, Esee and his family. Here, you’ll spend a few days participating in the daily activities of life in a traditional Mongolian village, gaining the opportunity to deepen your appreciation of a lifestyle that’s been part of Mongolia’s story for centuries.

But first, you need to get there, hitting the road for the 9-hour journey. Lucky for you, you’re not driving, so all there is to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the seemingly never-ending snow-dusted landscapes from your window. It’s a tough gig, but hey, somebody’s gotta do it!

Accommodation: Ger Camp, Tultiin Tokhoi
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 – Ushigiin Uver Deerstones

Today, you’re hitting the history jackpot with a trip to see Mongolia’s very own Bronze Age monuments – the deer stones at Ushigiin Uver. Think of these as the ancient world’s way of telling stories, with intricate carvings that have stood the test of time.

After soaking in the ancient vibes, you’ll switch from foot to horseback, getting a taste of traditional Mongolian travel. Riding through the wilderness, you’ll feel a link to the nomadic cultures that have roamed these lands for millennia.

Cap off your time in northern Mongolia with a night of dinner and drinks huddled around an open fire, chuckling over who mastered the art of horseback riding like a pro today and who… well, didn’t. It’s a fitting end to a journey that’s been nothing short of spectacular, but now, it’s time to move on. The rest of Mongolia is begging to be explored!

Accommodation: Ger Camp, Tultiin Tokhoi
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 – Ulaanbaatar

Today’s the day you wave goodbye to the North and its epic landscapes, hopping on your flight back to the buzz of Ulaanbaatar. Touching down, you’ll make your way to your cosy city hotel where a hot bath awaits to melt away the chill of your adventure. After a few nights spent in the wilderness, modern comforts and your own space feel like pure luxury! Ahhh…

Tonight, there’s no schedule, just you, the comfort of your hotel, and perhaps the treat of room service or a quiet evening exploring local restaurants. It’s been a crazy few days, so take this time as a well-earned breather before diving into the next chapter of your Mongolian journey. 

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11 – Free Day

Today’s your free pass to do, well, absolutely nothing… or everything! Fancy a lie-in? Go for it. Your laundry’s giving you the eye? Today’s the day to show it who’s boss. Or maybe you’re itching to stretch those legs? Ulaanbaatar’s got you covered.

If you feel like embracing your inner tourist, Sükhbaatar Square’s the place to start. Here, you’ll find the statue of Damdin Sükhbaatar, the Mongolian revolutionary hero and one of the top photo spots in the city. For a dash of history, go ahead and sneak a peek at the National Museum. Or, if art is more your thing, the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum will have you lighting up like a Christmas tree. 

It’s all about you-time, so sip that coffee a little slower, watch the world go by, and revel in the joy of a totally clear itinerary because tomorrow, the adventure gears up again!

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Included: Breakfast

Day 12 – Ulgii

After a good night’s sleep you’ll be raring to go, and who are we to stop you! The enchanting Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan – Mongolia’s last ruling monarch, is the focus of this morning. Here, you’ll feel like royalty as you meander through the palace grounds and grand halls. There are all sorts of unusual oddities to check out here, but the most bizarre (by far) has to be His Majesty’s ceremonial ger, which is lined with the skins of 150 snow leopards. Yikes!

This afternoon, you’ll be saying goodbye to Ulaanbaatar, flying to the far west of Mongolia to arrive in Ulgii, an ethnically Kazakh city surrounded by majestic mountains.

There’s no time to waste when you’re in a place as unique as this, so the group will dive right in! Together, you’ll explore Ulgii’s enthralling bazaar, where cultures collide and traditional Kazakh influences still remain strong. From the mind-boggling array of fabrics and patterns covering every surface to the smells of countless new foods you’ve never tried before, your senses will be overwhelmed with excitement. Everywhere you turn there is something new to discover!

Accommodation: Eagle Hunter Homestay
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 – Black Mountain

On this final morning of 2024, wake up just as the sun is peeking over the horizon and breathe in the crisp air. New Year’s Eve is here! From last night’s welcome of delving right into traditional rituals, including sampling local delicacies and getting formal introductions to the family, you’ll get to know your local host family even better over breakfast, and wow, do we have a spectacle in store for you! 

These nomads follow an ancient tradition you definitely won’t have seen before – eagle hunting! And nope, they don’t hunt the eagles – they hunt with the eagles. Local eagle hunter extraordinaire Shokan is your host and he and a few of his fellow eagle hunters have lined up some memorable moments for you – but we won’t say more than that… other than you’ll be ending the year with one of the coolest experiences of your life, with one of nature’s most majestic creatures.

If you’re feeling up to it, take a little hike and explore until the sun sets and nighttime descends. Get ready to ring in the new year Mongolian-style, sharing a locally-cooked feast at the ger camp with your fellow Patchies and Shokan’s family. What a way to end 2024!

Accommodation: Eagle Hunter Homestay
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14 – Black Mountain

The best way to kick off the new year is by immersing yourself in the age-old customs of the Black Mountain nomads. You can choose to go on an adventure with Shokan for a bit of wildlife spotting if you like! This is also your chance to spend the day like a local by participating in the family’s winter activities, from herding and milking stock to preparing traditional recipes with local ingredients. 

It’s been a busy few days, so this afternoon you’ll have some free time to wander around and take plenty of photos.

Accommodation: Eagle Hunter Homestay
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15 – Black Mountain

Sadly, today you’ll be saying a reluctant goodbye to Shokan and his family. After breakfast you have a drive back to Ulgi and then a plane to catch – it’s back to Ulaanbaatar.  No doubt, the events of the last couple of days will be playing around in your mind as you vividly remember the eagle hunt and the otherworldly landscape you’ve just left behind, knowing these memories will stay with you for a very long time. 

Once you arrive back at the hotel, the evening is yours. Maybe you feel like getting out for a brisk winter walk in the city? Or just relax and decompress in your room. Whatever it is, go for it! 

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 16 – Lotus Children’s Centre

We bet you didn’t expect to find an Aussie-owned charity in Mongolia, but at the Lotus Children’s Centre, that’s exactly what you’ll find! The founder, Didi Ananda Kalika, set up this charity to provide a safe-haven for vulnerable Mongolian children. On today’s visit, you’ll learn just how transformative her work has been.

At Patch, we believe in the power of giving back when travelling! To show our support for Didi’s incredible mission, we’re donating $100AUD on behalf of each Patchie on the tour. We’ll also cover the lunch bill for everybody – Patchies and kids!

Since it’s the last night in Mongolia together, it goes without saying that a farewell dinner is on the cards. Gather together one last time as a group to share some of your favourite Mongolian dishes. You won’t be able to resist reminiscing on your fondest memories of the trip – from the eagle hunters, to getting cosy in a ger… and everything in between! Of course, it would be impossible to forget that first glimpse of snow on Christmas day too!

Accommodation: Tuushin Hotel
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17 – Farewell Friends

Today is the day you’ve been dreading – it’s the end of the adventure! Fear not, though, because after such an incredible experience we’re sure we’ll see you again on another Patch tour. 

After breakfast, we’ll drop you off at the airport for a hassle-free departure. See you next time!

Included: Breakfast

Trip Map
The Essential Info

ACCOMMODATION HIGHLIGHTS:

Traditional Gers
Ger Camps

 

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

Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on this trip is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.65 USD.

A deposit of $1,900 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.

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

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 accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets, or any variation of the above. However, you have to keep in mind that your choices will be very limited considering the remoteness of the destinations. Please let us know about your dietary requirements in advance. If you have any other medical requirements, please advise.

Mongolia has dropped its visa requirements for all Australian and NZ citizens.

Airfares are not included.

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/ger camps, 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 changers 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.

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. Our goal is for guests to relax and know that the complexities of tipping are taken care of, on their behalf.

Due to the unique nature of this trip, there are A LOT of people involved in making sure your Winter Adventure is as awesome as you imagine! That includes mushers, drivers, horse guides, regional guides, cooks, camp assistants and host families.

Your lead guide, Gantulga will be managing the tip kitty on your behalf, so we ask you to contribute $250 USD per person to him at the welcome dinner on Day 1.

 

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.

Level 2 or Moderate
You’ll need a moderate level of fitness for this trip. If you can walk 3 – 4 hours – ie 7 to 10 km at an easy pace on undulating terrain, you’ll be fine. There will be days when you’ll be spending a lot of time on your feet.

Winter expeditions in Mongolia can be magical, with crisp shimmering frozen landscapes under bright blue skies. Temperatures can plummet as low as -40°C between December and February. Sounds frightening, right? Not as much as you’d think! It is a dry cold with little moisture in the air, so it feels like -15°C at the top of a ski lift in the European Alps in January. There are generally no biting winds or grey skies. Nonetheless, it is still cold, and the weather is unpredictable, so to keep warm, the things to remember are protection (like a balaclava, gloves, and sunglasses) and to layer up.

Due to the nature and remote settings of some accommodations on this trip, there is no capacity for guaranteeing private single rooms at all overnight stays. Private single rooms for single supplement bookings will be provided on The single supplement is not available on 21, 22, 24, 30, 31 Dec & 1 Jan.

Experience the essence of remote living on this journey, where your nights will be spent in the tranquility of ger camps or cozy wooden cabins. In the shared yurts of ger camps, you’ll find a flexible arrangement, typically 4+3+3 or 5+5.

Just a heads up, the accommodations in these remote spots are pretty basic. You won’t find any fancy bathroom facilities or showers. Instead, you’ll get acquainted with the simplicity of an outdoor compost loo. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with warm bowls of water indoors for washing up.

We’re preparing a full pack list which we’ll share with you shortly, but the main message is to layer up. That’s a set of thermal undergarments, a mid-layer, like a fleece jumper and warm pants, and an outer layer like you’re about to go snow skiing. Shoes should be lined with waterproof boots on the outside… and pack plenty of woollen socks!!

If you want to go truly local, you might want to pick up a Mongolian winter Deel (traditional ¾ length wrap-around coat) at the start of your trip for around $200 USD.

Unfortunately, hiring gear in Mongolia is not a real option. And while our sledding team has some gear set aside for unexpected situations while en route, you’ll need to be protected from the cold for the whole trip.

Our trusty transport is a UAZ Purgon, comfortable and built to withstand off-road Mongolian driving conditions and harsh winter weather. Our hand-picked local drivers are safe, experienced, and friendly. Reliable private transportation is the key to seeing Mongolia.

In the unlikely event of a health or security related incident during a trip, we’ve engaged a local partner to assist. From our experience, there is not one framework that fits all, and every incident is unique and requires a different approach. With all trips, your guides are your day-to-day support. While behind the scenes, there is an active line of communication – between your guide, the on-ground support team, and Australian Ops.

Have more burning questions?

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