Transsiberian Railway - Stopovers in Mongolia

Transsiberian Railway - Stopovers in Mongolia

Mongolia is one of the most unspoiled countries in the world. It has varied nature: endless grass steppes and barren deserts, snowy mountains, crystal-clear lakes, wooded valleys inhabited by wolves and bears. This land, as big as the whole of Western Europe, is populated by nomads whose way of life has changed little since the times of Genghis Khan – always on the move, together with their sheep, horses, goats and yaks, always looking for better pastures. Mongolia is not rich in the traditional tourist attractions of Asia, such as big temples, overcrowded cities and ancient architecture. The greatest experience here is nature and the people – both quite unique.

We will arrange your train tickets, visas, individual overnight stays, guided sightseeing programs, and connections according to your stopovers and train schedule, so as any other services upon your request.


The whole trip would take 6 days if you decide to make it on one go. But to get the real taste of the countries you pass through we would recommend you to make a few stops and explore the countryside. Further down you may find our suggestions for Mongolia.






 


 

Ulan Bator
The train makes a 30-minute halt in Mongolia’s capital Ulan Bator (1350m above sea level) – enough to stretch your legs and buy supplies and souvenirs from the small shops at the station. But actually, the city deserves a couple of days. Mongolians are very friendly. Although Ulan Bator has a population of 600.000, there is still something village-like about it – you can see, for example, a cow grazing in the middle of town! And on the outskirts people still live in the traditional round felt tents, “ger”. One of the most interesting sights is Gandan Khiid – a Buddhist monastery from 1840 with four temples, the biggest of which is 42m high. Other places of interest include the Museum of Natural History whose main attraction is the skeleton of a dinosaur found in the Gobi Desert; the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of History. But you meet the real Mongolia away from Ulan Bator. Just like their ancestors, the majority of the population still leads a nomadic life on the steppes. So you just feel as if you were “transported” back into the Middle Ages. More information about the tours we organise you can find in the detailed trip descriptions at the bottom of the page.


Terelj
One of Mongolia’s most scenic areas, part of the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Here, 60km away from Ulan Bator and 1600m above sea level, you can sleep under the stars, drink goat milk and taste mutton kebab by the camp-fire. The landscape is breathtaking: roaring rivers, lush green forests with wild animals and birds. This is the perfect place for walking, mountaineering, rafting, riding and swimming in ice-cold lakes. Here, you can also meet local herdsmen who lead a very primitive nomad life in their traditional gers. See the detailed trip descriptions at the bottom of the page for more information about the trips we organise.



Kharkorin

The city of Kharkorin is 350km south-west of Ulan Bator. It was founded back in 1220 and was the Imperial capital, Kharakorum, for over 140 years. The city is surrounded by lakes and green fields which gradually turn into steppes and mountains. You shouldn’t miss Mongolia’s oldest Buddhist temple, Erdene Zuu (from 1586) – a place of holy worship and a centre of traditional culture, sculpture and embroidery. For more information about the tours we organise, see the detailed trip descpitions at the bottom of the page.


Hustai National Park
Is situated around 100km west of Ulan Bator. Since 1992 it has been the home of the last genuine wild horses – Takhi, also known as Przewalski in the West. In this steppe area, they live together with red stags, steppe gazelles, wild boars, wild cats, marmots and wolves. (We can organise an overnight stay in a ger.)
Takhi – the Mongolian wild horse, has become the symbol of preservation of the country’s unique wild life. The Takhi became extinct in the 1960s – poachers shot them for their meat and industrial development reduced their grazing areas. Only half a dozen remained and they lived in zoos in Europe and Russia. Since 1992 the Takhi have been reintroduced in two nature reserves in Mongolia. Today, most of them (over a hundred) live in Hustai National Park. The domestic horses pictured on the walls of several caves in France evolved from the Takhi. See the detailed trip descriptions at the bottom of the page.



The Gobi Desert

Soon after the train leaves Ulan Bator, the landscape changes – you are crossing the eastern part of the Gobi Desert which consists mostly of sand and parched grass steppes. Even in this barren place, there live nomads but, as you can see through the window, camels have replaced the sheep and horses. Even the very name of Gobi evokes a sense of wilderness and adventure. Gobi covers 1/3 of the whole territory of the country. Desert life is harsh: temperatures rise up to +40C in summer, and drop down to -30C in winter. The best time of the year for a visit is autumn, September and October. Most travellers are surprised to discover that Gobi does not resemble a typical sand or stone desert. There are numerous areas of grass, enough for the survival of the herdsmen and their herds. In Gobi there are 33 different environment systems: you can see gazelles, the rare Argali sheep,wild donkeys, wild camels, snow leopards and the world’s only desert bears – the Gobi bear. And if you are lucky, you can even find fossils of dinosaur eggs and bones. See the detailed trip descriptions at the bottom of the page.



The Kazakhs and Western Mongolia

The Kazakhs have inhabited Central Asia for 400 years but came to the mountains of Western Mongolia only in the 1840s in search of summer pastures for their sheep. These mountains are Mongolia’s highest and most spectacular: several of the peaks are over 4000m and are always covered with snow. “Kazakh” means a free warrior. Kazakhs’ lifestyle, traditions, language and culture are different from Mongols’ - even their saddles are different! Kazakhs have a 2000-year old tradition of hunting with eagles. Marco Polo mentions it in the account of his travels. The training of these magnificent birds begins when they are very young and they become almost family members. When they are 8-10, they are set free to mate. Mostly the female birds are used for hunting as they are more aggressive and weigh one third more than the males. Trained eagles can live and hunt for 30 years! For more information about the tour "Green route" (code MNG-10) in this part of the country, take a look at the detailed trip description at the bottom of the page.


The Nadaam Festival
The biggest and most exciting annual folk festival which starts on 11 July and lasts for 3 days. The events include the three male sports: wrestling, shooting with bow and horse racing. The festival dates back from the time of Genghis Khan and was originally a tournament to test the Mongol warriors’ fighting skills. Under the colourful opening ceremony, the riders carry Genghis Khan’s 9 white yak tails, followed by hundreds of old and young participants wearing folk costumes of the country’s different ethnic groups. Nadaam is celebrated throughout Mongolia with the biggest event taking place in Ulan Bator.

 

Accomodation and food:   According to the tour itineraries the accommodation in Ulan Bator is in Hotel Dream 3*(new buiding) in rooms with private facilities on BB basis. You can have accommodation of higher or lower category with additional payment/discount. In the countryside you stay in ger-camps (gers are traditional Mongolian round tents, in each sleep up to 4 people). Ger camps made for tourists often have a bath house and a toilet, serving the whole camp. During the tours including stay with a nomad family, the ger-tents are more primitive and there is no bath and toilet. The tours in the countryside are on full-board basis.

Included in the price: Prices vary from tour to tour. Unless stated different in the detailed trip description, all the tours include transport from/to accommodation in Ulan Bator, English-speaking guide, accommodation in hotel or ger tent as per itinerary, full board.

Recommended travel period of the year: Different, stated in the trip description of each tour. Usually most ger camps are open only from May to October.

Vacation Extensions:
Transsiberian Railway - Stopovers in Russia
Transsiberian Railway - Stopovers in China
Transsiberian Railway - Group Departures


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