"A once a year, once in a lifetime experience of Mongolian culture. Journey across pristine steppe landscapes on a bike safari where we camp under the stars with animist shaman, traditional musicians and local nomads. We'll see the rare Prezwalski's wild horse and take in the spectacle of the Naadam Festival where the country's best wrestlers, archers and horses compete. This is not your usual tour but an event not to be missed!"
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Day 1: Arrive Ulaan Baatar, MongoliaDinner
On arrival in UB, as it colloquially called among the foreign and expat crowd (the city, to the locals as there’s only one!), you’ll be met by our driver and whisked away to our centrally located hotel. We’ll get together for a group meeting in the early evening and head out for a Modern Mongol fusion dinner and a stroll around the centre.
If you arrive early there’s plenty of options to explore downtown Ulaan Baatar. The city has modernised rapidly over the last 10 years with western style, Dubai-inspired shopping malls and brand name glitz, but there’s more than a few hints and nods to it’s soviet past. Around Suhkbataar Square, the huge cosmopolitan public square, and adjoining Parliament House with it’s monuments to Chinggis Khan and family, you’ll find wide, somber, low slung and squat Russian built buildings. Off the square is the National Museum, where you’ll get a pretty good look at Mongol history and national dress – not far away along Peace Avenue is the State Department Store where you can dress yourself and buy the same get up.
Ganden Monastery is the country’s most important monastery and where you can see the revival of buddhism, although there are several other practised religions. The Bogd Khan Museum, the residence of Mongolia’s last theocratic ruler, rounds out the main historical sights, and houses one of the worlds more important collection of buddhist artworks.
Venture further and flavours of Johannesburg emerge, with ghetto-like housing towers and hip hop inspired fashion, graffiti and attitudes prevail. Further still, the city is surrounded by the ger districts, an ever growing sprawl of traditional housing of nomads that have moved off the land and into the city in search of work and an easier life. It’s a heady mix of east, west, modern, traditional, communist and cowboy.
Day 2: Cycle into Terelj National Park/ Traditional Mongolian music performanceBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 30 km
We depart early after breakfast to drive for a couple of hours or so into the countryside to our start point. We’ll pull on our cycling gear, size up the bikes and set off across the Mongolian steppe. Local nomadic horsemen and their herds dot the countryside as do the white dots of gers where each family’s lives. We’ll roll into lunch on the open steppe, prepared by our chef, and dine al fresco with revolving courses of soups, salads and mains.
An afternoon ride up over a wooded pass at around 1800m is superb. From the top, the views are expansive and we’ll stop to take in amazing vistas of wooded mountains and fast flowing cobble bottomed rivers winding into the distance. We descend on an amzingly flowing track to the Tuul River and a wide valley that features granite outcrops protruding from steep mountains. A refreshing a dip in crystal clear water before dinner awaits. After tucking in to a hearty meal we'll relax as the sun sets with a proffessional horse head fiddler conjuring up the sounds of the steppe.
Day 3: Cycle to Princess Valley/ shaman ceremonyBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 30 km
Wending our way through forest, marsh and up and down some steep slopes brings us near the base of Altan Mountain, over which lies the Khaan Khentii National Park. Just north of here, human influence wanes, and the world’s largest biome begins, the Siberian taiga forest, home to an incredible array of wildlife including reindeer, moose, bears, wolves, Siberian tiger, lynx and sable. It’s also where the birthplace, and rumoured burial site, of Chinggis Khan lies.
We head back down toward the Tuul river again on a nice long descent before turning into a valley that houses a temple to a revered Mongol Princess. Walks in the area are highly recommended – it may be possible to take a horse ride up to the hidden temple – or just to simply explore the surrounding forest and rock features. This is a perfectly suited sacred place for our shaman to unleash his magic and we’ll see what transpires for us in the spirit world! This shaman is encounter is very unique and only possible through our old friendships in Mongolia.
Day 4: Cycle to Terelj village outskirts/ homestayBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 25 km
A shorter day on the bikes is an enjoyable one as we we rejoin the Tuul River and meet a local family who we’ll spend the afternoon and evening with. We’ll be welcomed into their homes and get a chance to see the layout and lifestyle of these traditional ger dwellings that both house and produce the high dairy diet of the nomads. A Mongol BBQ will end our day, a traditional lamb feast prepared with fire heated river stones and pressure cooked with vegetables. Our last night in the countryside means there will be quite a few toasts to get through and we'll try our hand at archery and maybe a spot of wrestling if you dare!
Day 5: Cycle to Galchuurt/ drive to Ulaan BaatarBreakfast & Lunch 50 km
We begin the day cycling through Terelj village and a crossing of the river Terelj. This is where modern Mongol city slickers come to escape modern life, sleep in tents and ride horses – a real sign of how fast things can change. We have a pretty big hill to climb before we have a endless downhillll into forest, open valley and sand dunes making up one of the best rides of the trip. We’ll ride to the edge of the city that appears like a line drawn in the sand and pack up our bikes for the drive into town. Bright lights will appear that much brighter as the city will have geared up fully for the coming Naadam. Fireworks and pop performances will be happening in Suhkbaatar Square and we’ll hit the town to take in the festivities. The evening is free to explore or relax as we'll be hitting the Naadam Festival early over the next two days.
Day 6: Naadam Festival - Opening Ceremony, Wrestling & ArcheryBreakfast
After breakfast we'll head to Suhkbaatar Square where the ceremonies begin with a full regalia of military, police and a you-name-it of uniforms on parade in front of the Parliament House. The Mongolian Military band grinds out a Lord of the Rings Mordor battle dirge as traditional Mongol horsemen, a special guard, receive horsetail totems, symbolic of the nine Mongol tribes, and trot it all the way to the the Stadium about 3 km away. It’s pretty cool to see and not hard to imagine how these people once dominated Eurasia!
We’ll do our best to be in the stadium as the ceremonies begin, but it’s mayhem and madness as the whole of the present population of the country tries to do the same. Every opening ceremony is different, and it’s as much about watching the locals as it is about the events. After the opening ceremony we’ll watch the opening rounds of wrestling before heading over for the finals of the men’s and women’s archery. We’ll also take in a bit of the knucklebone action too – more skilful than it sounds! The rest of the day and evening is free to wander around the the events, head into the city or take it easy with a beer on the square and people watch.
Day 7: Horse Racing & Prezwalski Horse ride in Hustai National ParkBreakfast & Dinner 30 km
The final day of the Naadam is an early start to head out to the horse racing. The race actually starts as soon as we are on the road, as every vehicle in the country, it seems, jostles for position and rally races out to the event. Horses are revered and the horse racing is very prestigious to Mongols. Wildly chaotic, it’s not the Melbourne Cup or Happy Valley, as spectators on foot stand side by side with spectators on horseback watching ten year old kids race highly trained horses over a 30km distance. It’ s a carnival atmosphere that will keep us busy all morning.
As everyone heads back to UB after the races we'll make our way to Hustai National Park, famed for the rehabilitaion of the tahki, or Prezwalski's horse. We'll learn about the rehabilitation project of these rare wild horses before saddling up on the bikes for a two wheeled safari into the park where we'll have a strong chance of seeing, not only the tahki, but also red deer, Thompson gazelle, marmot, hedgehogs, plentiful birdlife and, if you're very lucky, wolf. Tonight we stay in the park in tourist style ger camp accommodation far from civilisation.
Day 8: Ride in Hustai National Park/ transfer to Ulaan baatarBreakfast, Lunch & Dinner 30 km
Our last day takes us on a ride through the park to see the wildlife as we descend to the Tuul River once again. We'll encounter plenty of wildlife and several significant historical sites - ancient steeles and statues are strewn across open desert-like plains that are the remains of ancient Turkic cultures that once centred their kingdom in Mongolia. After our ride, we'll pack up the bikes for our returnm to Ulaan Baatar where we'll freshen up for our last evening together and a celebration of our Mongolian experience!
Day 9: DepartureBreakfast 195 km
Today is departure day and we’ll get you to the airport for your flight back home.
Mongolia is just about as far from the ocean as you can travel and it's capital, Ulaan Baatar, is one the coldest cities on the planet. Being sandwiched politically and geographically between two giants in China and Russia would be challenging enough, but it also finds itself between the endless Siberian wilderness to the north and the vast Gobi desert to the south - it is an understatement to say that it is remote. Its history is famously vast and fierce, led by it's founder and talisman, Chinggis Khan, who ruthlessly brought the Eurasian continent under Mongol rule. So its not surprising that many today might have mixed feelings about the place as a travel destination. In fact, all these things are part of the magical appeal of Mongolia: it's nomadic people are warm-hearted and charming with old world, genuine hospitality. The landscapes are pristine and incredibly varied beyond the steppe that the country is renowned for and, in the warmer months, wildflowers and wildlife come alive.
The Naadam Festival, where all Mongolians celebrate with festivities that centre around the national wrestling, archery and horse racing tournaments, goes all the way back to the 13th century. We'll be taking in all the events after an epic ride across the Mongolian countryside where we explore, not only the stunning landscapes, but Mongolian nomadic culture. We've arranged a Mongolian horse-head fiddler to perform for us, a shaman who will reveal some of the lore of this ancient practice, and a Mongolian chef to keep us fed with traditional and modern feasts but also offer us the chance to make some Mongolian dishes for ourselves. We'll camp with a local herding family for a night also and get a chance at experiencing the famous Mongolian hospitality.
Can we change the itinerary or customise the tour?
Not for publicly listed dates, but if you have your own group or date in mind, Yes. If you want to make a private booking we can help design a tour that suits you. You may have ideas based on any of our tours or something in mind that you can't find on our website. Just get in contact with us and let us know what you have in mind and we'll try our best to make it happen!
Do you cater for vegetarians?
Yes we do! If you have any dietery requirements just let us know when you book in the space provided (Additional Requests). For any severe alergies or other conditions it is best that you let us know in advance so that we can prepare and/ or advise you on what we can provide or what you might need to bring so that are well catered for.
Is the tour suitable for children?
Our policy for children is that children must be over 16 years of age and accompanied by at least one legal guardian. They should be able to complete the tour as would any other participant. We would require that you consult with us about the suitability of older childeren participating on the tour before you book. As these are group tours, we'd need to make sure that your child or children will not impact the enjoyment of the tour of other participants. We would assess this with you on a case by case basis.
We do run family specific tours so these are good options when travelling with kids, or you may choose to opt for a private tour based on any of the tours on our website. Just chat to us about the possibilities about what will work best for your family.
What about Covid 19?
2020 has seen travel grind to a halt and the outlook going into 2021 looks to be more of the same. While we have suspended travel to most of our destinations we are operating tours in China for domestic travellers. We'll open up destinations as the stuation improves and only when travel is green lighted by the relevant health and government agencies.
Travelling during this time means adhering to mandated guidlines and practices which means having green codes enabled on your mobile phone apps, taking Covid tests, wearing masks where neccesary, and filling in contact and travel history forms. These rules and guidelines are constantly changing as situations regarding the virus change, so it is important to remain flexible. We'll inform you of the requirements when you book and leading into the tour departure date.
Given the situation as it is, please understand that cancellations are quite possible and are outside of our control. While we understand the frustrations this may present, we'll do our best to make things run as smooth as possible and keep you informed of any changes as they arise.
During this time we will only accept full payments for tours three weeks before departure. All payments, however, will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled prior to departure, or your personal covid-related situation precludes you from commencing the tour. Please make sure when booking flights that they are aslo refundable in the event of a cancelation.
How to I make a booking and payment?
Simply go to the "Dates" section of the tour page and click on the "book now" button, or click on "book" on the website header and select your preferred tour and departure date. If you are booking onto an on demand tour and have your own dates in mind there will be an facility for you book here too.
Before you book, we recommend that you read through the tour details and our booking terms and conditions. You can contact us about the trip if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or set up a time to chat about the tour.
Upon completion of your booking form we’ll send you an acknowledgement email and invoice for a deposit. All long trips (7 days or more) require a deposit of 300USD to guarantee your place. Trips departing within 60 days at booking will require full payment. Once your deposit is received, we’ll also send you a pre-trip information pack that will give you added information about the tour, the region you’ll be travelling through, a checklist of things to prepare, suggestions for packing, training tips and more. For shorter trips and day tours we require full payment 30 days prior to the commencement of the tour or as soon as convenient if booking within 30 days of departure.
Payments can be made on credit card via Paypal or through a direct bank transfer in most currencies. Information on payments will be present on your initial deposit invoice. Paypal payments will incur a 4% fee.
*****COVID 19 Booking Terms Update*****
During this unique time we will only be accepting full payments for tours three weeks before departure. All payments, however, will be refunded in full if the tour is cancelled prior to departure, or your personal covid-related situation precludes you from commencing the tour. Please make sure when booking flights that they are aslo refundable in the event of a cancelation.
- 9 days
- Cycling Tour,Event
- 120 km
- 6 - 30 People
- 2400 USD
- 480 USD (single supplement)