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Trekking in Wild West of Mongolia

Mongolia remains one of the world’s last truly undiscovered adventure travel destinations; a land steeped in the legacy created by the warriors of Chinggis Khan who created the largest Land Empire that the world has seen.  Mongolia is a land of dramatic contrasts from rich colours of the Gobi Desert; emerald green seas of rolling grasslands dotted with herds of horses and the snowy white dwellings of today’s nomadic herders.

Length: 12 days
 West Mongolia 
Date: 03 Aug - 16 Aug
Distance: trekking: 150  km

Day1. Flight to the west
Day2. Trekking, crossing the Kharkhiraa River
Day3. Trekking, Camels and horses
Day4. Source of Kharkhiraa River
Day5. Rest Day
Day6. Olon Nuur Depression           
Day7. Yamaatiin Valley
Day8. Yamaatiin River valley – Rest day
Day9. Downstream Yamaatiin River
Day10. Final trek day
Day11. Uureg Lake
Day12. Fly back to UB. 

Day1. Flight to the west

In the morning we fly to Ulaangom town, provincial centre of Uvs aimag (province)-native land of over 10 different ethnic groups, and receive a spectacular view of Mt Kharkhiraa as the plane banks to land. Arriving in Ulaangom at around midday, we have short time to visit the local Museum and the National Parks Centre for an introduction to the natural heritage of this region.  Uvs aimag is the most famous as a habitat of Snow Leopard in the Mt Turgen Strictly Protected Area (our destination) and for Uvs Lake, the largest lake in Mongolia and home to a recorded 220 species of birds.  In the afternoon we drive southwards, to Tarialan Soum (35km) and another 7 km to the trailhead  to set up our first night’s camp by the Kharkhiraa River. Elevation – 1676 m. - T

Day2. Trekking, Crossing the Kharkhiraa River

Our trek is supported by Bactrian (two hump) camels. This morning we meet our camels and load up for the first-time – the camel train is quite a sight. Progressing up the Kharkhiraa River we soon reach the turn and here we must cross the fast flowing Kharkhiraa River. The sturdy Mongolian horses are the most reliable transport mean and we are ferried across the river on horseback! The river valley opens up after 10km and many herders’ gers dot the hillsides. Tented camp overnight besides the Kharkhiraa River by the bottom of Mt.Ekhen Khoroo. Elevation – 1950 m. Today we have walked approximately 16km. - T

Day3. Trekking, Camels and horses

The morning light hitting the surrounding mountains makes a beautiful start to the day. Herds of yaks and alpine camels will be grazing nearby in the lush green pastures of this region as we pack up camp and continue up stream. The Kharkhiraa valley is remote and seldom visited so the interest between the herders and us is mutual. This valley is a homeland for Hoton ethnic group which is one of the smallest ethnic minorities in Mongolia. Overnight camp besides the Kharkhiraa River after walking approximately 18km.Elevation – 2522 m. - T

Day4. Source of Kharkhiraa River

We have gained approximately 1,000m elevation over the past two days and are now nestled in a distinctly U-shaped valley at around 2,500m elevation. The Kharkhiraa River now cascades over boulders in a ravine below us. We have not seen Mt Kharkhiraa since flying into Ulaangom and so it makes a spectacular sight when we round a major bend in the valley to see its cathedral-like ice cliffs towering above the glacial moraine.  We continue past herds of yaks and horses to camp in the confluence of rivers that lead to Mt Kharkhiraa and Mt Turgen. Tented camp overnight after 11 km walk. Elevation – 2659 m. – T

Day5. Rest Day

Our camp is on a lush green river pasture yet we are surrounded by glacial rivers, moraine and the peaks of Mt Turgen and Mt Kharkhiraa which tower above us. These mountains are famous for hosting many wild animals including Snow Leopards. We rest for a day to explore the surrounding region, including hiking to the bottom of the glaciers on the northern side of Mt Kharkhiraa, the highest mountain in Uvs aimag. The mountain still keeps its wild nature thanks to its location and limited access. Only local herders know how to cross river Kharkhiraa when it is flooded and reach the mountain when paths are covered by snow. Many small glacial lakes dot the moraine and we may see some wildlife. - T

Day6. Olon Nuur Depression           

Back on the road and we travel across a broad alpine plateau beneath the massifs of Mt Kharkhiraa and Turgen. From this vantage point we can see the Altai Tavan Bogd range, Mongolia’s highest peaks, in the far distance. Picnic lunch on the shore of Blue Lake. We camp tonight before the pass which will lead us to the Yamaatiin Yalley.  Yamaatiin means Goat’s in Mongolian and this valley is home to many ibex. Today’s walk 20km. - T

Day7. Yamaatiin Valley

Today we cross a small pass into the Yamaatiin river valley and start hiking downhill rather than up. To our left and right are steep sided grassy hills rising almost 1000m above us, it is a spectacular valley, wild, remote and undisturbed by domestic animals.  The Yamaatiin River flows from the permanent icecap of Mt Turgen, and this afternoon we take a short hike downstream to camp on the bank of Yamaatiin River after coming down the pass. Today’s walk approximately 12 km. Elevation – 2330 m. T

Day8. Yamaatiin River valley – Rest day

This morning we explore gorges up in the side valleys off the Yamaatiin area. This area is known Snow Leopard habitat and an area of active research.  Once again there are many options for day walks including hiking north to get to the top of one of the mountains to reach 3900 m above sea level without climbing icy gorges and a bit of horse riding or just simply relax around the camp reading is an option too. T

Day9. Downstream Yamaatiin River

The river drops quickly, as we pass herders’ gers and the National Park Ranger station along the way following the meandering river on its’ journey to the plains. Cuckoos can be heard in the alpine forests on our left. Our final camp on the trek is near the mouth of the Yamaatiin valley. Distance – 18 km. - T        

Day10. Final trek day

In the morning we continue our walk to the road head where we are met by our vehicles at midday.  It is with much sadness that we say goodbye to our team of camels for the drive to Lake Uureg.  Lake Uureg is nestled in a basin close to the Russian border; there are no permanent dwellings so we share the edge of the lake with herders.  Little invitation is needed to swim in its clear fresh water.  Overnight camp beside the lake. Elevation – 1650 m.T

Day11. Lake Uureg

We break camp early this morning for the drive to Ulaangom, via Ulaan Davaa (red pass).  We take the afternoon flight to Ulaanbaatar, arrive early in the evening. Overnight at the hotel, hot showers and cold beers.

Day12. Return to Ulaanbaatar

Transfer to the airport, depart


Please carefully check what is include and what is not include in these prices!
2120 USD p.p

Single Supplement: 220 USD

Included: 16 nights in tourist ger camp, food service, land transportation, English speaking guide service, mineral water, all entrance fees and Government charges, all activities costs
Not included: gratuities for staffs, personal expenses, travel insurance

Child Policy: 0 - 3 years old baby free of charge, 4 - 12 years old child: 30% discount (counted as 1pax)


Trip summary and grading: This is a relatively low-level trek and no-one should have problem with the altitude. During this 9 day exploration of the foothills and valleys of the Kharkhiraa and Turgen mountains, we will generally follow good trails used by the local nomads and their livestock and tiny number of outside visitors. This is excellent trekking country, combining open steppe, riverside walks, forested areas and more rugged terrain on the climb to the Kharkhiraa Pass. We will be trekking for around 6 hours a day and some days will involve a reasonable amount of ascent (500 meters or so). This trek is given the MODERATE grade and is well within the capabilities of anyone who is regular hill walker. For the young and energetic there will always be options to alternate their route by going up and following the ridgelines parallel to our path.

Group size and trek staff: The maximum group size for this trip is 14. There will be “Adventures Mongolia” Ltd.’s trek leader plus local guide and a full Mongolian trek crew, including camel handlers and their animals.

Accommodation: During this trip the group will spend 3 nights in Ulaanbaatar at the comfortable and conveniently located tourist class hotel. Depending on the availability it may be possible to book a single room for the hotel nights in Ulaanbaatar. Please contact us for a quote. Whilst on trek there will a total of 10 nights camping. All accommodation is allocated on twin sharing basis. If you are traveling by yourself, you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent while on trek for an additional cost of 45 US $ (Please note single tent hire doesn’t include single rooms in hotels).

Meals: All meals while on trek and farewell dinner when in Ulaanbaatar are included in the trip price.

Temperatures and weather: Mongolia is a land of extremes. Whilst winter temperatures can drop to minus 40 degrees centigrade, summer daytime temperature can rise to a pleasant 25 degrees centigrade. Weather conditions are similar to the European Alps, with long periods of high pressure and stable conditions, followed by relatively brief storms. July and August usually enjoy the warmest conditions, 25 degrees centigrade during the day, falling to 5 degrees centigrade at night. This period also corresponds with the highest rainfall levels in the country, although showers are usually short-lived and light.

The trekking day: A typical day starts with an early morning brew served in your tent at around 7 a.m. After hot breakfast, during which camp will be struck and the pack animals rounded up and loaded, we start walking around 9 o’clock. After 3-4 hours walking we stop for lunch, which usually takes an hour or two. After lunch, a further 2 hours walking is usual and we aim to pitch camp for the night well before dusk. During the day you are free to walk at your own pace, enjoying the scenery and taking as many photographs as you wish. Dinner is ready at around 7 p.m. and is a 3 course meal served in the mess tent. This is a great time of day for reliving the events of the trek so far and for general socializing. After dark, the temperature drops quickly and everyone will soon be tucked up in their sleeping bags.

Equipment: A detailed list of equipment recommendations and what is available for hire will be sent to clients on receipt of their booking for the trip and deposit payment. We provide everything except sleeping bag and thermarest, plus your personal equipment and clothing. You will not need any specialist clothing for this trip, other that what you would routinely take on a winter walk in Hills and mountains in Northern Europe. However, you should make sure that you bring adequate warm clothing and that your water-proof outerwear is in good condition.

Spending money: Approximately US$ 100 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses. You should allow a small amount for excess baggage on the domestic flights between UB and Uvs province. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly. Credit cards can be useful in this respect. Tips and gratuities for the trek crew are to your discretion.