- Explore Mongolia's beautiful countryside on foot, horse, and camel
- Learn about a rapid changing country and experience warm Mongolian hospitality
- Trek through the Gobi Desert and camp under a canopy of stars
- Tour Ulaanbaatar and see traditional song and dance, praying monks, and temples
The sweeping landscapes of Mongolia have lured intrepid travelers for centuries. It was here in 13th century that Chinggis Khan built the world's largest contiguous empire, and Mongolia remains a land largely untouched by the modern world.
Join REI for a cultural journey where we discover Mongolia's character from its ancient past to its modernizing capital. Ride a horse through rolling hills of pale grass; discover pictographs and prehistoric carvings left behind by nomadic people; and hike in the Gobi, where brilliant blue sky stretches off in every direction. At a private campsite our chef serves dinner beneath a curtain of stars, unspoiled by city lights.
Along our journey, we get glimpses into the lives of the people who call Mongolia home. In Ulaanbaatar we experience Mongolia today, a city on a rapid rise that still pays homage to its past with Buddhist temples, praying monks, and traditional song and dance. Throughout our adventure we experience the warm hospitality of the Mongolian people. Join us, and fall under the spell of this beautiful land.
Explore even more of Asia on our Angkor Wat extension!
- Day 1 - Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB). Hike to Zaisan Memorial for city views.
- Day 2 - Hike in Hustai Nuruu National Reserve near the Khenti Mountains.
- Day 3 - Traverse the Moilt Valley on foot and keep an eye out for wild horses.
- Day 4 - Travel like a Mongolian on horse to the mysterious Ongot stone complex.
- Day 5 - Learn history at UB's museums and enjoy traditional dance and song.
- Day 6 - Hike the Gobi's Yol Valley. See the stunning "Flaming Cliffs" at sunset.
- Day 7 - Camel trek along sandy dunes and camp underneath a star-filled sky.
- Day 8 - Enjoy mountain hiking and experience the hospitality nomadic families.
- Day 9 - Explore the "singing sands" of the Gobi's supreme dunes, Khongoryn Els.
- Day 10 - Back in UB we visit the historic Gandan Monastery complex.
- Day 11 - Our journey to fascinating and quickly changing Mongolia ends.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Arrive in Ulaanbaatar (UB). Hike to Zaisan Memorial for city views.
Our trip begins today in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Upon arrival at the airport you will be welcomed by your driver and transferred to our hotel located in the heart of the city. At 3:00 p.m. this afternoon you will meet your guide and fellow travelers in the hotel lobby for introductions before setting off to visit Zaisan Memorial which honors Mongolian and Soviet soldiers killed in WWII. Situated on a hill just south of the capitol, the hike up the stairs to the top of the monument rewards us with panoramic views of the entire city and the Tuul River meandering through the valley below. This evening we enjoy our first taste of traditional Mongolian cuisine at a welcome dinner in town. Dinner included.
Day 2 - Hike in Hustai Nuruu National Reserve near the Khenti Mountains.
This morning you will meet your guide for the drive (3 hours) to Hustai Nuruu National Reserve, a spectacular, protected park located at the base of the Khenti Mountains. Hustai Nuruu is home to abundant wildlife including one of the last remaining species of wild horse on earth, the Takhi. Our lodging tonight is at a ger camp located inside the park. Gers are traditional Mongolian yurts that have been used as family homes for centuries. Constructed of felt stretched over a wooden frame, your private ger contains a bed and a small fireplace to ward off the evening chill. This afternoon our group will select from the many hiking options available. Perhaps we will hike to the fire tower whose high perch affords great views of the countryside, or our group may opt for rolling hills with a keen eye for spotting wildlife. It's a great chance to stretch your legs! We return to our ger camp this evening in time for dinner. Overnight in traditional Mongolian gers. All meals included.
Optional hiking: 3 -4 hours, rolling terrain.
Day 3 - Traverse the Moilt Valley on foot and keep an eye out for wild horses.
After a hearty breakfast, we spend the day traversing the hidden Moilt Valley; this is a superb nature hike. Wild horses roaming the reserve, marmot, corsac foxes, falcons, deer, and many species of predatory birds are all possible sightings so keep your binoculars handy! This evening we experience Mongolia the same way as generations before us. Our guides will set up our tented camp before preparing a delicious dinner. As night falls, enjoy the star-filled sky and the serenity of this space. Overnight in tents. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 -6 hours, 2000' elevation gain. Terrain: gradual steep trail covered with dirt, gravel, and grass.
Day 4 - Travel like a Mongolian on horse to the mysterious Ongot stone complex.
Today we will explore Mongolia by horseback- get ready to saddle up! We will get an early start this morning as our driver transfers us by van to the start of our horse trek where we meet our sure-footed horses. Our skilled horse wranglers can accommodate all levels of riders- beginners welcome! Our full day of riding through the green landscape brings us back to our ger camp and a well deserved hot shower. Along the way, we will stop at the Ongot stone complex. These mysterious stone figures depicting men date from the Turkic period (7-9 A.D). They all face one direction and are behind one another as if in a line. Some interpret this configuration as depicting a noble man or general with his subjects or soldiers following behind. These stones are rare historical evidence of the culture that dominated the area at the time and are especially important to historians because not many written accounts have survived the burden of Mongolia's nomadic lifestyle and turbulent battling periods. Overnight in gers. All meals included.
Horseback riding 4-6 hours. Terrain: generally flat.
Day 5 - Learn history at UB's museums and enjoy traditional dance and song.
This morning we will depart our ger camp and return to Ulaanbaatar. Your guide will introduce you to the legacy of Chinggis Khaan with a tour of the National History Museum. Learn about the fascinating history of this country and the dramatic changes it has experienced throughout the centuries. Following lunch, we will also visit the Natural History Museum which showcases the spectacular fossils found in the Gobi Desert. On display are a towering tarbosaurous skeleton (closely related to tyrannosaurus rex), large Hadrosaur fossils (duck-billed dinosaurs), dinosaur eggs and the famous "fighting" dinosaurs, all of which illustrate the richness and importance of the paleontological sites in the Gobi. This evening in Ulaanbaatar we enjoy a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and hoomi (throat) singers followed by dinner at a fine local restaurant. Hoomi singers produce two or more notes simultaneously using their tongues, teeth, larynx and palate. It is a wonder to hear it for the first time. Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the heart of the city. All meals included.
Day 6 - Hike the Gobi's Yol Valley. See the stunning "Flaming Cliffs" at sunset.
Once again we leave the city for wide open spaces, flying over vast steppe to the Gobi (1.5 hours), Mongolia's southernmost province of semi-arid desert. Upon arrival we drive to Yol Valley for our first Gobi hike. This valley gradually narrows into a lush gorge that protects a small icefield year-round. As you delight in the cool streams and wildflowers, be on the lookout for gazelles, sheep, ibex, and the many species of birds of prey that live in this protected reserve. It is a lovely space that will challenge your ideas of what life in the Gobi is like.
Following our hike in the valley, we return to our vehicles and transfer to the award-winning Three Camel Lodge in time for in time for a scrumptious lunch. After some free time to relax, we meet this evening and drive to the legendary "Flaming Cliffs" (1 hour), named for the red-orange sandstone which glows brilliantly at sunrise and sunset. In 1923 Roy Chapman Andrews and his expedition team from the American Museum of Natural History discovered the first nest of dinosaur eggs at this location. Paleontologists from all over the world continue to uncover fossils at this rich site. We return to our lodge for a delicious dinner made from organic meat grazed locally by Gobi herders and produce grown by nearby farmers. Overnight at Three Camel Lodge. All meals included.
Day 7 - Camel trek along sandy dunes and camp underneath a star-filled sky.
We wake early this morning to the sight of the sun rising over the vast Gobi desert. After breakfast we drive through the rugged Gobi-Gurvansaikhan Mountains towards Gyalaan Valley where we meet with a local camel herder and begin camel trekking through the spectacular Gobi landscape. Our surefooted animals carry us alongside the dunes to a picturesque lunch spot. Late this afternoon we will reach our tented camp located in a beautiful, hidden place overlooking the dunes of the Gobi. Far from any city lights, the stargazing here is truly mesmerizing. All meals included.
Camel trekking 2 - 4 hours; Driving time: 4-5 hours depending on road conditions.
Day 8 - Enjoy mountain hiking and experience the hospitality nomadic families.
Today is all about hiking through the classic Gobi landscape! The mountains surrounding the Ayaldai Valley are starkly beautiful, and we plan to spend a full day exploring them. The exact route and distance will be determined based on weather conditions and the group dynamic. We may have the opportunity to visit with a remote, nomadic family and experience the warm hospitality offered to passing travelers in the form of food, shelter, and friendship. Relatively unchanged for centuries, Mongolia has one of the last remaining horse- and camel-based cultures in the world. We'll return to our tented camp this evening for a delicious dinner prepared by our camp chef. All meals included.
Hiking 6 – 8 hours, up to 18 miles.
Day 9 - Explore the "singing sands" of the Gobi's supreme dunes, Khongoryn Els.
We explore the "singing sands" of the Khongoryn Els dunes which run about 60 miles alongside the Gobi-Altai Mountains range. These mountains of sand reach upwards of 2,500 feet, and with the right winds air turbulences along the ridges create a characteristic "singing" sound. These are rightfully known as the Gobi's most magnificent dunes, and our hikes treat us to magnificent sandscapes-a photographer's dream! We return to the Three Camel Lodge in the evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 2 – 4 hours, up to 9 miles; Terrain: packed sand.
Day 10 - Back in UB we visit the historic Gandan Monastery complex.
Enjoy one last golden morning in the Gobi Desert before transferring to the local airport for our return flight to Ulaanbaatar. Back in the capital we visit the historic Gandan Monastery complex, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. This large complex houses the recently renovated Chenrezig and Kalachakra Temples and the magnificent golden statue of Migjid Janraisig ("the lord who looks in every direction"). Woven through Mongolia's nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition with ancient Shamanist practices still evident. The afternoon is at your leisure with time for sightseeing or shopping for cashmere and other souvenirs. We come together again in the evening to enjoy a farewell dinner and a toast to an excellent adventure. All meals included.
Day 11 - Our journey to fascinating and quickly changing Mongolia ends.
The trip concludes today following breakfast. Guests will transfer on their own to the airport for flights home. Breakfast included.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, the itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.
Single or double occupancy accommodations each night of the itinerary; meals as noted in the itinerary; skilled bi-lingual guide; private transportation throughout; park and site entrance fees; horse and camel trekking equipment; airport transfer when arriving on Day 1.
Airfare to/from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; internal airfare within Mongolia (mandatory add-on, price is subject to change); airport transfer on Day 11; passport or other travel documents; alcoholic beverages; insurance of any kind; medical immunizations; items of a personal nature; optional gratuities to your guides.
The cost of your internal flights within Mongolia (mandatory add-on and subject to change) is due with your final payment 60 days prior to departure. The cost of your internal flights is non-refundable within 60 days of departure unless REI Adventures cancels your trip for any reason. If you needed to cancel your trip for a reason covered by travel insurance, this flight cost would be eligible for reimbursement by that plan.
This trip is rated Moderate . It will be enjoyed by anyone who is physically fit and enjoys active days. Travel in Mongolia requires flexibility and a positive attitude. Horses, camels and vehicles will carry all the gear. You only need to carry your daypack, but you still need to be in good physical condition to really enjoy this trip. Hiking is moderate with some uneven, rocky trails and sections of steep elevation gain and loss. Horse and camel trekking require no previous experience. Be prepared for some extended drives on rough roads. Roads outside of Ulaanbaatar are unpaved, bumpy and dusty.
Summer in Mongolia is June through September with average temperatures are in the 80s during the day, dropping to the 30s at night. The Gobi Desert is a plateau about 3,000'-5,000' above sea level with extreme temperatures that can range from 100ºF (or higher) during the day to below freezing at night. Mongolia has an average of 260 cloudless days a year, but come prepared for rain, wind, and some very cold nights and mornings. A dusting of snow is always possible at this northern latitude, even in the summer. The rainy season extends from mid-July to August, but showers are usually brief.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Mongolia Multisport: Through the Land of Nomads Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary - this will help you and the field staff.
- All group camping gear
- All required gear for camel and horse trekking
- Valid passport
- Airline tickets
- One piece of luggage, wheels and a retractable handle recommended
- Duffel (approx. 4000 cubic inches) for horse trekking/Gobi camping
- Daypack to carry water, rainwear and clothing layers, camera, sunscreen, etc.
- Rain cover for daypack, waterproof
- Luggage tags and luggage locks, 2 sets
- Passport security pouch or belt
- A few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and to wear into towns
- Rain jacket and pants: lightweight, waterproof and breathable
- Midweight fleece jacket
- Down jacket or vest
- Hiking boots or shoes, lightweight, sturdy, waterproof
- Casual, comfortable shoes for town
- Sandals, to wear at camps
- Sun hat with brim
- Fleece or wool gloves for cool evenings
- Fleece or wool hat
- Low gaiters for dune walks
- T-shirts, at least two synthetic
- Long-sleeve shirt
- Thermal underwear top and bottom, light- or midweight
- Bicycle shorts with padded seat area, for horse and camel trekking
- Hiking pants (synthetic, quick-drying)
- Hiking shorts (synthetic, quick-drying)
- Hiking socks and liner socks
- Casual socks
- Sleeping bag liner or sleep sheet, required for camping
- Flashlight or headlamp, and spare batteries/bulb
- Sunscreen and lip protection with high SPF
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Personal first-aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Travel towel (see "Things to Consider")
- Toiletry kit
- Toilet kit: ditty bag: 1 roll toilet tissue, Ziploc bags, hand sanitizer or Wet Ones
- Trekking poles
- One quart water bottle or hydration system (see "Things to Consider")
- Camera, memory cards, batteries (see "Things to Consider")
- Electrical adapter plug / converter
- Travel pillow
- Ear plugs and eye shade
- Watch with alarm clock or travel clock
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Reading and writing materials
- Favorite snack foods and drink mixes
Things to Consider
- Always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, a change of clothing and medications in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed.
- Mongolia has a dry, arid climate; consider packing extra amounts of lotions or moisturizers, lip balm and eye drops.
- Bottled water will be provided while traveling outside of Ulaanbaatar. The bottles will be transported and recycled in-country. You can bring your own one quart water bottle and/or hydration system but please note they will be filled using individual bottles of water.
- Carrying a large camera is not advised while participating in the horse and camel treks. Large cameras can spook the animals and potentially cause an accident. If you wish to take photographs while riding the horses and camels, please bring a compact camera.
- The REI MultiTowel Lite or similar is recommended as a pack towel. See www.rei.com for details.
- Laundry facilities are limited. We suggest hand washing quick-drying clothing items. Bringing a travel clothesline and a few packets of detergent are useful for this purpose.
- Make sure your hiking shoes/boots are broken-in and bring moleskin Second Skin® or Blister Block® for foot treatment. Thin liner socks made of silk or synthetic fabrics worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters.
- Bathroom facilities outside of Ulaanbaatar are often rustic, and you may not have access to a toilet while hiking during the day. Please bring a personal ditty bag with a roll of toilet tissue, Ziplock bags for disposal of soiled tissue, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Women should pack any necessary feminine hygiene supplies. Your ditty bag must be included in your daypack for all excursions.
- During the summer months Mongolia has an average of 16 hours of daylight. The sun rises before 6:00 a.m. so wearing an eye shade could help you get a good night's sleep when camping.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.