Local Living Mongolia—Nomadic Life
Day 1 Ulaanbaatar
Arrive at any time. The sleepy capital is an evolving city, showing many signs of its Soviet past contrasted with an increasing Chinese influence and a re-emergence of traditional Mongolia. Please note that USD notes are generally not accepted outside of money exchange businesses and are best to be exchanged at the airport. As fellow group members will be arriving throughout the day there are no planned activities until the group meeting in the evening at 6pm, followed by dinner. On arrival please check the notice board in the hotel entrance for details of the time and place of the meeting. Please note that Ulaanbaatar is really your only chance to stock up on supplies you might have left behind, plus any bottled water, beer/wine/spirits, and coffee you may want. Boiled water and tea is available throughout your stay. Crammed between superpowers Russia and China, the now independent nation of Mongolia is a true G Adventures destination that has only recently been opened up to tourism. The capital, Ulaanbaatar (UB), is a city in which new meets old as Mongolians in traditional dress mingle with the nation's business elite. The nation's close relationship with the old Soviet Union is evident in the Soviet style architecture and the old Russian cars. Exploring the city's many museums is a real eye-opener into a turbulent history including the time of that most famous of Mongolia's historical figures, the feared and respected ruler, Ghenghis Khan. Consider checking out the most important Mongolian temple complex—Gandan Monastery. You'll learn about the history of Buddhism in Mongolia, see chanting monks and—if you're lucky—might get advice from the local fortune teller. Other landmarks to visit include the Winter Palace of the last Mongolian King (the only King's palace that survived the revolution) and Zaisan Hill, a great viewpoint with a monument to Soviet soldiers.
Day 2 Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (1L,1D)
Depart Ulaanbaatar and travel approximately two hours by bus to Terelj National Park. Upon arrival in the Terelj Village, you'll meet a local guide will greet you with either ran oxcart or horses. From here you will begin your 3km journey by horseback or oxcart, crossing the Terelj River and continuing north through an incredibly stunning mountain river valley to your first nomadic family. Upon arrival, dismount and enter your host's ger for a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. During your stay, our host will show you the techniques of how to saddle a horse and prepare an oxcart. You'll have plenty of time to refine your skills and continue practicing them afterwards. In the evening, learn how to play a variety of traditional Mongolian games with sheep's bones (shagai). Nights in the park are especially amazing due to the star-strewn sky.
Day 3 Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (1B,1L,1D)
Go for a brief shopping trip for personal snacks and supplies for the following week. Ride 24km by horseback through forested landscapes over to an open green plain to visit a well-known nomadic seamstress who will teach you how to make Mongolian patterns for traditional garments as well as how to tie a horse bridle. Lunch, dinner and traditional tea with the seamstress and her family. As with all days on this itinerary, it is possible to opt out of the day's activity with the local families in favour of hiking in the surrounding mountains or simply relaxing in the beautiful Mongolian countryside.
Day 4 Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (1B,1L,1D)
Travel 9km to visit another nomadic family and learn how to tie traditional knots to tether livestock together as well as how to make buttons for traditional Mongolian nomadic garments.
Day 5 Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (1B,1L,1D)
Learn the art of archery by practicing with traditional Mongolian bows and arrows before challenging local nomads to a friendly archery competition. Travel 6km in the afternoon by oxcart to your next nomadic host family.
Day 6 Gorkhi-Terelj National Park (1B,1L,1D)
Rise bright and early to assist your nomadic hosts with milking the cows before learning how to make traditional dairy products that you'll sample with breakfast. Travel 7km to visit another family in the afternoon.
Day 7 Gorkhi-Terelj National Park/Ulaanbaatar (1B,1L)
Learn to steer an oxcart with your nomadic hosts and practice around the area. Enjoy a final traditional lunch with your hosts before travelling back to the capital where you'll have some free time to explore.
Day 8 Ulaanbaatar
Depart at any time.