ULAANBAATAR TO BASE CAMP
Day 1 - Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, met at airport, transfer to Hotel. Gear checks.
Ulaanbataar is the Capital City of Mongolia, a mix of Asian faces and Soviet-Bloc architecture. Transfer to your hotel, and depending upon the time of your arrival, we can visit the Dinosaur museum, attend a Cultural concert which is a mix of contemporary theatre and traditional throat singing, and eat Shashlik, or Kebabs at one of the local restaurants.
Day 2 – Fly West to Olgii town.
Flight out to the far West of Outer Mongolia, to Olgii town in the state or ‘aimag’ of Bayan-Olgii. The town is a mix of small concrete soviet apartment blocks, Gers (yurts), horses and motorbikes with side cars. It lies on a high alpine plateau at 1700m, surrounded by brown and red hills which look amazing in the evening light.
In Olgii we will meet our drivers and transfer to a Ger Camp. From there we will go out to see the first day of the annual Naadam Festival, involving singing (including throat singing) dancing, traditional Mongolian wrestling and Archery competitions.
Day 3 – Tour Olgii sights and Nadaam Festival Horse racing.
The second day of Naadam Festival is the famous Mongolian Horse Racing, with the 25km overland race for horses over 2 years being the most important race of the whole day. In a country where children can learn to ride before they walk, the Naadam race carries the penultimate status. In Bayan-Olgii it is children who ride the horses in the race, many bare-back in the effort to reduce weight. The horses are small and tough, galloping over rocks for much of the race. It is an amazing day to experience in this wild desert landscape.
Day 4 – Drive to Tsagaan Gol Valley, camping.
We start our journey to the mountains in Russian 4WD vehicles, driving over rolling hill terrain and through valleys, passing Ger camps where people live in summer grazing their animals. We do not drive on roads but routes and tracks through grasslands and seemingly desert terrain. Bayan-Olgii countryside is inhabited mostly by Kazak people, and the families out grazing their herds run fat-bottomed sheep, goats, yaks and horses. You can watch as the half wild horses gallop to the crest of a hill, manes flowing, and following the stallion, sweep across the valley floor with their foals within the bunch.
Towards the road end we begin to see stunning geological formations called “Rock Glaciers”. In areas of permafrost with low precipitation, glaciers can form composed of more rock than ice. Here in the Tsagaan Valley we see these unusual formations covered in red rocks striking against the green and brown landscape.
Once we reach the road end we will pitch camp for the night by a stream and enjoy the hospitality of a neighbouring Ger for some tea before our dinner.
Day 5 – Trek to Base Camp, stay in Ger Camp.
Today is a long day trekking to Base Camp with approximately 5 – 7 hours of walking in the National Park. Our loads will be carried either by horses or Bactrim (two humped) camels. We walk past rock glaciers, across broad grasslands, through wild flowers and alongside a river carved into red rock. Eventually we climb a small hill and gaze across toe the five Kings of the Altai, the five highest peaks including the beautiful Mt Khuiten 4350m, which we have come to climb.
Our Base Camp is on grass amongst the wildflowers, right next to the Potani Glacier at 3100m. We will have a traditional Mongolian Ger as our Base Camp tent, inside which the cook will prepare our meals and we can sit and eat.
Day 6 – 12 Acclimatisation treks and climb Mt Khuiten 4375m (7 days)
Over the following days we will rest and acclimatise, trek-climb Malchin Peak 4051m from Basecamp, returning along the Russian border and down through a tiny valley full of flowers. After some rest we will pack up one or two nights of food and move to an advance camp on the glacier underneath Khuiten Peak. From there we will climb the highest mountain in Outer Mongolia and stand on the borders of China, Russia and Mongolia, a dramatic vista.
If the weather is favourable and the conditions good we may be able to climb another King of the Altai on our last day, or we may prefer to rest, sunbathe, take photos and go for some gentle walks.
RETURN TO ULAANBAATAR
Day 13 – Trek to Tsagaan Gol Valley, camp.
The trek out is relaxed. With a little advance warning we can arrange for you to hire a horse and ride out to the 4WD vehicles that are waiting for us. This can be loads of fun, and if you don't have much experience with horses, we can ask for a ”Good or Quiet Horse”. Beware of the horses with a bundle of Owl feathers tied to their tail, it is a symbol of "good luck" and "good speed" and a sign that these horses have been racing at Naadam! At the camp you will find it is common for Mongolians to sit around, play a two string guitar, and sing. They will be keen for you to join in!
Day 14 – Drive to Olgii, stay in Ger Camp.
During the return journey we are happy to sit and take in the stunning scenery. We will stop in a “Sum” or village used by people living remotely as winter lodgings, and which looks very like a Western Town in a Cowboy movie. There is desert, dust, horses, and mud huts. Out of one of these huts a very beautiful Mongolian girl or woman may appear – they are a beautiful people, even out in the desert, away from the sophistication of the city. Cast your eyes up and far in the distance you may see the white cap of a glaciated 4000m peak, enticing you to go on another adventure!
We can visit Olgii in the evening and check out the night life, or relax by the side of the river near town.
Day 15 – Fly to Ulaanbaatar, Hotel
The flight from Olgii to Ulaanbataar departs around lunchtime, and we have a little time to go in search of Kazak Ger wall hangings (which are very collectable) and other mementoes of our journey into the Wild West.
We will arrive into Ulaanbataar and be transferred to our hotel. That evening we can eat out at one of the many good restaurants in Ulaanbataar and celebrate our adventure and climb.
Day 16 – Depart for home.
If your plane departs later in the afternoon or evening, it will be possible to go shopping in Ulaanbataar. Mongolia is famous for its cashmere clothing and blankets, and has recently begun to make some amazing felt products, diversifying into some wonderful fashion. It is possible to buy evocative paintings depicting wild horses and Mongolian riders on the great plains of this country, by which to remember your visit. Or you may simply choose to visit a café famous for being the only place to buy espresso in Mongolia.
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