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Western Mongolia: Altai Trek Tour 2020, 17 Days

Possible Malchin Climb, 4025m and visiting Kazakh Eagle hunters

Altai Mountains is the highest of three major mountain ranges in Mongolia, straddling the Russian and Chinese frontiers in the Far West. Mountains of eternal snowcapped mountains and glaciers. In these remote regions live many nomads of ethnic minorities. The Kazakhs are Muslims, and speak an ancient Kazakh language, as well as Tuvans, who are Buddhist and shamanistic. This dramatic journey will bring us to Mongolia’s highest mountain region. We will trek to the Potanin glacier supported by pack camels and locals. We will then continue across the high Altai and trek into the lakes region, next to the Chinese frontier. Local Kazakh herdsmen will keep their priced Golden Eagles next to their yurts.

Brief Outline Itinerary 

On this dramatic journey we use low impact traditional modes of transport. Our equipment will be carried on pack-camels, possibly also in addition, packhorses. We will fly to west Mongolia on an almost 4 hour domestic flight from Ulaanbaatar. We will transfer out to the mountain regions from Olgii, the Kazakh provincial capital, by 4wd Russian vehicles. Our crew will be Kazakhs and/or Tuvan. The local guide is trilingual at least: English, Mongol and Kazakh. Possibly also Tuvan and Russian. 

Day 1. Arrive UB and explore UB

Arrive UB airport and meet by our team. Transfer to your hotel. Today we will do city site seeing tour. Explore Gandan Monastery, Buddhist center in Ulaanbaatar. See,

Zanabazar Museum

Chojin Lama temple. Lunch time in a typical Mongolian Restaurant

The winter Palace

Buda Big Statue on the Hill

Central market (black) (one or two hours if we have time)

Typical folkloric Mongol performance (songs and dances), at the restaurant, during Dinner time (optional).
Overnight at 4*Kempinskii hotel.

Day 2. Fly to Olgii

After early breakfast, transfer to UB airport and fly to Olgii. Meet your local Kazakh guide arriving at Olgii airport. Have a lunch in Restaurant. Visit  the most interesting local museum of Olgii, with comprehensive information of flora and fauna of Bayan-Olgii as well as it colourful traditional costumes. Dinner with Kazakh Short Concert from local singers and musicians. Overnight in gercamp. (LD)

Day 3. To Dayan Lake (2400m, 4-5hrs)

Drive to Dayan Lake, near the frontier with China. We drive  through the Hargant Valley, below Tsengel Hairhan Uul (3043m)- snow-capped mountains. Here live Tuvans. They are Buddhists, but of a Turkic speaking ethnic group. Their gers (yurts) are more like Mongol gers as opposed to the larger Kazakh ones. There are also some shaman practitioners among them. After picnic lunch,continue our driving and reach Dayan lake. Overnight in tent. (BLD)

Visit Kazakh Nomadic Families and feel their grade hospitalities. Good fishing and stunning sunsets. Dayan lake is also home of many birds as duck,geese,swans and many others. Meet horses and camels. Overnight in tent. (BLD)

Day 4. To Baga Turgen Uul (2150m-2400m, 6-7hrs)

We will load our equipment onto pack-camels and/or pack-horses  and start hiking nearby western side of Hurgan Nuur and Hoton Nuur, where  many Nomadic Kazakh families spend summer. Along the lakes, we see the beautifull waterfall,  rock printings and some ancient Trukic stones with face. On the right side we see the snowcapped mountains with forest, which make the wall between China and Mongolia. Overnight in tent. (BLD)

Days 5-7. To Hoton Lake (2300m-2400m, 6-8hrs)

Full day trek through the dramatic steppe valley along the river that drains from the Altai Tavanbogd massif, creating a series of beautiful lakes. Our impressive camel caravan comes out to the steppe valleys of the lake area. We pitch camp on the shores of Hoton Lake. The area is below the snow-capped Ikh Turgen Uul. We are now only 10km from the China border. These are the summer pastures of numerous Kazakh herdsmen.  Their yurts are a bonanza of handicraft. They are a very friendly and hospitable people.  A fishing rod comes in handy here. The largest subspecies of Mongolian Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) is easily fished here. The numerous Great Cormorants in the vicinity are a good indicator that there are plentiful fish in the lakes.

Third day, Trek up a valley with patches of Larch forests and have a picnic lunch near the so-called Green Lake, After few hours trekking come to Bear Valley, where we will pitch camp. Overnight in tent. (B,L,D)

Day 8. Bear Valley (2400m)

Rest day. We spend one night near small waterfall. You also can make a day hike along these waterfalls up to Bear Valley. Overnight in tent. (BLD)

Days 9-10. Altai Mountains crossing (2400-3300m, 6-7hrs)

We have allocated two full days for the crossing of the Altai Mountain range, the total distance being 32km. We will pitch camp before the snowy area. Certainly big game such as Snow Leopards and its prey species live here, but they are extremely difficult to see.   Perhaps you may see Altai Snowcock, the highest altitude living bird of Mongolia. 
We will cross the Altai at the highest elevation of some 3600m  and have broad views across the Altais. We will be near the peak of Tsagaan Hairhan Uul (3662m). Overnights in tent. (BLD)

Day 11. To Shiveet Khairkhan (2800m-2500m, 5-6hrs)

Trek down to Shiveet Hairhan Mountain, where the Tuva people live. Here we will now be able to view the biggest petrolgyphs from the period of the Huns (approx 200 B.C.).  The Huns were the reason for the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi to build the Great Wall of China. Overnight in tent. (BLD)

Days 12-14. Tavanbogd massif (2500m-3000m, 6-8hrs)

First day, trek for  11 kms toward the base camp of the snow-capped Tavanbogd massif. Pitch camp next to the 20km long Potanina glacier – the biggest of the twenty glaciers in Mongolian Altai. Remain there for two nights.   Tavanbogd means “The Holy Five”, referring to the five highest peaks, of which Huiten Uul is the highest in Mongolia, 4374 meters above sea level. Quite a considerable h at this altitude. It is a stunning setting with the awe-inspiring massif of high snow-capped peaks.

Second day, for a full day we will make day hikes to the Malchin Uul. These are non-technical climbs.

Third day, trek back to Tsaagan River (White River). The pick-up vehicle(s) will arrive this campside tonight. Overnights in tent. (BLD)

Day 15. To Olgii (5-6hrs)

Drive via Ulaanhus over desert mountain landscapes, with the snow-capped Sogoog Mountain as a powerful backdrop and the Altai Mountain range ahead of us. We will find numerous petroglyphs and Turkic stones along the Sogoog River basin. Bayan-Olgii is rich in archaeological remains, as a reminder of the Bronze Age and the time of the Huns and Turkic invasions. After 5-6hrs, arrive back to Sagsay village and Ger Camp. (BLD)

Day 16. Fly to UB 

After breakfast, transfer to Olgii airport to catch a flight for Ulaanbaatar. Meet our guide in UB airport and transfer to Kempinskii 4* hotel. (B) 

Day 17. Depoart UB 

After early breakfast, transfer to UB airport and fly out. (B)  

Some recommendations: Summer months in Mongolia are from early June to mid-September. Although the Mongolian summers are hot and dry with occasional rain, the temperature can fluctuate as much 20 degrees centigrade between day and night. So be prepared for all weather conditions.

 

What to bring: 

  • Binoculars, 
  • Warm hat and gloves,
  • Long underwear for travel in the high mountains, comfortable footwear,
  • Prescription medications,(if needed),
  • Money belt and small padlocks
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Daypack for use on day or overnight excursions
  • Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)
  • Electrical adapter plug
  • Toiletries/roll of toilet paper/travel wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
  • Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)
  • 2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Phrase book
  • Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates
  • Wind and waterproof jacket
  • Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks
  • Camera and spare film (or recharge for digital cameras)

Transport: Western Mongolian families frequently move from one pasture to the other using camels. The services of some herdsmen will be hired by the expedition, and they will provide us with their animals.

Staff: A local guide who speaks English and Kazakh, Mongolian will accompany the group at all times. A cook will follow, with an assistant. In addition, the services of the local herdsmen will be hired along with their animals. The horsemen follow a traditional lifestyle in the areas where we will be riding.

Meals: Our cook will prepare the meals. We pride ourselves in having cooks adapt to both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips. There are always vegetables available, and we have no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips. For breakfast we can buy fresh yogurt from the herdsmen in the local area sometimes.

Alternative connections to Olgii:

If interested in entering or exiting across the land border with Russia, we can pick you up or leave you at Barnaul, in southern Siberia (Russia).

 

Price: USD 2210 per person, if the group size is 2 and more people.

Includes: English speaking guide, 4x4 car, ULN-ULG-ULN flights, 3 meals per day, overnights at 4* hotel (2), gers (4nts) and tents (12nts), camping equipment, horse rangers with pack camels/horses, visit Kazakh Eagle hunter’s family, border and national park permits.

Excludes: Personal needs, laundry and renting of riding horses. Single occupancy is 480USD.

Number of days: 17
Covered regions:
Central Mongolia
Gobi Desert
Western Mongolia
Northern Mongolia
Eastern Mongolia
Included services:
Guide
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Accommodation (Hotel/Guesthouse)
Accommodation (Homestay)
Entrance tickets (e.g. museums, parks etc.)
Beverages (non-alcoholic)
Car (with driver)
Fuel, Petrol
Bus/Train tickets
Domestic flight tickets
Not included: Personal needs, laundry, horse- or camel riding and alcohol drinks
What to bring: Binoculars, Warm hat and gloves, Long underwear for travel in the high mountains, comfortable footwear, Prescription medications, (if needed), Money belt and small padlocks Daypack for use on day or overnight excursions Torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) Toiletries/roll of toilet paper/travel wipes Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers) Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates Wind and waterproof jacket Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks
Transport: SUV 4x4
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