MONGOLIA PHOTOGRAPHY EXPEDITION
1st to 13th July 2021
Starts / Ends
* based on twin sharing
add US$ 850.00 for single occupancy
Maximum 6 persons only
Capture captivating landscapes from Gobi, Asia's largest desert, to central Mongolia
Get on camel back to explore sand dunes with the nomads
Meet nomad family in the wilderness to learn and document their traditional way of life
Attend an authentic summer festival, the rural Naadam, in Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongul empire
Photograph ancient matches such as wrestling, ankle bone match and horse racing at the festival
Invitation to the opening ceremony of the National Naadam Festival with special arrangement to photograph the event within the arena in Ulaanbaatar
Witness shamanic ritual near Terelj National Park
Night photography at rural sites and cityscape in Ulaanbaatar
This is organised in conjunction with the Naadam summer festival celebrated throughout Mongolia. Summer is the best time to travel across Mongolia to experience and photograph nomadic culture, festivals in rural settings, in the amazing and yet remote landscape of the Gobi desert and ancient ruins of the Mongul empire. We will be taking a small place from Ulaanbaatar to Gobi desert in the south of Mongolia. From here, we will be travelling in air-conditioned 4WD vehicle to explore central Mongolia and return overland to Ulaanbatar.
Itinerary - 13 Days
Day 1, 1st July 2021: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar.
All participants are to arrive in Ulaanbaatar today. You will be met on arrival at the airport by our representative and transfer to Holiday Inn for your overnight stay. Caroline will meet with the group in the evening for a briefing of the programme. For late night arrivals, we will all meet for breakfast the next day.
Day 2, 2nd July 2021: Tour of the City - Gandan Monastery, The Genghis Square, National Museum & Bogd Khan’s Palace. (B, L)
Today, we will explore the city of Ulaanbaatar with our local guide, providing us with historical background of Mongolia. We will start with photo shoot of architectural and historical monuments. That includes the Genghis Khan monument at Sukhbaatar Square, the National Museum and Gandan Monastery that houses a 26-meter-high gilded statue of the Buddha. We will break for our welcome lunch at one of Mongolia's finest restaurant for local cuisines. Then we continue our exploration of Bogd Khaan’s Palace Museum which was the residence of the last king of Mongolia. Our final stop will be Zaisan Memorial which is located on a hill in the south of the city. On a good day, we will be expecting a nice panoramic view of the nomadic capital. We return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Tonight's dinner will be on your own expenses. We will have an early night for the next day's early morning flight to Gobi desert. Overnight at Holiday Inn in Ulaanbaatar.
Day 3, 3rd July 2021: Ulaanbaatar – Gobi - Yoliin Am Gorge - Khongor sand dunes (B, L, D)
This morning, we leave Ulaanbaatar to catch an early morning flight to Gobi Desert in the south of Mongolia. Gobi is Asia’s largest desert within the boundaries of two countries, Mongolia and China. On arrival, we drive to Yoliin Am, a gorge within the deep desert located in Gurvan Saikhan National Park. We will go on a hike to its valley that is lined with ice almost all year round. The valley is also a habitat to wild Ibex and Argali. Then we continue our drive to Khongor, Mongolia’s largest sand dunes with lunch break along the way. Today's photography will be mainly on landscape, documenting interesting vegetation changes within the vast desert. We are expected to arrive at the dunes in the evening. Tonight we stay at the Gobi Erdene Ger Camp. We will be taking the wooden cabin with attached bathroom and power point to charge our cameras and electronic equipment.
Day 4, 4th July 2021: Khongor sand dunes (B, L, D)
Today, we will wake up early for sun rise shoot of the desert landscape. After breakfast, we start our exploration of Khongor sand dunes on camel. We will get to the singing dunes and will attempt to get to the top of it for its spectacular view and to photograph the amazing sandscape. At the base of the dunes runs a sacred river which is an oasis for nomads and their herds. In the afternoon, we return to the ger camp for lunch. After lunch, we will gather at camp to review our photographs and to discuss the techniques for the afternoon sunset shoot. Overnight at the Gobi Erdene Ger Camp.
Day 5, 5th July 2021: Khongor sand dunes- Bayanzag, Flaming Cliffs. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we will check out and continue our journey to Bayanzag, also known as the Flaming Cliffs. The red sand cliff is a world known site for dinosaur’s fossil and incredible landscape. During the drive, we will see interesting landscape, nomad settlements with white gers (tents) and their livestocks. We might also spot some wildlife. Lunch on route. We are expected to arrive at our overnight ger camp in the late afternoon. We will hike to the Flaming Cliff sandstone to photograph the wilderness and its unique natural formations. Dinosaur fossils were discovered on Flaming Cliff in the 1920’s by an American archaeologist. Since then many scientific excavations and documentary have been produced on Flaming Cliff, known as Bayanzag in the Mongolian language. Sunset is expected to be beautiful from here. Overnight at Gobi Tour Camp (no website).
Day 6, 6th July 2021: Bayanzag- Ongi Monastery Ruins. (B, L, D)
Today we check out and continue our journey to Ongi Monastery, a ruin by the bank of the beautiful Ongi river. The monastery was once the biggest settlement in southern Mongolia. It was destroyed by the Mongolian communist party in 1937. There will be plenty to explore of the ruins and great photo shoot especially during the magic hour. Tonight we stay at the Secret Of Ongi Ger Camp.
Day 7, 7th July 2021: Ongi - Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongol Empire, part of the world UNESCO World Heritage Site (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we begin our drive to Karakorum, the former ancient capital of the Great Mongolian Empire from the 13th to the 15th century AD. It was part of the Silk Road in the13th century. We will be visiting nomadic family along the way and have our picnic lunch at one of the scenic spots. Tonight we stay at Munkhtenger Ger Camp.
Day 8, 8th July 2021: Rural Naadam Festival at Karakorum (B, L, D)
This morning, we will head to the festival square to join in the opening ceremony of the rural Naadam festival. We will be spending our day photographing the festival including the famous Mongol’s ancient matches such as wrestling, archery and horse race. These are the warrior’s matches which has been part of their culture for thousands of years. Later in the day, we will explore the historical sites and ruins of the Mongol Empire. Then we head to Orkhon river valley to enjoy the sunset view from the Khaadiin Khoshoo monument hill. This is expected to be a great spot for a sunset landscape photography. Overnight at Munkhtenger Ger Camp.
Day 9, 9th July 2021: Karakorum – Lake Ogii (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we continue with our exploration of Erdene Zuu, the first Tibetan Buddhism monastery in central Mongolia founded in 1586. After lunch, we will drive to Lake Ogii. The lake is a Ramsar site which means it is a lake of great importance for conservation because of its benefit as habitat for migratory birds. Birdwatching is possible. Astro photography is expected to be great too. Tonight we will stay at the Khatan Ogii Ger Camp near the lake.
Day 10, 10th July 2021: Lake Ogii- Ulaanbaatar (B, L)
Today, we drive back to Ulaanbaatar. The drive is between 7 to 8 hours with stops. Enroute, we will make a stop at Khui Doloo Hudag for the Naadam horse race. We are expected to arrive Ulaanbaatar in the late afternoon. We will check in to Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel for our overnight stay. This evening, we will have our own time and dinner will be on own arrangement. If weather permit, we will walk to Sukhbaatar Square for night photography.
Day 11, 11th July 2021: Opening ceremony of the National Naadam Festival - Terelj National Park (B, L, D)
In the morning, we will check out from hotel and head to Sukhbaatar Square to witness the grand State Flag ceremony. Soon after that we will make our way to the central stadium for the opening ceremony of the National Naadam Festival. With special arrangement, we will be photographing the event from the stadium arena. The ceremony ends in the late morning. We will have lunch on route and drive to Terelj National Park. Later in the day, we will attend a shamanic ritual at Terelj. This gives us the opportunity to document rituals that have been practiced for centuries. Tonight we will stay at the Tengeriin Elch Ger Camp.
Day 12, 12th July 2021: Terelj National park- Ulaanbaatar (B, L, D)
After breakfast, we check out from the camp. Today, we will visit Chinggis Khaan’s statue complex which has a 40 metres tall equestrian statue of the Great Khan. The complex is built on the site that many believed Chinggis Khaan found a golden whip that depicted his great leadership and empire. We will visit the museum to have a recollection of the history of the Mongol Empire that we have learned along our journey. We get to walk up to the horse head to get a panoramic view of the location. From here we return to Ulaanbaatar with lunch enroute. We will check in to Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel in Ulaanbaatar for our overnight stay. In the late afternoon, we proceed to attend a traditional folklore concert followed by a farewell dinner at a traditional Mongolian restaurant.
Day 13, 13th July 2021: Departure. (B)
Free and easy until it is time for transfer to the airport.
Trip Starts / Ends
Minimum / Maximum Participants
4 persons to go / 6 persons
US$ 4,440.00 per person (based on twin sharing for group of 4)
US$3,950.00 per person (based on twin sharing for group of 6)
add US$ 850.00 for single occupancy.
Participants will be informed of the final number of people in the group before the final payment is due.
2 nights at 4 stars Holiday Inn in Ulaanbaatar, 2 nights at 4 stars Best Western Tuushin in Ulaanbaatar, 2 nights at wooden cabin with attached bathroom at Khongoryn sand dunes in Gobi desert, 6 nights at tourist standard ger camps in Gobi desert to central Mongolia, meals as stated (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner), activities as stated, airport transfers, private air-conditioned van for tour in Ulaanbaatar, private air-conditioned 4WD vehicle for road trip in the countryside, local English speaking guide, professional photographer coach, entrance fees, camel ride in Gobi desert, rural Naadam Festival arrangement in Karakorum, ticket for the opening ceremony of National Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar and domestic airfare from ULN-Gobi with 10kg luggage and 5kg carry on.
International airfare, airport tax, camera and video fees, excess baggage, visa, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at meal time, laundry, tips to guide and drivers, personal travel insurance, additional expenses incurred should there be any re-routing due to weather, floods, political disruptions, strikes, riots and other disturbances, and any items and services not mentioned on cost inclusions.
Summer (June to September) is the best time to visit Mongolia. In Central Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar and Karakorum region) the temperature is 23 degrees celcius in the day and 11 degrees celcius in the nights with occasional rain. In the Gobi, the daytime temperature is 30 degrees celcius, mostly sunny days and 15 degree celcius at night. In northern Mongolia (if anyone is planning to do an extension trip) the temperature is around 20 degrees celcius in the day and 10 degrees celcius in the night.
Flights To Mongolia
MIAT Mongolian Airline, Korean Air, Air China are among those airlines that fly to Ulaanbaatar. Please check their respective websites for the list of departure countries of your choice and you are to book your own flight to Ulaanbaatar.
Most part of Mongolia is still under-developed. We are continuously fine tuning the itinerary when required. If under any circumstances that we have to change the current listed hotel and ger camps, we will change to another of the same standard. Due to the remoteness of the area, interruptions of itinerary may occur during tour and changes on the spot may apply. Therefore, it is important that you are prepared to participate with a spirit of adventure, an open mind, ability to go with the flow when such situation occurs.
We will be taking one domestic flight which is on Day 3 from Ulaanbaatar to Gobi. All flight schedules are subject to change without any prior notice, mostly due to weather condition.
Accommodation & In-House Facilities
In Ulaanbaatar, we will be staying at Holiday Inn and Best Western Tuushin. Both are 4 star hotels which we will be occupying deluxe rooms. These hotels are centrally located in the city, comfortable and clean with all modern amenities. When we are out in the desert, steppes and away from Ulaanbaatar, the only available accommodation are the ger or yurt, which are Mongolian tents. These tents are of tourist standards. There are no hotels out there. Together with our ground handler, we have chosen the best ones available for our overnight base. For the first two nights in the desert, we will have every one staying in cabins with attached bathrooms to adjust to the desert environment.
Electricity is available in each ger camps but not throughout the night. We can charge camera batteries and other electronic items in the common area. Each ger camp host between 80 to 100 guests per night. There is no attached bath and toilet in the ger except for Day 3 and Day 4. Each ger camp have at least 10 western style showers with hot water, toilets and sinks for men and women. Do expect some queuing up to utilise these facilities at peak hours (which is morning before breakfast and before dinner in the evening). This is also one of the reasons that we chose non-winter time to do this programme so we won’t be freezing while waiting to shower. Do expect water pressure problems at times.
Single occupancy are available at an extra cost but on a first-come-first-served basis due to limited number of single gers and cabins. If participant would like to share the room with a suitable roommate, we will assist to find one. However, if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, the single occupancy rate will be charged.
In Ulaanbaatar, we will be having meals in restaurants. When we are on the road in the countryside, our meals will be at ger camp’s restaurants and local cafes in small towns and villages. Food has good variety in Ulaanbaatar, but not in the countryside. Ger restaurants often have set menu, but good food. Some of our lunches will be packed lunch from the ger camps. Lunch is packed in plastic box. Plastic fork and knife, tissue, bottle of mineral water and dessert will be included. You are encouraged to bring your own utensils and water bottle to be plastic free. Mutton is the main protein in most meals. Vegetarian meals can be catered throughout the trip.
Roads and transport arrangement
About 4% of Mongolian 47,000km road is paved and the rest is dirt. Do expect some bumpy dusty rides around 5 hours to 6 hours when we are on the road. Our journey will be mostly on dirt road. There is no road sign and not much traffic, which makes your trip adventurous. The most suitable vehicles are 4WD which we will be using either Japanese jeeps or minivans with comfortable seatings.
The altitude in Gobi varies from 1,400m to 2,000m. At Yoliin Am gorge, the elevation reaches 2,000m. In the area of Khongor sand dunes and Bayanzag, the elevation is between 1,400m to 1,600 m. We are not expecting to go beyond 2,000 m in this trip. If you are concern of altitude sickness, please seek medical advice before you book.
This programme involves walking and hiking but not to extreme slopes or terrains, but it can be strenuous for some. See the above information on altitude. The hiking in this trip is categorised as moderate level. Therefore, it is still important to be in good physical health with the ability to carry your own photography gears.
Visa & Passport
You are responsible to apply for your own visa if required. Mongolia Embassy, diplomatic representatives and honorary counsels of Mongolia in your country of residence have the rights to issue visa to foreign citizens. Click here for the Mongolia immigration website to check for passport holders of countries that are exempted from tourist visa.
If you require an invitation letter from our Mongolian travel agent for your visa application, please get in touch with us as soon as possible to make the arrangement with the agency to send the letter to you. Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least SIX months to the date you return to your country of residence.
On Day 4, we will explore the sand dune on camel back. Camels have been one of the main transporters in this part of the world for centuries. Those that we are using for the ride are bred, owned by the nomads and live in a healthy environment. This is part of our support to provide nomad family with additional income. If any participants feel strongly against the camel ride, please email me to discuss.
We will spend as much time out there to capture great photographs and moments. The priority is to take advantage of all photographic opportunities especially when the weather and light permit. Having a small group of 6 allows ample opportunities to work side by side for instruction, advice and sharing of knowledge as well as to discuss all aspects of photography throughout this journey.
It is recommended that you have one camera with wide angle lens for general shots including landscape and another with telephoto lens (70-200 mm fast lens) for festivals. However, you are not restricted to use any type of camera you have. All of these should be fitted into your day pack with your spare batteries, ample storage cards and tripod. You are encouraged to bring a laptop so that you can transfer your day’s shots for storage and also that we can have a review and discuss your day’s work.
US$1,000.00 per person non-refundable deposit is required to book a spot.
Final payment is due 90 days prior to travel date.
Bookings made less than 90 days prior to travel
Subject to full payment upon confirmation of booking.
Mode of Payment
We accept cheque issued under any local banks in Singapore only and telegraphic transfer for our overseas participants. Bank details will be provided in the invoice. Credit card payment is available via Pay Pal with a surcharge which is charged by Pay Pal. Please check with us on the surcharge amount prior to making payment.
a) Deposited amount is non refundable.
b) Fully paid bookings cancelled more than 60 days prior to travel date - 50% refund
c) Fully paid bookings cancelled less than 60 days prior to travel date - non refundable.