13 Days

Expedition Fee

US$ 4,780.00 per person (twin sharing), add US$ 1,000.00 for single occupancy. 

Group Size:

Minimum 4 to go, maximum 6 in a group.

Starts / Ends:

Ulaanbaatar


Highlights

# 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 and summer festival, the rural Naadam, in 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 in rural sites and cityscape in Ulaanbaatar


Itinerary - 13 days

Day 1: 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 Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel for your overnight stay.  Caroline will meet up 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: Tour of the City - Gandan Monastery, The Genghis Square, National Museum & Bogd Khan’s Palace. (B, L)

Today, we explore the city of Ulaanbaatar with our local guide, providing 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. 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 Zaisan Memorial which is located on a hill in the south of the city. We are expected to get a nice panoramic view of the nomadic capital. We return to the hotel in the late afternoon. This evening we will head to Sukhbaatar Square to continue with night photography. Dinner will be on your own expense.  Overnight at Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

Zaisan Memorial.

Day 3: 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. We are expected to arrive at the dunes in the evening. Tonight we stay at the Gobi Erdene Ger Camp

Yoliin Am Gorge

Day 4: Khongor sand dunes (B, L, D)

Today, we will wake up early for sun rise shot 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 to sunset shots. Overnight at the Gobi Erdene Ger Camp

Sunrise shining onto cabins at Gobi Erdene Ger Camp

Day 5: 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 this drive, there will be several interesting landscape to photograph, and 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.  Sunset is expected to be beautiful from the camp. Overnight at Gobi Tour Camp (no website).

The Flaming Cliff or Bayanzag.

Day 6: 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.

Ongi Monastery ruins. 

Day 7: 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 also 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.


Karakorum, ancient capital of the Mongol Empire.

Day 8: Naadam Festival at Karakorum (B, L, D)

This morning, we will head to the Naadam Festival square to join in the opening ceremony. We are expected to spent half of the day to enjoy and to photograph the festival including witnessing 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.

Mongolians on their best horses visiting the Rural Naadam Festival.

Day 9: Karakorum – Lake Ogii. (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we check out and head to the Naadam square again to document other rituals and matches. Then 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. 

Lake Ogii.

Day 10: Lake Ogii- Ulaanbaatar (B, L)

Today, we drive back to Ulaanbaatar. The drive is between 7 to 8 hours with stops. We may see several interesting scenes along the way with photo opportunities. We will check in to Best Western Premier Tuushin Hotel in Ulaanbaatar for our overnight stay. This evening, we will have our own time and dinner will be on own arrangement.  

It can be a long drive to get from one place to another, but there is always interesting discovery and scenery like this along the way.

Day 11:  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.

State Flag Ceremony at Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar.

Day 12: 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.

Chinggis Khaan’s equestrian statue.

Day 13: Departure. (B)

Free and easy until it is time for transfer to the airport.

Nomad herding his livestock in the summer landscape where water are plenty and grass are green in the steppe of Mongolia.


Virtual Journey Of Mongolia

Mongolia | Naadam | The Mongolian Gobi

In the Media

Caroline Pang Photography is one of the TENS mentioned in 10 Places to sign up for photography workshops in Singapore by Marie France Asia.

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That Summer In Mongolia 

a non-narrative short film on Caroline's photographic journey to Mongolia


Pre-Trip Notes Before You Book:

1.  Trip Starts / Ends 

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.


2.  Minimum / Maximum Participants

4 persons to go / 6 persons


3.  Price

US$ 4,780.00 per person (based on twin sharing),  add US$ 1,000.00 per person for single occupancy. 


4.  Inclusive 

4 nights at 5 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, meals as stated (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner), activities as stated, airport transfers, private air-conditioned van for tour in Ulaanbaatar,  private 4WD air-conditioned transport for road trip in the countryside, local English speaking guide, 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. 


5.  Exclusive

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.


6.  Weather 

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. 


7.  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.


8.  Itinerary

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.


9.  Domestic Flight

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.


10. Accommodation & In-House Facilities 

In Ulaanbaatar, we will be staying at Best Western Tuushin, a 5 star hotel in deluxe room, centrally located in the city, comfortable and clean with all modern amenities. Those days in the desert, steppes and out of Ulaanbaatar, the only available accommodation are the ger or yurt, which are Mongolian tents of tourist standards. Together with our ground handler, we have chosen the best ones available at 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 and showering. Do expect water pressure problems at times. 


11.  Meals

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.  Mutton is the main protein in most meals. Vegetarian meals can be catered  throughout the trip. 


12.  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.


13.  Altitude

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.


14.  Health conditions

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.


15.  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. Here is the Mongolia immigration website to check for passport holders of countries that are exempted from tourist visa: http://immigration.gov.mn/en/?p=2270

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.


16.  Camel Ride

On Day 4,  we will go on an hour camel ride to the sand dune. 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 us to discuss.


17.  Travel Photography 

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.


18.  Recommended Equipments

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.


19. Deposit

US$1,000.00 per person deposit is required to book a spot.


20. Final Payment

Final payment is due 90 days prior to travel date.


21. Bookings made less than 90 days prior to travel

Subject to full payment upon confirmation of booking.


22. 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 via Pay Pal. 


23. Cancellation Policy

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.


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