Wild Mongolia Cycle and Naadam Festival

Starting From

$3,499/person

Number of days

16

Start Location

Mongolia

Group Size

5-12

Operated by

World Expeditions

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The wilds of Mongolia have always sent out a call to those with an adventurous spirit. One of the true travelling frontiers, Mongolia offers an incredible experience for the cyclist. Combine this fabulous cycling trip with the excitement of the Naadam festival.

Operated by:

World Expeditions

World Expeditions is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that offers guided small group trekking and adventure holidays.

Itinerary

Join Ulaanbaatar

Today is arrival day and as people will be arriving from all parts of the world we will have a group meeting to go over the trip formalities before heading out for our first taste of Mongolian food – maybe a horsemeat steak for the adventurous eaters! Depending on your flight times you may have time to wander around and take in the ambience of UB. Mongolia’s capital is a truly fascinating city that has a real frontier feel mixed with a dash of development. The city is fairly small and contained so it is perfect to get around on foot. The streets are spacious and architecturally interesting. Different parts of the city reflect the country’s different historical and cultural influences: the Russian-influenced Communist era architecture and planning of the centrally located Sukhbaatar Square, the suburbs filled with the traditional “ger” homes, the Buddhist-inspired temples (sum) and monasteries (khiid). There are several museums and galleries to check out if you want to see dinosaur skeletons, modern art or rare religious items. Overnight: Hotel

Ulaanbaatar to Bayankhongor

This is the start of our adventure as we load up the 4WDs for a two day, 800+ km drive to Bayanhongor. This is a great introduction to the Mongolian countryside. Starting in the capital city’s aimag (province) of Tov, we travel through several more aimags before arriving at Bayanhongor, the starting point for our cycling. We’ll get to know our local crew who will be driving the support vehicles and cooking the food. At our destination, we set up camp beside a small river at the foot of a grassy hillside. Overnight: Tented camp

Cycle to Shargaljuut

Today we begin our 485km journey north-east through the Arkhangai mountain range to the ancient capital, Kharkhorin, established by legendary Chinggis Khan. The riding starts beside the Shargaljuut River which we follow for the rest of the morning. We then leave the river valley behind as we cycle up out of the valley floor all the way to lunch, with a last steep climb to the top of the pass. At the top we’ll be rewarded with 360° of magnificent views. What goes up must come down; and we do! It’s very steep, very fast and very rocky; mountain biking at its best in Mongolia. We’ll keep up the momentum along some fast tracks until we reach our camp spot for the evening. Cycling distance: 66km Overnight: Tented camp

Cycle the Tuy River Valley

For the next two days we cycle up the Tuy River Valley, tackling its rocky riverbed and camping beside its waters at night. We have to climb one pass to enter the valley. Because of the constant water source of this river, the area is populated with many family ger camps. The kids in particular are usually very curious about us and our bikes, so you’ll find they often ride over on their horses to check us out. Many want to try riding the bikes so there are plenty of opportunities to stop and mingle with the people of the area. On day 6 we’ll set up camp at one of our favourite spots on this trip. It’s by the water, so you can put a few beers in the river to cool down and pull out your fishing rod for a spot of fishing. Cycling distance: 45km (Day 5), 54km (Day 6) Overnight: Tented camp

Cycle the Tamir River Valley

On both days we travel up the Tamir Valley, with the river on our right and we’ll veer north-west over two sets of mountains before a fast downhill on dirt tracks into the town of Bulgan where we might stop to pick up more supplies. The road is hilly until 30 kilometres out of Tsetserleg, where we hit some fast dirt tracks with lots of mounds that make for some fine jumps. On Day 9 we’ll camp on the outskirts of Tsetserleg so that we can visit the Aimag (provincial) Museum in the temple Zayayn Gegeenii Sum. After our museum visit, we cycle out of town, down to the Tsetserleg River for lunch. We have three climbs after lunch with mini breaks in between, we reach the top for a long and continuous downhill all the way to camp. Tonight we stay in a ger Camp, to give everyone a chance for showers, hot springs and actual beds for one night. Cycling distance: 24km (Day 7), 73km (Day 8) Overnight: Tented camp

Cycle the Tsenger River Valley

As we travel south we will have two main climbs and two descents, one for each day. The first climb includes more undulating terrain, muddy bogs and fields of wild flowers with a descent that is fast and gravely and some badly eroded and chewed up track as we come into Tsaagan Sum, our camp for the evening. In the morning we have a slow ascent till we reach the Olgyin Davaa (Pass) and then a quick descent towards the Orkhon Falls where we will arrive early on day 11. The rest of the day is free for you to relax at the campsite or hike down the ravine into the gorge for a swim. Cycling distance: 74km (Day 9), 49km (Day 10) Overnight: Tented camp

Cycle the Orkhon River Valley

This is our last leg of cycling for the trip! We follow the Orkhon River all the way to Kharkhorin, the ancient capital at the time of the Mongolian Empire. The first morning will be tending slightly down and if we get a tailwind is a fast and fun section on dirt tracks with lots of jumps. The cycling gets a little more challenging later in the day as we have two climbs late in the day. The first is gradual with a steep finish and the second also gradual. The last day of cycling is our shortest and just one climb today of 5 kilometres which brings us up to a ridgeline with gorgeous views of the whole valley. We should arrive early on day 23 so that you have time to visit the Erdene Zuu Khiid, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia dating from 1586. On this night we break out the party clothes and enjoy some of the famous local airag – fermented mare’s milk, for we’re celebrating our journey across the Arkhangai Mountain Ranges. Cycling distance: 50km (Day 12), 50km (Day 13) Overnight: Tented camp

Kharkhorin to Ulaanbaatar

Today we pack up the bikes and drive back to Ulaanbaatar from Kharkhorin. This drive takes around 5 to 6 hours. During the evening meal, our guide will discuss details of the following two days of Naadam Festival, one of the biggest and most highly anticipated events on the Mongolian calendar. Overnight: Hotel

Naadam Festival

This is the start of Mongolia’s National Games, the Naadam Festival. We will be at the Preliminary Ceremony in Sukhbaatar Square before heading to the main stadium to watch the opening ceremony itself. This venue is also where you’ll see the wrestling and the archery. The stadium is the place to be as Mongolians from all over the country cheer on their local heroes and favourite wrestlers. The area around the stadium is crammed with food stalls and souvenir vendors adding to the carnival atmosphere. The whole day is available to take in the festival. Overnight: Hotel

Naadam Festival

The second day of the festival will be spent with a visit to the grasslands on the edge of UB where we will witness the horse racing. Once again entrants from all over the country bring their horses to compete. The horses are ridden by boys and girls as young as five or six and these races are a test of endurance for the hardy Mongolian ponies. As the horse is the heart of Mongolian nomadic culture, the winning horses bring great prestige to the owners and are the subject of great admiration of all the spectators. After the horse racing you will have free time to take in the final rounds of archery and wrestling before the closing ceremony at the stadium. There is no set time for the closing as the wrestling bouts are not timed and take as long as they take to produce a winner. Overnight: Hotel

In Ulaanbaatar, trip concludes

Today is departure day and you are free to leave at any time.

Additional Information

This extended version of our Wild Mongolia trip combines a deeper insight into Mongolia by taking in the country’s national games, the biggest celebration on the Mongolian calendar, the Naadam Festival, as well a mountain bike adventure across the Arkhangai Mountains. We'll see the opening ceremony at the National Stadium as well as the wrestling and archery, two of the elements that make up the "three manly sports" that are contested during the festival. We'll visit the horse races, held just outside the capital, where Mongolians from all over the country come with their prized horses to compete. The cycling segment of the tour will take us on a crossing of the Arkhangai Mountains, from the edge of the Gobi desert at Bayanhongor to the old Mongolian capital of Kharkhorin. We cycle into the heart of Mongolia and meet its nomadic peoples. This is an off-roader's dream, with only 17 of 485 kilometres cycling on sealed roads. You can expect to cycle everything: rock strewn dirt roads, rocky riverbeds, compacted earth, grass, long rocky downhills, steep climbs and horse trails. This is a fully-supported ride camping under the stars when not in Ulaanbaatar. We will cycle through a diversity of landscapes, including the mountains of the Arkhanghai, lush green grasslands, pine forests and the spectacular Orkhon Falls. We will see a diverse array of wildlife: many of birds of prey, cattle, yaks, gophers, and the pride of many Mongolians, the horse. The sheer adventure makes this trip one of our favourites!

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