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zMongolia’s Naadam Festival and Lake Baikal

12 days

An Alexander+Roberts Original Event

Original Event Discoveries for our World Travelers

+ Gain insight into the nomadic life and culture of the Gobi’s dauntless residents when you meet with camel breeders and stay in a traditional canvas and felt ger.
+ Witness thrilling tests of courage and strength at the Naadam Festival as spirited contestants including young boys and girls gather from distant corners of Mongolia to compete in wrestling, archery and horse racing.
+ Follow in the footsteps of the original Indiana Jones as you discover the Flaming Cliffs where adventurer Roy Chapman Andrews discovered the first-known nest of dinosaur eggs.
+ Spend a day exploring the shores of the world’s deepest lake; this historic 50-mile stretch of the original Trans-Siberian Railway traverses 200 bridges along magnificent Lake Baikal.
+ Immerse in the culture, history and daily life of a remote and picturesque island; Olkhon, the largest island in Lake Baikal, is home to just 1,500 residents and is revered as a sacred site by the indigenous Buryat people.

Show all itinerary details

Day
1

July 10, 2015: Welcome to Ulaanbaatar

Upon arrival, we’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the comfortable and modern Ramada CityCenter Hotel, ideally located in the heart of the city near the historic Gandan Monastery. After lunch, we’ll join our friendly resident guide to explore the Chojin Lama Museum where we’ll be greeted with traditional Mongolian music and dance. Situated in a temple complex that was built in  1904, this outstanding museum houses a fine collection of Buddhist art, authentic silk icons and Tsam dancing masks.  Meals L+D

Day
2

July 11, 2015: Discover Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, our guided sightseeing tour will begin this morning at Gandantegchinlen. Built in the mid 19th-century, this is the largest and most important monastery in Mongolia and is the only one where Buddhist services continued uninterrupted during the Communist regime. Within this impressive Tibetan-style complex, we’ll have time to marvel at the Janraisig statue, a spectacular 82-foot tall image of a Buddhist Bodhisattva gilded in pure gold and adorned with silk and precious stones. We’ll also visit the Museum of History where excellent displays trace several millennia of Mongolia’s history from the Stone Age through the Turkic and Mongol Empires to the rise of Buddhism and the Communist regime. After lunch, we visit the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, home to a fine collection of Buddhist paintings and sculptures as well as works by Zanabazar, a revered Mongolian artist and sculptor of the 17th century. We’ll overnight again at the Ramada CityCenter Hotel.  Meals B+L+D

Day
3

July 12, 2015: The Thrilling Naadam Festival

Mongolia’s most important festival began centuries ago to test the courage and strength of nomadic warriors. It’s celebrated throughout the land, but the festival events here in the capital are the best and the competitions are the fiercest. Indeed, participants and onlookers come from all across Mongolia for the celebrations and contests.

The wrestling championships can involve over 1,000 contestants but with no weight classes and 16 thrilling contests running simultaneously, the competition progresses quickly. Horseracing is another crowd favorite and herdsmen bring their finest horses to participate. Covering distances ranging from 9 to 20 miles across the vast Mongolian steppe, these races are a test of both endurance and speed for the horses and their riders; some of them are boys and girls as young as six years old!

The archery competition dates back more than 2,000 years and is a test of strength and military prowess. Bows are still fashioned in the traditional Mongolian fashion from sinew, wood, deer horn and bamboo and strung with deer tendon.

This unforgettable day will include the Opening Ceremony, wrestling, horse racing and archery competitions and a Gala Naadam Dinner & Folk Concert..  Meals B+L+D

Day
4

July 13, 2015: The Gobi Desert + Yol Valley National Park

After breakfast, we’ll head to the airport for our included flight deep into the Gobi Desert. With its rich history colored by the exploits of adventurers and explorers, the Gobi is respected as one of the harshest environments on the planet, with extreme temperature and seasonal changes. But it’s also a land rich with geological diversity and a remarkable variety of wildlife including Blacktail gazelle, wild camel, antelope, ibex, the endangered Gobi bear and the Argali sheep – the largest wild sheep species in the world. Upon arrival, we’ll set out to explore Yol Valley National Park. Our guided morning walk offers stunning views of the Gobi Glacier and takes us into a spectacular sheer-walled river canyon that winds its way through the 8,500-foot tall Zuun Saikhan Mountain. A small museum at the entrance into this narrow gorge provides a fascinating introduction to the petrified trees, flora and fauna of the Gobi. After our adventures, we’ll continue with our guide to the deluxe Three Camels Lodge for dinner and an unforgettable two-night stay at this enchanting Mongolian style encampment. Built  in the traditional style of the Gobi’s nomadic herdsman, your private ger is a round structure made of latticed wood and covered with thick layers of felt and canvas. It’s heated by a wood stove and well-appointed with hand-painted wooden furniture. You’ll have a private bathroom stocked with traditional felt slippers, a Mongolian-style robe and locally produced toiletries including wonderful camel-milk moisturizing lotions.   Meals B+L+D

Day
5

July 14, 2015: The Flaming Cliffs and Moltsog Sand Dunes

Fondly known as the “Original Indiana Jones,” Roy Chapman Andrews was a storied adventurer and naturalist who went on to become one of the most respected directors of the American Museum of Natural History. Follow in his legendary footsteps this morning as we visit Bayan Zag, the Flaming Cliffs where Mr. Andrews found the first-known nest of fossilized dinosaur eggs in 1922. Petrified forests and the remains of numerous animals including the skeleton of the hornless rhinoceros, the largest known mammal, have also been recovered in the same area. We’ll also explore the Moltsog Sand Dunes. Surprisingly, this is one of the few regions in the Gobi Desert that is actually covered by sand dunes! We’ll also spend time with camel breeders for an authentic look into their nomadic traditions and enduring way of life. We’ll have great photo opportunities and the adventurous will have a chance to ride a two-humped Bactrian camel! We’ll return to our ger camp for dinner and another enchanting overnight.  Meals B+L+D

Day
6

July 15, 2015: Back to Ulaanbaatar + Onward to Irkutsk

After breakfast at the Lodge, we’ll fly back to Ulaanbaatar to visit the Bogdo Khan Winter Palace Museum, completed in 1903 as the home of the last Mongolian King. Among the items on display in the Palace are rare artifacts from the private collection of Bogdo Khan. After an early dinner, we’ll head to the airport for our included flight to Siberia!

Upon arrival in Irkutsk, we’ll be met by our native guide and escorted to the Courtyard City Center Hotel, a contemporary, superior first class hotel located close to the historic Kirov Palace and Angara River. Founded more than 350 years ago as a Cossack outpost, Irkutsk is a fascinating place that retains the frontier spirit and architecture of a bustling 19th-century Russian town. The balance of this afternoon is yours to enjoy and explore as you wish.  Meals B

Day
7

July 16, 2015: Aboard the Fabled Trans-Siberian Railway

After an early breakfast, we’ll travel overland to Listvyanka where a ferry will transport us across the Angara River to Port Baikal, a lakeside village with authentic Siberian cottages that have remained surprisingly uncommercialised. At mid-morning we’ll embark on a thrilling day-long excursion on the most historic and scenic stretch of the legendary Trans-Siberian. Tracing a path along the shores of spectacular Lake Baikal, this enthralling 50-mile railway route was called the Golden Buckle because it connected different sections of the Trans Siberian that were divided by the vast expanse of the Lake. With 39 tunnels and 200 bridges, the cost to build this one vital link exceeded the amount spent on the construction of the Trans Siberian’s other routes! We’ll make several stops along the way to enjoy lunch and to take in the magnificent lakeside scenery. We’ll be back in Irkutsk for a late dinner and another night at the comfortable Courtyard City Center Hotel.  Meals B+L+D

Day
8

July 17, 2015: Irkutsk to Olkhon Island

The Decembrist Revolt which unfolded on December 26, 1825 stands out as one of the most dramatic events of 19th-century Russian history. More than 3,000 military officers and soldiers took part in this protest against the ascension of Tsar Nicholas I after the death of his father Alexander I. This uprising was suppressed by Nicholas I and many of those who were involved were exiled to Siberia in the summer of 1826. This morning, we’ll tour the Decembrist Museum to learn more about this important historical event and its impact upon Russian history and those who were exiled here to Siberia. After our museum visit, we’ll travel once again to the nearby shores of Lake Baikal, stopping en route for a congenial lunch featuring the traditional cuisine of the Buryat, an indigenous people of the region. A scenic ferry ride will transport us to Olkhon Island where we’ll spend the night at the Baikal View Hotel.  Meals B+L+D

Day
9

July 18, 2015: Explore Olkhon Island

Although this is the world’s largest lake island, Olkhon is home to fewer than 2,000 farmers and fishermen living in scattered settlements across the island. This morning after breakfast, we’ll set out in a vintage Russian UAZ jeep across the island’s rugged slopes and embark on a guided nature walk along scenic Cape Khoboy. With rugged granite cliffs, forested groves and sweeping expanses that promise exhilarating views across the calm waters of Lake Baikal, the severe beauty of the Cape was deeply respected by ancient inhabitants and this northern point on the island was used in throughout history for shamanic rituals. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch and plenty of time to take in the captivating scenery before returning to our hotel where we’ll have time to freshen up before dinner.  Meals B+L+D

Day
10

July 19, 2015: Return to Irkutsk

After breakfast, we’ll take the morning ferry back to the mainland and journey overland to Irkutsk stopping for lunch en route. We’ll return to the Courtyard City Center Hotel for a 2-night stay.  Meals B+L+D

Day
11

July 20, 2015: Discover Irkutsk

In the company of our native Siberian guide, our sightseeing tour will take us through the historic center of town to spend time with city residents as they go about their daily routines at the local market. We’ll visit the historic Znamensky Convent founded in 1693 and the Monument to Alexander III, which was erected in 1908 to commemorate the construction of the Trans Siberian Railway. The square around this impressive landmark remains a popular gathering place for Irkutsk residents. By special arrangement, we’ll also meet the caretaker of the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and ascend the belfry to join him as he rings the Church’s historic bells.  Meals B

Day
12

July 21, 2015: Depart Irkutsk

We’ll be escorted to the airport today for our departure flight.  Meals B

Private Tour Add-Ons

Be a Beijing Insider

This Private Tour just for your traveling party includes your choice of deluxe or luxury hotel, 5 meals and extensive sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide.

Shanghai

Our 3-day FreeStyle Travel package includes a choice of fine hotels, daily breakfast, full day sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide and private car airport transfers.

Be A Hong Kong Insider

Our resident guide will take you around town like a savvy insider to discover facets of Hong Kong which few visitors ever glimpse! We include transfers, a choice of fine city-center hotels, our exclusive Be a Hong Kong Insider full-day private tour, and more!

Moscow

Our 4-day FreeStyle Travel package with a choice of city-center hotels, breakfast daily, in-depth private car sightseeing expertly guided by our own resident staff, and chauffeured airport transfers

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Thrill to the Nadaam Festival  

Travel with us in July on a special 12-day tour and experience Mongolia’s largest festival when Nomadic families gather together from all across Mongolia.

Prices are per person, double occupancy.

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!