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Mongolia & Kyrgyzstan: Lands of The Last Nomads

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On this search for Mongolian and Kyrgyz nomads, travel from the vast Mongolian steppe to the jailoo, the Kyrgyz summer pastures, visiting nomadic families in their gers and yurts and getting a feel for a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. Learn about the trusted folkways, traditional methods of grazing animals and hunting game, familiar music, epic poetry and dance, the hospitality of the steppe and the close-knit life of families on the edge - some of the things that don't change in this precarious, and inexorably changing, way of life.

Days 1-4: UlaanBaatar, Lake Hovsgol

Explore the capital, admire the huge stainless steel statue of Genghis Khan and attend a performance of traditional music, throat-singing and dance by the award-winning Tumen Ekh Ensemble. Fly and drive to Mongolia's deepest and largest lake, high-altitude Hovsgol. Visit with a reindeer breeding family, and take a horseback ride or boat around the alpine lake.

Days 5-7: Jargalant, Khorgo-Terkh National Park

Drive to the town of Happiness, Jargalant, to soak in its hot springs. Continue to Khorgo-Terkh National Park, centered on beautiful Lake Terkh, formed when Mt. Khorgo erupted a million years ago. Climb to the extinct volcano's crater for fantastic views of grazing herds of yak and sheep.

Days 8-9: Kara Korum, Hustai Nuruu, UlaanBaatar

Explore the remains of UNESCO-listed Kara Korum, Genghis Khan's capital city, and the 16th century Erdene Zhu Monastery. On the way back to UlaanBaatar, stop in Hustai Nuruu National Park to try to get a glimpse of the endangered Przewalski wild horse.

Days 10-11: Bishkek, Son-Kul Lake

Fly to Kyrgyzstan and take a city tour of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Set off for remote alpine Lake Son-Kul and the surrounding jailoo, or summer pastures, where the yurts of nomads dot the landscape. Visit with nomadic families, enjoy a folk concert and learn how to set up a yurt at a special exhibition.

Days 12-13: Kochkor Village, Cholpon-Ata, Issyk-Kul

Enjoy lunch in the home of a Kyrgyz family and learn about traditional felt making, a craft that has survived the centuries. Attend the Oimo (Patterns) Festival, a celebration of Central Asian arts and culture, visit the site of Neolithic petroglyphs and take a boat ride on Issyk-Kul.

Days 14-15: Semenovskoye Gorge, Karakol

Picnic in the scenic gorge and then explore charming Karakol. Enjoy meals with both a Uighur family and a Dungan (Chinese Muslim) family and admire the sky-blue mosque, the Orthodox church and the mansions of the Russian colonists.

Day 16: Jety Oguz, Bokonbaevo, Chon Kemin

Survey the red sandstone cliffs of Jety Oguz on the way to Bokonbaevo Village. Visit with an eagle-hunting family and observe the birds being put through their paces.

Day 17-18: Chon Kemin, Bishkek

Learn how to bake the fragrant Kyrgyz yeasted bread, then sample the result. Witness exciting Kyrgyz horse games near Burana Tower, one of Kyrgyzstan's last remaining Silk Road watchtowers. Attend a performance of selected verses from the Epic of Manas, listed by UNESCO as a part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Trip Details

Length of Trip: 18 Days
Departures: Available by private journey
Land Tour Cost: Call for pricing

MIR Signature Experiences

  • Meet and talk with a reindeer herding family near Mongolia's alpine Lake Hovsgol.
  • Enjoy lunch and learn how felt is made in the traditional Kyrgyz fashion.
  • Visit with a family of eagle hunters and see a demonstration of their birds' prowess.

Map

<
Day Activity  
Days 1-2: UlaanBaatar  
Days 3-4: Lake Hovsgol  
Day 5: Jargalant  
Day 6: Khorgo-Terkh National Park, Lake Terkh  
Days 7-8: Kara Korum  
Day 9: Hustai Nuuru, UlaanBaatar  
Day 10: Fly to Bishkek  
     
Day Activity  
Day 11: Son-Kul Lake  
Day 12: Kochkor Village, Cholpan-Ata  
Day 13: Lake Issyk-Kul  
Day 14: Semenovskoye Gorge  
Day 15: Karakol  
Day 16: Jety Oguz, Bokonbaevo, Chon Kemin  
Days 17-18: Bishkek  

List of Highlights
UlaanBaatar Gandan Monastery, National History Museum, Genghis Khan statue, award-winning Tumen Ekh Ensemble performance
Lake Hovsgol Mongolia's largest and deepest lake, optional horseback riding, visits with nomadic families and reindeer herders, boat ride
Jargalant Soak in hot springs
Khorgo-Terkh National Park Swim in Lake Terkh, climb to the rim of extinct volcano, Mt. Khorgo
Kara Korum Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape (UNESCO World Heritage Site) capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, Erdene Zhu Monastery, Turtle Rock, market in Kharkorin
Hustai Nuruu National Park Home of the Przewalski horse
Bishkek Victory Park, Manas on the Horse Monument, National History Museum
Son-Kul Lake Remote alpine lake at 10,000 feet, visits with nomadic families on the jailoo, the high summer pastures of Kyrgyzstan; Yurt set-up demonstration
Kochkor Village Lunch with a Kyrgyz family, felt-making demonstration
Cholpon-Ata Neolithic petroglyphs, Oimo (Patterns) Festival of crafts and culture
Lake Issyk-Kul Second-largest high altitude lake in the world, boat ride
Karakol Przewalski Museum, Dungan Mosque, Orthodox Church, colonial houses, Regional Museum, dinner with a Dungan family
Jety Oguz Gorge Drive through the impressive red rock formations on the south side of Lake Issyk-Kul
Chon Kemin Village Charming Kyrgyz village, bread-baking lesson
Burana Tower One of the only Silk Road watchtowers in Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz horse games
Bokonbaevo Village Lunch with eagle hunter's family, eagle hunting demonstration

Suggested Extensions

Extend your stay in Mongolia to visit Kara Korum, or to exlpore the Silk Road Oases of Uzbekistan. Contact us for details.

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Images on this page courtesy Ana Filonov and Vlad Ushakov

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