In Steppe with Nomadic Cultures

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.

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  For a small group tour to this region, see Mongolian Explorer: The Gobi & Beyond with Naadam Festival.

Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Attend a performance of the award-winning Tumen Ekh Ensemble
    Attend a performance by the world-renowned Mongolian music and dance troupe, Tumen Ekh Ensemble....
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  • Visit with a reindeer herding family
    Meet and talk with a Tsaatan reindeer herding family in their ger near Mongolia’s alpine Lake Hovsgol...
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  • Learn how to set up a yurt
    Take part in a yurt set-up demonstration with a nomadic family at Son Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan....
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  • Observe the skill of hunting eagles
    Visit with a family of eagle hunters in their village and see a demonstration of their birds’ prowess....
    Read More
Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over two decades of Mongolia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Princeton and Dartmouth have chosen MIR to guide them to Mongolia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers whom clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

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.


  • UlaanBaatar, capital and most important city in Mongolia
  • Cultural performance of traditional song and dance with throat-singing by award-winning Tumen Ekh Ensemble
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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.


  • Hot springs in Jargalant
  • Khorgo-Terkh National Park, where lava cooled into domed structures called “basalt gers” by the Mongolians

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.


  • UNESCO-listed Kara Korum, Genghis Khan’s 13th century capital
  • Erdene Zhu Monastery, surrounded by a thick wall with 108 stupas
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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.


  • Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan at the foot of the Ala-Too Mountains
  • National History Museum, with a great gift shop stocked with Kyrgyz handicrafts
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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.


  • Traditional craft of felt-making and lunch with a Kochkor family
  • Oimo(Patterns) arts and culture festival
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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.


  • Lush Semenovskoye Gorge, cut by the glacial Ak-Suu River
  • Meals with local families
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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.


  • Jety Oguz Canyon, with Broken Heart Hill and the Valley of Flowers
  • Demonstration of the eagles that Bokanbaeva’s berkutchi (eagle-hunters) have trained to hunt for them.

Days 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.


  • Kyrgyz bread baking
  • Burana Tower, one of few remaining Silk Road watchtowers in Kyrgyzstan
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

There are no departures available at this time.

Please contact us for more information and a MIR Destination Specialist will contact you shortly. Thank you!

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  For a small group tour to this region, see Mongolian Explorer: The Gobi & Beyond with Naadam Festival.

This itinerary is available on a custom, private basis. Contact us for more information.

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in superior tourist class hotel in UlaanBaatar, Bishkek, Cholpon Ata and Karakol; one night in a comfortable guesthouse in Chon Kemin and 7 nights in ger camps with shared facilities per itinerary.
  • Breakfast lunch and dinner every full day of the tour (17 breakfasts, 16 lunches and 17 dinners.)
  • Restaurant tips for included meals.
  • Services of an experienced, English-speaking MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your airfare arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end city.
  • Transportation throughout the itinerary by minivans and/or buses (type and number of vehicles
  • depends on group size and terrain).
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Baggage handling where available.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.
  • Oimo Festival entrance fees.

Before Your Tour

  • Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, insurance information.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international air fare is not included in the land tour cost).
  • Final document packet, including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
Download Detailed Itinerary
Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan, perhaps a pre-tour extension to the Gobi Desert or a post-tour beyond Kyrgyzstan to the Silk Road Oases of Uzbekistan.  All of MIR’s destinations are open to you, and all can be attached to this program. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This program is designed to be adventurous, but also as comfortable as is possible for rustic travel in this region. Accommodations will vary from superior tourist class hotels in UlaanBaatar, Bishkek, Cholpon Ata and Karakol to simple and basic accommodation in a charming guesthouse in Chon Kemin and in ger or yurt camps elsewhere outside the capital. 

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