Mongolia, China, Tibet

Mongolia: Naadam, Nomads, and National Parks with Lewis & Clark College

13 Days
From $7,495
Trip Type
Small Group
Group Size
Activity Level
Exclusively for Lewis & Clark College

With Naadam Festival


Explore the modern society and nomadic heritage of Mongolia on this 13-day adventure through cities, steppes, and deserts. The journey begins in the capital Ulaanbaatar, where gers (yurts) and Soviet-era apartment blocks exist almost side-by-side. Witness the pomp and pageantry of the annual Naadam Festival, Mongolia’s most important celebration of sports and games, rooted deeply in nomadism and horsemanship. Head out onto the steppes to search for the rare Przewalski’s horse in Hustain Nuruu National Park. Here and elsewhere outside of Ulaanbaatar, you’ll be accommodated in ger camps, providing insight into traditional nomadic life. Continue to Genghis Khan’s ancient capital, Kara Korum, where you’ll learn more about the history of the Mongolian Empire and Buddhism in Mongolia. Then turn south and watch as the steppe gradually fades into the sands of the Gobi Desert. Spend three days exploring the natural history of the Gobi Desert, including its ancient history through petroglyphs and paleontology. The journey concludes with a flight back to Ulaanbaatar and some final touring in the city.

Questions? Contact LC Travel Program, Andrew McPheeters, Associate Vice President Community Education & Travel Programs, | (503) 768-7936.

Reservation Details: Deposit $1,000 (non-refundable), final payment is due by April 10, 2025. Cancellation policy: If you cancel your trip, please notify MIR in writing. Upon MIR’s receipt of notice the following charges apply to land tours (except air tickets and visa fees): Cost of cancellation, if received: 89-61 days before departure, 50% of land tour cost; 60 or fewer days before departure, 100% of the land tour cost. To sign up please contact MIR at 800-424-7289.

Travels to: Mongolia



  • Days 1-4: Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia)

    Spend four days in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The annual Naadam Festival is the focus and highlight here. Witness the spectacular Opening Ceremony, and important expression of modern Mongolian national pride. Attend matches and games including wrestling, archery, and cross-country horse racing. In addition to the games, you’ll also explore the city itself, including the Soviet-style Sukhbaatar Square and Mongolia’s new and impressive Genghis Khan Museum. [Hotel Best Western Tushin or similar]


    • Wander the imposing, Soviet-era Sukhbaatar Square
    • Light a candle or recite a Buddhist mantra at the 19th-century Gandantegchinlen Monastery
    • Explore the new Genghis Khan Museum, Mongolia’s largest
    • Attend the impressive Opening Ceremoy of the Naadam Festival
    • Join in the excitement at a Mongolian wrestling competition
    • Learn about Mongolian archery at the Naadam Festival
    • Listen to the thunder of hooves at a cross-country horse race outside of town
  • Days 5-7: Hustaiin Nuruu National Park and Kara Korum

    From Ulaanbaatar head east out onto the vast grasslands and steppes that gave rise to the Mongolian Empire nearly a millennium ago. Stop first at Hustaiin Nuruu National Park, an important center for conservation and research, especially for the endangered Przewalski’s horse, the last remaining wild horse species. Tonight, and going forward until your return to Ulaanbaatar, you’ll be accommodated in ger camps, a fantastic way to learn about traditional Mongolian life. Continue overland to Kara Korum, Genghis Khan’s former capital. Explore the history of the ancient city at a museum. You’ll also visit the modern town, known as Kharkhorin, and spend time with a herding family that practices a nomadic lifestyle. Kara Korum is also home to the UNESCO-listed, 16th-century Erdene Zuu Monastery. [Ger camps: Mongol Nomadic or similar 1 night; Munkh Tenger “Blue Sky” or similar, 2 nights, en-suite not guaranteed]


    • Explore the grasslands of Hustaiin Nuruu National Park
    • Learn about conservation efforts protected the endangered Przewalski’s horse
    • Visit Kara Korum and Kharkhorin, Genghis Khan’s ancient capital and the adjacent modern town
    • Learn about Mongolian Buddhism at UNESCO-listed Erdene Zuu Monastery, built from the ruins of Kara Korum
    • Spend time with a local herding family to learn about their nomadic way of life
    • Browse the exhibits and models at the Kara Korum Museum provide context to the archaeological site
  • Days 8-11: Ongiin, the South Gobi, and Ulaanbaatar

    Head south across the steppes to Ongiin, a remote town in central Mongolia on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Visit a monastery and overnight there before continuing into the Gobi. Spend three nights in a yurt camp in the Gobi Desert, setting off daily to explore the area. On arrival visited the famed Flaming Cliffs of Bayanzag, an important paleontological site where the first dinosaur eggs were discovered in 1922. On the second day visit the impressive Moltsog Sand Dunes and then stop to interpret the petroglyphs on Havsgait Mountain. The third day is dedicated to Gurvansaikhan National Park and the Yolyn Am Canyon within it, home to a range of interesting flora and fauna. At the end of the journey head back by air to Ulaanbaatar. Depending on flight schedules, it may be possible to explore more of the city. [Ger camps: Ongy Energy or similar 1 night, not en-suite; Gobi Mirage or similar, 3 nights, en-suite; Hotel Best Western Tushin in Ulaanbaatar, 1 night]


    • Discover the remote Ongiin Khiid Monastery, which suffered greatly under Communist purges
    • Follow in the footsteps of Roy Chapman Andrews as you explore the paleontological site of the Flaming Cliffs if Bayanzag
    • Marvel at the shifting sand dunes of Moltsog Els
    • Interpret the ancient petroglyphs on Havsgait Mountain, many featuring animals still found in the area
    • Hike through Yolyn Am Canyon in the ecologically important Gurvansaikhan National Park
    • Browse exhibits of contemporary art at the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery (depending on flight schedules)

Dates & Prices

Small group tour – max 20 travelers.

Land tour price, per person. Based on double occupancy and minimum group size of 10 travelers. Billy Walker from Lewis & Clark, originally from Mongolia, will escort the group together with Keith Dede.

  • 2025 Dates
    July 9 - 21
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Accommodations, as noted in the itinerary. Please note that accommodations in the capital are in standard hotel while beyond the capital are in traditional ger camps (some camps do not offer en-suite facilities. If you have questions, contact us)
    • Meals as listed in itinerary, breakfast daily, 11 lunches, and 11 dinners.
    • Special Welcome reception with dinner; and Farewell Dinner.
    • Beverages at meals: bottled/purified water, soft drink/juice, tea, and coffee.
    • A daily supply of bottled water.
    • Arrival/departure airport transfers on the tour start/end date for designated flights. MIR can arrange for all travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off upon departure whether or not we make your flight arrangements for additional cost if outside of the included designated flight transfers.
    • Ground transportation throughout tour by private vans or coach (in Ulaanbaatar). (Type of vehicle depends on group size and terrain.)
    • Services of a Mongolian National Guide/MIR Tour Manager escorting the group throughout the land tour program.
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Special cultural features as stated in itinerary including the Naadam Festival..
    • Gratuities to guides, drivers, and other service personnel, including servers at group meals.
    • Flight ticket in economy class with baggage one-way from Gobi to Ulaanbaatar on Day 12 with taxes included (morning flight planned).
    • Complete electronic pre-departure information with country-specific information and travel tips.
    • Final electronic travel bulletin.
    • Assistance booking your international custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note, international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
    • Naadam Festival entrance fees.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement, if requested or required.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s or Lewis & Clark’s control.
    • Travel insurance including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
    • Passport fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
    • Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
    • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, email, laundry, excess baggage fees, photo fees in museums, and alcohol at meals if not noted.

Activity Level

Level 4: Rigorous

This intentionally adventuresome small group tour features rustic traditional Mongolian ger camp accommodations, often without reliably constant electricity, with challenging overland travel including rough off-road conditions, some long days walking and standing while touring, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, some stair-climbing, and absence of elevators. Only those very fit to travel and who are willing to accept local standards of amenities and services, and the physical challenges of the program, should consider joining.

Seven nights are spent in ger camps – all gers are heated only by wood stoves. Four nights will be spent in gers at camps with shared shower/WC facilities in a separate building; and three nights will be spent at the Gobi Mirage Ger Camp in the Gobi, where all gers offer en-suite toilet, sink, and shower. If you rely on electricity for CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or for any other reason, you must have your own battery or other back-up since electricity is not a reliable constant throughout the itinerary – or please reconsider participation.

Travelers must be able to walk two to three miles a day, with some hiking, while keeping up with fellow travelers on a variety of terrain including through grass, on dirt paths, across gravel and stony scrub, sandy terrain, smooth stones, and the like. Overland transport in Mongolia will involve rough and bumpy drives over dusty and unpaved tracks in four-wheel drive vans while traveling outside the capital. During city touring in the capital, touring is via coach and on foot, and participants are likely to encounter uneven surfaces and attractions accessible only via steep staircases. Museums generally do not have elevators.

Air-conditioning is a luxury and not available in facilities outside the capital. Seating at the Naadam stadium in Ulaanbaatar is on hard unbacked benches, and a significant amount of time (three or more hours) will be spent there. The sun can be intense in the stadium as well as there may be no cover. Naadam time also brings out large crowds and pickpockets, so it is important to be extra vigilant of your personal items.

In Mongolia, the airline infrastructure is not as developed as it is in the west. Flight schedules change constantly, and there is a strong likelihood that the program could have moderate to significant timing changes based on changing flight schedules.

Other challenges include overall shortcomings in the tourism infrastructure in remote Mongolia. Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Traveler Reviews

  • "From the steps of the Potala Palace to the steppes of Mongolia, from spinning prayer wheels to sheep with their nomadic herders, this trip is a feast for the senses. The colors and images inside the monasteries, the sound of the horse-head Mongolian fiddles, the taste of yak-butter tea, the smell of incense burning, etc. All of these combine for an overriding impression of this stunning region of the world."

    K. Whitmer

    Bellingham, WA

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