Home to the rare and endangered Przewalski’s horse, Hustai National Park is an exciting area for students to explore and witness successful conservation projects in Central Asia.
This exciting trip across Mongolia will allow students to experience wild national parks, taiga forests, untouched lakes, Buddhist monasteries, deserts, nomadic communities and more.
Mongolia is arguably one of the least explored regions of Asia, and is most famously known in history books for the legendary Genghis Khan. A country untouched by modernity, Mongolia’s ancient landscapes remain unspoiled and are perfect for exploration, with wildlife and nomadic communities to be discovered.
This trip includes opportunities for school groups to trek the Eurasian Steppes, undertake remote train journeys, join a community project, learn about ancient religions and walk in mountains and valleys.
Upon arrival at Ulaanbaatar, you will be met at the airport by your local guide and transferred to your overnight accommodation in the city. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the city, perhaps visiting a local museum or gallery.
The contrast between ancient traditions and the development of a modern nation is most visible in Ulaanbaatar where traditional gers (felt tents) and Buddhist monasteries intertwine with modern apartments.
The first part of the day will be used to explore Ulaanbaatar and its rich art scene, before boarding an overnight train to Erdenet on the Trans-Mongolian railway. Once on the train, ride through wooded hills and the magnificent Mongolian countryside until dusk. Overnight in a cabin on the sleeper train.
Once the train arrives in Erdenet in the early morning, alight and meet the local crew, before enjoying breakfast at local restaurant. Erdenet is a copper mining town, one of the largest in the world.
After breakfast, head west and enjoy lunch near the dormant picturesque Tulga volcano. In the afternoon continue your journey and set up camp in the evening near the Selenge River. One of the largest rivers and water basins in Mongolia, the Selenge River feeds into famous Lake Baikal in Russia.
After breakfast and packing up camp, begin the drive to Muron, the capital of Khovsgol province, with lunch near the beautiful Ikh Uul Mountains. During this journey, the group will get to enjoy the scenery of the Valley of the Selenge River, as well as encountering an ancient Turkic stone monument of Balbal, experiencing the history and spiritual past of Mongolia. In the evening, arrive in Khatgal and set up camp.
Days 5-7 :
After a short drive through forested areas, arrive at Lake Khovsgol, a pristine lake in the east of the breathtaking Khoridol Saridag Mountains (3,093 metres). Lake Khovsgol is 136 kilometres long and 36 kilometres wide, making it the second largest lake in Mongolia. It is also the deepest lake in Central Asia at 262 metres. The latest research proves that this lake is the cleanest on earth, beating its rival Lake Baikal in Russia.
Conservation activities are a highlight of this exciting trip through Mongolia. As a group, you will work with national park rangers and local communities to raise awareness of the impact of tourism on nature and local daily life. It is down to the individual team's creativity to engage others in reducing littering, recycling, learning about the highly important conservation of wildlife, and protecting the environment in Lake Khovsgol National Park.
Through your community interactions, you will get to experience the rural, and unique Mongolian lifestyle, as well as encountering some amazing wildlife.
Your trekking adventure starts today. After breakfast and packing up camp, the group will trek from Khatgal towards Jankhai, a part of the stunning Khoridol Saridag Mountains. Initially, the scenery is a wooded mountain valley which ascends towards the Jankhai mountain pass, which offers a breathtaking view of Lake Khovsgol. When skies are clear, the lake is often compared to a turquoise watercolour painting. You will arrive at your designated campsite later in the day where the remainder of the afternoon and evening are yours at leisure.
Today, enjoy an adventurous day, hiking around Lake Khovsgol and encountering its prolific wildlife. One of the most common animal encounters around the lake are the many wetland bird species which flourish in this pristine wilderness. The trekking route initially follows the lake shore at an altitude of 1,600 metres, followed by foothills and wooded areas. There may also be a small river crossing. depending on the weather conditions.
Today is the goal of your trek - ascending Mt Uran Dosh (2,792 metres). Once you reach the summit of the mountain, the group will be treated to a breathtaking view of Lake Khovsgol from the west. Throughout your trail today, you will learn about the geological history of the area which once had been ancient sea floor; the physical and chemical erosion of the mountains formed a trapeze-esque mountain top. Stay overnight in the mountain range.
Drive through Oliin Davaa, a legendary mountain pass where students can witness the local worshipping of ovoo - a sacred site for Mongolians to make offerings to mother earth and father sky as a part of Shamanic beliefs and Buddhist rituals as well. In the afternoon, arrive in Rashaant for an overnight stay.
Today, enjoy a day trek in Arkhangai province. This part of Mongolia is famed as witnessing he battle between Oirat and Khalkh Mongols in the 17th century for the throne of Mongols, and there are still remains of Oirat Mongols who speak in different dialect in the area. This region is also famous for its airag, a fermented mare’s milk which is a national drink of Mongolia.
After an early breakfast, head south-east and drive through Arkhangai aimag’s territory. This area is dominated by wooded mountains and wide river basins, offering incredible views of the Eurasian Steppes. In the evening, arrive near Lake Ugii, a freshwater lake with abundant wildlife. This area is a part of the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Today, you will travel to Hustai National Park, 110 kilometres to the west of Ulaanbaatar. En route, take a short break at Moltsog Els, a sand hill where you can enjoy picturesque views of the area to get an immersive experience of the wilderness you have been exploring. Upon arrival at the Hustai ger camp, a short documentary will provide you with an introduction about Hustai National Park and its flora and fauna.
Wildlife encounters in Hustai National Park are one of the highlights of this trip. It is likely that you will see the wild horse ‘Takhi’, the only truly wild species of horse in the world, making this a unique and highly memorable experience. Takhi have been reintroduced since 1993 and this is the only place you can see this beautiful animal in the wild.
After packing up camp, drive to Ulaanbaatar and visit the Gandantegchinlen Monastery, one of the largest Buddhist Monasteries in the country. The Gandantegchinlen Monastery was established by Javzandamba V, the highest incarnated lama of Mongolia, in 1835 and was expanded continually until 1937. The largest contraction of all is the Megjid Janraisag Temple which was built in 1911 under supervision of Javzandamba VIII accommodating a gigantic Buddhist Boddhisattva. As the original piece was dismantled during the Stalinist purges in 1938, the current Megjid Janraisag (26.5 metres tall, gilded with gold and decorated precious stones) was rebuilt and revitalised in 1996 by donations from the public. Nowadays, the monastery is resided by 150 monks and undertakes everyday religious ceremonies for general public, allowing you to experience the religious side of the distinctive Mongolian society.
Your final evening will be at leisure. Some activities you could take part in include going to a traditional folk concert, visiting the National Museum, or the dinosaur museum.
Today, you will be transferred back to the airport near Ulaanbaatar in time for your return flight to the UK.
- Destination: Mongolia
- When to go: Jun to Jul
- Duration: 16 days
- Trip type: Explorer
- Subject: Biology, Geography & Religious Studies
- Lake Khovsgol
- Hustai National Park
- Ascending Uran Dosh Uul
- Accommodation: Camping & hotels
- Ideal for: Ages 15 to 16
Travellers will need:
- High level of fitness
- Appreciation for outdoor adventure
- Interest in encountering new cultures
Surrounding Lake Khovsgol and cascading into forested valleys, the Khoridol Saridag Mountains provide the most exciting and beautiful mountain trekking trails in Mongolia.
Over two million years old and one of 17 ancient lakes worldwide, Lake Khovsgol is a beautiful freshwater lake that boasts some of the cleanest waters in the world and a host of wildlife species.
Ulaanbaatar is the capital and largest city in Mongolia. It is here that school groups will first delve into the culture and history of this incredible nation, and begin their exploration of Central Asia.