July 1 - July 13 2022

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe

Ulaanbaatar to Hovd and Bayan
Olgii in far western Mongolia

Explore Mongolia’s Wild West over the Naadam Festival. Meet Kazakh eagle hunters, hike
in the stunning Altai Mountains, and experience Mongolia’s largest holiday celebration.
Go beyond the Steppe!

From 2,900 USD per person

Please apply by 6th June, 2022.

Naadam Festival Mongolia Tour: Beyond the Steppe

Ulaanbaatar to Hovd and Bayan
Olgii in far western Mongolia

Explore Mongolia’s Wild West over the Naadam Festival. Meet
Kazakh eagle hunters, hike in the stunning Altai Mountains,
and experience Mongolia’s largest holiday celebration. Go
beyond the Steppe!

From 2,900 USD per person

  • Overall

    The summer Naadam Festival is one of the best times to travel to Mongolia for the annual games of horse racing, archery, and wrestling. It is also the busiest time to visit the country. We’ll get you to Mongolia’s far west to see how the Naadam Festival is celebrated away from the crowds. Starting in Ulaanbaatar, we’ll fly west to Hovd and travel overland to Bayan Olgii. Along the way, we’ll experience not only traditional Mongolian life but also the culture of the Kazakh and Tuvan people. Meet and chat with eagle hunters, shamans, and nomads who live in the region.

    Travelling off-road and sleeping in ger and tents, we'll also get our hands dirty in the great outdoors of the Altai mountains and have the chance to try out horseback riding. Come along for 12 unforgettable Mongolian summer nights over the Nadaam festival.

    Koryo Tours’ tour leader Rich Beal has been leading tours in Mongolia for 15 years and frequently travels beyond the capital Ulaanbaatar to the country’s far west, far north, and south into the Gobi Desert. Looking to see more of Mongolia? Come along for Koryo Tours’ Gobi Explorer right after Naadam.

    See below for highlights, full itinerary, and additional information about the Naadam Festival Western Mongolia Tour - Beyond the Steppe.


    Experience Nadaam -- the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians
    Visit Mongolian, Kazak and Tuva nomadic families
    Enjoy horseback riding Hike the high mountains (with views across to Russia and China)
    Swim in mountain lakes and rivers
    Explore the Altai and Bayan Ulgii region of Mongolia
    Construct and sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt)
    Marvel at the skill of local eagle hunters
    Stay with and learn from local Yak herders

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 13
    1. Friday 1st July

      Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

      • Upon landing in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, we make our way to our centrally located hotel to recharge before our adventure begins. If you’re feeling energetic, you can take our optional walking tour to get your first taste of this fascinating city, before returning for our 6 pm hotel briefing.
      • Here we’ll give you an overview of the country and culture, along with some etiquette tips for the trip, especially for visiting the homes of the shamans, Kazakhs, and Tuvan people we’ll meet along the way.
      • Then, join us for another city walk after the briefing. Get a glimpse of Sükhbaatar Square, named after the revolutionary hero Damdinii Sükhbaatar; whose statue marks the place where his horse was seen urinating while on parade in 1921. The figures of Genghis Khan and Mongolian generals are even more impressive when all lit up.

      Meals | Dinner

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. A local hotel situated in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, within 5 minutes walk from the main square. This hotel offers a great location from which to step out and explore the city.

    2. Saturday 2nd July

      Tour of the city, and then fly to Bayan Olgii

      • We start our day at Gandantegchinlen, Ulaanbaatar’s largest Buddhist monastery, where we can see practising monks and learn about the role of Mongolia’s largest religion. 
      • Then it’s back to the city centre, where we’ll stop off for supplies at the State Department Store. Today privately owned, this is a throwback to the old Soviet sales system, where everything is under one roof, and you pay with multiple receipts before returning for your purchases. This is an ideal time to stock up on trip supplies, even outdoor gear, so if you’ve discovered your sleeping bag has a hole, now’s the time to upgrade. 
      • We’ll then see Sükhbaatar Square by day and then head to the National Historical Museum, which takes us through Mongolian history from the Stone Age to the collapse of Communism.
      • After lunch, we’ll take a two-hour flight to Bayan Olgii and pile into Russian jeeps. We begin our drive as soon as we arrive out beyond Sagasi Village, near Khar Us Lake and the magnificent Altai Mountains. Bayan-Olgii (or Ugli) province, known locally as the ‘Roof of Mongolia’, is a remote land of glaciers and mountain peaks. Travellers can go for days without seeing a soul. This area is home to the Kazakh people, practising Muslims and Mongolia’s most significant ethnic minority; here we’ll learn about how nomadic life in the mountains differs from that on the steppe.
      • We’ll stop by mud-brick winter houses that Kazakhs use when the temperature drops below minus-30 when even their felt-lined ger can’t keep out the cold. We can also ride horses and learn about eagle hunting – not what you think! Up here, food is scarce, and the locals need a little help. Most families keep their golden eagles for hunting rabbit, hare, and even small deer; and they’re happy to show us how it’s done. 
      • Then we’ll pitch our tents next to the local families and share a traditional dinner.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight |  Camping / Tent. We will build tents as a group next to a local family on this night with the assistance of our local team. 

    3. Sunday 3rd July

      Khurgan and Khoton Lakes

      • Today’s journey takes us through the western Mongolian wildlands, over moraines (glacial debris) and ancient burial sites, with stone-age rock carvings of animals and hunting scenes covering the mountainside. The spectacular Khurgan and Khoton Lakes lie at an altitude of 2,073 metres surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
      • We set up camp on the shores of Khoton Lake, and spend the afternoon relaxing, exploring, or swimming in crystalline waters. After dinner, we meet the local Kazakh people and see the comparative affluence (by Mongolian standards) of lakeside Kazakhs, with their many gers and fertile land.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight |  Camping / Tent. We will build tents as a group next to a local family on this night with the assistance of our local team.

    4. Monday 4th July

      Khoton Lake

      • Today is our day of leisure. Experience a little more of local life or relax after our long journey to the beautiful yet secluded part of the world.
      • Wake up early if you wish and you may help our host family to round the herd and do the milking. After breakfast, you have a chance to enjoy independent hiking in the surrounding hills or go for a dip in one the streams of the refreshing mountain river.
      • This afternoon we will take horses, for those that wish, riding into the hills surrounding the lake. This 3 hr return trek will take us past some ger encampments through woodland up to Mongolia’s largest waterfall. The waterfall itself looks beautiful framed against the mountains.

      Meals |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight |  Camping / Tent. We will build tents as a group next to a local family on this night with the assistance of our local team.

    5. Tuesday 5th July

      Tsagaan Gol and Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain

      • After breakfast, we work our way through the mountains to reach the mouth of Tsagaan Gol (White River), a mighty water source with enough limestone deposits to give the milky river its name. 
      • We’ll stop for pictures at the stunning Shiveet Khairkhan, with more rock carvings and an unforgettable view of Tavan Bogd (Five Saints), a mountain massif on the border of Mongolia, China and Russia. To the indigenous minority Tuvan, Shiveet is sacred – as is the 400 mountain ibex, which are never hunted. Each year the Tuvan climb Shiveet’s summit and perform shamanistic rituals, making offerings to the local ghosts and paying ancestral respects. The Tuvan are herders and known for their archery skills. This evening, they’ll teach us to cook some of their favourite dishes. And after days of having the locals watch us pitch our tents – and comment on how long it takes us, how thin the material is, and how we’ll never survive the night – today we’ll build our felt-lined ger (with a little help), to see how the nomads do it.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Camping / tent. Camping on this night will be based around a pre-booked ger, offering us the chance to prepare meals and equipment ready for tomorrow's hike. The scenery here is amazing, surrounded by snow-capped mountains while listening to the roar of the white river.

    6. Wednesday 6th July

      Hike to the base camp of Altai Tavan Bogd

      • Today we leave our vehicles and heaviest luggage behind, load everything else onto camels, and then trek up Tavan Bogd with a local Tuvan guide. It’s about 15 kilometres to our base camp (camels can also carry tired trekkers), which is located at the edge of Potanin Glacier, the longest in Mongolia – listen carefully, you might hear it cracking. Potanin is at the foot of Malchin Peak, one of Tavan Bogd’s five sacred mountains. This hike will take us through lush alpine tundra and herds of camels, providing fantastic views across the glacier to the peaks. Our camp is a great starting point to other area hikes in one of the world’s best trekking areas. We’ll also meet another Tuvan family who can teach us more about raising and training golden eagles.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. 

      Overnight | Camping / tent. Camping at the Tavan Bogd base camp. Toilet facilities are provided, and we will build a restaurant tent for dinner and breakfast. This area is remote, yet beautiful being at the base of the main mountain range and only a stone’s throw from the main glacier.

    7. Thursday, 7th July

      Return trek to Tsagaan Gol (White River) and on to Tsengle

      • Today we follow the camels back down to our camp in Tsagaan Gol. Passing through Tavan Bogd’s numerous valleys, we can see how the melting glacier transforms into the roaring White River. Upon arrival, we board our trucks once more as we drive on and continue the adventure. We will pass winter villages only cared for by a caretaker family, whom we will visit for tea.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. 

      Overnight | Camping / Tent. Tonight we pitch tents with another local family located near to the town of Tsengle in a low river valley. We look at life here and experience yet another regional variation in hospitality.

    8. Friday 8th July

      Drive through Bayan Olgii

      • We bid farewell to our Nomadic friends and take a scenic drive back to Olgii, where we’ll spend the night in a Kazakh tourist camp, stopping for pictures and greeting nomad families along the way. If we’re lucky, we may also catch a local festival nestled in this mountainous region. 
      • This afternoon we will have time to explore the regional capital Olgii from its central square you may wish to visit its ageing museum, local market or just rest in one of the locally-owned coffee shops after snapping up a few souvenirs.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist Ger (yurt) Camp. We'll stay in one of the tourist ger areas found on the outskirts of Ulgii city. This camp offers a shower block with warm running water and wash facilities as well as a restaurant area from where our chief can provide some more delicious food.

    9. Saturday 9th July

      Drive to Tolbo Lake

      • After stopping for a few snacks, we make our journey to Tolbo Lake. The drive today is a smooth run on the sealed road. Tolbo has an altitude of 2,080 meters; it is famous not only for its remote beauty but as the site of a crucial 1921 battle between the Bolshevik and White Russian forces – the locals still find belt buckles and buttons in the field. 
      • We will stop for photographs along the way, as nomads lead their herds across the vast lands, or make their way to the Naadam Festival, then we’ll spend the night in a lakeside tourist camp where you can swim or bathe in the clear waters, or just unwind and take in the mountain views.  There will be time for some optional hiking in the surrounding mountains which offer stunning views over the lake.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

      Overnight | Tourist Ger (yurt) Camp. We'll stay in a tourist ger camp found on the shores of the lake where you may swim relax or enjoy a sauna. 

    10. Sunday 10th July

      A morning swim, a Shaman visit and an afternoon around Hovd market

      • This morning, after the brave amongst the group, have taken a chilly early morning dip in the lake, its back into our Russian trucks for our drive to Hovd town. When we arrive in Hovd, we will visit the local Uriankhai shaman and his family. Here we can witness some of the ancient and mysterious rituals that the community still holds dear, such as mirrors that repel evil spirits, or sacred fire and water. After we visit the local shaman, we drive back to Hovd.
      • This afternoon we drive back to Hovd town where we will settle into our gers in preparation for tomorrows Naadam festival. We will have time to pay a visit to the local market and catch the last rush as people to prepare their best clothes for the big day.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Tourist ger (yurt) Gamp. One of only two camps found around the city of Hovd. This camp has fantastic views over the surrounding countryside while being situated on the outskirts of the central city. It has a separate shower block and facility for our chef to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    11. Monday 11th July

      Experience the local Mongolian Naadam Festival

      • We end our adventure with one of the world’s most fascinating festivals, an annual event that draws tribes from all over Mongolia to compete in traditional skills and feats of strength – especially wrestling, horse racing and archery. Here, families reconnect, share their news and favourite foods, have parties, and compete in games together. Naadam has become a world-famous tourist draw, but while Ulaanbaatar is filled with tour buses and day visitors, Hovd's event is still a local affair, virtually unchanged over generations. Hovd town is a rural town for many Mongolians gathering for this fantastic event.
      • Here we’ll learn the secrets of Naadam, such as the unusual wrestling costume of undershorts and an open waistcoat. Legend has it that a woman in disguise once outwrestled all the men, and to prevent future humiliation, outfits were altered – these tops have no secrets. 
      • Also, if you see a sumo-sized wrestler defeated by a delicate youth, don’t be surprised; the loser is probably from another area, and it’s disrespectful to beat others at their own Naadam.

      Meals | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

      Overnight | Ger (yurt) Tourist Camp.

    12. Tuesday 12th July

      Fly to Ulaanbaatar

      • Leaving our horses, camels, and Russian jeeps behind for good, we board a plane and return to Ulaanbaatar. This is a free day where you can shop ‘til you drop at the city market – you’ll never find cheaper cashmere, and you might pick up a shamanistic, Buddhist artefact or a relic from Soviet times. 
      • History lovers can stop by the winter palace of the Bogd Khan (1869-1922), who became Khagan (theocratic ruler) when the country split from China in 1911. Or you can simply relax with a coffee or cocktail at an outdoor café and watch this fascinating city unfold before you. Then we’ll meet up for dinner at a local family’s home so that we can see Mongolian home life away from the steppes.

      Meals | Breakfast, Dinner with a city family

      Overnight | Hotel 9, Ulaanbaatar. 

    13. Wednesday 13th July

      Departure day

      • We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes and your memories, and have a safe trip home!

      For those adventurous souls that can’t stop travelling, you can also add the option to join our Gobi Explorer Tour. If you wish to add this, please contact your tour manager for more information. 

  • What is / is not included?


    • English speaking guide
    • Western tour leader
    • All meals outside Ulaanbaatar
    • Camels for luggage
    • Internal flights
    • Horse riding
    • All included sightseeing
    • All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas
    • All camping equipment (not sleeping bags)
    • All tents are on two-person bases, but single options are available upon booking


    • Sleeping bags
    • Extra horse riding 30 - 60 USD
    • International flights
    • Any alcoholic beverages
    • Meals (specified)
    • Medical insurance (can be arranged.)
    • Visas (if needed)
    • Helmet rental 30 USD
    • Sleeping bag hire (incl cleaning 30 USD for tour)
    • Items of personal nature
  • Notes

    Please note! This tour has been specifically arranged to visit remote areas. As such it may have elements of an expedition about it, due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. Due to this, any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will do our best to keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible. However, please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way all tour decisions will rest with Rich (tour manager) and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own.

Please apply by 6th June, 2022.

[email protected] | + 86 10 6416 7544
Room A409, Jucai Building. No. 76 Caoyuan Hutong.
Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100027, PR China

中国北京市东城区草园胡同76号聚才大厦A 座409 室,
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