Kathmandu to Ulaanbaatar Trip Notes

Kathmandu to Ulaanbaatar

Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013
Kathmandu to Ulaanbaatar
Trip code: HDOWC
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2013
Discover the contrasts of Asia and travel from the heights of the Himalayas to the bright lights of Beijing and into the deserts of Mongolia. Beginning in adventurous Kathmandu, explore the mountain kingdoms of Tibet and tranquil Chinese countryside en route to the quirky corners of Ulaanbaatar. Visit the holy city of Lhasa, the Terracotta warriors of Xi’an and the Great Wall of China - this trip offers a host of rural and urban delights that will take your breath away.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersHealth
Culture shock rating AccommodationSafety
Physical ratingMeals introductionTravel insurance
Physical preparationMealsResponsible Travel
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
KittyGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeJoining point descriptionCarbon offset
Spending moneyArrival complicationsFeedback
TippingEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland
Map
Kathmandu to Ulaanbaatar
Itinerary
Day 1 Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal.
Please note that our trips between Kathmandu and Xi'an travel through extreme environments and these itineraries WILL NOT NECESSARILY RUN AS PUBLISHED. We will adjust trip itineraries depending on weather, altitude effects, group make up and road conditions. This day by day itinerary is provided as a rough guide only.
The trip starts with a group meeting at 10:00hrs in our hotel in Kathmandu.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Kathmandu is a mixture of ancient architecture and modern development and, with its rich artistic and cultural heritage, it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and sacred cows.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Kodari
Leaving Kathmandu in the morning, we have a few hours drive to reach the cliff-top gorge resort of Kodari. We will be staying in Kodari for 2 nights. This allows you plenty of time for a range of optional activities from bungee jumping to bridge swinging and canyoning - or just sit back and relax and enjoy the amazing views.
The second day is free for more adventure activities.
We spend these nights in permanent tented camps.
Optional Activities
  • Mountain biking - EUR25
  • High ropes course - EUR50
  • Bridge swinging - EUR65
  • Bungee jumping - EUR65
  • Canyoning - EUR50
Accommodation
Permanent tented camp (2 nts)
Day 4 Zhangmuzhen
Today we drive along the Arniko Highway, zigzagging on poor roads past steep gorges up to the Chinese border. It can be very time-consuming crossing the border from Nepal into the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, so some patience may be required - and time is built into the itinerary to allow for delays. Tonight we will probably stay in the small town of Zhangmu on the Chinese side of the border in a rustic local hotel.
Zhangmuzhen is the border town in Tibet. It clings precariously to the sheer mountainside and is separated from Nepal by a cascading river, which spans the famous Friendship Bridge. This is the real frontier between the two countries.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 5-7 Friendship Highway
We will spend the next 2 to 3 days climbing high into the mountains over the Lalungla Pass (5050m) up into the Himalaya. This is part of the famous "Friendship Highway", cutting through gorges, across plateaus and over high passes. On all the passes that we cross you will see the ever present pilgrim prayer flags, cairns and scattered "wind horse" papers.
We will travel slowly taking time to acclimatise to the altitude and wildcamping along the way. We may sometimes back-track on ourselves, enabling us to sleep at lower altitudes than we have climbed to during the day, as this helps the body to acclimatise to the conditions.
The Friendship Highway is the name given to Route 318 between Lhasa and Kathmandu. The route is a rough road through some of the remotest parts of our planet. It cuts through gorges, across plateaus and over high passes. It passes some of the most stunning scenery on Earth. There are a number of high passes that we will have to cross and altitude may become a problem for some. To give an example, some of the passes and their altitudes are Dangjin Shankou Pass (3519 m), Kunlun Pass (4849 m) Fire & Wind Pass (4930 m), Tanggula Pass (5231 m), Kyogche La Pass (4900 m), Shogula Pass (5300 m), Tropu La Pass (4950 m), Gyatsola Pass (5200 m) and Lablungla Pass (5050 m).
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (3 nts)
Day 8 Baipa/New Tingri
Arriving in Baipa (also known as New Tingri) we meet the junction for the road to Everest Base Camp in Tibet. We will stay here overnight in a local guesthouse, allowing us a time to explore and to acclimatise a bit more before our onward journey.
Baipa, also known as New Tingri, is a small town in Tibet. This is the junction of the road to Everest and trips to the mountain can be arranged. It is a very small settlement, with a population of under one thousand. Be prepared to be in awe of one of the most famous wonders in the world.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 9 Rongbuk
From Baipa we make the journey to the Rongbuk Monastery & Everest Base Camp. The drive is not an easy one, passing over another 5200 m pass, but the views are sensational and weather permitting, we should have excellent views of Mt. Everest. Once we have reached the Monastery it is about a two hour walk or donkey and
cart ride further to Base Camp. We will usually camp here in Tibetan tents with pot-bellied stoves which take six to eight people. Hopefully when you open up in the morning, there will be a view of Mt. Everest. From base camp the view of the north face of the highest mountain on earth is something you will never forget.
Included Activities
  • Everest NP - Rongphu Monastery
Day 10 Baipa/New Tingri
This morning we have some more time at Base Camp, before making the return journey to Baipa. We will stay overnight here once again tonight in the same local guesthouse as before.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 11 Shigatse
Most of today will be spent travelling as we drive over high mountain passes to Shigatse, Tibet's second biggest city. We may have to ford a number of small rivers and the road is rough, but the stunning views and scenery make this one of the world's most visually fantastic journeys. Overnight in a friendly local hotel.
Shigatse is Tibet's second biggest city and an important cultural centre. Having been the capital of Tibet from 1565 to 1642 the city is home to some fantastic architecture including monasteries, fortresses and palaces. The most famous is the Tashilhunpo Monastery - the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism behind the Dalai Lama. Perhaps the most impressive building is the monastery, the Chapel of Jampa, which houses the world’s largest gilded statue. Standing at 26 metres high, the image of Jampa (the future Buddha) took four years to complete and used a remarkable 300 kg of gold in its construction.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Gyantse
This morning is free to explore Shigatse with time to visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery. Afternoon drive to rural town of Gyantse with optional visit to Gyantse fort. Overnight in a friendly local hotel.
Gyantse is a small agricultural town set at 3950m above sea level, famed for its wool carpets. It has a very traditional feel to it and everyday Tibetan rural life continues here much as it has done for centuries. There are a number of interesting buildings in the town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414, with five stories representing the five steps to enlightenment.
As well as many religious sites, Gyantse is a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life in the backstreets where pilgrims, pop music, cows, "cowboys" on motorbikes, kids and monks all mingle in a lively mix of cultures.
Included Activities
  • Shigatse - Tashilhunpo Monastery
Optional Activities
  • Gyantse - Gyantse Dzong - CNY30
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Yamdrok Tso Lake
Leaving Gyantse we drive towards Lhasa stopping at Baiju Temple at Pelkor Chode Monastery en route and crossing the Karo La Pass.
Pelkor Chode Monastery is very different from other monasteries. It lies about 230 kilometers (143 miles) south of Lhasa and 100 (62 miles) east of Shigatse at the foot of Dzong Hill.
Pelkor Chode Monastery is a kind of typical Tibetan Buddhism monastery architecture combined stupa and temple, with temples in the stupa, stupas in the temple. The stupas and temples stay harmoniously and bring out the best in each other. Its architecture fully represents a typical style of monasteries from thirteenth century to fifteenth century in Later Tibetan area, which is also the unique monasteries with both the temple and stupa being kept well today. So it is reputed as a monument of architecture period.
Tonight we will stop off en route and wild camp overnight, maybe close to Yamdrok Tso Lake.
Separated from Lhasa by the Kampa La Pass (4794m), the Yamdrok Tso Lake is the third largest in Tibet. It is yet another stunning area of Tibet, with turquoise waters, picturesque islands and small villages. This is typical of the places that we like to camp for the night, a beautiful lake and a wide plain surrounded by mountains. The views are unbelievable.
Included Activities
  • Gyantse - Pelkor Chode Monastery
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 14-17 Lhasa
We have a relaxed start this morning, with time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. It's then a short drive on the Friendship Highway over Kampa La Pass (4794m) to Lhasa, where we will be staying for the next 3 or 4 nights. Whilst in Lhasa we stay in a comfortable hotel.
Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley 3,650 m above sea level. For many years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world with even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reaching the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. While now welcoming tourists and much modernized, Lhasa remains an intriguing city with deeply fascinating culture, sights and stories.
We then have 2 or 3 full days to explore Lhasa. There will be organised visits to Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, with the option to also visit the Drepung and Sera Monasteries and the Summer Palace.
Included Activities
  • Jokhang Temple
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace
Optional Activities
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery - CNY50
  • Drepung Monastery - CNY60
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nts)
Day 18 Bush Camp
Leaving Lhasa we head out across the Tibetan Plateau once again. We will spend the next few days overlanding, crossing the famous Tanggula Pass (5220m) and wild camping along the way.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 19 Golmud
Once we have crossed the Tanggula Pass, we will have left Tibet behind, entering Qinghai Province. Our destination is the small town of Golmud, where we will stay overnight in a small rustic hotel.
Golmud is a mining town, high up on the Tibetan Plateau. The views in this area are stunning, vast mountains surrounding open grassland. Outside the town itself there are few settlements up here and the only people you are likely to encounter are yak-herding nomads.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 20-21 Bush Camp
For the next couple of days we will be overlanding through Qinghai, climbing high up on to the Tibetan Plateau as we drive. Here we are travelling through an area that is actually a giant basin surrounded by high mountains and en route we will pass the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake. This lake occupies an area of over 4,500
square kilometres and the water is saline, teeming with fish. Yak graze the grasses and the icy blue waters stretch as far as the eye can see. The population of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is thinly spread and mainly comprises of Kazaks, Moguls and Hui. We will be stopping off and wild camping along the way.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Day 22 Lanzhou
Today we will arrive into the town of Lanzhou, with time to explore in the afternoon. Overnight in a friendly local hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 23-24 Xiahe
From Lanzhou we will have a full day's drive on to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe, where we will be staying for 2 nights, giving us a full day to explore. Whilst in Xiahe we will stay in dormitory accommodation in a rustic guesthouse.
Xiahe has been described as "one of the most enchanting places to visit in China". Certainly it has a wonderful tranquil
atmosphere and a beautiful setting. Many Tibetans come here on pilgrimage - and the combination of the many monasteries, saffron-robed monks, fluttering prayer flags and spectacular scenery make this small town feel very like Tibet as well. Indeed, in all but name, you are in Tibet; Xiahe is right up on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and the population here is over 45% Tibetan.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 25-26 Bingling Si/Lanzhou
Leaving Xiahe, we drive on to Liujiaxia, arriving in the late afternoon or early evening. Tonight we will be staying in a friendly local hotel.
The next morning we will visit the Bingling Si Buddha Caves.
While Bingling Si is one of numerous thousand Buddha caves that can be found in China, these ones are very special. They contain 694 statues and 82 clay sculptures. The highlight of the cave is the 27 metre high seated statue of Maitreya Buddha. Indeed this cave complex is one of the best in China and yet because of its relative isolation, it is less visited than the main Chinese sites.
The caves are a set of Buddhist grottoes are carved into the cliff of a 60 metre high gorge. They are most impressive especially because they are surrounded on one side by the waters of the Liujiaxia Reservoir.
After stopping in Luijiaxia for lunch, this afternoon we will retrace our steps on the short drive back to Lanzhou.
Included Activities
  • Liujiaxia - Bingling Si Caves
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 27-28 Pingliang
From Lanzhou we head for Pingliang where we will be staying for 1 or 2 nights. From Pingliang we will have the chance to visit Mt Kongtong and time to explore the small town and surrounding area. We will spend the night either wild camping or staying in a small local guesthouse.
The streets of Pingliang are lined with wonderful shops and you can spend hours exploring them, but the main attraction of this city is the mountain range, which contains the Kongtong mountains, which has been used as a mythical meeting point in the past. If you have the opportunity to climb this mountain, do so, as the views from the top are beautifully rewarding.
Included Activities
  • Pingliang - Kongtong Mountain
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Days 29-32 Xi'an
Full days drive from Pingliang to Xi'an where we will be staying in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls.
The following days here are free, with a guided visit to the famous Terracotta Warriors.
The most popular attraction in Xi'an, and the place that has made the city most famous around the world, is the Terracotta Warriors. The Warriors are certainly an incredible archaeological find, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being buried for thousands of years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on view to the public. More pits were recently opened so you may even be lucky enough to see archaeologists at work, carefully unearthing and restoring these ancient relics.
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
  • Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nts)
Days 33-34 Gansu Province/Mount Kongtong
In the morning we set off towards either Pingliang (approx 300 km) in Gansu province, or Guyuan (approx 390 km) in Ningxia province. If the group visits Guyuan then a tour of the ancient Xumi Shan grottoes is included. If the group visits Pingliang, a stunning walk up Mount Kongtong may be possible.
Guyuan is well off all the tourist trails. This is the China of the ancient Silk Route and oozes history and intrigue. Today its lively markets come alive in the afternoon, when neighbouring villages come to do their shopping.
Gansu Province is in north-western China, between Inner Mongolia and the Huangtu Plateau, bordering Mongolia and Xinjiang. Caravans passed through Gansu on the infamous Silk Road, travelling to and from Europe - so the region has a rich and interesting history.
Close to the city of Pingliang is Mount Kongtong, an important sacred site for believers in Taoism. It's usually possible to climb the mountain and you'll be rewarded with magnificent views from the top as you emerge from the rich and verdant vegetation that cover the surrounding hillsides. As you climb, you will ascend through five different "terraces", passing many temples and shrines along the way. The highest peak is known as "The Emerald Screen Peak", rising to 2100 metres above sea level.
The next day we will try to visit whichever site we missed yesterday. Please note that some trips will visit Pingliang twice although we will try and avoid this where possible.
Included Activities
  • Pingliang - Kongtong Mountain
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 35 Shapotou
Drive approximately 350 km to Shapotou, arriving early evening.
Teetering on the edge of the Tengger Desert, the small town of Shapotou is home to the Chinese version of “Disneyland”. Tacky maybe, but immense fun. You won’t find this in many tourist brochures, but where else in the world can you take a deathslide across the Yellow River? Slide down the dunes, ride camels or drift downstream on a sheepskin raft, this is fun for all the family, Chinese style.
Optional Activities
  • Flying Fox/Harness Ride over Yellow River - Free
  • Sheepskin rafting trip - Free
  • Sledge Down sand slide - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 36 Yinchuan
The morning is free for optional activities in Shapotou. In the afternoon drive on to Yinchuan, stopping en route at the Zhongwei Gao Miou Temple complex.
Yinchuan is a very relaxed city with a lively market and a friendly atmosphere. It's a good place to kick-back and soak up the atmosphere of everyday life in a provincial Chinese city. Wandering around the streets and experiencing the hustle and bustle as the locals go about their daily business is a good way to see the "real" China for yourself.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 37-38 Hohhot
Set off in the early morning to drive approximately 700 km to Hohhot.
Hohhot is the provincial Capital of Inner Mongolia, but is largely a Chinese city inhabited in the main by Han Chinese. It is a good stopover point while crossing Inner Mongolia. It has an interesting museum (Inner Mongolia Museum), a few good temples (Five Pagoda, Xiletuzhao and the Dazhao temples) and a lively street life.
The following day drive approximately 90 km to a Mongolian ger camp in the grasslands north of Hohhot. There may be the opportunity to go horse riding or try some yak butter tea. Accommodation tonight is in a Mongolian ger, sharing with others in the group.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 39-40 Datong
Drive approximately 250 km to the city of Datong in China's Shanxi province.
The following day we will visit the remarkable Hanging Monastery and Yungang Caves.
Visit the Hanging Monastery, which dates back over 1400 years, beautifully located right on the edge of a cliff. The monastery consists of over 40 different halls and is home to an impressive array of bronze, stone, clay and iron statues.
The Yungang Grottoes, are a UNESCO World Heritage complex of 21 caves containing over 50000 statues, some of which are the oldest of this type in China. Looking at the rock art you will be able to pick out influences from an amazing variety of different cultures, including Greek, Persian and Indian.
Included Activities
  • Datong - Hanging Monastery
  • Datong - Yungang Grottoes
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 41-42 Chengde
Drive from Datong to Chengde, visiting Bisu Shanzhuang and the Puning Temple en route if time permits.
Chengde is located in Hubei Province, the heavily populated region that surrounds Beijing. Once a royal city, this 18th century imperial resort town has plenty of historic monuments to boast about. The imperial family would have moved here during the hot summer months, because of the cool and refreshing mountain air. There are many historical sites to explore, including the regal gardens (the largest in China), the Imperial Summer Villa and a profusion of temples. Many of the temples and monasteries have a Mongolian and Tibetan feel, this is largely because of the legacy of Emperor Qinlong, who wanted to assimilate both regions into his empire. In recent years, mirroring the city's history, Chengde has become a very popular weekend retreat for the wealthy of Beijing - and so it's home to some excellent restaurants.
The following day is free to explore, or we may visit Bisu Shanzhuang and the Puning Temple if we did not have time the day before.
Included Activities
  • Imperial City, entrance, Chengde
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 43 Huairou
Today we set off early in the morning for the 110 km drive to the Great Wall with time to explore and the option of a short trek around Jinshanling. In the afternoon we will drive to Huairou and visit the Mutianyu section of the wall if time permits.
Huairou is a typical Chinese town. Sit back and enjoy the scenery, listen to the local folk music and try the homemade tea and Huairou rainbow trout. Escape from the tourist locations and find your own haven in one of China's most tranquil towns.
Included Activities
  • Great Wall, Entrance, Jinshanling section, Beijing
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 44 Qing Dongling
Today we set off early in the morning for the 90 km drive to the Qingdongling where we will explore the famous tombs.
The tombs of Qing Dongling are some of the most fascinating sites in China. In the heart of the Eastern Tombs is a tomb called Xiaoling. All in all there are total of five emperors, fifteen empresses, and 136 concubines are buried at the Eastern Tombs. All of these with one exception are arrayed to the east and west of this centrally located Xiaoling. Towards the north are the mountains which create the backdrop to a sensational city.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 45-47 Beijing
In the morning we head off to China’s capital, Beijing.
The capital of the most populous country on earth, Beijing is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity. However, there are still plenty of places to go that will give you a great insight into the nation's ancient past as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture.
The next morning there is a guided tour of the Forbidden City. The afternoon is free to explore the many sights, sounds and flavours of Beijing.
Included Activities
  • Ming Tombs, entrance, Beijing
  • Beijing - Forbidden City
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 48 Erlian
Today we leave the capital behind us as we begin our overland journey towards Mongolia. Today will be a long drive day (approx 600 km), and we will try and get as close to Erlian as possible which is where we will cross the China/ Mongolia border. Overnight in a local hotel or wild camp if conditions allow.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 49 Sainshand
This morning we cross the border into Mongolia (Zamiin Uud). Please be aware that border procedures could take up to 5 hours here. Once we have made it into Mongolia we will continue our overland journey to Sainshand (approx 200 km).
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 50 Choir
This morning we may have the opportunity to visit the Dechinchoinkhorlin Monastery before we continue our drive towards Ulaanbaatar. Overnight camping near Choir.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 51-52 Ulaanbaatar
Today we arrive into Ulaanbaatar.
Crammed between superpowers Russia and China, the independent nation of Mongolia is a true Intrepid destination. The capital, Ulaanbaatar (affectionately known as UB), is a city where new meets old as elderly Mongolians in traditional dress mingle with the nation's young business elite. Mongolia's past close relationship with the USSR is evident in the Soviet-style architecture and city layout. Explore the city's many museums to learn about the country's turbulent history, including the reign of history's most famous Mongolian - the feared and respected Genghis Khan.
Next morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum. This afternoon is free to explore more of this city.
Optional Activities
  • Ulaanbaatar - Gandan Monastery - MNT4000
  • Ulaanbaatar - Intellectual Museum - MNT3500
  • Fine Arts Museum - MNT3000
  • Ulaanbaatar - Cultural Performance - MNT10000
  • Ulaanbaatar - Black Market - Free
  • Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan - MNT3000
  • Ulaanbaatar - National History Museum - MNT2500
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 53 Baga Gazryn Chuluu
After breakfast we drive to Baga Gazryn Chuluu in the middle of the Gobi. These wonderful rock formations are worshipped by the locals who sometimes make pilgrimages here. Tonight we camp near the Rocks.
Included Activities
  • Visit Baga Gazryn Chuluu
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 54 South Gobi
After a relaxing start to the day we continue our overland journey south through the Gobi Desert. Tonight we will camp under the stars.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 55 Yolin Am (Vulture Canyon)
After breakfast we make our way to Yolin Am via Dalanzadgad to resupply. Yolin Am is better known as the Gobi Glacier which is part of the Great Gobi National Park. After lunch we will hike down the valley to take a better look at the glacier and nearby wildlife.
Included Activities
  • Visit to Yolin Am Ice Canyon
Accommodation
Yurt (1 nt)
Day 56 Bayan Zag
Moving on from Yolin Am we overland to Bayn Zag, better known as the flaming cliffs and renowned worldwide for the number of dinosaur bones and eggs found in the area. Tonight we camp near the cliffs.
Included Activities
  • Visit Bayan Zag
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 57-58 Khongorin Els
Today we head to some of the largest and most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia, known as Khongorin Els or the singing dunes. Tonight we will wild camp near the dunes.
Next day is a full day for optional activities in and around Khongorin Els including an optional camel ride over the sand dunes. Tonight we stay in a ger camp.
Optional Activities
  • Camel Ride, Khongorin Els - Free
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt), Yurt (1 nt)
Day 59 South Gobi
Today we overland through the heart of the Gobi camping en route.
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 60 Arvaikheer/Bush camp
Today we head to Arvaikheer and visit the local market in order to re supply. We then set up camp en route to The Orkhon Valley.
Included Activities
  • Ongii Monastery Ruins
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 61-62 The Orkhon Valley
We spend the day in a beautiful valley surrounded by pine trees and If the weather is suitable we have the option to climb down to the bottom of the gorge. Tonight we will stay in a ger camp.
On the following day we visit the nearby waterfalls then hike to the Tuvkhon Monastery. The Monastery was established in the 1650s by Zanabazar, One of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. Views of the Orkhon Valley are worth the climb. Tonight we camp in the valley near the Monastery.
Included Activities
  • Orkhon Valley - Tuvkhon Monastery
  • Visit to waterfalls
Optional Activities
  • Orkhon Valley - Hiking - Free
Accommodation
Yurt (1 nt), Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 63-64 Tsenkher Hot Springs
After breakfast we head north, crossing the Hangai Nuruu mountains through a series of passes until we reach the area Mongolians call 'the paradise of the horse herders' for its lush grasses and open valleys. Overnight in ger camp.
The second day here is free for optional activities including a horse ride and a visit to a nomadic family.
Optional Activities
  • Hiking - Free
  • Tsenkher - Hot Springs - Free
  • Horse riding, Tsenkher Hot Springs - Free
Accommodation
Yurt (2 nts)
Day 65 Karakorum
An early start as we head to Mongolia's ancient capital today. We should arrive early in the afternoon. This afternoon we will visit Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia. Tonight we will set up camp near the ancient site.
Included Activities
  • Karakorum - Erdene Zuu Monastery
  • Karakorum - Old City ruins
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 66 Ugii Lake
This morning, if time permits we will visit the ancient ruins of Karakorum. We then drive to Ugii Lake where we will set up camp. Ugii Lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities, and it is not uncommon to spot swan geese, white spoonbills and Dalmatian pelicans.
Included Activities
  • Turkish Museum
  • Ogii Lake - Kultigen Monument
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 67 Khustain National Park
Today we arrive at the Khustain National Park. This park is famed for the wild horse (takhi) reintroduction project and now boats more than 200 tahki. Tonight we will stay at a Ger camp.
Included Activities
  • Visit to the Takhi (wild horse) reintroduction project
Optional Activities
  • Nomad family visit - Free
Accommodation
Yurt (1 nt)
Days 68-69 Terelj National Park
Leaving the takhi behind us we now make our way to Terelj National park. This is one of the closets parks to Ulaanbaatar. The alpine scenery is magnificent and there are many activities available here such as rafting, hiking and horse riding. Tonight we will wild camp in the National Park.
The following day is free for optional activities including rafting and various hikes. Tonight we again camp in the National Park.
Optional Activities
  • Hiking - Free
  • Rafting - Free
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 70-71 Ulaanbaatar
After breakfast we will return to the capital (approx 2 hrs), visiting the Chinggis Khan Monument en route. The afternoon is free. We stay in a great hotel for the final night of our trip.
The next day is our departure day. No activities are planned for today and you may depart at any time.
Included Activities
  • Chinggis Khan Monument
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      Culture shock rating

      The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
      Physical rating

      Our highest physical rating. Get ready for a heart-pumping adventure with plenty of challenges and some extreme conditions. You'll be required to be seriously fit for this trip as difficult activities are included.
      Physical preparation
      In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate, from hot deserts through to cold of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large, our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping, so that life is not too rough.
      Included activities
      Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
      Kitty
      On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
      Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
      You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
      If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
      Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
      As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
      Optional activities
      A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
      There are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and handicrafts while on this trip. While we do not make arrangements for specific shopping excursions due to our passengers feedback, there may be opportunities where your local guides can offer services if you are particularly interested. Please note it is customary for local guides (not Intrepid group leaders) to accept commission from the factory or shop in exchange for their service. You are under no obligation to purchase anything from local guides and we do encourage you to enjoy shopping in the markets to compare prices and quality.
      Money Exchange
      The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee (NPR).
      ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.
      The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.
      While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.
      Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
      The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
      We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
      ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
      Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
      Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
      The official currency of Mongolia is the Tugrik (MNT).
      Tugrik may only be obtained within Mongolia. The safest way to carry your money is as traveller's cheques which can be exchanged at most banks and currency exchange points in Ulaanbaatar. The easiest currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, although it is possible to exchange RUB, CNY and other currencies at some exchange points. Larger denomination notes often attract a better exchange rate.
      Please be aware that there are no reliable banking or exchange facilities outside of Ulaanbaatar. Major credit cards may be accepted in some shops and restaurants in the capital. Some banks will allow cash advances against a credit card but cash withdrawals are subject to a 5% or more service charge.
      In Ulaanbaatar you may be able to find ATMs that accept international cards and use them to withdraw local currency; however these should not be relied on as your sole financial source. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Mongolia must be made in local currency.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      Tipping
      If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
      Tipping is entirely voluntary. The crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person
      Departure tax
      If you are leaving Mongolia by air, the departure tax is T12,500 (approx US$10). A small foreign exchange counter, next to the place where you pay your departure tax, will change US dollars into Tugrik if you don't have any left.
      Important notes
      LOCAL PARTNER:
      Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
      MINIMUM AGE:
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      NEPAL STRIKES:
      Snap bandhs (strikes) can occur at any time in Nepal with very little notice, resulting in your itinerary having to be revised. Although we will endeavour to minimise any additional costs incurred there may be occasions where the traveller will need to cover trip changes, including flights, of which you will need to use your emergency funds and then claim the money on your travel insurance.
      CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
      Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
      NAADAM:
      The Mongolian National festival 'Naadam' takes place in mid July every year. Thousands of nomads spend weeks travelling from all parts of the country to take part in the celebrations in and around Ulaan Baatar. After the spectacular opening ceremony, areas both in Ulaanbaatar itself and on the city outskirts become venues for the various events which include traditional wrestling tournaments, archery competitions and perhaps most exciting of all, horse racing in which up to 500 horses take part. It's the main national holiday of the year and many rural Mongolians make the journey to the capital to take part. Please note that there may be slight changes in the itinerary for trips running during this time to enable us to best experience the festival.
      Group size
      Maximum of 21 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
      Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
      www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Single travellers
      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (34 nts), Camping (with facilities) (12 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (10 nts), Yurt (6 nts), Guesthouse (4 nts), Permanent tented camp (2 nts)
      Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels, ranging from twin to multishare. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.
      In Asia it is often not practical to camp when staying in towns and cities, so we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area.
      Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
      Meals introduction
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      Meals
      All meals when camping
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 1000.00
      Transport
      Overland vehicle
      Group leader
      On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
      While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
      We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
      On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
      Joining point
      Hotel Tibet
      Lazimpath
      Kathmandu
      NEPAL
      Joining point description
      Hotel Tibet is located close to the Royal Palace and walking distance to all major embassies, airline offices, banks, immigration office and the famous shopping centres of Thamel. It is only 8km from the Tribhuvan International Airport and has a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding hills. Hotel Tibet is renowned for its hospitality and homey environment.
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
      If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Emergency contact
      Dragoman 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1728 862 222 This is an answer-phone. If calling outside UK office hours for non urgent questions, please leave a message. There is a number provided to call for a 24 hour manned mobile, in case of genuine emergency. For further emergency contact details go to:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      Visas
      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
      We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
      NEPAL:
      All foreign nationals (except Indians) require a visa to enter Nepal. Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad, the International airport, or on arrival at the India / Nepal border.
      Getting a visa at the airport can sometimes take time due to long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash only:
      - Multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25,
      - Multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40,
      - Multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100
      Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and one photo is required.
      Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the timeanddate.com to be very useful.
      NEPAL to TIBET to CHINA:
      Australia: Yes - on arrival
      Belgium: Yes - on arrival
      Canada: Yes - on arrival
      Germany: Yes - on arrival
      Ireland: Yes - on arrival
      Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
      New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
      South Africa: Yes - on arrival
      Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
      United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
      USA: Yes - on arrival
      Current visa regulations require that travellers wishing to enter Tibet from Kathmandu in Nepal need to apply for their Chinese visa (as a group) at the Chinese Embassy in Nepal. Please DO NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Your tour leader will arrange your visa once you arrive in Kathmandu after your group meeting on day 1. The cost is approx. US$114 for citizens of all countries except for US citizens for whom it is US$198. You will need to send us a quality-scanned copy of your passport in order for us to arrange this approx. 4 weeks before departure.
      The group visa then has to be split into individual visas in the passport due to passengers different travel plans within China and beyond. There is an additional cost of approx. US$50 or US$170 for US citizens. We cannot be held responsible for these additional costs, as it is unfortunately an unavoidable cost due to the laws surrounding the China/Tibet group visa
      .
      Please also be aware that a sudden change in the political situation can especially for Tibet lead to an immediate change in visa issuance policy. This can create unforeseen delays, as authorities suddenly require additional information from visitors or sudden unforeseen price increases for visa issuance.
      MONGOLIA (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND):
      Australia: Yes - in advance
      Belgium: Yes - in advance
      Canada: Yes - in advance
      Germany: Yes - in advance
      Ireland: Yes - in advance
      Netherlands: Yes - in advance
      New Zealand: Yes - in advance
      South Africa: Yes - in advance
      Switzerland: Yes - in advance
      United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
      USA: Not required
      US nationals can travel in Mongolia for up to 90 days visa free. Most other nationalities require a visa.
      LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI):
      Most embassies do not require a LOI. However, should you be required to present one with your visa application please contact us. There may be a fee for this service. In order for us to provide a LOI through our local partners we will require a clear, colour scan of your passport along with indicating at which embassy you will be applying for your visa. Please allow up to 2 weeks for your LOI to be processed.
      VISA ON ARRIVAL:
      Visas are not available on arrival at any land borders into Mongolia. Due to changes in visa regulations we are no longer able to provide visa invitations for visa on arrival at the Chinggis Khan International Airport.
      VISAS EN-ROUTE:
      You may be able to apply for your Mongolian visa in Beijing en-route if you are travelling on a long combination trip. A LOI is required for applications in Beijing.
      INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
      You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (J) that covers the duration of your stay in Mongolia. Visas are usually valid for 3 months from the date of issue and enable to you to stay for up to 30 days.
      Name and address of host person or organization in Mongolia:
      Mongolian Ways Ltd.
      Chingeltei Duureg
      5th Khoroo, 6th Khoroolol
      Bldg. 17, door 39
      Ulaanbaatar 211238
      +976 11 330351
      DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
      You may be required to provide a copy of your Dragoman itinerary, indicating the dates of your tour, along with your application.
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      LOCKER SPACE:
      The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
      SLEEPING BAG:
      Please bring a sleeping bag (4-season is recommended - check what the weather will be like over the dates you are travelling), sleeping mat and a pillow as these items are not provided.
      CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
      The mountainous areas we visit on this trip can be very cold. Bring a warm jumper/jacket, thermals, warm hat and gloves - no matter what time of the year, as we travel at altitudes above 5,000 m.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
      Health
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      DRINKING WATER:
      As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
      MEDICAL FACILITIES:
      It is also worth noting that outside of Ulaanbaatar medical facilities are virtually non-existent. It can take up to a few days to reach any modern facilities should you require medical attention whilst on the road.
      People with allergies to animals should be aware that Mongolians live in very close proximity with their live stock and while staying in family gers you may be exposed to many animals such as dogs, horses, goats and yaks.
      The diet and hygiene standards of Mongolia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc and bring some medication/re hydration salts etc should you experience stomach problems.
      In spring and early summer in rural areas Mongolia ticks are prevalent. Please take precautions when walking in these areas by wearing long trousers and boots and check your clothes and body thoroughly.
      ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
      Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
      Before your trip.
      Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
      We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
      During your trip.
      While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
      Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
      http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
      Safety
      Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
      We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
      Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
      For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
      TRAVEL ADVISORY:
      Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      SEAT BELTS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
      The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
      In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
      A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
      When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
      LOCAL DRESS:
      Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Responsible Travel projects
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Nepal include:
      * The Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) promotes positive impact tourism and minimum impact trekking through information services for travellers and locals. They also provide vocational training in hospitality, ecotourism, conservation, first aid and English to ensure the future ecological and cultural prosperity of Nepal.
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:
      * Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.
      * Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Tibet include:
      * Braille without Borders was Tibet's first blind rehabilitation and training centre. With four major project areas, it aims to implement a blind preparatory school, produce educational materials, facilitate social reintegration programs and conduct vocational training to enable the integration and acceptance of the blind in Tibetan society.
      Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Mongolia include:
      * The Lotus Children's Centre cares for children who are the victims of abandonment, neglect or abuse. Currently housing some 150 children, the centre provides for basic health, shelter and educational needs. Employment and effective life skills are also imparted as the children grow, in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty.
      Lotus is always happy to receive donations of a wide range of items: clothing of all sizes, shoes, underwear, socks, coats and scarves; arts and craft supplies for school activities; child-care goods and toiletries such as nappies/diapers, nappy rash, anti-fungal and scabies creams, soap, shampoo, sunblock, insect repellent etc. Please advise your leader if you have brought something to donate, so that they can arrange for it to be passed on to Lotus.
      Financial donations will be doubled by Intrepid Travel. Donations can also be made via your leader or via The Intrepid Foundation donation box at the Lotus Hostel. More information about Lotus can be found on their website here: www.lotuschild.org
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 2173.00 kgs per pax.
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.