Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram). Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen Monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin. Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area.
In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.
Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the huge monastery of Erdene Zuu, Mongolia's oldest Buddhist monastery to survive the purges of the 1930s Included in Kitty
Learn all about Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire that once stood here, at the Kharkhorin Museum Included in Kitty
The fabled city of Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakorum) began life as a command point for Genghis Khan’s military conquest of China, but later became the capital of his son, Ögedei Khan in 1235 CE. Under Ögedei and his successors, Karakorum became a major site for world politics, and the famous Silver Tree of Karakorum was constructed the city centre - a large tree sculpted of silver and other precious metals rose up from the middle of the courtyard and loomed over the palace, with the branches of the tree extended into the building, silver fruit hung from the limbs and it had four golden serpents braided around the trunk, while within the top of the tree was placed a trumpet angel. Unfortunately the Silver Tree no longer exists, but we will be sure to visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery - built in 1585 CE out of the ruins of the old city, it was the first great northern Mongolian monastery. Surviving the destruction of the communist purges of the 1930s, the monastery is the oldest Buddhist temple in Mongolia and is now a museum as well as a working monastery. Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim! We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight.
The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests. After our visit we will wild camp nearby. Please note that on occasion it is impossible to reach the Tuvkhon Monastery
due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot. Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.
Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the stunning volcanic and forested landscapes of the Orkhon Valley and see Ulaan Tsutgalan, Mongolia's largest waterfall Included in Kitty
Hike up through the forests to the beautiful Tuvkhon Monastery on the summit of Ulaan Uul mountain Included in Kitty
There are no meals included on this day.