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Mongolia

Mongolia

26th June 2019 - 16th July 2019 (21 days)

This is an adventurous and challenging tour for fit adventure cyclists. It is 100% off-road, travelling through remote areas of south and central Mongolia. Flying from the capital, Ulaanbaatar, the cycling begins in the Gobi desert. The route to Karakorum, in the centre of Mongolia, will traverse desert, mountains and vast open plains, still home to the remaining traditional nomadic people. Riding surfaces will include improved single-vehicle dirt roads, some sandy patches, rocky descents and vehicle tracks through the grass steppe, with distances ranging from 40-80kms. Accommodation outside of Ulaanbaatar will be wild camping (in tents) or in tourist Ger camps (in yurts), with only occasional hot water. There will be full 4x4 vehicle support, an experienced English speaking Mongolian guide and a camp/cook team.
The tour culminates with a two-day visit to the Naadam Festival which superbly illustrates the life of a Mongolian Nomad, a day sightseeing in Ulaanbaatar and two-days in the Terelj National Park. 

  • Holiday Type Guided
  • Tour Manager Neil Wheadon
  • Grade Challenging
  • Booking Status Places Available
  • Accommodation Hotel & Camping
  • Board Basis Full Board
  • Travel Arrangements Air
  • Road / Off Road Off-Road
  • Holiday Style Moving-on
  • Vehicle Support Full Vehicle Support
  • Holiday Ref 03207
Mongolia

Wednesday 26th June

Fly from London Heathrow to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines flight TK1980, departing at 1130, arriving 1715. Continue to Ulanbaatar on Turkish Airlines flight TK342, departing at 1910.

Thursday 27th June

Arrive Ulaanbaatar at 1005. Transfer to hotel. Stay 1 night (hotel).

Friday 28th June

0650 flight from Ulaanbaatar with Hunnu Air to the Gobi desert, arriving at 0820. Meet the support team who will have bikes already assembled. Cycling starts with an easy acclimitization ride across the vast Gobi plains. Spend the night in a camp comprising of traditional Mongolian yurts, commonly known as Ger camps. In the evening, a short car trip to the Flaming Red Cliffs, a world renowned dinosaur fossil site where in the 1920's the first ever dinosaur eggs in their nests were unearthed. 50km. Stay 1 night (yurt).

Saturday 29th June

Cycle to the Dundus valley. A bit more challenging, cycling across the middle body of the Gurvan Saikhan mountain range. The route runs across an undulating landscape on a high plateau used as summer grazing ground by local herders due to its elevation and better ventilation. Riding surface is predominantly smooth although there are some brief sandy portions. Occasionally see large flocks of goats, sheep and even horses as well as circular tents; a life style that seemingly has not changed for many hundreds of years. Camp by spectacular rock formations taking in the tranquil setting and the stars. 69km. Stay 1night (tent).

Sunday 30th June

Cycle to the “Singing Sand Dunes”. Starting with a 3km section along a dry river bed that may be rough, which is then replaced by a series of undulations with a smooth packed surface that continues throughout the morning. Around mid-day, exit the Gurvan Saikhan mountain range and reach an open plain, where the Khongoriin Els Sand Dunes come in to view. They stretch for almost 100km with the tallest dune reaching 200m from its foothill. Locals sometimes refer to them as the singing dunes due to a weird humming sound often heard on windy days. Picnic lunch at the edge of the plain, load bikes and drive to a cozy Ger camp. Climb the dunes or take a short camel ride along them. 35km. Stay 1 night (yurt).

Monday 1st July

Cycle to Arts Bogd Mountain Range. A two hour car transfer across sandy soils before riding to the Arts Bogd mountain range that separates the Gobi desert from the arid grasslands of central Mongolia, a change noticeable immediately after crossing the day’s high point at just above 2,000m. Camp by an extinct volcano on which rugged slopes are strewn with ancient petroglyphs and burial mounds. 50k. Stay 1 night ( tent).

Tuesday 2nd July

Load the bikes and drive in to the Khangai National Park. Although a long journey of up to 11 hours, see the immensity of Mongolia’s territory and the variety of its landscapes. Observe the gradual shift from dry grasslands to mountains with humid climate and eventually arrive at a lush riverside surrounded by wooded mountains. This is the starting point of our traverse of the Khangai mountain range. Stay 1 night (tent).

Wednesday 3rd July

Today and for the next two days cross the Khangai mountain range that separates its southern basin from the northern basin. The route follows the least travelled and hidden corners of the range. Each ascent, at times quite challenging, brings you to a panoramic highpoint which is then followed by a breathtaking downhill.  Local herders and their immense flocks of animals will be your only and silent spectators. Our campsites are located in the vicinity of their homes allowing the opportunity to get to know a little bit about their way of life. 43km. Stay 1 night (tent). 

Thursday 4th July

Continuation of the crossing of the Khangai mountain range. 40km. Stay 1 night (tent). 

Friday 5th July

Continuation of the crossing the Khangai mountain range. 38km. Stay 1 night (tent).  

Saturday 6th July

Cycle to Tsetserleg and transfer to Tsenkher Hot Springs. Having made it to the northern side of the Khangai mountain range we bike to Tsetserleg town, a pretty provincial capital located in the shelter of a spectacular granite ridge. A short but steep pass is followed by an overall fast day on excellent packed surfaces. The last climb finally opens an interesting view of traditional residential districts, geometrically aligned and with a lot of bright rooftops. In just half an hour’s pedaling we reach our lunch spot at a pretty riverside. A one hour car transfer brings us to Tsenkher valley, famous for its mineral hot spring. 60km. Stay 1 night (yurt).

Sunday 7th July

Another fast day on great soils to reach the Orkhon river valley, littered with sponge like volcanic rock. As a UNESCO historic heritage site it contains many hundreds of ancient burial mounds that dot the landscape. 76km. Stay 1 night (tent).

Monday 8th July

Cycle to Karakorum, the medieval capital of Genghis Khan. Cycle downstream along the Orkhon river valley and lose altitude throughout the day. Our destination is the town of Karakorum - the site of the Mongol Empire capital in the 1200s. Largely an experiment of city building by nomadic people, Karakorum never became a fully functional capital before it was destroyed by invading Chinese armies in the late 14th century. Today the main attraction is the monastery museum of Erdene Zuu established in the 16th century. The monastery then suffered almost a complete destruction during the anti-religion campaign of the 1930-ies with just a dozen temples surviving. Visit the monastery and the local museum. 72km. Stay 1 night (yurt).

Tuesday 9th July

Say goodbye to the support team and drive towards the capital but stop at Khustai NP where in 1993 a small number of the last remaining wild horses were brought here from several European zoos and re-introduced to their historic homeland. Also known as “Przewalski horses" they were extinct in Mongolia by the 1950's. Today over 350 wild horses, all native to Mongolia, roam the park’s mountains and valleys. A sizable population of red deer, Mongolian gazelles and wild mountain sheep have also found a refuge in the park and can be spotted with a little bit of luck. In the evening, take a 2-3 hour hiking excursion through the park with the purpose of seeing wildlife, birds and flowers. Stay 1 night (yurt).

Wednesday 10th July

Head to the Naadam horse racing grounds. Horse races are by far the most popular show among Mongolians, therefore the grounds are always packed with crowds and horsemen. There are 6 age categories which race over 6 different distances, in each of them 500-600 mounts ridden by 7-12 year old boys and girls. Return to Ulaanbaatar by mid-afternoon. Stay 4 nights (hotel).

Thursday 11th July

Naadam Festival opening ceremony. Visit the Central Arena of Ulaanbaatar to watch the festival’s opening ceremony followed by wrestling and archery contests. A spectacular gala-dinner with a cultural and fashion show dedicated to the festival will take place at our hotel.

Friday 12th July

The second day of the Naadam Festival. Final rounds of the wrestling, archery and horse racing.

Saturday 13th July

Visit some of the city's highlights including a colossal gold plated statue of Lord Buddha, Central Square and the statue of Genghis Khan. Before the evening meal enjoy some folk music, traditional dances, throat singing and contortion.

Sunday 14th July

Drive to Terelj National Park 55km north-east of Ulaanbaatar. The area is cool and the alpine scenery magnificent. Visit the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex. Stay 1 night (lodge).

Monday 15th July

Further exploration of Terelj National Park, including a hike to a monastery. Drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Stay 1 night (hotel).

Tuesday 16th July

Transfer to Ulaanbaatar airport for the return Turkish Airlines flight TK343 to Istanbul departing 1105, arriving 1725. Continue to London Heathrow on Turkish Airlines flight TK1987, departing  at 2015, arriving 2225.

 

Accommodation & Meals

Six nights in a 3-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, five nights in yurts, seven nights in tents and one night in a lodge, all two people sharing. Tents and camping equipment will be supplied with the exception of sleeping bags. Hot water might not always be available. Breakfast, lunch and evening meals are included up to 9 July. From 10 July breakfast is included each day, lunch and evening meals on four days. Vegetarians will be catered for but choice may be limited. 

Vehicle Support

Full vehicle support with a roof rack for bikes.

Passports, Visa & Health

EU citizens must hold a passport that is valid for at least 6 months at the end of the tour. A visa is required and you are responsible for completing your own visa application . Holders of non-EU passports are advised to check whether or not they require a visa.
There are no compulsory health related requirements for EU residents. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain any vaccinations and the latest advice to travellers.

Travel Insurance

Our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.

Price

The price of £3,790 is based on a minimum number of 10 people taking part in the tour and is calculated at a rate of US $1.29 to £1 sterling (based on exchange rates published on www.x-rates.com on 23 October 2018; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 17th April 2019, we will contact you and return all monies paid. although in certain circumstances the holiday may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.

Price Includes

  • Return flight from London Heathrow to Ulaanbaatar via Instambul
  • Flight from Ulaanbaatar to the Gobi desert
  • All airport transfers
  • 6 night hotel, 1 night lodge, sharing room
  • 5 nights yurt, 2 people per yurt
  • 7 nights tent, 2 people per tent
  • 18 breakfasts, 16 lunches & 17 evening meals
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Full vehicle support with camping/cooking crew & bike mechanic
  • English speaking Mongolian guide
  • Tents & camping equipment
  • Mountain bikes (hard tail Giant XTC800-860, 30 speed)
  • Entry fees to the two National Parks visited & the Naadam Festival
  • CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs

Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to and from London Heathrow
  • Drinks with evening meals
  • Sleeping bag
  • Entry fees at any attractions visited unless specified in the itinerary
  • Any other personal expenses
  • Travel Insurance
  • Single occupancy supplement (£300, subject to availability)

Payment Schedule

A deposit of £400 per person is payable upon booking, with an Interim Payment of £1,000 per person due by 2nd February 2019. The final balance of £2,390 per person is to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 17th April 2019.

Cancellations

Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:

Written notice received:

Before 2nd February 2019

2nd February 2019 to 16th April 2019

17th April 2019 through to departure

 

Cancellation charge:

Deposit (£400)

36.9% (£1,400)

100% (£3,790)

The Area Covered By The Holiday

Mongolia is comparatively undeveloped in terms of tourism and, despite the recent appearance of mobile phones and solar panels, has a basic infrastructure once outside of Ulaanbaatar. Time will be spend in remote areas without home comforts or easy access to medical facilities. Although a very high level of physical fitness is not required, participants should be comfortable with the realities of a wilderness adventure and be prepared for basic conditions in the countryside. Outside of the city you will be the guests of people who are untouched by western values and standards.
Starting close to the southern border with China, at Dalanzadgad, and finishing at Karakorum in the centre of Mongolia. Travelling through the Gobi desert and passing the Flaming Red cliffs and the spectacular Singing Sand Dunes. Cross two mountain ranges (max elevation 2,600m), and ride dirt roads through vast grassy steppes, lightly populated with nomadic herders and their flocks of yaks, sheep and horses.

Rides & Rest Days

This is a unique, adventurous and sometimes demanding tour, best suited to experienced, enthusiast adventure cyclists with a pioneering spirit. Riding surfaces will include improved single-vehicle dirt/gravel roads, some sandy patches, rocky descents and vehicle tracks through the grass steppe. There will be knee-deep unbridged rivers and streams to cross. Daily mileages of 40-80kmpd are reasonable to allow for the difficult terrain. Good bike handling skills over a variety of terrains will be required. Vehicle assistance will be available if needed and there will be one full day vehicle transfer (2 July). Please note that it may be necessary to change the itinerary should conditions dictate.  The cycling ends in Karakorum and if all goes to plan we should arrive in time to attend the local Naadam Festival where tough Mongols compete at the manly sports of wrestling, archery, horse racing (and vodka drinking!). This is followed by a nights stay in the Terelj National Park including a visit to the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex. 

Accommodation & Meals

If you are very tall please talk to the Tour Manager about having a tent to yourself on camping nights (additional cost). The sleeping bag you bring must be rated 3-4 season.

Travel

On the flight to the Gobi desert you will just need to carry hand luggage as the bikes and other luggage will be transported by road.

Group Information

The maximum number of participants will be 13 excluding the Tour Manager(s).

Weather & Clothing

Mongolia experiences extremes of weather year round. In the southern Gobi desert expect temperatures up to 35℃. When camping at altitude in the Khangia Mountains, night temperatures could be close to freezing. Rain cannot be ruled out. It is essential that you bring clothing suitable for all conditions.

Cycles & Equipment

As the hire bikes may not have racks you are advised to bring a frame bag, handlebar bag, seatpost bag or any combination for carrying wet weather gear, spare clothing, a camera, snacks and the map provided. The wearing of a cycling helmet is your personal choice. 

Maps & Guides

A map showing the outline route will be provided. This tour has been run in the past by Pat and John Ashwell, but tracks vary from year to year. Most of the tracks are unmapped. There are no GPS files available. Guidance will be given by our Mongolian guide and the support vehicle crew. The route is an established cycling route but has not previously been ridden by the Tour Manager.

Travel Insurance & Advice

Before booking you should check the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information, at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice or on 0845 850 2829.