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Mongolia Bulgan

Itinerary

Day 1: Ulaanbaatar 

redspokes Mongolia Bulgan cycling tour begins in capital city Ulaanbaatar (which translates as red hero). Nomadic, Bhuddhist, Soviet and contemporary influences converge in this vibrant capital where ancient culture and 21st Century traditions forge a unique path. You will be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your joining hotel. You are free for the rest of the day to explore the city. This evening we will have a welcome dinner and group introductions. Your guide will give you a trip briefing. 

Accommodation: Hotel (D)


Day 2:  Ulaanbaatar - City Tour

This morning we will learn more about Ulaanbaatar on a city tour. We begin with a visit to Gandantegchinlen Monastery; this in Mongolia’s principal Buddhist temple. A gigantic gold-plated Buddha statue is the main object of devotion. We will see many local worshippers, dressed in traditional brightly coloured garments. Next we will visit the central Sükhbaatar Square named after Mongolia's revolutionary hero Damdin Sükhbaatar shortly after his death in 1923. In 2013 the square's name was changed to Chinggis Square in honor of Genghis Khan. Adjacent to the square, is the parliament building with a facade adorned by marble statues of Genghis Khan and his successors. The area throngs with newlyweds, reunification parties and the public in general, all eager for photo opportunities here for their celebrations.

We go on to visit the National Museum and hear an overview of Mongolia’s history from stone age times to the modern era. The Paleontology Museum of Mongolia is a twenty minute walk away from the national museum. It containing artefacts such as dinosaur fossils, intact nests containing eggs, carnivores fighting herbivores and embryos still in their shells. Following this, a visit to the Zaisan memorial in the south of Ulaanbaatar offers panoramic views of the city. There is a 300 step climb to reach the memorial which features a circular painting depicting scenes of friendship between the people of the USSR and Mongolia. Our tour concludes with a traditional music show including a performance of traditional throat singing.

This evening we board a Soviet Era steam train which will take us overnight to Erdenet in the north of Mongolia. We travel alongside local passengers and enjoy pastoral agricultural scenes as we journey through the central wheat producing areas of the country.

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 3: Ulaanbaatar - Erdenet 

We arrive in Erdenet in time for breakfast and will meet our cycling support team. Erdenet is a mineral rich area with Asia's largest copper mine which is open for public visits with a blasting that can be watched every Friday. Erdenet is also famous for its traditional archery team. Your guide will give you a history of the area.

Our cycling begins as we set off riding through the suburbs and more rural areas on the outskirts of the city. We ride on through forested areas and valley cycling along a few ridges. We camp under the stars tonight and dinner will be prepared by your Mongolian chef.

Cycling distance: 34.8km (21.6 miles)
Total Climb: 228m (784ft)
Total Descent: 485m (1591ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 4: Erdenet -  Dundat Valley 

We set off cycling this morning, enjoying the fresh cool morning air. Today’s ride begins with a 400m gradual climb to reach the peak of a rocky pass and continues on through lush meadows and forests of larch and birch. Over the peak we ride through forested areas and open grassy valleys. After a few more gentle climbs we cycle down through the Dundat valley passing nomadic settlements and huge herds of livestock. Sheep outnumber humans in Mongolia by 35 to 1 and horses by 13 to 1. You will receive a friendly welcome from local horses who may decide to gallop alongside us for a stretch. The nomads will welcome us offering war - a milky, salty tea and other dairy products. Tonight, we camp on a grassy site at the base of a wooded mountain.

Cycling distance: 52.1km (32 miles)
Total Climb: 826m (2709 ft)
Total Descent: 711m (2332 ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 5:  Dundat Valley - Khuli Plain

Our ride continues today through a beautiful rural scenery of ever wider grasslands where traditional herding life continues. The regional specialty here is Airag a fermented horse milk which is considered to be of exceptional quality and flavor. Mares and foals are tethered apart from one another outside the nomad tents. Production of Airag is a continuous and arduous process. The mares are milked every two hours and intensive churning of their milk is required over many hours to boost the fermentation process in large barrels or in sacks made of Ox hide. 

From our campsite we will enjoy scenic views of the mountains in the distance.

Cycling distance: 66km (41 miles)
Total Climb: 491m (1,610 ft)
Total Descent: 800m (2,624 ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 6: Khulk Plain -  Khanui River Valley

We set off today cycling a couple of passes, riding on grassy track that leads us to a typical rural town, that could be the set of a wild west movie.  We can stop for an ice cream or a cold drink and people-watch as a typical day ensues. Mongolian horsemen are believed to have invented ice cream over 700 years ago. They were transporting cream in containers on horseback in the winter across the Gobi Desert and it shook until it became ice cream.

Later today we ride along the Khanui river valley enjoying a beautiful mountain scenery of rock formations and pine trees. Small lakes where reeds grow along the shoreline are important habitats for migrating birds, including rare and protected species, who come here to breed and nest. 

Tonight, we will be camping near to local herding nomads and their animals.

Cycling distance: 62.2km (39 miles)
Total Climb: 561m (1,840ft)
Total Descent: 459m (1,505ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 7: Khanui River Valley - Bayants Valley

Today we continue cycling at a gentle pace and enjoy our picturesque, wooded surroundings as we ride through mountainside and rocky ridge. We will stop to visit a Bronze Age cultural site.  There are deer stone statutes and a number of khirgisuurs and slab burials. This site is one of the largest situated in a river valley. The stones were part of the Bronze age nomadic funeral ritual, the term Deer Stone derives from the animal illustrations on the stones. The stones are created from long blocks of granite with four flat sides, on which deer and other images are engraved. The stones have three ornamented anthropomorphic sections: a 'face', 'torso', and 'lower body' section. The face part contains human faces, symbol of sun and moon and earrings while deer, elk and occasionally horses and ibexes are engraved in the torso. In the lower body parts, there are images of weapons, belt and horse riders. The main decoration, deer images are classically depicted in  a superimposed abstract style.

Researchers believe that these elaborate statues were dedicated to leaders and great tribal warriors. We ride on to visit a summer nomad camp and experience their traditional lifestyle which has not changed in centuries. After lunch we cycle up a pass to the highpoint of today’s ride and enjoy a fast downhill of 25km to reach our campsite.

Cycling distance: 96.3km (60 miles)
Total Climb: 563m (1,847ft)
Total Descent: 434m (1,423ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 8:  Bayants Valley along the Khangai range to Tsetserleg 

Today will be the most demanding of the trip so far. All our riding over the previous days has been preparation for the ultimate challenge of the trip. This morning we will ride to the foothills of the Khangai Mountain range We cross over Tamir river and follow a twisting road through narrow grassy valleys and dense woodland. We stop for lunch at the highpoint of today’s ride just shy of 2000m. This afternoon we enjoy a speedy downhill ride and cycle onward with a brief climb that leads us to Tsetserleg town; a pretty provincial centre that sits in the shelter of an imposing granite ridge. As we climb we will have views of the town’s brightly coloured traditional roof tops laid out in a neat geometric pattern. There is time to visit the busy market where pine nuts, wild berries and other local products are on sale. 

We ride on for another 30 minutes to reach our camp site for our first evening sleeping in a traditional Ger camp complete with dining tent and shower tents. A welcome change after 5 nights of camping. 

Cycling distance: 70.8km (44 miles)
Total Climb: 690m (2,263ft)
Total Descent: 595m (1952ft)
Accommodation: Ger Camp (B,L,D)


Day 9:  Tsetserleg to Tsenkher Hot Springs

This morning we will tackle three short but steep passes to visit the Tsenkher hot springs. Located in a lush wooded valley, the area is renowned for its hot springs and a popular destination for both locals and tourists during the summer months. A soak in the mineral rich waters will be the perfect tonic for tired cyclists’ legs. We also have the opportunity this afternoon to use a laundry service.

Cycling distance: 25.4km (15 miles)
Total Climb: 436m (1,430ft)
Total Descent: 325m (1,066ft)
Accommodation: Ger Camp (B,L,D)


Day 10:   Tsenkher to the  Orkhon River Valley

A fast day’s riding on well surfaced road as we ride towards the Orkhon river valley.  We tackle a few steep mountain climbs and will enjoy spectacular views of the immense wilderness beneath us as we reach the peak of each pass. From the top of the last pass of the day you will be able to see extinct volcano craters.  There area is a UNESCO world heritage site and scattered with volcanic rock and ancient burial mounds. From here we will enjoy riding a 20km breathtaking downhill to reach the Orkhon valley floor. The Orkhon valley is rich in historic and archeological treasures such as burial mounds, deer stones and prehistoric settlements. We camp tonight at the riverside and can take a refreshing dip in the water before dinner.

Cycling distance: 76km (47 miles)
Total Climb: 1056m (3464ft)
Total Descent: 1135m (3723ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 11:  Orkhon River Valley - Karakorum

Today’s ride is a gradual descent with a few undulations, as we cycle downhill following the river downstream to reach Karakorum the ancient 13th century Mongol Empire Capital; a city built by nomads constructed under the direction of the second son of Genghis Khan. We cycle on to our ger camp to leave the bikes, take a quick shower and set off to explore the sights of Karakorum. The ancient city was destroyed in the late 14th C by invading Chinese armies. There is a monastery museum Erdene Zuu established in 16th century by a Mongol khan as part of introduction of Buddhism as the main religion. The monastery was almost entirely destroyed during the anti-religion campaign in the 1930s. Just a dozen temples survive. We visit the monastery and museum to see the few surviving artifacts of the old capital  This evening we will mark the end of our cycling adventure with a celebratory meal.

Cycling distance: 72km (44 miles)
Total Climb: 529m (1,735ft)
Total Descent: 754m (2,473ft)
Accommodation: Tent (B,L,D)


Day 12:  Karakoram to Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast we set off on our journey back to Ulaanbaatar. During the 7 hour drive we stop for a picnic lunch at a scenic spot along the way. Be sure to keep a look out for eagles circling above.  The route takes you past roadside shrines called 'ovoos'. The stone shrines are erected by local families and travellers to show gratitude and respect, and to honour the spirits of the surrounding land. It is customary that ovoos are circled three times in a clockwise direction and a small offering is made in order to ensure the safety of a trip or to ensure good fortune in life. 

We aim to reach our hotel by mid-afternoon with time for you to check in and take a rest before we congregate with all our support team for a farewell dinner. 

Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 13:  Departure day

redspokes Mongolia Bulgan Tour ends today. You will be transferred to Ulaanbaatar airport for your departure flight. 

Accommodation:  B

13 days from
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