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Naiman Nuur Trek

Introduction

This Naiman Nuur Trek will take us through the central Mongolian Khangai region near Naiman Nuur also known as the Eight Lakes. Our first destination is the Tövkhön Hermitage which is a small monastery and lively pilgrimage site perched high on a cliff in a roadless and densely forested surroundings. To the southeast, further up to the valley, we enter the Khuisiin Naiman Nuur Nature Reserve that has been recently integrated into the Khangai Mountains National Park. It is a pristine and wild area, shaped by volcanic activity, with sub alpine mountain meadows and coniferous forests of Siberian Pine and Larch. Naiman Nuur translates in to “Eight Lakes” but actually the number of lakes are usually nine! The starting point for our trek will be the Orkhon Valley, appointed an UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape back in 2004. Since long before the Mongols (Mongolians) this valley has been the center of many ancient empires. When Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khan) ordered to have his capital city Karakorum (Harhorin) built here in 1220, he merely followed a long tradition. We will visit Erdene Zuu Monastery built on the site of the old capital. All luggage and equipment for this Naiman Nuur Trek will be loaded onto pack yaks, which are provided by the local herders and local nomads who will lead us on this journey into the heart of the Khangai Mountains. No support vehicle will follow in this rugged and roadless territory on our trek in the Naiman Nuur area located in the Khangai Mountains.

Trip Details

Itinerary
Tour Dates
Prices
Practicalities

DAY 1: TO BULGAN OR ARKHANGAI
We will pick you up from your hotel with a Russian 4wd minivan, complete with our guide, cook, equipment and provisions for the Naiman Nuur Trek, and leave Ulaanbaatar for the west. If you are interested in birds, there are three prime birding sites to choose for today’s camp site, as we are staying in tents. The first birding stop is at Bayannuur (Rich Lake) in Bulgan province, where there are usually not only plenty of ducks but possibly Relict Gull, White-naped Cranes or Swan Geese. If we do fine with time, we can drive until Ögii Lake in Arhangai province, which has nice marshes on its western shore.

DAY 2: TO HOTONT
After breakfast, we load up the luggages and drive further west, a short way to the Tsagaan Sumiin Gol (White Soum River) area in Hotont district, at the foot of the Khangai Mountains. Many herders occupy this area in the summer and we will be able to experience our first encounter with the hardy nomads of Mongolia. They live in Mongolian gers (yurts) and usually keep horses, cows, yaks, goats and sheep for their livelihood.

DAY 3: TO TÖVKHÖN HERMITAGE ON FOOT
Today we will spend most of the day hiking, entering the Khangai Mountains National Park and the UNESCO appointed World Heritage Landscape on foot from the secluded northern side. We arrive at the remote Tövkhön Hermitage after a few hours of hiking upwards through the forested hills. The little monastery sits on top of a ridge at 2312 meters above sea level and we are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding forested mountains. Women may not climb to the very top of the cliff due to the religious belief of local Mongolian herders (nomads), but the panoramic views from just below are almost equally great. Zanabazar (1635-1723), the first Buddhist leader and spiritual head of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia, used the place as a retreat and there are several small caves where he meditated in total seclusion. Today Tövkhön is a lively pilgrimage site for local Buddhists. We hike the last 2½km to the road head where we will meet our vehicle again and drive to Horgoi Hurem across the bridge spanning the Orkhon River, to the Upper Orkhon Valley and we will be pitching our tents next to some nomad families.

DAY 4: TO HUIS LAKE
Today the pack yaks are loaded by our hosts and native nomads of the area who will lead us on this Naiman Nuur trekking journey. We start our trek across the hills and ridges into the Naiman Nuur area. Our support vehicle will not be able to follow. At higher altitude’s we catch spectacular, panoramic views over this wild terrain. We set up our tented camp at Huis Lake for two nights.

DAY 5: TO SHIREET LAKE
Today we hike through a valley, passing several lakes until we reach Shireet Lake, the biggest lake of Naiman Nuur which has a narrow peninsula going into it. We catch scenic views of the forested hills along the way. The landscape is of volcanic origins here and extinct invisible volcanoes are dotted in the landscape. In early summer, lots of wildflowers grow on the meadows.

DAY 6: TO HORGOI HUREM
Today, again the pack yaks are being loaded with all our luggage and provisions and we trek yet another route out of Naiman Nuur back into the upper Orkhon Valley. Again we can enjoy fantastic views. At the high altitude, nomads raise mainly hardy yaks rather than cattle.

DAY 7: HORGOI HUREM
By now we have befriended the local Mongolian nomads (herders), who are our hosts. We will spend the day hiking in Horgoi Hurem area, which is quite populated with Mongolian nomad (herder) families during the summer.

DAY 8: TO HÖGNÖ KHAN KHAN VIA KARAKORUM
In the morning, we load up our vehicle and drive along the Orkhon River which forms small canyons here. We stop at the scenic Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall, popularly known as the Orkhon waterfall. Continuing our drive to the lower parts of the Orkhon River Valley we reach Harhorin, a small town located at the site of Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol empire. Here we visit Erdene Zuu Monastery, the first and one of the largest Buddhist monasteries established in Mongolia. It was founded in 1585 and for its construction the stones from the old capital Karakorum (Harhorin) were used. The city had been completely destroyed 200 years earlier by the Ming Chinese army. Around mid afternoon, we drive for two more hours to the Högnö Khan Mountain Nature Reserve, where we will stay at a ger (yurt) camp.

DAY 9: TO ULAANBAATAR
In the morning after breakfast, we have the opportunity to visit the small Erdenekhamba Temple, and hike up a gully to the Övgön Monastery ruin. Högnö Khan has an amazing history and its giant rock formations are part of the Mongolian granite belt. After lunch at the ger (yurt) camp, we drive back to Ulaanbaatar and drop you of at your hotel.

ITINERARY MAP

DATES EX. ULAANBAATAR:

Daily mid May to mid of September

PRICE EX ULAANBAATAR:

2 – 6 members: USD 2100 per person

Single Supplement (6n): USD 240

Rent of riding horse: USD 140

Children: 0-2 years free. 3-12 years 25-50%.

Group discounts available on request for 4 persons or more.

TRANSPORT:
On this tour, apart from the short drive to the starting point of our trek and back to the city we will not rely on any motor vehicle support. Instead we utilize traditional wooden carts, that Mongolian families occasionally still use, when moving from one pasture to another. Here we will travel by pack yaks and horses.

ACCOMMODATION:
Very spacious Scandinavian style Tepees in double occupancy. Please bring your own sleeping bag. The showers and toilets are in traditional Mongolian tents. For one night we stay at a ger camp. We trek in style!

STAFF:
An English speaking Mongolian guide will accompany the group at all times. There will also be a cook. In addition, the services of local herdsmen will be employed. They provide the horses, yaks and will accompany us on the trek.

MEALS:
Our cook will prepare the meals. We pride ourselves in having exellent cooks adept at both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips. There is no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips. We can usually buy fresh milk and yogurt from local herdsmen.

RIDING HORSES:
This tour doubles very well as horse riding trip. There will be an opportunity for experienced riders at the time of booking to order a saddled riding horse, with a horse-man to follow.

TRIP EXTENSION:
Hustai National Park is located en route to the west, so you may also add some time there to see the Przewalski horses. We also offer fixed dated treks supported by camel carts in the East Gobi. At Ikh Nart Nature Reserve you can experience fascinating desert landscapes, offering a stark contrast to Naiman Nuur and the Hangai mountains.

ADDITIONAL:
We can reserve hotels and transfers in Ulaanbaatar for you. Please make sure to arrive in Ulaanbaatar the day prior to departure. We may operate the trek in reverse direction. Naiman Nuur, despite being a valley, is at a rather high elevation and it can snow any time of the year. Be sure to bring some warm layers of clothes.

INCLUDES:
Guide and all meals outside Ulaanbaatar. Camping equipment and all local transport. All entrance fees.

EXCLUDES:
Drinks, transfers and accommodation in Ulaanbaatar. Air or train tickets in and out of Mongolia. Visa fee.