Mongolia Bike Tour Day to Day Itinerary (Subject to change)
Arrive in Ulaanbaatar. Welcome to Mongolia! We meet at 1 pm to take a guided tour of Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia’s capital is home to many unique sites, including the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan, the country’s last king, and the National Museum of Mongolian History. A special treat is in store for you this evening as well, a unique show of contortion and throat singing.
We load in 4WD expedition vans which have special racks for carrying bikes and drive west of UB on rough tarmac across vast open steppes with rolling hills in the background. Around mid afternoon we arrive to a place known as the “little Gobi”. This is a spectacular combination of hilly steppes, granite formations and extensive sand dunes. Here we can go for an optional dune walk or a short camel ride while lunch is prepared. We drive onto the provincial capital of Arvaikheer where we spend the night.
A two hour transfer brings us close to the SE foothills of the Khangai range that covers nearly a fifth of the country’s territory. We start cycling towards the range through a region dominated by dome shaped mountains, mixed woods, clear streams and lush grassy valleys that receive abundant rainfall compared to all other parts of Mongolia. We overnight at our first tented camp. Ride 40 km.
We start biking with an ascent along a mountain river before a challenging zigzag up to a 2911m pass and a breathtaking view of the Gobi desert that lies towards south of the range. A 500m descent most of which is gentle brings us to Shargaljuut river valley inhabited by local herders who graze large flocks of yaks and horses. Dinner and overnight in tents. Ride 45 km.
The day begins with a quick breakfast and a gentle ride past herds of yaks and local nomads. The first pass is not too steep but still offers a bit of a challenge. This is followed by a 200 meter descent and a steep climb to a lunch spot on the top of the Khebel pass. A swift descent is followed by a climb up a grassy track to the top of Morin Pass. Another swift downhill brings us to a beautiful camp site by the river. Ride 33 km.
The day starts with a gentle climb towards Oromtiin Pass. By the time you get there, you will have to prepare your legs for a long climb followed by a fast descent to a river by which a lunch will be served. 15 more km across grassy plains with easy ups and downs and on some rough and rocky surfaces brings us to Khukhiin Pass, a short but vertical climb to 2800meters. The following descent is at first challenging but soon smoothes out into a large valley. Then it’s an exhilarating downhill to our camp site. Ride 38 km.
This morning we ride for 25km along the main river of Khangai that flows south in to the Gobi desert and forms a large saline lake. Then to avoid a rocky and jarring track we’ll transfer 70 km (3 hours) across the main water divide of the Khangai range and unload bikes 13km before our overnight campsite. It’s a downhill descent, no pedaling required, to our camp at an idyllic spot by the river. Ride 38 km.
Riding surface improves dramatically from today on. It is hard-packed and fast. Leaving the valley, you’ll encounter a series of short but steep passes with excellent descents to more smooth ground. Your last descent of the day will take you to the settlement of Bulgan and then to the South Tamir river. We take a break from our tents and overnight in a cozy ger camp. Ride 64 km.
Only 22km and half a day riding to Tsenkher river, famous for its hot spring baths. 3 short climbs and we aim to reach them before lunch. 2 pools filled with hot mineral water await you. A relaxing massage is offered at a small additional charge. After lunch we ride horse 2 hours. Overnight in a ger camp. Ride 22 km.
This isn’t an easy day as there are five passes that vary in length from 2.5 km to 11.5 km and we gain the most elevation of the entire trip, 1250m. Good news is that the track today is a pleasure as we cover 78 kilometers of smooth, hard, and packed surfaces on your way to the Orkhon river valley. This area contains many ancient graves and historical sites and is often referred to as the cradle of Mongolian civilization. We set up camp our last tented camp on the banks of the Orkhon river. Ride 79 km.
We saved the best for last! Your final day of cycling promises to be an exciting one with an eastward journey along the Orkhon river to Karakorum where the 2nd son of Chinggis Khan built the capital of the Mongol Empire in early 13th century. There are no major ascents today, just lots of small undulations, and we are losing altitude the entire ride, making it a fast day. Immediately after arrival to our ger camp we visit Karakorum. Largely an experiment of city building in a per-dominantly nomadic society, it never became a fully functional capital before it was demolished by invading Chinese Min Dynasty troops in late 14th century. Today the main attraction here is the monastery museum of Erdene Zuu established in 16th century by a Mongol khan as part of introduction of Buddhism as the main religion. The monastery then suffered almost a complete destruction during the anti-religion campaigns of 1930-ies with just a dozen of temples surviving till present. Spend some time in the peaceful premises of the monastery and take a glance at a few surviving artifacts of the old capital. And finally visit the new Karakorum museum – a fantastic collection of artifacts and of historical data that has continually been replenished by new findings and discoveries. We return to the ger camp for showers, dinner and overnight. Ride 72 km.
It’s time to return to Ulaanbaatar! After a quick breakfast you’ll drive 6 hours to Mongolia’s capital and the rest of the day will be free to explore the city or to just rest before dinner.
As you eat your last breakfast in Mongolia and prepare for your return trip home, take the time to reflect on all that you witnessed and experienced in this amazing country. Depart for home country.
These expeditions are as much a journey of self-discovery as much as a journey to reach a summit, where one comes face-to-face with one’s own limitations both physical and in terms of inner spiritual resources. Overall, a very well-designed, well-planned program in every detail. I would unhesitatingly recommend this trip to anyone contemplating it.