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Bike Tour of Mongolia
13 Days | 12 Nights
Mongolia is one of the most unique and unexplored destinations in Asia, with its wide open spaces, nomadic people, and proud history. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a place that is completely different from home, you couldn’t do much better than this country. Cycle through the grasslands of Mongolia where animals graze, highways are dirt tracks and people still know nothing other than the traditional nomadic lifestyle. The grasslands are a natural habitat for millions of grasshoppers that you will see everywhere on this tour. Needless to say, we feel very at home in Mongolia.
Not only will you cycle through a wide variety of diverse landscapes on this tour-including the mountains of the Arkhanghai, lush green grasslands, pine forests and the spectacular Orkhon Falls- but you will also see an incredible array of wildlife including birds of prey, cattle, yaks, gophers and the pride of many Mongolians: the horse. For the duration of the ride, you will stay off the beaten track- literally, as the route avoids the few sealed roads that exist in Mongolia.
This really is a trip to getting away from it all. When you are out in the middle of the grasslands, sleeping in a tent or ger, you couldn't be further from the modernism of the western world. Hop on your bike and escape to Mongolia for a 13-day active adventure.
395 km / 245 mi riding. The entire ride in Mongolia is off road so some experience riding on uneven surfaces and dirt roads is expected. While there are no technical mountain biking sections experience in riding dirt trails will be an advantage. As we are away from the few roads in Mongolia the only traffic to contend with are sheep, goats, horses and cattle!
Camp out under the endless stars or stay in a well-equipped Ger camp with ample facilities.
Pedal through the historic Orkhan Valley, across ancient lava flow to the Orkhan Falls for a hike or dip in the chilly water.
Visit the otherworldly Mongol Els Sand Dunes that stick out in the middle of the barren steppe.
Explore the city of Ulaanbaatar that greatly contrasts all the scenery you have cycled through thus far.
Day to Day
On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to our centrally located and comfortable hotel. Here in Ulaanbaatar, the past and the present coexist. Nearly half of the population lives in the capital Ulaanbaatar (or UB as it's commonly known), as it is the only city in Mongolia and a stark contrast to the beauty of the surrounding open landscapes. The contrasts are present in the city, too, so take a look around at the businessmen in suits walking next to nomads from the nearby plains, and the mix of Buddhist temples and skyscrapers. Enjoy this introduction to Mongolia and its warm people! Check out the Zaisan Memorial, with a statue in honor of the Mongolian soldiers who fought alongside the Russians in World War II, as well as a Buddhist statue present at the same site. There are a few impressive monasteries and museums, so if time allows, make the most of your exploration before we head out into the wilderness.
It is generally true that to get "off the beaten path" does take some getting to and this is true of our Mongolia tour. If there were a way to reliably and safely fly, we would do that, but there is not. Luckily we have a soviet-era vehicle called an Uaz for you to spend around 8 hours in. It turns out that even the beaten path is not very well beaten, so average travel speeds are low.
On arrival at the shores of Ugil Lake, we will find our first ger camp and therein we will find our evening meal, possibly some vodka and our bedding for the night. Our hosts will likely have been preparing for some time for our arrival and thus will insist that a little welcome drink be had. Hopefully, we'll be able to forestall that requirement until we have fitted up and prepared our bikes for the ride that starts tomorrow.
The two-wheel part of our adventure begins as we bid farewell our hosts and ride down a hard-packed jeep track that takes us around the shores of the lake. We then hit the Tamir River and cross it on a raft. From here we follow the valley for the rest of the day on jeep tracks to find the village of Jargalant where we will set up camp for the night.
After our first campsite breakfast, we continue up along the Tamir Valley where we start to really get a sense for just how remote this area is. We will start to see lots of nomadic families and their hers living the traditional lifestyle. We will camp again tonight just a short distance from the Deer Stones. The rock art here is thought to be from the 3rd to 7th century BC.
After a couple of longer days riding, today we have a short ride, but there are some hills involved, so we will still feel satisfied by its end. Today we are heading for a ger camp after the two nights of tent camping. This will be a nice change of situation and allows for some more variety in the meals. The ger camp is only 200m away from the Taikhar Rock, a 66-foot high granite block sits in a huge expanse of flat land and is an unusual shape. The rock is also etched all over with writings, some very recent (as people still add to them) and some dating back as far as the 6th century AD, written in Turkic language.
Today we are in for one of the more challenging days of the tour as we ride up the Tsagaan Davaa Pass or White Pass and over Bulgan Mountain. We then descend down into the provincial town of Tsetserleg where we have a rare, restaurant lunch. From there we climb again up into the mountains and up to Tsenkher springs. We spend the night in a ger camp and have ample time for a hot bath.
Normally we have had a destination in the heading, but when you are riding through a country like Mongolia, your destination might be a "nice grassy bit near the river" and that doesn't work so well in a heading. Anyway, that's exactly where we are headed today and the journey will be spectacular. We ride through some forested hills which is a nice change of scenery and then over Bogooch Pass, so there is some downhill before we reach the river. Presumably, you found time for a hot bath in the springs this morning, but if you didn't you can get a cold one here in the river. Dinner is served in the dining tent by the cook.
Yes, that's right, we are headed for a grassy patch next to a river again, but at least this time it has one other distinguishing feature in that it is next to some beautiful cliffs. The riding today while interesting, does take us through an area that has been scarred by gold mining. As interesting as that might be to see, it's nicer once we pass it and get back into the natural environment further up the valley. Today we actually reach 2000 meters above sea level at Ultiin Davaa, so we have quite a nice descent before the gold mines.
We ride across a dramatic, volcanic landscape today to reach Orkhon Falls where we stop for a picnic lunch and then continue up to a village called Bat-Ulzii where we will set up camp for the night. The waterfall itself is one of the most impressive sights in Mongolia. It is a seasonal waterfall that really only flows in the summer when there has been lots of rain. It is on the river by the same name which is the longest in the country at 1124km. We set up camp a little further upstream to avoid any passing visitors to the falls.
Our last day on the bikes. We ride past Uurtiin Tokhoi cliff and then onto the end of the valley where we meet a tarmac road and spend some time riding on it. We then stop for lunch, rack the bikes and drive the last 50km into town. Kharkhorin was the original center of the Mongol Empire and is also known as Karakorum. Here we will spend two nights in the same ger camp.
You have almost certainly heard of the annual Naadam Festival that is the most important event on the calendar for locals and also for those visiting Mongolia and wanting to experience as much culture as they can. The reality is that if you are going to see it, you must see it in the countryside because in the capital, it's just a big old crowd crush. Out here, you get the authentic essence of the festival as the archery and horse racing and archery are all easily seen in this town.
Now there is just one caveat and that is that the local government has been known to move the dates or change the order of events, so there is an outside risk of that happening, but we figured it is worth the risk to see the most authentic example of this great event.
Yes, it's that friction of distance thing again where we would fly if we could, but we can't so we won't. The journey is comparable to the first one, so we can expect to be in the van for 8 hours. What you can say hand on heart is, that you got off the beaten track. You rode the unbeaten track and you saw the famous Naadam festival in Kharkhorin, the heart of the Mongol Empire. That has to be worth the long road journey.
Goodbyes over breakfast and then it's time to check in for your flight home. We will assist you in arranging a vehicle to the airport as required, but the hotel receptionist is also well versed in vehicle chartering.
Dates & Price
* Single room option: $240 USD
WHAT MAKES US STAND OUT
For those intrepid cyclists seeking a more rugged adventure, this bike tour itinerary through Mongolia will hit the spot! While not as luxurious as our other tours, since we’re camping nearly every night, we have put the same dedication and attention to detail into this cycling journey to optimize the route for rewarding cycling, stunning views, and cultural experience. If you are looking to escape from the sounds and sights of the modern world, pedal back in time through the Mongolian steppe on this active adventure.