Photographic Journey Through Mongolia

Join National Geography Photographer Wolfgang Kaehler on an unforgettable photographic journey through Mongolia. Your extensive route is one of the most ambitious off-road adventures, revealing undiscovered regions where the rest of the world seems a million miles and a few hundred years away. Travel across the rolling steppe and mountains to Kharakhorum, site of the 13th-century capital of the Mongol Empire, followed by a cross-country drive through the legendary Gobi Desert, located near MongoliaÂ’s southern border with China. All along the way, benefit from KaelherÂ’s expert photographic coaching and guidance, personalized for all skill levels.

Click here to view Wolfgang KaelherÂ’s trip slideshow.

** The final itinerary and price will be posted in July after the flight schedule can be confirmed. In order to reserve your spot, we recommend that you contact us and we will give you an update as soon as we have the information.


Day 1: Depart Home

Cross the International Dateline and lose a day.

Day 2: Arrive Seoul, Korea

Upon arrival in Seoul, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Hyatt Incheon or similiar

Day 3: Arrive Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The contrast between ancient traditions and the dawning of a 21st century democracy is most visible in Ulaanbaatar, where traditional gers (yurts) and Buddhist monasteries coexist with modern high-rises. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by your Nomadic ExpeditionsÂ’ guide and transferred to a centrally located, comfortable hotel within walking distance to various museums and shops. Overnight at Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar (B,L,D)

Day 4: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Begin the day to Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. MongoliaÂ’s largest standing, 60 feet tall Buddha is found in of its tallest temples. Woven through MongoliaÂ’s nomadic culture is a rich Tibetan Buddhist tradition in which ancient Shamanist practices are still evident. Although Buddhist monasteries were either destroyed or converted into museums during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Gandan Monastery continued to operate as a showpiece for government officials. In the afternoon, visit the National and Natural History museums. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar (B,L,D)

Day 5: Hustain Nuruu National Park

After breakfast, drive to the Hustain Nuruu National Reserve (2 hours), home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the Takhi (commonly known as PrzewalskiÂ’s Horse). In 1994, twenty-five years after becoming extinct in the wild, the Takhi, was reintroduced into the wild from zoo populations by the Foundation for the Preservation and Protection of the PrzewalskiÂ’s Horse, a Dutch organization which flew 16 horses from the Netherlands to Mongolia. Since then, more than twelve healthy foals have been born in Mongolia. Learn about current conservation efforts and the status of the herds found within Hustain Nuruu and try to spot these beautiful horses in their natural habitat. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 6: Hustain Nuruu National Park

Spend the early morning and late evenings at the park, further exploring the surrounding area. Visit ancient Turkik monuments dating from 7th century and enjoy walking in the empty valleys exploring the wildlife. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 7: Kharakhorum

In the morning, continue driving west to Kharakhorum, approximately 6 hours away. It is impossible to mention Mongolia without conjuring up images of the great warrior, Chingis Khan. The empire created by Chingis and his descendants was the largest contiguous land empire in recorded history, and its scope has never been matched. The great Khan and his son created the beautiful and legendary Kharakhorum to serve as the heart of this monolithic empire. At the time, Kharakhorum was one of the largest junctions of the Silk Route, connecting the Oriental world with the West. Unfortunately, this bustling capital was abandoned by Kublai Khan and later fell into ruin. There are only a few traces left of this once great city, but MongoliaÂ’s largest monastery, neighboring Erdene Zuu, was reputedly constructed from the ruins of Kharakhorum in the 16th century. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 8: Kultegin Monument / Erdene Zuu Monastery

After an early morning breakfast, visit Kultegin Monument, two hours away, one of the most significant archeological sites associated with the Turkic states of the 8th century. Built in honor of the prince at the time, this large and magnificent statue is now under close study by archeologists from various countries, most recently from Turkey. Many roof tiles can be found at this site. After lunch, visit the Erdeneuu Monastery in the town of Kharakhorum. Surrounded by 108 stupas, Erdene Zuu has been a place of Buddhist activity for more than 500 years. Explore the monastery grounds and observe the monks as they perform their prayers and rituals. The temples are richly decorated with spectacular Buddhas as well as Buddhist art and architecture. Just behind the monastery compound, visit the site of archeological works being conducted by German archeologists. An entire foundation of a house with brick stove was found about 3 meters deep under the ground. Among the most significant findings was a beautifully forged gold bracelet. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 9: Kharakhorum / Orkhon Waterfall / Orkhon Valley

This morning, you drive southwest to Orkhon waterfall, one of MongoliaÂ’s largest cascades, located at the scenic Orkhon river. The Orkhon Valley has long been considered the cradle of MongoliaÂ’s civilization, and during the trip, you will encounter several unexplored burial sites marked by large pile of rocks. In the afternoon, arrive at your ger camp and explore the surrounding area. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 10: Ongiyn Hiid

Next, continue your overland drive to Ongiyn Hiid (5-6 hours). Upon arrival, explore the ruins of this ancient temple. Built in the 17th century, Ongiyn Hiid was one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia and is still known as the “Pearl of the Great Desert.” Destroyed during the Communist Purges in 1939, the ruins of this monastery are situated in a beautiful mountainous region. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 11: Hongoryn Els Sand Dunes

This morning, drive overland to the towering sand dunes of Hongoryn Els (6-7 hours), which run 60 miles alongside the Gobi Altai Mountain range. These "Singing Sands," reaching upwards of 2,500 feet, are the GobiÂ’s most magnificent sand dunes, and due to its isolation, the secret of this areaÂ’s beauty has been kept safe for thousands of years. Overnight at Ger Camp (B,L,D)

Day 12: Three Camel Lodge, Bulagtai Mountain

After an early morning breakfast before sunset, travel to the sand dunes for photo opportunities. You will then drive east to the Bulagtai Mountain (4 hours) near the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park where Nomadic ExpeditionsÂ’ Three Camel Lodge is located. Spend the rest of the afternoon resting in your ger. Dinner and overnight at the lodge. Overnight at Three Camel Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 13: Yol Valley National Park / Flaming Cliffs

In the morning, drive to Yol Valley National Park (1.5 hours). Cradled between the foothills of the Altai Mountains, an ancient river carved this surprisingly green valley. Now, its remnant streams create ice formations at the base of the valley that can persist as late as July. A hike through the valley allows you to discover the habitat for indigenous vulture-like lamer geiers, Altai snow cocks, ibex, yaks, and Argali mountain sheep. Visit the local natural history museum for an overview of the flora and fauna of the area. Return to the lodge for lunch. In the evening, drive to Bayan Zag (1 hour), commonly known as “The Flaming Cliffs,” to view its glowing orange rock. It was here, in 1922, that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History found the first nest of dinosaur eggs. To the trained eye, the red sandstone cliffs of the Flaming Cliffs are rich with dinosaur fossils, and paleontological expeditions continue to make significant discoveries at this site. Overnight at Three Camel Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 14: Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast, fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure for any last-minute sightseeing or shopping. In the evening, attend a farewell dinner at a fine local restaurant. Overnight at Hotel Ulaanbaatar or similar (B,L,D)

Day 15: Depart Ulaanbaatar

Transfer to the airport for departure from Ulaanbaatar. (B)

Day 16: Arrive Seoul, Korea

Upon arrival in Seoul, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at Hyatt Incheon or similiar

Day 17: Seoul, Korea / International Dateline / Arrive Home

Depart Seoul for your return flight. Cross the International Dateline, gaining a day, and arrive home.

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