Altai Mountains is the highest of three major mountain ranges in Mongolia, straddling the Russian and Chinese frontiers in the Far West. Mountains of eternal snowcapped mountains and glaciers. In these remote regions live many nomads of ethnic minorities. The Kazakhs are Muslims, and speak an ancient Kazakh language, as well as Tuvans, who are Buddhist and schamanistic. This dramatic journey will bring us to Mongolia’s highest mountain region. We will trek to the Potanin glacier supported by pack camels and locals. We will then continue across the high Altai and trek into the lakes region, next to the Chinese frontier. Local Kazakh herdsmen will keep their priced Golden Eagles next to their yurts.
Brief Outline Itinerary
On this dramatic journey we use low impact traditional modes of transport. Our equipment will be carried on pack-camels, possibly also in addition, packhorses. We will fly to west Mongolia on an almost 4 hour domestic flight from Ulaanbaatar. We will transfer out to the mountain regions from Olgyi, the Kazakh provincial capital, by 4wd Russian vehicles. Our crew will be Kazakhs and/or Tuvan. The local guide is trilingual at least: English, Mongol and Kazakh. Possibly also Tuvan and Russian.
Day 1: To Ulgii
Meet your local Kazakh guide arriving at Ulgii airport or report at the bar of Blue Wolf Restaurant in Ölgii, latest 17h00. You will meet your local guide here. Drive half an hour west to Sagsay village and check in at Blue Wolf Ger Camp. Dinner in the big Kazakh yurt (ger). Dinner.
Day 2: To Dayan Lake
Drive to Dayan Lake, near the frontier with China.We drive through the Hargant Valley, below Tsengel Hairhan Uul (3043m)- snow-capped mountains. Here live Tuvans. They are Buddhists, but of a Turkic speaking ethnic group. Their gers (yurts) are more like Mongol gers as opposed to the larger Kazakh ones. There are also some shaman practitioners among them.After picnic lunch,continue our driving and reach Dayan lake.
Visit Kazakh Nomadic Families and feel their grade hospitalities.Good fishing and stunning sunsets.Dayan lake is also home of many birds as duck,geese,swans and many others. Meet horses and camels. Overnight in tent.
Days 3: To Baga Turgen Uul
We will load our equipment onto pack-camels and/or pack-horses and start hiking nearby western side of Hurgan Nuur and Hoton Nuur,where many Nomadic Kazakh families spend summer.Along the lakes,we see the beautifull waterfall,rockprintings and some ancient Trukic stones with face.On the right side we see the snowcapped mountains with forest,which make the wall between China and Mongolia.
Days 4-6: To Hoton Lake
Full day trek through the dramatic steppe valley along the river that drains from the Altai Tavanbogd massif, creating a series of beautiful lakes. Our impressive camel caravan comes out to the steppe valleys of the lake area. We pitch camp on the shores of Hoton Lake. The area is below the snow-capped Ikh Turgen Uul. We are now only 10km from the China border. These are the summer pastures of numerous Kazakh herdsmen. Their yurts are a bonanza of handicraft. They are a very friendly and hospitable people. A fishing rod comes in handy here. The largest subspecies of Mongolian Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) is easily fished here. The numerous Great Cormorants in the vicinity are a good indicator that there are plentiful fish in the lakes.
Third day, Trek up a valley with patches of Larch forests and have a picnic lunch near the so-called Green Lake,After few hours trekking come to Bear Valley, where we will pitch camp.
Day 7: Bear Valley
Rest day.We spend one night near small waterfall.You also can make a day hike along these waterfalls up to Bear Valley.
Days 8-9: Altai Mountains crossing
We have allocated two full days for the crossing of the Altai Mountain range, the total distance being 32km. We will pitch camp before the snowy area. Certainly big game such as Snow Leopards and its prey species live here, but they are extremely difficult to see. Perhaps you may see Altai Snowcock, the highest altitude living bird of Mongolia.
We will cross the Altai at the highest elevation of some 3600m and have broad views across the Altais. We will be near the peak of Tsagaan Hairhan Uul (3662m).
Day 10 To Shiveet Khairkhan
Trek down to Shiveet Hairhan Mountain, where the Tuva people live. Here we will now be able to view the biggest petrolgyphs from the period of the Huns (approx 200 B.C.). The Huns were the reason for the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi to build the Great Wall of China.
Days 11-13: Tavanbogd massif
First day, trek for 11 kms toward the base camp of the snow-capped Tavanbogd massif. Pitch camp next to the 20km long Potanina glacier – the biggest of the twenty glaciers in Mongolian Altai. Remain there for two nights. Tavanbogd means “The Holy Five”, referring to the five highest peaks, of which Huiten Uul is the highest in Mongolia, 4374 meters above sea level. Quite a considerable height at this altitude. It is a stunning setting with the awe-inspiring massif of high snow-capped peaks.
Second day, for a full day we will make day hikes to the Malchin Uul. These are non-technical climbs.
Third day, trek back to Tsaagan River (White River).The pick-up vehicle(s) will arrive this campside tonight.
Day 14: To Olgyi
Drive via Ulaanhuis over desert mountain landscapes, with the snow-capped Sogoog Mountain as a powerful backdrop and the Altai Mountain range ahead of us. We will find numerous petroglyphs and Turkic stones along the Sogoog River basin. Bayan-Olgyi is rich in archaeological remains, as a reminder of the Bronze Age and the time of the Huns and Turkic invasions.After 5-6hrs, arrive back to Sagsay village and Blue Wolf Ger Camp.
Day 15: Olgyi and out
After breakfast, drive a short way (30 minutes) to Olgyi. The bazaar in Olgyi is interesting, as well as the mosque, which has been renovated in recent times. We usually have the whole morning to visit Olgyi. There are some very interesting back street handicraft shops and a well-stocked local museum. In the afternoon, flights leave for Ulaanbaatar. You may – at additional cost – add a transfer to Hovd (5-6h).
Some recommendations:Summer months in Mongolia are from early June to mid September.Although the Mongolian summers are hot and dry with occasional rain, the temperature can fluctuate as much 20 degrees centigrade between day and night.So be prepared for all weather conditions.
What to bring:Binoculars,sunscreen,a hat,gloves,long underware for travel in the high mountains,comfortable footware,lip balm,sanitary hand wipes,sunglasses,prescription medications,(if needed),rain gear,flashlight.
Transport:Western Mongolian families frequently move from one pasture to the other using camels.The services of some herdsmen will be hired by the expedition, and they will provide us with their animals.
Staff:A local guide who speaks English and Mongolian will accompany the group at all times.A cook will follow, with an assistant.In addition, the services of the local herdsmen will be hired along with their animals.The horsemen follow a traditional lifestyle in the areas where we will be riding.
Meals:Our cook will prepare the meals.We pride ourselves in having cooks adapt to both western and Mongolian cooking on our trips.There are always vegetables available, and we have no problem accommodating vegetarians on our trips.For breakfast we can usually buy fresh yogurt from the herdsmen in the local area.
Alternative connections to Olgyi:
- If interested in entering or exiting across the land border with Russia, we can pick you up or leave you at Barnaul, in southern Siberia (Russia).
- Also you can fly from Oskemen(Kazakhstan Altai) to Olgyi. We can help you with flight booking and if need, with Kazakhstan visa,which you can get directly in airport on your arrival.
- Now you can fly from/to Western Mongolia to/from Uremchy(Western China)
Price: USD 2150 per person (min 2 members)
Discounts available for groups.
Includes: English speaking guide and all meals. All overnights gers(2nts) and tents(12nts) , camping equipment and all local transport,all Border and National park permits.
Excludes: Drinks, local flights, laundry and renting of riding horses.Visa fee.
Single tent/ger supplement is USD 20 per night.
Dates: Olgyi 2014 (Sat/Sat)
AT01: 14-28Jun (Sat/Sat)
AT02: 28Jun-12Jul (Sat/Sat)
AT03: 12-26Jul (Sat/Sat)
AT04: 26Jul-9Aug (Sat/Sat)
AT05: 9-23Aug (Sat/Sat)
AT06: 23Aug-6Sept (Sat/Sat)