Selena Travel

Gobi Desert and Grand Naadam Festival tour 2024

Naadam Festival and Gobi Desert Tour | Mongolia tour | to travel to Mongolia | Best places to visit

8days/7nights

Tour grade: Easy

From: US$ 2,280

Style: Join in Group Departure

  • Attend exciting Naadam Festival manly games and exciting opening ceremony 
  • Witness the last remaining wild horses Takhi at Hustai National Park
  • Experience an unforgettable camel ride atop two-humped Bactrian camels amidst the rolling sand dunes.
  • Uncover the secrets of the Flaming Cliffs, renowned as the ancient birthplace of dinosaurs.
  • Immerse yourself in genuine cultural exchanges with local nomadic families.
  • Enjoy the comfort of staying in Mongolian Traditional Ger/Yurt accommodations.

Tour Overview

Traveling overland in safari style, you will visit the vast expanses of the Gobi Desert, where a three-day circuit explores the lofty sand dunes of Khongoriin Els, the glacial canyon of Yolyn Am, and the red cliffs of Bayanzag, where the world’s richest deposits of dinosaur fossils are found. Every day, we travel to new places for new attractions and adventures, such as gentle hiking in the wilderness, paying a visit to local nomadic families, riding horses in vast steppe and riding camels in the Gobi Desert.

 

One of the highlights of this tour is attending the exciting “Great Naadam Festival of the Mongols” that the nomads have cherished for thousands of years. Naadam Festival originates from the era of the Hunnu state, the first nomadic state in Central Asia and the ancestors of the Mongols. The Festival is comprised of the world’s second old Olympic Games “Three Sports of Men” namely Archery, Horse racing, and Wrestling.

Tour map

Naadam festival and gobi desert tour map  | tour map Mongolia Naadam festival & Gobi desert tour

Brief itinerary

  • Day 1: Jul 05. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar
  • Day 2: Jul 06. The Gobi Desert - Yoliin Am aka Lammergeier Gorge
  • Day 3: Jul 07. Khongor Sand Dunes /aka Singing Dunes /
  • Day 4: Jul 08. Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs & Khavtsgait Petroglyph
  • Day 5: Jul 09. Hustai National Park
  • Day 6: Jul 10. Ulaanbaatar via horseracing venue
  • Day 7: Jul 11. Naadam festival
  • Day 8: Jul 12. Departure from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
go to detail

Tour images

Horse racing during the Naadam Festival Mongolia
Naadam Festival archery contests
Camel riding in the Gobi Desert | Mongolia
Staying ger camp in Mongolia | Yurt | Mongolian traditional house

Full Itinerary

Day 1:

Jul 05. Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

Meet your driver at the airport after clearing customs & claiming your luggage. You will then be transferred to the hotel. We will meet again at 6 pm as a group for a welcome dinner at Mongolian restaurant.  

 

Accommodation

  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar /standard check-in time is 2 pm/

Meals Included

  • Dinner

Day 2:

Jul 06. The Gobi Desert - Yoliin Am aka Lammergeier Gorge

Today, we will check out of our hotel in the morning right after breakfast then take a domestic flight to South Gobi which is about one and half hour /flight schedule is 13:00 – 13:55 pm, we will leave around 9.30 am from the hotel/. Upon our arrival in the Gobi, have lunch then drive to Yoliin Am Gorge in the “Three Beauty” national park. Gurvan Saikhan National Park is a home to endangered species of mammals and birds namely Bearded Vulture, Altai snowcock, Ibex, and Argali wild sheep /wildlife sightseeing in not guaranteed/. We visit Yoliin Am gorge and enjoy its beauty with a gentle trekking of 2-3 hours. In the early evening, we will transfer to the ger camp where we will stay the next 2 nights.  

 

Accommodation

  • Gobi Mirage ger camp /standard ger/

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 3:

Jul 07. Khongor Sand Dunes /aka Singing Dunes /

Today, we watch the sunrise over the Gobi Desert and take an early morning /6 am/ drive to the Khongor sand dunes – one of Mongolia’s longest and most beautiful sand dunes that stretch over 180km in the arid Gobi Desert. The drive to the dunes at Khongoriin takes some 3-4 hours from ger camp, passing through vast desert badlands that span out into the furthest distances, where remote mountains line the horizon. Arrive in the late morning and visit the sand dunes and enjoy a short camel ride at a nomadic camel breeder’s family. Lunch at a camp nearby then spend some time exploring the Seruun bulag stream & oasis, then hit the road back to our camp through the vast Gobi steppe. 

 

Accommodation

  • Gobi Mirage ger camp /standard ger/

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 4:

Jul 08. Bayanzag, the Flaming Cliffs & Khavtsgait Petroglyph

This day, we will drive to the Bayanzag - aka the Flaming Cliffs in the early morning. Enjoy the wilderness and unique nature formations and explore around the area walking in the rich saxaul forest. Afterwards, drive to the Khavtsgait Valley, site of ancient rock drawings left by early Gobi settlers more than 5,000-7,000 years ago. We will trek to hundreds of petroglyphs adorn rocks scattered on the top of the mountain. 
Drive back to the camp for lunch then we will drive to Dalanzadgad to catch a flight to Ulaanbaatar /17:35 – 18: 30 pm/. Upon arrival, we will drive out to our camp near Hustai National Park and rest. 

 

Accommodation

  • Mongol Nomadic ger camp /standard gers/a

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 5:

Jul 09.  Hustai National Park

This morning, take a drive to one of the most popular national parks of Mongolia, the Hustai National Park. Upon arrival, we will trek through the beautiful national park and try to view the endangered Przewalski wild horses (one of the last remaining wild horses). We will also try 1 hour of horseback riding in the rolling green steppes of Mongolia. 

 

Please note: we will join another bigger group of 4-6 other travellers on Jul 9-11th making it around 12 pax for the in the group   

 

Accommodation

  • Mongol Nomadic ger camp /standard gers/

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 6:

Jul 10. Ulaanbaatar via horseracing venue

After breakfast, we will drive to the Naadam festival horseracing venue and witness the horseraces. Afterwards, continue to UB, and arrive in town in the early afternoon. Visit the Central stadium where the archery & anklebone shooting competitions are held and see the most important competitions in the country for these sports. Dinner is independent and overnight in a hotel.

 

Accommodation

  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 

Day 7:

Jul 11. Naadam festival

See the fantastic opening ceremony of Naadam festival in the central stadium where the president of Mongolia opens the ceremony, followed by 1.5 hr of entertainment, and the first round of wrestling match. After lunch, we will visit the Central Square of Ulaanbaatar, named after a hero of Mongolian people`s revolution in 1921, Sukhbaatar D. We will also visit the newly established Chinggis Khaan Museum, and the attend a traditional cultural performance by Tumen Ekh ensemble. Enjoy a farewell dinner with your travel companions.

 

Accommodation

  • Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar Hotel 4* or similar

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch 
  • Dinner

Day 8:

Jul 12. Departure from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

You will be transferred to the airport/train station after breakfast /or continue your post-tour to other parts of Mongolia/.

 

Please note: Standard checkout time is at 12 pm

 

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

Date & Price

 Tour Dates:

July 5-12, 2024

If you prefer a private tour experience, click the "Customize this tour" button at the bottom of the page to personalize the itinerary according to your preferences. Upon submitting your request, our team of travel advisors will promptly provide you with a tailored proposal and quote.

 

Tour Price:

   4-12 Pax          2280 USD per person

   Single supplement charge   180 USD 2 Pax

 

Included Services:

  • Sightseeing and entrance fees according to the itinerary 
  • Full-time service from your English-speaking local tour guide
  • Twin/double share at centrally located 4* hotel – 3 nights
  • Twin/double share at tourist ger camps with shared western style bathroom/toilet facility- 4 nights
  • Airport transfers
  • Private transfers (Comfortable vehicle with AC + Experienced driver) 4-5 travellers per van
  • UB-Gobi-UB roundtrip domestic flight ticket (15+5kg luggage allowance)
  • 1 hr camel riding fee in Gobi Desert
  • 1 hr horse riding fee in Hustai NP 
  • Meals as listed (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
  • Naadam Tickets and arrangement
  • 0.5 l x 3 bottled water per day
  • Visa support invitation letter where applicable /company invitation letter only; if needs consulate invitation letter, then the additional cost shall be covered by the traveler/


Not Included in the Service:

  • International Airfare/train tickets + Tax
  • Early check-in or late check-out fees
  • Travel insurance & Visa fees
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, camera or video fees at any sites
  • Optional activities: horse riding, archery, etc. 
  • Tips for your guide and driver (discretionary).

Tour Background

Accommodation info on your Mongolia tours 

 

Ulaanbaatar: Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, offers a variety of hotels ranging from basic guesthouses to high-end 5* hotel.

Some of our Mongolia tours do not include the hotel stays in Ulaanbaatar in the tour package, where clients can choose a hotel that suits their needs and budget. Please make sure to check your tour program`s Inclusions and Exclusions section to confirm if your hotel stay is included in the package.

If you wish us to book your hotel for you, your travel consultant will be happy to recommend and book an ideal hotel for you. Here are the hotels that we recommend:  

  • Springs hotel (3*)
  • Holiday Inn (4*)
  • Best Western Premier (5*)
  • Shangri-La Hotel (5*)

Outside Ulaanbaatar: Outside of Ulaanbaatar where there are no hotels, tourist Ger (yurt) camps are the best accommodation for travelers. A Ger is a Mongolian traditional dwelling made of felt layers and wooden construction, and the Mongolians have lived in Gers for thousands of years. Tourist Ger camps offer comfortable Gers with 1-3 beds, good bedding (1 Ger equals 1 hotel room), and well-maintained public western-style showers and WCs on their grounds. Some Ger camps offer en-suite bathroom facilities at an additional charge, please ask your Selena Travel advisor for further details when booking your Mongolia tour.
 

 

Food on Selena Travel tours 

In the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, a great variety of restaurants can be found and you will be eating at some of the best restaurants of Ulaanbaatar on your Mongolia tour while in the capital. Once you are outside the capital, Ger restaurants in Ger camps, local cafes in the small towns and sometimes nomadic families will be the places where you will be eating most of your meal. Ger restaurants often offer set continental breakfasts, set menu lunches and dinners consisting of salad or soup, main course and dessert.

 

While on tour, during your longer driving days, you will take a packed lunch from Ger camps, often a vegetable salad, main courses such as fried chicken/noodles/dumplings, and a small dessert, while hitting the road. Most of the food restrictions and allergies such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and many others, can be accommodated with easy on your Mongolia adventure. 

 

 Luggage allowance on Selena Travel tours 

If you are on an overland only tour across Mongolia, the recommended weight of your luggage is 20kg per person (max). However, kindly note that domestic flight luggage allowance per person is 15 kg (10 kg for the check in luggage and 5 kg for the carry on luggage). It is possible to purchase extra luggage space which costs US$2 - 5 per 1kg.

 


DESTINATION & ATTRACTIONS BRIEF INFO

Naadam Festival

The Naadam Festival is the biggest and most joyful celebration in Mongolia, taking place annually on July 11-12. 

Why join a Naadam Festival tour?
The Naadam Festival Tour includes the Great Naadam Festival Holiday, a once-a-year event in mid-July. This tour is the highlight of any trip to Mongolia, offering a unique opportunity to experience the country's most fantastic event. We invite you to join our Naadam Festival trips in Mongolia.

 

More about the Naadam Festival:
The Mongolian Naadam Festival is the pinnacle of all festivals and events in the country. Held in mid-July, this three-day celebration showcases Mongolia's greatest athletes in horse racing, archery, and wrestling—Mongolia's most beloved sports. Women participate in all but the wrestling category. "Naadam" means game or competition in Mongolian. The first two days are filled with competitions, and the third day is reserved for merry-making.

 

History and Festivities:

The Naadam Festival has been celebrated for centuries as a memorial, an annual sacrificial ritual honoring mountain gods, or a community celebration. The festivities begin with a colorful parade featuring athletes, monks, soldiers, musicians, and participants dressed in Chinggis-style warrior uniforms. It is the most widely watched festival in Mongolia, believed to have existed for centuries in various forms.

 

What to Expect:

The Great Naadam Festival is vibrant with music, dance, and sports. Originally called "the three manly sports," the competitions were once restricted to men. Over time, and under the influence of former communist rulers who promoted female equality, the horse races and archery were opened to all. Only wrestling remains exclusively male. Highlights of the festival include the opening ceremony, Mongolian wrestling, traditional archery, and horse racing. These events attract hundreds of participants and spectators.

On festival day, Mongols don their most colorful attire and head to the Naadam stadium. Selena Travel organizes wonderful Naadam Festival tours, inviting you to spend your holiday in Mongolia and witness the Great Naadam Festival firsthand.

 

 
The Gobi Desert
The Gobi desert is the most mysterious place on earth The Gobi invites you to reveal its secrets. This region is famous for its unique natural formations, many places where you can dig and find real dinosaur fossils, flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world. Ride the 2 humped Bactrian camels and discover the Gobi!
 
Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs) is internationally famous for its fossilized dinosaur remains. Dinosaur nests with eggs were found here as well as whole fossilized skeletons.
 
The Khongoriin Els sand dunes extend along the northern side of Sevrei and Zuulun mountain ranges. These dunes are 180 km long, 15-20 km wide and up to 200m high. There is a small oasis near Khongoriin gol stream, which flows along the northern edge of the dunes. The scenery here is simply spectacular.
 
Yoliin Am (Vulture's Gorge) is a narrow valley located in the Zuun Saikhan Mountain range, with thick pieces of ice almost all year around hidden in its depths. This area is home to rare animals such as the Argali (wild sheep) and Ibex as well as Vultures and other large birds. 
 

Join Us:

Travel to Mongolia and experience the magic of the Great Naadam Festival with us!

Tour Map

Tour Reviews

Jun 15, 2024.  The Gobi & Karakorum Explorer

Aug 10, 2012. Gobi & Karakorum Explorer tour Our recent "The Gobi & Karakorum Explorer" tour with you was excellent, everything exceeded our expectations! It was a super trip in our lives and we loved our Mongolia holiday so much. Our guide Joe was kind, well organised, accurate and informative, polite and caring and always provided us with timely information. And our driver Jack is super, very friendly, professional and always on time. We are wild travelers, having been to many places in the world - but Mongolia is still truly unspoiled and uncontaminated. Selena Travel's services were perfect right from the very first email. We would like to thank Selena Travel, our guide and our driver for having made this Mongolia experience a truly beautiful one with so many wonderful memories.

by Rafaella, Benedetta, Lidia

Aug 08, 2012.  Gobi & Karakorum customized 11 days tour

Sending you some of our nicer pictures. Some are chosen for their beautiful scenery while the rest are just us happily playing and goofing around. There are a couple of shots of us doing some Mongolian wrestling, as suggested by Oyuna since we missed out on the mini-Naadam festival. She said since we missed it, we might as well organise our own festival by playing some Mongolian games. Haha... We had so much fun playing those games!!! :)OK, I hope you like the pictures we send you. Best regards to everyone at Selena Travel and thank you once again for all your assistance.

by Margaret Suganda

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