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Heart of Mongolia

Heart of Mongolia

Trip Description

Paddle boat, oar boat, and kayaks with vehicle and self-support.

Journey across the rolling steppes to the Orkhon Gol Valley, the historical power center of long vanished Central Asian civilizations. Stroll around ruins of Kara Korum, the site where Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan) established the Mongol Empire’s capital city in 1220. Upstream, the magical canyons and waterfalls of the upper Orkhon Gol (class IV) await kayakers; mellower stretches of river (class II/III) await rafters.

Along the way, take in elaborate Buddhist monasteries, ancient ruins and burial sites, and the sublime beauty of the vast, diverse Mongolian countryside. Explore the mountains for more whitewater, ride horse with the local Mongols, fish nearby rivers and streams for ‘the big one’ (this is Taiman country!), or simply relax at our eco-ger camp along the shores of picturesque Tsagaan Nuur (White Lake).

Anglers will delight as we escape for a glorious 7-day river expedition descending the Chuluut Gol (Rock River) 230 kilometers (143 miles) through the isolated heart of the Hangay Nuruu (Central Mountains). Experience extremely isolated wilderness where nature welcomes us!


Day 1: Arrive Ulaan Baatar (UB). Transfer to hotel, dinner of Mongolian Food. Rest. Stay overnight in hotel. UB services included.

Day 2: Having an early breakfast, we’ll leave UB behind and drive 5 - 6 hours west to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Orkhon Valley and Kara Korum. The Orkhon Valley has been the center of power for a series of Mongolian Empires over the millennia, culminating in Genghis (Chinggis) Khan’s 13th century capital at Kara Korum. Gaze at the windswept plain and imagine the once great citadel razed to the ground by vengeful Manchurian invaders in the late 14th century. Listening to chants of Buddhist monks, stroll around exquisite Erdene Zuu Khiid, the oldest Buddhist monastery in Mongolia, built in the 16th century from the rubble of Kara Korum. Stay overnight in Munkh Tenger Ger Camp.

Day 3: Continuing up valley in the morning, we’ll investigate ancient archaeological sites and take in waterfalls along the way. That afternoon we can enjoy a mellow warm-up float on the scenic Upper Orkhon Gol (class II) above the first canyon... or go straight for the whitewater, kayaking technical class IV rapids through an enchanted basalt canyon. Relax at another perfect camp beside the river that night.

Day 4: Today we can challenge ourselves kayaking through more pristine, class III/IV canyons of the upper Orkhon Gol, or raft a lower stretch of the river providing amazing vistas, bird watching, and fishing opportunities. If conditions warrant, we could explore nearby tributaries for river running possibilities. Camp under the brilliant stars again.

Day 5: Today is an adventurous jeep travel day winding along back roads in our sturdy Russian vehicles to the provincial capital of Tsetserleg (Garden). En route we’ll visit famous Tovkhon Monastery nestled in the Khangai Mountains, as well as pay our respects to sacred hot springs. We’ll stay near Taikhar rock in a Ger camp.

Day 6: Leaving civilization behind once more, our destination before nightfall is splendid Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur (Great White Lake) 170 km away. If circumstances are right, there is a class IV kayak run in the Chuluut Gol (Rock River) Upper Canyon on the way. Sleep well that night in a traditional Mongolian ger at the area’s first Eco-ger Camp along the shore of the spectacular alpine lake.

Day 7: Make the most of a well-earned ‘rest’ day to horseback ride through the surrounding mountains with local Mongol guides, stopping to hike, fish, or explore old volcanic fields around the lake. Stay in a Ger camp again tonight.

Day 8: Get a taste of things to come as we float the Lower Suman Gol (Class III). We will sleep that night at the confluence with the Chuluut Gol, which is our put-in for the seven day river expedition to come.

Day 9-13: Get away from it all for 7 days as we float through areas that are remote even by Mongolian standards. Descend the secluded Chuluut Gol Canyon 238 kilometers (143 miles) all the way to the confluence of ‘Many Rivers.’ Keep your eyes peeled for wolves and bear and other rarely encountered wildlife. Enjoy the world-class fishing along the Chuluut Gol- renowned for Taiman! Lose yourself in the timelessness of the Mongolian wilderness...

Day 14: All good things must come to an end, and on the 7th day we take out at ‘Many Rivers,’ an area of converging mountain rivers. After de-rigging the boats we will drive two more hours to Moron, the provincial capital of Khovsgol. Re-enter civilization and sleep in a bed tonight at the 50/100 degree Hotel in Moron.

Day 15: In the morning we have the opportunity to wander among impressive 2000 year-old carved ‘Deer Stones’ a short drive from town. For those of us not going north to magnificent Khovsgol Lake, the flight back to UB is in the afternoon. Savor your last night in Mongolia at a nice restaurant, followed by a good night sleep.

Day 16: Transfer from hotel to airport. Depart Mongolia for your next adventure!

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Region: Chuluut Gol
Dates: mid-July through August
Trip Length: 16 days
Rapids Class: II - IV
Cost: $2500 - $3500 per person *

* Cost based on group size.

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