Kharkhiraa & Turgen mountain massif in northwestern Mongolia is a spectacular region of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, torrential rivers, saline and freshwater lakes. It has a unique variety of animal and plant life. The 8 days trek route of just over 120km runs across alpine meadows, rugged mountainsides and 3000m high passes from the top of which there open panoramic views of the whole of the mountain range. Ethnic Durvud people will accompany you throughout the trek with their camels laden with your luggage and camping equipment. Except for just one, all trek days are suitable for trekkers of an average level of fitness. Mountain weather is changeable and requires bringing four season clothing and gear, even though it is summer.
Arrival in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital of Mongolia and transfer to a centrally located 4-star hotel. Afternoon guided city tour will introduce you to the highlights of the city: the Gandan Temple – city’s main Buddhist centre, the central city square with a grand statue of Genghis Khan and the Zaisan Memorial, an elevated hill on the city’s edge providing a panoramic view of UB. Then choose to visit one or two museums from the following: National Museum introducing Mongolia’s history from early humans to the modern era, Dinosaur Museum with a unique collection of dinosaur fossils, Choijin Lama or State Oracle Residence-museum displaying best samples of Buddhist artwork and religious masks. Winter Palace of Bogd Khan showcasing rare statues of Buddhist deities and items of personal use of the last theocratic ruler of Mongolia is also worth considering. An evening folk show of music, throat singing and contortion will be followed by a welcome dinner. (Dinner, hotel)
Flight to Ulaangom town and car transfer to Uliastai valley Morning transfer to UB to the airport for a 3 hours flight to Ulaangom town located in just 40km from lake Uvs, largest in Mongolia. Your guide will accompany you on board. Upon arrival, we take one-hour car transfer to Uliastai valley, the starting point of the trek. Here we establish our first tented camp and finalize arrangements with local camel herders who will accompany us with their beasts of burden during the trekking adventure ahead. Overnight in tents. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We start trekking by ascending the Uliastai pass (2410m) which will bring in to our view a freshwater alpine lake called the Blue Lake. Beyond the lake, you will see rugged foothills of Kharkhiraa & Turgen peaks and their snowcapped tops. After a picnic lunch, we descend to the lake and trek along its shoreline until arriving at our campsite at 1795m above sea level. Our camel caravan will catch up with us soon after lunch and continue on to prepare camp and dinner. Such will be the routine for each trekking day. Tented overnight by the Blue Lake. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We curve around the lake, trek to the valley of Kharkhiraa river and continue along the riverside to its confluence with Turgen river. Both torrential rivers take the source from vast glaciers of their namesake peaks. Each day we will need to cross Mountain Rivers and smaller streams. Across the deeper and faster ones, you will be shuttled on horseback assisted by our camel drivers. Tonight we camp at Turgen river bank at 1860m above sea level. 50-meter high red rock cliffs on the opposite bank make an impressive backdrop to the campsite view. Tented overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
It is an all day long ascent along the Kharkhiraa river at the end of which we will have gained almost 800 meters. The impressive red rock wall will continue alongside across the river. The rocky but well-established trail steadily climbs up bringing more snowcapped peaks into our site. A noticeable temperature drop can also be felt. Our camel caravan will be struggling harder to catch up with us. Tented overnight at 2330m above sea level. Time permitting we will visit one of the local herding families that graze their large flocks of sheep, goats and horses on the abundant alpine pastures. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We continue trekking upstream along the Kharkhiraa River until arriving at its headspring. This is also the bottom of the main water dividing ridge. Several small streams are to be negotiated on foot. Tented overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
Although staying in the same campsite we have a somewhat challenging exploration excursion to several alpine lakes nestled at the southern foothill of the Turgen massif. Those wishing can rest at the camp or take some smaller hikes in the area. Tented overnight. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
Trek to Ereesen valley in Olon Nuur valley. The most challenging trekking day. We first ascend 2944meter high Kharkhiraa pass which is a small plateau surrounded by glaciers. Views of the Turgen and Kharkhiraa peaks aligned north to the south open from the top. We then descend to Ereesen valley in Olon Nuur valley, literally meaning “valley of many lakes” and trek along its edges to keep on drier trails and camp at an altitude of 2688m above sea level. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We will cross the Olon nuur valley, typical highland tundra with permafrost not deep below the surface and therefore an abundance of water and marshes. We exit the Olon Nuur valley by ascending the 2959m Black Goat pass which marks the entrance to the Black Goat valley which is formed by two parallel ridges that extend from the Turgen peak. The lower slopes on both sides are densely forested. This is a home to the elusive Snow Leopard and wild mountain goat the former’s main prey. We descend into the valley and trek for a good half day till reaching our campsite. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, tent)
We trek down the Black Goat valley after 15km the trek finishes. Here we part with our local guides and take car transfer (4-5 hours) to Ulgii town, home to the largest Muslim community of Mongolia. Dinner and overnight in a cosy local hotel. (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, hotel)
This morning we catch a return flight to UB. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. Free afternoon for shopping and else. Farewell dinner.
(Breakfast, dinner, hotel)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.
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