Mongolian tour guide

My 12-days Travel Notes in Aug 2019

Day 1: Baga Gazryn Chuluu (The Rock of the Small Land)

Yak riding

“Travel is not always pretty. It is not always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart, but that is okay. The journey changes you; it should change you.

It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain.

My name is Ula (Ulambayar. A), a tour guide of Enza Tours LLC in Mongolia. First of all, let me introduce our customers. It is an International family. Gilad’s family has four members.



Gilad Efrat is an Israeli man of early 60s, who works as a Technical Director at TH Milk Food Join Stock Company in Vietnam. His wife Mikhal is a French of the late 50s, a photographer of a private press company. She really loves horses. As well she has a big collection of horses, which contained more than 400, from the different countries in the world.

Their daughter Jordan is 11 years old, a beautiful girl, good at singing, acting and dancing. Mia is Vietnamese, a 6-year old small and tiny girl who was adopted from a Children’s Nursing Home in Vietnam. She is a kind, quiet and independent girl. She grew up in the nursing home until four years old, then adopted to this friendly and generous family. I think she is the luckiest one in the world.



Our driver Erdenbayar is a 20-year experienced driver in tourism of Mongolia. We 6 of us started our 12-days trip from Gobi Desert to the Khangai regions. It started around 9 am on Aug11 from a small guest house in the centre of Ulaanbaatar.

Mikhal has good enough knowledge and experience in tourism because she used to a guide of horse tour in France for two years and has travelled to most countries in Europe, Asia and America. So she started to test me as a tour guide asking thousands of questions about history, economy, agriculture and politics of Mongolia. I tried to do my best. Even she has continued more questions about Mongolian horses, customs and traditions.

Baga Gazriin Chuluu

We drove to Baga Gazryn Chuluu (The astonishing granitic formations) is located in the south 250 km away from Ulaanbaatar in Delgertsogt soum, Dundgovi aimag and surrounded by plain steppe. The highest one is 15 km long and 10 km wide granite stone – mountain elevated at 1768 m above sea level.

The province covering 300 sq.km area is another place with unique scenery that many tourists compare with lunar scenes. The mountain contains several interesting places such as remains of old temples ruins related to 17th century, rock images, petroglyphs, burial mounds and caves which have different precious stones and eye spring used as medical treatment. According to scientists, 64 tombs and tumuli dated back Hunnu tribe have been found around Baga Gazryn Chuluu.

On the way, we stopped to have a camp lunch. While I was cooking, they went around searching everything from a small stone to the herd of cows, those pasturing in the steppe and nomadic families which were seeing far away in the Gobi miracles.

Our first lunch was Tsuivan (Mongolian Traditional Cuisine which initially adopted from China and became as a popular Mongolian food). It is a Mongolian noodle dish that is usually prepared with mutton and various vegetables. Making tsuivan is easy and saves lots of time especially during the journey.

We reached to Baga Gazryn Chuluu around 4 pm and visited every place which I mentioned above. Then we found a comfortable place to spend a night in a tent as a Nomadic style of Mongolians. It was a windy and rainy night, so we all had a hard time to sleep except our driver because he slept in his car even though it was a first challenge for us to adjust to our long trip and adjust to the extreme continental climate of Mongolia.

Day 2: Tsagaan Suvarga ( The White Cliffs)

Tsagaan Suvarga

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle.

We drove about 200 km to our next destination “Tsagaan Suvarga” (White Cliffs). It is a white limestone rock formation in Ulziit soum far south of Dundgobi province. It was an old seabed with the sedimentary structure created by million years, and the different colours of the ground represent different times, which transforms from white to yellow to pink before turning red.

The different coloured layers indicate different time periods. It is a sight similar to “Bayanzag” but with much more colour. In ancient time there was a big sea in the valley. After dried up the sea this area became an area with many glacis and escarpments, covered by many different sedimentary deposits. Over thousands of years, the wind has created this amazing structure.

The formation is over 60 m in its highest point and continues 400 m. It is interesting to see this slope because it faces toward eastward of the sun. It also appears to be the ruins of an ancient city from a far distance. To see from another side, it looks like a White Stupa. That is why it was called the “White stupa”.

The cliffs rise to the sky at an angle of 90 degrees. After pouring rain, the torrent of water that flows down the cliffs looks like a massive waterfall. It is a fantastic place to see the distance from the top of the formations and take pictures in fantastic positions and poses.

In the evening, we came to a nomadic family to spend a night and to get acquainted with nomadic people’s life of Mongolia. The family raises 3 or 4 kind of livestock: camels, sheep and goats. The Gilads were interested in how to milking camels and taking care of baby camels.

Also, it was their first experience to enter in a Mongolian ger (Yurt), have a milk tea with home-made cookies and spend a night in a ger, one of the Mongolian most enormous heritage from our ancestors has long history tracing from earlier centuries.

In this period, obviously Mongolians ger structure get changed, developed, and it is keeping its own features today. Having extreme weather and nomadic way of life, ger is the most suitable dwelling for the herders. It is easy to collapse or build. Moreover, Mongolians used carts, camels and yaks for moving to another place. Nowadays they usually use cars or camels to move.

Day 3: Yolyn Am ( The Vulture Valley)

Yoliin Am

“The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands.” – Richard Burton.

In the morning after breakfast, we headed to Yolyn Am (The Vulture Valley) which is a deep and narrow canyon with many rocky cliffs, is located about 60 km from Dalanzadgad town of South-Gobi aimag. The valley is notable for a deep ice field which reaches several meters thick by the end of winter and stretches over 10 km. The valley is completely shaded from the sun in some parts by high cliff walls.

Although the sun shines a lot in this region, the canyon remains dark, so that in the bottom, a part of the river remains nearly all year long covered by a thick layer of ice, but in recent years, due to global warming, it began to melt during summertime.

The gorge has sheer rock walls with a height of about 200 m in the centre. The surrounding mountains are home of argali, ibex, snow leopard, vulture and many kinds of bird.

After visiting “Mukhar Shivert” canyon we reached to the Vulture valley in the afternoon. The Nature Museum is exciting place to visit discovering about Gobi desert flora and fauna. The small museum has a collection of dinosaur eggs and bones, stuffed birds and a snow leopard.

From the parking, the Gilads rode horses with a local horse guide to the canyons and had lots of adventure and experience of going on Mongolian horseback. Late evening we came back to the “Dungenee” tourist camp near the “Gurvan Saikhan” mountains. It has an fantastic luxury yurt restaurant where we had our dinner.

Day 4: Khongoryn Els (The Khongor Sand Dunes)

Khongor Dunes

“The best view comes after the hardest climb” – Unknown

It was a windy and dusty fall morning. We started a journey from “Gurvan Saikhan” Mountains to the Khongoryn Els (Khongor Sand Dunes). Khongor Sand Dunes stretches more than 180 km (112 miles) and about 20 km wide. The largest dunes are in the north-west of the range up to 800 m high. The sand dunes extend to over 965 sq/km area.

The Khongor Sand Dunes are some of the most massive and most impressive white sand dunes in Mongolia. Local people call that by “Singing Dune” because of the sound produced by masses of sand moving in the wind can be heard from afar. It can be mistaken for the sound of an aeroplane. That is why the dunes have been given the name ‘The Singing Dune’ or ‘Duut Mankhan’.



In the afternoon we arrived in a nomadic family which serves camel trek for tourists to the Sand Dunes. It was also the first time for the Gilads riding two-humped camels. Riding camels was so interesting for Gilad and Mikhal, but it was extremely a terrible thing for their daughter Jordan. She was crying for a few minutes and then relaxed to feel comfort. We all hardly climbed to the top of the sand dunes.

Mia and I were first on the top. When we were sliding down the dunes, we have heard the amazing sounds of the Singing Dune. They were in shock and could not believe it was an original and natural sound from the dunes. I was proud of that I was born in this incredible Gobi region. On the way back to the “Goviin Anar” tourist camp we watched at the same time an incredible sunset of the Gobi and full moonrise of 15th of The Old Lunar Calendar. “Never go too long without watching a sunset” – Atticus.

Day 5: Bayan Zag (Flaming Cliff) to Ongiin Khiid (The Ongi Monastery)


Bayanzag flaming cliffs

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

In the early morning, we departed to the next destination “ Bayan Zag” which is another must-see place especially for those keen on history. It was an ancient sea floor and the site of several remarkable paleontological finds.

Bayanzag is known as a “Flaming Cliff” is a paleontological site where a large number of rare species of dinosaur skeletons was found. Bayanzag is a saxual forest and area of red cliffs which have been formed from the erosion of the sand and rock over many thousands of years.

This area is the birthplace of dinosaurs and is renowned worldwide for the number of cretaceous dinosaur eggs, and bones found here, which are displayed in the natural history museum in Ulaanbaatar and in other museums around the world.

American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews named this place as the “End of the World”. As scientists defined, it was an inland sea bottom about 200 million years ago.

It was a windy and dusty day, so it was impossible to have a picnic on the way to the place. At noon we stopped at a small yurt camp to order our lunch. She made a delicious noodle soup for us.

The Gilads love soup and their daughters do not like any vegetables except tomatoes and potatoes. It is sometimes easy for me and difficult either because no many choices to cook, especially in the countryside. After visiting “Bayan Zag,” we continued our journey to the Ongi Monastery. We arrived late at a yurt camp as a nomadic style and cooked fried rice with mutton and vegetables.

Day 6: Ongi Monastery and Orkhon Waterfall

Ongi monastery

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius (wise words from the Chinese philosopher)

Ongi Monastery was one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia and housed over 1000 monks at its height. Ongi Monastery is the collective name for the ruins of two monasteries that face each other across the Ongi River. The Barlim Monastery is located on the north bank of the river. The northern complex was built in the 18th century, consisted of 17 temples - among them one of the largest temples in all of Mongolia.

The Khutagt Monastery sits on the south bank and was built in the 17th century. The southern complex consisted of various administrative buildings as well as 11 temples. Both complexes of Ongi Monastery were utterly destroyed in 1939 during anti-religious purges.

There is a small museum in a ger in front of it. The museum shows some artefacts found at the site, many of which were hidden by monks to save them from the purges. Views of the ruins and the surrounding area are impressive from the ibex monument at the top of the complex.

In the next morning after our breakfast, we wandered around the Ongi Monastery ruins and visited a small monastery and a ger museum. We are then headed to the Orkhon Waterfall. On the way, we stopped at “ Uurtiin Tohoi” which is a steep and deep canyon with rocky walls. There is a nice view looking down from the top of the canyon. Through the canyon flows “Ulaan Gol” (Red River). Also, there is cold mineral water resource with carbon dioxide, which is good at healing the internal diseases.

It was the longest day, and we all were tired at the end of the day when we reached to the tour camp “ Khusug”.

Day 7-8: Horse trek

Horse trekking

“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and freedom”. Sharon Ralls Lemon

Horse trek was an exciting and essential part of our trip because Mrs Mikhal paid lots of attention and importance of this horse trek in Mongolia, especially Mongolian horses. The Mongol horse is half-wild animal and the native horse breed of Mongolia.

Nomads living in the traditional Mongol fashion still hold more than 3 million animals, which outnumber the country's human population. Mongolian horses are not tall but strong, fast and patient to run the long-distance per day. The horses live all year outdoors, dealing with temperatures from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer down to −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter, and they graze and search for food on their own in the open pastures and steppes.

The mare's milk is processed into the national beverage airag (Fermented mare's milk). Some animals are slaughtered for meat. Other than that, they serve as riding and transport animals; they are used both for the daily work of the nomads and in horse racing. Mongol horses were a key factor supporting the 13th-century conquests of the Mongol Empire.

The trek started from the yurt camp near Orkhon waterfall in the morning of August 17th. I have to mention that it was the first time for the Gilads riding Mongolian horses even though they have lots of experience in riding. We had three horse guides and nine horses. Galaa is a team head, a young man who has much experience in guiding horse treks. Shagdar is another horse guide, older than others. The third one is Galaa’s son – Ganaa. He is the same age (11) as Jordan. We 8 of us became a team for two days – horse trek.

Going through the beautiful valleys and rivers, we stopped and had lunch in the shadows of big trees near a river. After 6 hours, we came to a nomadic family, unloaded the luggage. We were lucky that day because the family brewed Mongolian home-made vodka from yak fermented milk. They tasted the freshly brewed and real Mongolian vodka which you can taste only in nomadic families.

After a little bit rest, we continued our trek to the “Bayan Nuur”. Through the green forest and along the small rivers we reached to the lake. When we were there, it was almost the time of sunset, but among the high mountains and dense forest, we could not watch the sunset.

Late evening we came back to the family and spend a night in a small but comfortable nomadic yurt. Next morning the Gilads went around the area, took some pictures and watched how to milk yaks.

Our trek moved early in the morning while starting some drizzling rain. We did not have time to wait because of the long way back to the Orkhon Waterfall. Through the drizzle and cool breeze, we hardly moved forward to the next destination.

We all got wet and were cold. After rain Orkhon Waterfall looked great, durable and more beautiful. Just we came to the camp; there had started a strong rain shower. We were lucky back home before the hard rain. For dinner, the nomadic family served us the traditional Mongolian barbecue “Khorkhog”. It is the most typical and surprising dish of Mongolian cooking. This cooking method for meat is used for special occasions, and we could say is that Mongolians are mad about it (and soon, you will ask for some more too!).

The basic technique consists of cooking the meat, mainly goat, mutton or marmot, on stones previously heated up directly in the fire. For the khorkhog, the warm stones are placed with the meat and the vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and cabbages) in a pot hermetically closed; then the whole is cooked on the fire for about 30 minutes. Then it will be ready to eat. The hot stones, which are tossed from hand to hand, are said to have beneficial properties.

The Khorkhog for our dinner, which was made by owners of the yurt camp “Khusug”, helped us to feel calm down and forget the tiredness of the long trip on horseback.

Day 9: Tsenkheriin Haluun Rashaan (The Tsenkher Hot Spring)

Tsenkher hot springs

Clean air and water, a diversity of animal and plant species, soil and mineral resources, and predictable weather are annuities that will pay dividends for as long as the human race survives and may even extend our stay on the Earth” Alex Steffen.

After having breakfast, we continued our trip to the Tsenkher hot spring. It is located about 300 km far from the Orkhon waterfall, where we had some relaxable time in a hot spa - open-air swimming pool at the “Shiveet Mankhan” resort camp. In the late afternoon, we reached the tour camp and spent some time walking around the hot spring.

Tsenher is a natural hot spring flows out for a whole year from the ground at 85°C, the second hottest spring in Central Mongolia. The spring comes from deep of the ground, and its water is not mixed with soil water. The water has high mineral content containing calcium, sodium, phosphate and sulfate which is suitable for solving a number of health problems and is sufficient for joints, nervous system, low blood pressure, skin diseases, and rectum. After dinner, we had a hot shower and enjoyed in a hot open-air swimming pool while looking at the stars in the dark. The Gilads went to Mongolian massage before going to their bed.

Day 10: Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur ( White lake “Terkh”)

Terkhiin tsagaan lake

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” – Freya Stark

The next destination of our tour was the White lake “Terkh”. On the way to the lake, we visited a few places like “The Taikhar Rock”, “Khorgo Volcanic Crater”, “Ice Cave” and “ The Canyon of the Yellow Dog”. Then before sunset, we arrived at the lake.

Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur is a beautiful lake with relatively pure freshwater in Tariat, Arkhangai province. It is located 2060 m (1,28 miles) above the sea level and one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. The lake, which was formed by lava flows from volcanic eruption surrounded by extinct and craterous volcanoes. The lake is 16 km long, 6 km wide, 4-10 m deep with its deepest point at 28 m. The lake supports Pike, other fish and rare birds.

We spent a night in a small nomadic camp. In the next morning, we watched a beautiful sunrise with the high mountains and light blue lake.

Day 11: Ancient Kharkhorin & Erdenezuu Monastery

Erdenezuu Monastery

“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.”

It was the 11th day of our long tour. Everybody had felt some tiredness of the long country roads. That day we went about 130 km through Tariat, Tsetserleg (Center town of Arkhangai province) and Khotont towns. Near a small river of Khotont, we camped for lunch and came to the Kharkhorin around 4 pm. First of all, we visited the Kharkhorum Museum.

The museum is small, but highly impressive – probably the country's best museum outside Ulaanbaatar. Everything is beautifully designed and well displayed. The exhibits include dozens of artefacts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries that were recovered from the immediate area, plus others that were found from archaeological sites in other parts of the province, including prehistoric stone tools.

You'll see pottery, bronzes, coins, religious statues and stone inscriptions. There is also a half-excavated kiln sunk into the museum floor. Perhaps most interesting is the scale model of ancient Kharakhorum, which aims to represent the city as it may have looked in the 1250s. Then we visited the “Erdene Zuu” Monastery which was the first Buddhist monastery to be built during the 3rd of in Khalkh Mongolia.

The monastery was founded by Avtaisain Khan, a descendant of Chinggis Khan and the great-grandfather of the first Bogd Lama Zanabazar According to some sources, the earliest part of the monastery was established in 1586. It was built without using a single nail, and its roof construction has been modelled by many other temples. By 1872 the monastery contained over 500 buildings including 62 temples and housed 1500 monks. Monks of the Erdene Zuu monastery had been undergone in Mongolian political repression in the 1930s, similar to other temples.

During this period most of the monk of this monastery had owed for an innocent incident, most of the religious unique arts and elaborate monasteries, which have been created for all historical period were confronted with a danger to be destroyed. A surprising number of statues, tsam masks and thangkas were saved, however – possibly with the help of a few sympathetic military officers and some items were buried in nearby mountains, or stored in local families.

Most of the artefacts – wall paintings, thangkas, masks etc – are from the 18th century are in excellent condition. Since the 1940s, the Erdene Zuu monastery has involved in State Fortification, some of temples and divinities are reconstructed for many steps and became a State category of historical museum of religion in 1965.

Today Erdene Zuu monastery is considered by many to be the most famous monastery in the country. The primary temples date from the 16th century. The monastery is surrounded by a wall featuring 108 stupas, 108 being a sacred number in Buddhism. The three temples in the compound – Zuu of Buddha, Zuun Zuu and Baruun Zuu – which were not destroyed in the 1930s, are dedicated to the three stages of Buddha’s life: childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

The Gilads were attracted to the souvenir shops, especially many kinds of Mongolian horse figures. They bought about 15 horse images from the small shops.

Day 12: Hustai National park (HNP)

Khustai National Park

“No one realises how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his own, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

The last day of our tour. In the morning everyone was happy because going back to home even though we were sad because we became good friends during the last 12 days as a family member.

Even the serious tempered lady, Mikhal, came to me and said: “Oh it is sad, time flies so quick”. Also, she reminded me that seeing the wild horses is the most important part of their tour in Mongolia. So our driver and I were worried about how easy to find the horses during a hot day. There was no any choice to rely on God.

After packing everything, we headed to the Hustai National Park. It lies in the foothill of the southern Khentii Mountain Range about 100 km southwest of Ulaanbaatar, and the Tuul River runs through the park.

This 500-sq-km protected area is most famous for its population of takhi, a Mongolian wild horse (Przewalski horse) which disappeared in Mongolia in the 1960s. Many were captured and placed in zoos as an exotic animal, and those that remained in the wild barely survived harsh winters and habitat loss.

Even though a small captive population of the horses remained in the European zoos. Takhi is the only remaining species of wild horse and unique breed from the steppes of Central Asia. They have a compact, muscular body, and are smaller than domesticated horses.

Their colour ranged from beige to brown, with a white muzzle and a stylish, short mane. What makes them so unique is the fact that, throughout history, all horses have been domesticated by humans, except for the P-horse, and it is therefore considered to be the only real wild horse today.

The Mongolian Government declared Hustai National Park as a Specially Protected Area in 1993. In 1995, a group of Przewalski horses were brought to Mongolia from zoos in the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the new wild population is growing up in this national park. Today there are about 380 Przewalski horses which have divided into more than 30 breeding harems in HNP.

After arriving in the Research Center of HNP, we needed some time to wait the late afternoon because it is a suitable time to watch the horses. Most of the travelers have a chance to see them while they come to drink in the early morning or late afternoon. Otherwise, they spend most time of a day in the mountains.

As recommended by the employee of HNP, we directly reached to the 4th guard post. There was only a chance to watch some horses, which were standing in the shadow of the high rocks, by telescope from a distance. Of course, I felt that it was not enough for the Gilads, but we had not any choice at the moment. Then we slowly moved back to the Research Center.

Suddenly our driver cried to look to the right. Luckily, a whole family of 11, were grazing in the foothill of the mountain near the country road. We nervously took our cameras or cellphones and started taking pictures and recording. The group of horses made us happy again and made our tour more exciting and successful.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru



Enza Tours LLC

If you want to make a Mongolian tour, we are the Mongolian travel agency, can create your unique trip in Mongolia. We also have other Mongolia tours, and while you travel, you can try the Khuvgul with other destination, local nomadic family and we can help you create a tour for you.

Just write an email to us, we will plan your tour with you and let’s create your happiness together.

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Our customers will discover the nomadic Mongolian people, the great Gobi desert, reindeer community, ancient Mongolian capital, Mongolian customs and traditional Mongolian food. In addition to that beautiful nature will amaze the customers.

Our Tour Guides: Our experienced staffs are working in the inbound tourism field for recent years continuously. Guides are all professional people who speak fluently English, German, Spanish. Our guides have a broad knowledge of the customs, history and culture of Mongolia. Some of our guides had been living in Europe and Asia countries. For this reason, you can communicate with them easy and open.

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