Skip to main content
detail image of doors at monastery

Overview

An awe-inspiring journey

Mongolia has long been the ultimate destination for many travelers who have “been everywhere.” Our journey with Cari Johnson, PhD ’02, to this remote area of inner Asia is a chance for us to observe cultures and meet people whose way of life is steeped in tradition, yet at the same time who are trying to adapt to the demands of life in the 21st century.

We visit restored monasteries, local museums and nomadic communities, and get to experience the colorful Naadam Festival in Karakorum, with its wrestling, horse racing and archery competitions. This is a most extraordinary journey to a most extraordinary land.

Dates

August 5–15, 2022

Duration

11 days

Price

From $9,995 per person

Trip size

24 participants

Minimum age

18 years

Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Cari Johnson, PhD ’02

Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah

Cari Johnson studies the evolution of ancient landscapes through the study of global sedimentary archives.

Itinerary

An inside look at a country steeped in tradition

Start in Ulaanbaatar with a visit to the Genghis Khan bronze statue, erected in 2006 to mark the 800th anniversary of the Mongolian Empire. In the Gobi Desert, admire the Flaming Cliffs at dusk, one of the world’s richest dinosaur fossil sites.

  • Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

    Upon arrival at the Ulaanbaatar airport, transfer to our centrally located hotel.

    Accommodations:

    Shangri-La Hotel

  • Ulaanbaatar

    After breakfast gather for a welcome orientation in the hotel. Later this morning visit Sukhbaatar Square to view the Great Khans memorial, built in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Mongol Empire. Continue to the Mongolian National History Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture, and view displays of traditional implements of daily nomadic life, Stone Age and Bronze Age artifacts, historical costumes of Mongolia’s minority tribes and sacred religious relics. Later explore the most prized treasure room of Mongolia, located within the vaults of the Mongol Bank. Since 1983, the vaults have housed royal seals and rare artifacts from centuries ago, including coins that were in circulation in the age of Genghis Khan.

    Accommodations:

    Shangri-La Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Ulaanbaatar

    Begin our day at Gandan Monastery, the seat of Buddhism in Mongolia. Although Buddhist monasteries were either destroyed or converted into museums during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, Gandan Monastery continued to operate as a showpiece for government officials. This afternoon head to the Central Museum of Dinosaurs of Mongolia, which is dedicated to the preservation and discovery of the country’s dinosaur fossils. Dine independently this evening.

    Accommodations:

    Shangri-La Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Ulaanbaatar / Khustain Nuruu National Park

    Today we start on our journey to Karakorum, stopping first for a day and night at Khustain Nuruu National Park, home to the last remaining species of wild horse, the takhi, commonly known as Przewalski’s horse. Learn about current conservation efforts and the status of the herds found within the park before trying to spot these beautiful horses in their natural habitat. Tonight experience our first overnight stay in a ger (gers are yurt-like structures) camp.

    Accommodations:

    Asa Land Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Karakorum / Erdene Zuu Monastery

    Upon our arrival in Karakorum, site of the 13th-century capital of the Mongol Empire, visit the Karakorum Museum with the museum curator for an excellent overview of the historical significance of the Orkhon Valley, designated a UNESCO Cultural Landscape. Next visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery, which is surrounded by 108 stupas and has been a place of Buddhist activity for centuries. Meet the abbot of the monastery to receive a blessing and partake in a meditation practice.

    Accommodations:

    Asa Land Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Karakorum / Ongiin Khiid / Gobi Desert

    After an early breakfast we start our drive south to the Gobi. An approximately four-hour drive brings us to Ongiin Khiid, where we stop for lunch and a walk through the ruins of a 17th-century temple situated in a beautiful mountainous region. Still known as the “Pearl of the Great Desert,” Ongiin Khiid was one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia until its destruction during the communist purges in 1939. Leaving Ongiin, we drive across the vast Ongi steppes (approximately four more hours), a flat area known for its mysterious beauty, with endless mirages and occasional sightings of camels. In the late afternoon we arrive at Three Camel Lodge, an upscale ger resort located on the edge of Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. After dinner we head outdoors to take in the night sky. The clear, crisp air, free of light pollution, offers a dazzling display of stars.

    Accommodations:

    Three Camel Lodge

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Gobi Desert

    After yesterday’s long drive we have a relaxed morning before heading out to explore this vast region. Optional activities at our lodge include leisurely walks in the Bulagtai Mountains, horseback riding, mountain biking or a ger camp–building demonstration.

    Accommodations:

    Three Camel Lodge

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Yol Valley / Moltsog Els

    After an early breakfast we drive to Yol Valley National Park, cradled in the foothills of the Altai Mountains. Hike amid the habitat of indigenous, vulture-like lammergeiers, Altai snowcocks, ibex, yaks and Argali mountain sheep. This afternoon we make our way to Moltsog Els, one of the few regions of the Gobi covered by sand dunes. Explore the area on foot or by camel.

    Accommodations:

    Three Camel Lodge

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Naadam Festival / Flaming Cliffs

    Today we will get the chance to witness a local countryside Naadam festival. Wrestling, horse racing and archery are the three age-old competitions traditionally used to measure the courage and strength of nomads and warriors. Contemporary Naadam games showcase the abilities of local men, women, boys and girls and are also a time when family and friends get together to celebrate the joyful summer season. In the late afternoon drive to Bayan Zag, commonly known as the Flaming Cliffs for the orange glow cast on the rocks at dawn and dusk. It was here in 1923 that Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews and his exploration team from the American Museum of Natural History were the first to find a nest of dinosaur eggs. Although it’s not obvious to the untrained eye, the Flaming Cliffs are rich with dinosaur fossils and have been the site of many major paleontological discoveries.

    Accommodations:

    Three Camel Lodge

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Gobi Desert / Ulaanbaatar

    After breakfast transfer to the local airport for our flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure or explore the 976 Art Gallery, which supports young and upcoming Mongolian artists. In the evening enjoy a traditional Mongolian performance followed by a farewell reception and dinner at one of Ulaanbaatar’s fine local restaurants.

    Accommodations:

    Shangri-La Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Ulaanbaatar / Home

    After breakfast transfer to the airport for flights home.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Post-Trip Extension with Eagle Hunters of Western Mongolia

Fly to Bayan-Ulgii, a rugged region in the westernmost province of Mongolia and home to the Kazakhs, known for their centuries-old tradition of training and hunting with golden eagles. This rich cultural heritage was threatened with extinction but rebounded with the founding of the Golden Eagle Festival nearly two decades ago. Spend two full days immersed in this incredible culture, learning about the daily lives of the Kazakh people and their tradition of eagle hunting.

Dates

August 15–19, 2022

Duration

5 days
eagle hunter in classic dress riding horse

Trip details

Start preparing for the trip of a lifetime

From top to bottom, we’ve taken care of all the details, so you can enjoy a no-stress, worry-free travel experience.

detail image of doors at monastery

Pricing

Secure your spot today

The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

view of three camel lodge and surrounding plains

Have a question for us?

Get in touch with someone at Travel/Study.