After breakfast we will set off for a driving day to Karakorum also called Kharkhorin and do some cultural sightseeing. Karakorum is the site of the 13th century capital of the Mongolian Empire created by Genghis Khan. The founding of Kharkhorin started on the ruins of Turug and Uigur cities in the Orkhon valley at the eastern end of the Khangai Mountains in 1220 by the Genghis Khan’s order. It was completed 15 years later during the Ugedei Khan’s reign. The town was a very cosmopolitan and religiously tolerant place. The silver tree, part of Möngke Khan’s palace has become the symbol of Kharkhorin. The highest peak of its prosperity was from 1220 to 1260. The specific feature of this stage is that Kharkhorin existed as the great capital of the Euro-Asian Empire with Mongolia as its core and as the centre of politics, economy, culture, religion, intellect, and diplomacy and the prominent tie of international relations.
Between 1260 and 1380 Kharhorin lost the status of the Great Mongolian Empire and became the capital of Mongolia. When Kublai Khan claimed the throne of the Mongol Empire in 1260, as did his younger brother, Ariq Boke, he relocated his capital to today’s Beijing. Kharkhorin was reduced to the administrative centre of a provincial backwater of the Yuan Dynasty.
In 1368, the rule of Mongolian Yuan Dynasty collapsed and the centre of Mongolian government was shifted to its homeland after 110 years since Kublai Khan moved the Empire capital to China in 1260. It gave Karakorum a chance to prosper again. In 1388, Ming troops under General Xu Da took and destroyed the town.
Today nothing is left from this legendary city.
In 1580, when Abtai Sain Khan together with his brother, lord Tumenkhen, visited the 3rd Dalai Lama and expressed their wish to build a temple in Mongolia, he advised them to reconstruct one old temple in Karakorum. The temple in Takhai ruins that was restored in 1588 according to the Dalai Lama’s recommendation is the Main Zuu temple of Erdene Zuu monastery.
Now Erdene Zuu Monastery is all that remains of what once was a huge monastery of 100 temples and about 1.000 lamas residing there. We will explore the grounds of Erdene Zuu Monastery surrounded by its massive 400 m X 400 m walls. We will be guided around the 3 remaining temples: Dalai Lama, Zuu of Buddha and Lavrin Temple.
Another place we will visit will be Karakorum Archaeological Museum. It is a small museum but housed in a modern well-run building with good lighting and display cases with clear English labels. The exhibits include dozens of artefacts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries which were recovered from the immediate area, plus others that were found from archaeological sites in other parts of the provinces, including prehistoric stone tools. You’ll see pottery, bronzes, coins, religious statues and stone inscriptions. There’s also a half-excavated kiln sunk into the museum floor. Perhaps most interesting is the scale model of ancient Kharkhorin, which aims to represent the city as it may have looked in the 1250s, and is based on descriptions written by the French missionary William of Rubruck. Another chamber exhibits a most recent addition, a Turkic noble tomb with wall paintings and artifacts, including gold items and jewelry. There is a short video of actual burial site.
(Ger camp L, D)
Drive to Chuluut River
In the morning we will go on driving westward to reach in the afternoon Chuluut River. The river flows through a canyon where it cuts down through a thick layer of basalt formation created ages ago by volcanic activities. Today the inactive volcanoes still rise in the middle of a black volcanic rocky scene. Close to the fishing area is the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur. It is one of the most beautiful lakes of the country formed by lava flows from a volcanic eruption. An optional afternoon trip will be organised to the lake.
We will set up our camp close to one of the good fishing spots.
(Tented Camp B, L, D)
Five full days of exploring this beautiful and fascinating river, with the full support of staffs, rafts and camping equipment. We will be guided to different spots along the river. We will be visiting as well nomad families during our stay and discover their life. Engage friendly chat with the help of your guide and share their incredible life story over barbeque prepared with hot stone and few shots of Mongolian vodka.
(Tented Camp B, L, D)
Khogno Khan Mountain and Elsen Tasarkhai Sand Dune
Today we head back. Our driving day will take us to Khogno Khan Mountains is an impressive massif in the open steppes. End the afternoon we will hike in the region of Khogno Khan Mountains, walk up the mountain and enjoy the incredible view over the plains, the sand dune and grasslands. We will also visit the nice little Ovgon Monastery.
Not far from here runs the Elsen Tasarhai Sand Dune, a 100 km long sand dune where our camel trek will begin. The area is a sharp contrast of natural beauties with semi-arid desert on grassland & mountains with rich flora and fauna abundant bushes and plants. Among others are “arts” renowned for its scent. Locals and monks collect them and use for blessing during religious ceremonies.
(Ger Camp B, L, D)
Drive back to Ulaanbaatar
We will drive back to Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. Our team will take you directly to your hotel. You may enjoy the free afternoon to catch up all the places you haven’t visited yet. You might as well check the beautiful cultural show enjoy the colourful and rhythmic Mongolian dance, throat singing & admire the contortionists.