Western Mongolia

September 26 – October 12, 2024

Golden eagle festival image of eagle hunter

At Ölgii’s annual Golden Eagle Festival, more than 100 skilled hunters will compete in tournaments that test the bond between hunter and bird. © Nomadic Journeys

Mongolia tour image showing Przewalski Horses

The critically endangered Przewalski Horse, or Mongolian wild horse, is the last surviving subspecies of wild horse. © Nomadic Journeys

Mongolia tour photo showing private Ger camp

Along the way, travelers will experience staying at a private Ger camp, the traditional Mongolian nomadic housing. © Kevin Clement

Mongolia snow leopard tour image of Argali Sheep

Argali are the largest of the wild sheep. The impressive horns and skull of a ram can be up to 13% of their total body weight. © Richard Reading

Western Mongolia photo of camels on a dune

Bactrian Camels have two humps for storing fat and can drink up to a quarter of their body weight at one time. © Nomadic Journeys

Mongolia Tour with Golden Eagle Festival

Wedged between Russia, Kazakhstan, China and the rest of Mongolia, Western Mongolia has always been a patchwork of ethnicities and traditions. Wild, rugged, and remote as it is, these traditions have endured longer than in most places on Earth. Here, customs such as eagle hunting and khöömii (throat singing) still thrive. Here, the great Snow Leopard still prowls and the world’s last great wild horse, the Takhi, still roams on the plains. Join Apex on this special 17-day Mongolia tour, the only such tour incorporating both Snow Leopard tracking and the magnificent Golden Eagle Festival near Ölgii. Experience timelessness and vast wilderness in the true Wild West of Mongolia.
Golden eagle festival graphic showing Mongolia on globe
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    • Travel by Air
    • Travel by Road
    • Travel by Boat
    • Travel by Bullet Train
    • Travel by Rail
    • Travel by Dog Sled
    • Arrive Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia / Hui Doloon Hudag

      Arrive in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar and transfer to the town of Hui Doloon Hudag. Upon arrival at the resort, settle into your private luxury Ger, the traditional Mongolian nomadic dwelling. This evening, gather with fellow travelers and Apex Expeditions leaders for a welcome briefing and dinner. Overnight at HS Khaan Resort.

    • Hustai National Park

      Enjoy breakfast overlooking the vast plains before driving to Hustai National Park, established to protect Mongolia’s wild horse, Przewalski’s Horse, or Takhi in Mongolian. Continue into Hustai, looking for Maral, or Asiatic Red Deer, and the wild horses. Visit the remarkable neolithic gravesite of Öngöt before heading to the southwestern portion of the park for a magnificent valley hike. En route, look for Maral, Steppe Gazelle, Wild Boar and Corsac Fox. Dinner and overnight at HS Khaan Resort.

    • Hui Doloon Hudag / Hovd

      Rise early for a return to the airport for your flight to Hovd (or Ölgii, depending on flight schedules), in the Bayan-Ölgii province, forming Mongolia’s far western border with China and Russia. Upon arrival, explore the town, which has been a bustling center of trade since the Manchus built a military garrison here. For this reason, Hovd has some of the greatest ethnic diversity in Mongolia, with a Halkh majority and a dozen other Kazakh and Mongol ethnic groups represented. Dinner and overnight at Steppe Hotel.

    • Hovd / Jargalant

      Today, depart for Khar Us Nuur National Park, a vast two-million-acre wilderness in the Great Lakes Basin, dominated by snow-capped Jargalant Khairkhan, or Mountain of Sacred Happiness. This isolated extension of the Mongol Altai mountain range offers a rich diversity of habitats ranging from high-mountain tundra and alpine meadows to high-mountain and arid steppe. A variety of rare species are supported here, including Siberian Ibex, Saiga Antelope, Black-tailed Gazelle, and a healthy population of the endangered Snow Leopard. Dinner and overnight for the next five nights at your private ger camp.

    • Jargalant

      Explore Jargalant Khairkhan Mountain, driving and hiking to Tsahir Peak. Watch for Siberian Ibex and Argali Sheep, the primary prey species of the Snow Leopard, one of the most elusive animals on Earth. Known as the “spirit of the mountain” to locals, Snow Leopards are challenging to see in the wild because of how well their spotted white fur blends in with their surroundings. Of the 4,000 to 6,500 Snow Leopards the World Wildlife Fund believes remain in the wild, roughly 1,200 are in Mongolia. Recent collaring and the installation of camera traps at Jargalant have increased the chances of finding their dens. With luck, catch a rare glimpse of this legendary, almost mythical creature. Dinner and overnight at your private ger camp.

    • Jargalant – Khan Us Nour National Park

      After breakfast, continue your exploration of Khar Us Nuur National Park. This park harbors more extensive sand dunes than the Gobi Desert, and they border directly on salt and freshwater lakes teeming with birds and fish. Hike around the Dörgön plains and look for critically endangered Saiga Antelopes, with their bizarre, characteristic bulbous noses. Saiga once roamed Pleistocene prairies with mammoths, but now hang precariously on the edge of extinction but for a few herds in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Khar Us Nuur. Domestic Bactrian Camels dot the landscape, as do large numbers of birds, many of which are endemic. Look for Asian Dowitcher, White Spoonbill, Ruddy Shelduck and Lesser Kestrel, and keep watch for the exceedingly rare Relict Gull. Large congregations of Pallas’s Sandgrouse sometimes descend to the lakes to drink. Return to your private ger camp for dinner and overnight.

    • Jargalant – Zergiin Tsagaan Lake

      Today, explore one of the country’s most beautiful lakes, Zergiin Tsagaan Nuur and Khusnii springs. The area offers excellent viewing of many different bird species including Black-throated Loon, Eurasian Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Cinereous Vulture, and more. You may also spot Argali Sheep and Wild Boar. Return to your private ger camp for dinner and overnight.

    • Jargalant

      Drive through the Jargalant Khairkhan mountain pass, Usnii Eh, where you’ll have another opportunity to track the elusive Snow Leopards. Unlike other big cats, Snow Leopards are unable to roar. They expertly navigate rocky outcrops and ravines that provide the camouflage they need to silently ambush their favorite prey, Siberian Ibex and Argali Sheep. Also look for Black-tailed Gazelle, Grey Wolf, and the area’s birds including the Chukar Partridge, Altai Snowcock, and Wallcreeper. Dinner and overnight at your private ger camp.

    • Jargalant / Ölgii

      This morning, enjoy a dramatically scenic drive to Ölgii, the capital of Bayan-Ölgii province. Enjoy lunch in this windswept, frontier-feeling town of 30,000. A walk through its streets will give you the sense that it has more in common with Muslim–influenced Central Asia than Buddhist Mongolia: it has multiple mosques, and its local market is called a ‘bazaar’ rather than the Mongolian zakh. Dinner and overnight at Eagle Dreams Hotel.

    • Golden Eagle Festival, Ölgii

      This weekend, find yourself front and center at Ölgii’s Golden Eagle Festival, the largest gathering of eagle hunters in Mongolia, held every year to kick off the winter hunting season. Here, more than 100 skilled hunters, dressed in full traditional regalia and mounted on decorated horses, will compete in tournaments that test not only the bird’s mettle or the hunter’s acuity, but the bond between hunter and bird. You can also enjoy horse and camel racing, archery, traditional Kazakh music, and special equestrian events like Tenge Ilu, wherein the rider must snatch a single coin from the ground in full gallop, and Kiz Kuar, or “girl chase,” where a man and woman race on horseback while the woman whips the man. Dinners and overnights at Eagle Dreams Hotel.

    • Ölgii

      After the thrill of the Golden Eagle Festival, travel north, along the same path as the eagle hunters making their journey home on horseback. In the shadows of the snow-capped twin peaks of Tsast and Tsambagarav, lies the Altantsögts community. Experience first-hand the culture and livelihood of these nomadic pastoralists. Famous eagle hunters reside here; visit their home, meet with family members, and learn more about their daily life. Return to Ölgii for dinner and overnight at Eagle Dreams Hotel.

    • Ölgii / Delüün

      Today, travel overland in a convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles to Delüün, a traditional Kazakh village perched on the western edge of Khökh Serkhiin Nuruu (“Blue Goat”) Strictly Protected Area in the rugged and perpetually snow-capped Altai Mountains. This afternoon, enjoy a briefing from the director of the reserve about its recent conservation efforts. Dinner and overnight for the next two nights at your private ger camp.

    • Altai Range

      Explore the area and search for wildlife in Khökh Serkhiin Nuruu, Ikh and Baga Yamaat Valleys and the newly-established Chigertei National Park on the Chinese border. The remoteness of the Altai mountains makes this one of the last strongholds for many species of rare and endangered ungulates and carnivores, including Siberian Ibex, Argali Sheep—the biggest wild sheep on Earth, Altai Deer, and Manuls. A mixture of game drives and moderate (though often steep) hikes will give you the best chance to find wildlife. Many activities will take place between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. You will also visit Kazakh nomads and learn of their longstanding tradition of hunting with Golden Eagles. Dinners and overnights at your private ger camp.

    • Delüün / Ulaanbaatar

      Bid farewell to the Wild West and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Dinner and overnight at Shangri-La Hotel.

    • Ulaanbaatar

      Today, enjoy a guided tour of the city. Head to Gandan Khiid, one of Mongolia’s most important monasteries, which nearly didn’t survive the religious purges of 1937. Next, visit the newly opened Chinggis Khaan National Museum, where exhibits cover the entire history of Mongol states from the Hun Empire to the beginning of the 20th century. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the Central Dinosaur Museum, housed in the former Lenin Museum, which contains an impressive collection of fossils found in the Gobi Desert. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner and overnight at Shangri-La Hotel.

    • Depart Ulaanbaatar

      Transfer to the airport early this morning for your international flights home.


    • September 26 – October 12, 2024
    • Leaders Kevin Clement & Gerald Broddelez
    • $20,370 Per Person Rate
    • $23,580 Solo Rate
    • 17 days Trip Length
    • 14 guests
    • Ulaanbaatar Start/End
    In addition to all tour services from arrival in Ulaanbaatar through departure from Ulaanbaatar as described in the itinerary, the trip price includes all gratuities; services of two Apex expedition leaders, plus local guides throughout; flights within Mongolia, as noted in the itinerary; plus local beer and wine with lunch and dinner daily.

    Call us to reserve your spot on this exciting expedition!

    Have a question? Call us at 206.669.9272 / 800.861.6425. Prefer online?

    Get in Touch
    Apex Expeditions leader Kevin Clement

    Kevin Clement

    The culture, traditions and people of Western Mongolia draw Kevin back time and again.
    Apex Expeditions photo of Tour Leader Gerald Broddelez

    Gerald Broddelez

    Gerald is looking forward to tracking the solitary and elusive Snow Leopard.
    binocular icon show facts about Western Mongolia

    The Silent and Shy Snow Leopards of Mongolia

    Known for its beautiful fur and elusive behavior, the endangered Snow Leopard is found in the rugged mountains of Central Asia. Very rare in most of its range, scientists estimate that just 3,500 to 7,000 individuals remain in the wild. Snow Leopards prefer to inhabit steep cliff areas, rocky outcrops and ravines that provide the camouflage they need to ambush unsuspecting prey. Unlike other big cats, Snow Leopards are unable to roar. They silently stalk their favorite prey, primarily wild sheep and goats. Their long and powerful hind limbs help Snow Leopards leap up to 30 feet, which is six times their body length. A long tail provides balance and agility and also wraps around the resting Snow Leopard as protection from the cold.