better travel photography• COM
Start: 29 June 2024
End: 13 July 2024
Variable price structure.
8 pax £3150 pp
9 pax £3095 pp
10 pax £3050 pp
11 pax £2995 pp
12 pax £2950 pp
excl. flights, based on roomshare
Min 8, max 12 people
Places left: 2
Trip is to be confirmed.
Single supplement: £350
flight cost £900
Please note: an approved Covid vaccine is no long mandatory for our trips. However, it may still be required by local authorities. You can see more on this policy here.
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Impressions of Mongolia Itinerary
Day 1: Ulaanbaatar
Day 2: Training camps
Day 3: Training camps
Day 4: Ulaanbaatar
Day 5: Baga Gazriin Chuluu
Day 6: Tsagaan Suvarga
Day 7: Yoliin Am
Day 8: Khongoriin
Day 9: Khongoriin
Day 10: Ongiin Khiid
Day 11: Karakorum
Day 12: Ulaanbaatar
Day 13: Naadam Festival
Day 14: Naadam Festival
Day 15: Tour ends
Website, Images and text © Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 1990 - 2023
Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.
Bookings are made through the Intrepid Tailor Made Dept. in London not the Intrepid website or Stores. Contact Steve Davey for information
Join us for this unique travel photography tour to Mongolia, with land arrangements and ATOL bonding by Intrepid Travel, and led by professional photographer, Steve Davey. Our adventure has been timed so that we can visit, and photograph the ancient Naadam Festival – a centuries old celebration of the skills Genghis Khan considered vital for the Mongol warrior: wrestling, archery and horse-racing.
The actual festival has developed over the years, and some of it is held in a massive stadium, but there are still events happening on the Mongolian steppes,. We will also visit some of the training camps, which will be much better for photography. We will still attend the opening ceremony in the main stadium though – we would be crazy to miss it, but all of the best photo-opportunities will most likely happen outside of the main event – especially at the training camps when you can photograph competitors in the lead up to the festival.
This trip is about more than the Nadaam Festival though, as we also head out into some of the wilds of this vast and little known country, visiting ruined monasteries, flaming cliffs and the remains of an ancient city in the Gobi Desert..
This tour is officially an exploratory tour. Although Steve has visited Mongolia before, he has not run this trip before. It is based upon an existing Intrepid Travel itinerary, so we are confident everything will run smoothly. Our trip is significantly different though – accompanied by a professional photographer and with photography as a priority, and with far lower maximum numbers.
Our adventure starts in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, which is an entrancing mix of modern buildings, Soviet-era architecture and traditional Buddhist monasteries – surrounded by suburbs of Gers (nomadic tents) and seemingly endless rolling plains.
For the next few days we explore the various camps that are set up around the city – where the competitors of the Nadaam Festival train and get ready for the big event. This is a perfect opportunity to get close to the competitors and take pictures before the actual festival starts. This will also be our first time to experience staying in a Ger - a traditional nomadic tent.
The three sports that we will witness are archery, horse-racing and wrestling - everything that the Mongol warriors from the days of Genghis Khan deemed essential for waging war across the steppes.
After the training camps we head off into the massive Gobi Desert to explore some of the natural wonders of this incredible country.
Our first stop will be the massive eroded granite structures of the Baga Gazriin Chuluu, which are home to ancient rock art and even a spring which is said to cure eye problems. This area has been revered by Mongolian people for generations. We will have a hike here to explore the area and also to try to see some of the local wildlife.
From here we head to Tsagaan Suvarg, a region of strange white cliffs that are said to resemble white Buddhist stupas. Again we will hike in the landscape for photography and wildlife spotting.
Our next location is Yolin Am, a gorge known as Vulture canyon. The nearby cliffs are noted for glowing red in the sunset, and have earned the name of the Flaming Cliffs.
Many different types of terrain make up the Gobi Desert, but the most iconic must be the soaring Khongoriin Sand Dunes. This vast sea of dunes stretches over 100km and some of the dunes are 300 metres high. Their name of 'singing dunes' comes from the strange noise that the sand makes as it blows in thewind - humming like the propellar of a plane. We stay here for two nights, giving us chance to photograph star trails and also enjoy a camel ride.
A long and atmospheric drive takes us to Ongiin Khiid - a pair of monasteries that were ruined during the Communist purges. A small monastery has recently been opened, along with a handful of monks.
Our last stop on this leg of the trip is the runined ancient city of Karakorum - formerly the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th Century. Near to the remains of the city lies the Erdene Zuu Monastery - the earliest surviving Buddhist monastery in the country.
After exploring the vast steppes and sprawling Gobi Desert, we head back to Ulaanbaatar for the opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival. This is now held in a vast stadium. We will be in the stadium for the opening ceremony and the archery tournament. The following day we will be back for the wrestling and horse-racing: the latter which happens out on the vast steppes on the outskirts of town.
The following day, the tour finishes, and you have the optionof exploring further or heading for home.
Firstly, the trip is based upon Intrepid's original-style accommodation. Some of the places we stay might be somewhat basic. For many locations we will be staying in Ger camps, which will have shared facilities. Also, the single supplement is not available for days 2-4, when we are staying in family ger camps. On these days, everyone will be expected to share with others of the same gender.
Even when we are in a hotel in the capital, ue to the fact that much of Ulaanbaatar's infrastructure lacks regular maintenance, you may on occasion only have access to cold water at your hotel.
Many people associate Mongolia with the Khazak Eagle hunters. These are based in the far east of the country, and tend to only hunt in the Autumn and Winter months, when their prey animals have their thicker, winter fur. This means that they are not included in this itinerary. You may have guessed this from reading it, but sometimes it is best to spell these things out!
Some Mongolians - especially older people - can be wary of being photographed, and so you will be expected to seek permission and respect the answer. This will sometimes mean not taking pictures. If you are the sort of photographer who will 'steal' pictures of people even though you are fully aware that they are unwilling, then this country, and certainly this tour is not for you.
We have no control over whether certain monuments and locations permit photography. This can change without notice - sometimes on a daily basis. Some sites and monuments may also charge a camera fee. Again, this can change seemingly at the drop of a hat, so we have taken the decision not to include these fees in the trip price. The easiest, and cheapest, way is for these to be payable locally on an individual basis.
Mongolian food is relentlessly meat, with carbs – usually bread, noodles, rices or pasta. Originally a nomadic people, vegetables don't feature that much in Mongolian cuisine either! A quick search of Ulaanbatur might throw up a couple of vegetarian restaurants, but please be aware that we are unable to compel the entire group to head to a Western style vegetarian restaurant, when they would rather have a traditional meaty meal. Once we get out of the capital, then options will be even more limited. Chicken is not considered meat, and is often thought of as suitable for vegetarians – as is a meat dish with the lumps picked out. If you do get a vegetarian option, then it is likely to be fairly dull, unappetising and with no choice. Whilst I might respect you life choices – especially those that arise from religious or moral concerns - the sad fact is that Mongolia as a country is probably not a suitable destination for you, and we will struggle to accommodate you on this trip. Please do contact Steve if you would like to discuss this further.
Highlights of this trip
• Naadam Festival
• Festival training camps
• Khongoriin Sand Dunes
• Ongiin Khiid ruins
• Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs
• Ancient city of Karakorum
• Photography tuition