better travel photographyCOM


Start: 29 June 2024
End: 13 July

Code: IOM24

Variable price structure.
Prices from:

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

Info about variable pricing

Min 8, max 12 people

Places left: 2

Trip is to be confirmed.

Single supplement: £350

Estimated current
flight cost £900

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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/ 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


unforgetPlaces4PCThis tour is led by Steve Davey - a professional photographer, whose work appears in publications all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die (BBC Books). Steve recently published Footprint Travel Photography (Footprint Books), which covers everything that you would ever want to know about travelling with a camera. Click for more.

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Highlights of this trip

Naadam Festival

• Festival training camps

• Khongoriin Sand Dunes

• Ongiin Khiid ruins

Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs

• Ancient city of Karakorum

• Photography tuition

tour summary

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land arrangements for this tour

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Included in the trip price

• 5 nights hotel

• 9 nights Ger camp

• 14 breakfasts

• 10 lunches

• 9 dinners

• Naadam ticket

• Archery training camp

• Wrestling training camp

• Horse racing training camp

• Baga Gazriin Chuluu hike

• Tsagaan Suvarga hike

• Vulture Canyon hike

• Khongoriin camel ride

• Ongiin Khiid entrance

• Karakorum entrance

All transport as per itinerary

• English Speaking leader

• Entrance fees as per itinerary

Expert photographic tuition

Impressions of Mongolia itinerary


Day 1: Arrival Ulaanbaatar

Sainbainuu! Welcome to Mongolia. You can arrive at any time before your group meeting at 6pm. The location of this meeting can be found at the hotel reception. Please have your passport, insurance and next of kin information ready to give to your leader at this meeting. The hotel is located in a quiet residential area within walking distance to Sukhbaatar Square. After the welcome meeting, you'll have the option to join your fellow travellers for dinner at a local restaurant. If you arrive in town earlier and have time, be sure to get out and explore 'UB', a fascinating town where elderly Mongolians in traditional dress mingle with the nation's young business elite. A great place to start is Gandan Khiid, Mongolia's largest and most important monastery. The Fine Arts Museum, Winter Palace Museum of Bogd Khan and Intellectual Museum are also well worth visiting.

Meals included: No meals included on this day

Accommodation: Guide Hotel or similar


Day 2: Archery Training Camp

Mongolia’s annual Naadam Festival is a centuries-old tradition that dates back to the era of the great Khans and their dynasties. Wrestling, archery and horse racing — the three skills that Genghis Khan considered essential for any Mongol warrior — are showcased today at the country’s largest celebration of the “three manly sports”. We will get a special insight into each of these sports with visits to the training camps that take place in preparation for the festival.

Today we drive approximately 3 hours to an archery training camp, where you will observe Mongolian archers lining up their shots. Learn how precision and technique play a key role in successful archery and have a go at using the traditional bow and arrow yourself. At the end of the day, drive back to our tourist ger camp. A ger is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads on the steppes of Mongolia and Central Asia. Spend your first night in a ger tonight.

Included activities: Archery Training Camp

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Ger Camp

Please note: the single supplement does not include this night of accomodation. No single rooms are possible, and people of the same gender will share the ger.


Day 3: Wrestling Training Camp

Take a two hour drive to a wrestling camp and spend the day watching the athletes practice. Your leader will explain the rules of Mongolia wrestling and the various techniques and tricks. Some of these wrestlers are huge national celebrities! Learn to cook a Mongolian BBQ and share it with the wrestlers for lunch or dinner.

Tonight we drive to another camp where the horse trainers and riders live during their Naadam preparations. This is truly authentic experience and we will be staying with locals in their gers. The conditions will be basic, but you will get a very real insight into local Mongolian life. Bed down early tonight to rise at dawn with the trainers and riders tomorrow morning.

Included Activities: Wrestling Training Camp

Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Ger Camp

Please note: the single supplement does not include this night of accomodation. No single rooms are possible, and people of the same gender will share the ger.

A sleeping bag is required for our family ger stay tonight as no bedding is provided. This can be hired in Ulaanbataar for US$5 per day. Be prepared to sleep on the floor of a local ger and with basic conditions (ie. no bathroom facilities).


Day 4: Horse Racing Training Camp

Wake up at the crack of dawn as the campsite comes alive with preparations for the horse racing events of Naadam. Spend the day watching the horses and jockeys train. You'll be amazed at the skill and strength on display in handling their animals. Your leader will tell you about why horses are so treasured by the Mongolian people. Mongolian nomads have developed deep relationships with animals over thousands of years and you will witness some of this during your time here today. After our visit, we head back to Ulaanbaatar for our overnight stay.

Included activities: Horse Racing Training Camp

Meals included: Breakfast & lunch

Accommodation: Guide Hotel or similar


Day 5: Baga Gazriin Chuluu

Today we drive around six hours from Ulaanbataar to Baga Gazriin Chuluu a series of eroded granitic formations located in the Middle Gobi province. Reaching an elevation of some 1768 metres, this will be our first foray into the vast Gobi Desert. Ruggedly beautiful, the rocks are worshipped by locals, who are known to make pilgrimages here, and it is rumoured that Genghis Khan also traveled to this site during his conquests. Here the group will encounter ancient rock paintings, natural springs, and a ruined monastery. You will have the opportunity to hike in the area and take in the awe-inspiring views before heading onwards to a ger camp for the night.

Included activities: Baga Gazriin Chuluu - Hike

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp


Day 6: Tsagaan Suvarga

Drive to Tsagaan Suvarga today (approximately 5 hours). Also known as the "white stupa”, the region is well known for its formation of rocky cliffs that are composed of different ores. When exposed to oxygen, the rock turns different shades of pink, red and orange. The cliffs dates back as far as 10 million years, with the different coloured layers indicating different times in the rock's history. Hike and explore the nearby caves after lunch. Stay in the ger camp again tonight.

Included activities: Tsagaan Suvarga - Hike

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp


Day 7: Vulture Canyon/Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs

Pay a visit to Yoliin Am, a deep and narrow gorge in the Gurvan Saikhan Mountains of southern Mongolia more commonly known as the Vulture Canyon. Enjoy a two hour walk through the narrow gorges, with soaring cliffs on either side and bearded vultures sailing high above. Stop for a packed lunch. Drive to our ger camp in the afternoon, where the group will overnight. After dinner, pack a camera and walk to the Flaming Cliffs, so named for the vibrant colours of red and orange that flicker on the cliffs at sunset. Ger camp stay again tonight.

Included activities:
Vulture Canyon - Hike
Bayanzag Flaming Cliffs - Sunset walk

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp


Day 8: Khongoriin Sand Dunes

Today you will drive to the giant sand dunes known as Khongoriin, Mongolia's largest and called the ‘singing sands’ by the locals (approx 4 hours). These monster dunes stretch for over 100km and can reach up to 300 metres in height. This is the quintessential landscape that one would picture if asked to imagine a desert. Sweeping, wave-like patterns of sand framed by a bright blue sky and lit by a relentless sun. The dunes’ nickname comes from the sound produced by small avalanches of sand on a windy day, and the noise has been likened the distant hum of an aircraft propeller. There'll be time to do a walk up to the top of the dunes, and watch sunset.

In the night, we have the option of shooting star trails. There will barely be any moon and we should also be able to see the Milky Way.

Included activities: Khongoriin Sand Dunes - Sunset walk

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp (2 nights)


Day 9: Khongoriin Sand Dunes

Today you will have a chance to ride a two humped camel along the iconic singing sand dunes. Enjoy this typically Mongolian experience while you make your way through this remote landscape and take in the views. The rest of the day is free time. We can use this time for further photography, image reviews and also to relax ready for a long day of driving tomorrow.

We will also have the chance to try to shoot more star trails and other astro photography.

Included activities: Khongoriin Sand Dunes - camel ride

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp (2 nights)


Day 10: Ongiin Khiid

A long travel day today. Drive to the Ongiin Khiid (approximately 8 hours). Ongiin Khiid refers to two ruined monasteries: Bari Lam Khiid, which was built in 1810 on the north bank of the river near the tourist ger camps, and Khutagt Lam Khiid, which was built in 1760 on the south side of the river and is only accessible when the water is low or frozen over. Once one of the largest monasteries in Mongolia, the complex was destroyed in 1937 as part of a communist purge. Since 1990, a small but growing contingent of monks has resettled amid the ruins, gradually restoring the ancient site. Spend the day exploring the ruins and visit the small museum. Retire to the ger camp in the afternoon.

Included activities: Ongiin Khiid - Ruins

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp


Day 11: Karakorum

Drive to the ancient city of Karakorum (approximately 4 hours). The city twice served as a capital during the reign of the Mongol Empire and at the creation of the Northern Yuan province. We will stop in Övörkhangai Province and visit Erdenezuu Monastery, which is one of the earliest surviving Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. The monastery was closed until 1965, when it was permitted to reopen as a museum but not as a place of worship. It was only with the collapse of communism in 1990 that religious freedom was restored and the monastery became active again. Today Erdene Zuu Khiid is considered by many to be the most important monastery in the country, though no doubt it’s a shadow of what it once was. While here we will also visit the Karakorum Museum. The exhibits include dozens of artefacts dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, which were all recovered from the immediate area surrounding Karakorum. Exploring the open market in town is also an option today. Overnight in a ger camp again today.

Included activities: Erdenezuu Monastery & Museum

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Accommodation: Tourist Ger Camp


Day 12: Ulaanbaatar

Return to Ulaanbaatar today (approximately 6 hours) and make the most of a restful night, for tomorrow marks the beginning of the Naadam Festival! If you're feeling restless, perhaps pay a visit to the Choijin Lama Temple Museum, a complex of five temples showcasing a wealth of Mongolian architecture and history, or the quirky Beatles Square. Surprisingly, the Beatles are credited as playing a large role in bringing democracy to Mongolia and have been honoured with a special monument. There's also usually a lot going on at Sukhbaatar Square today as people get ready for the festival starting tomorrow.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Guide Hotel or similar


Day 13: Naadam Festival - Opening Ceremony & Archery Events

The Naadam Festival begins today and the group will get the opportunity to witness the opening ceremony, which features extravagantly costumed parades, traditional music, dance and historical reenactments. Truly a sight to behold! The archery competition also takes place today. You might recognise some of the competitors from visiting their training camps at the start of the trip. Who will be crowned champion?

Included activities:
Naadam Festival - Opening Ceremony
Naadam Festival - Archery events

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Guide Hotel or similar

Special Information: Naadam is the busiest and most popular time for foreign travellers to visit Mongolia. Tickets to Naadam events are included in the price of your trip and will be booked for you in advance.


Day 14: Naadam Festival - Wrestling & Horse Racing Events

Watch horse racing and wrestling today on the second day of the Naadam Festival. Cheer for your favourites as you watch them wrestle and ride for glory!

After a big day at the festival head out for an optional final night dinner with your group.

Included activities:
Naadam Festival - Wrestling events
Naadam Festival - Horse Racing events

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Guide Hotel or similar


Day 15: Tour ends

Say 'bayartai' to your group as your adventure draws to a close. There are no activities planned for the day. If you'd like to stay longer in Ulaanbaatar, it's recommended that you book additional accommodation well in advance due to it being peak season.

Meals included: Breakfast


Those of you who have travelled with me before, know that we are constantly looking for photo-opportunities - especially as we travel from place to place. We are always looking for other, more local things to include in our sightseeing, and also great places to stop on our journeys. This is the sort of thing that we always set out to achieve on our trips, and by now - we have got very good at it!

This might be calling into a local village, stopping to see animal herders by the road or getting up for sunrise. Consequently many of these things, which can contribute some of the best memories and most evocative pictures, will never crop up on an itinerary.


There are few things to be aware on though, if you are considering this trip.

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.

Printable version of itinerary

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