18 Days$7150USD

  • 10 day trek
  • 6 days adventure touring
  • 4 nights hotel
  • 13 nights camping
  • 17 Dinners
  • 16 Lunches
  • 17 Breakfasts
Moderate to Challenging

Traveller Rating



Trip highlights

  • Travel with Tim Cope for a culturally enriching experience of western Mongolia
  • Trek through the Kharkhiraa and Turgen Uul mountains with the support of a camel caravan and a team of local nomads
  • Choose to ride a horse instead of trekking, or combine hiking with horse riding (this option is available as an add on)
  • Follow the migratory routes of the Khoton and Durvud nomadic families and come to know the nomadic way of life
  • Camp in the Mongolian steppe and experience a diverse range of landscapes from glacier capped peaks to semi arid country
  • Explore the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar

Join Australian adventurer and writer Tim Cope for a unique moderate-challenging trek among remote Khoton and Durvud nomads in the Kharkhiraa and Turgen mountains of Western Mongolia. The focus of this trip is spending less time crossing the vast landscape of Mongolia by jeep, and more time trekking off the beaten track immersed in the landscape and culture of the legendary horsemen and women of the steppes. Tim, who rode a horse for three and a half years from Mongolia to Hungary across the steppes of Eurasia is passionate about the nomadic way of life and the history of the Mongolian people whose ancestors were among the first in history to tame the horse. The itinerary takes us from Ulaanbaatar by plane to Ulaangom in the west where we begin the trek in the Kharkhiraa mountains - part of the greater Altai range. In this region lives a small and intriguing ethnic group of Mongolians called the ‘Khoton.’ Unlike many nomads of Mongolia who have adopted the motorbike and truck as part of their nomadic existence, the Khoton still make their annual journey up into the high passes of the Kharkhiraa with just camels, yaks, and horses. Our trek follows the migratory routes of these Khoton families along the Kharkhiraa river and eventually up to the spectacular high pass at 3000m between Kharkhiraa and Turgen peaks. Along the way we will pass evidence of ancient nomadic people in the form of Turkic gravestone markers, and hear from Tim about the many legends and stories that tell much about the Mongolian connection to their animals and the land. Travelling with us will be a small caravan of local horsemen and their horses and camels that will be taking our luggage and equipment. There will be an opportunity to encounter the nomadic people most days, and from the high pass, weather permitting, there will be an optional return walk up to a high ridge at about 3600 metres. The second half of the Kharkhiraa trek takes us into the catchment of the Khovd River, and the lands of the Durvud – another ethnic minority of Western Mongolia who have their own fascinating history. From the high pass, we will at first descend to a landscape pitted by lakes, and further to a river gorge. There are many nomad families who come to graze here for the summer. For our last chapter of the journey we again head uphill to explore three remote ridges and valleys – a feature known locally as ‘the three brothers.’ This is an area known for its population of ibex and argali mountain sheep. There will be another opportunity here to trek high to around 3600m. From our camp in this three brothers region we will trek down towards the Khovd River valley where we will be met by vehicle support. The landscape of the Kharkhiraa is dominated by open slopes dotted with nomad tents, deep river gorges, alpine lakes, and the inspiring, glacier capped peaks of Kharkhiraa and Turgen. Although it is very rare and unlikely to spot one, it is worth noting that these mountains are renowned as one of the refuges for the endangered snow leopard. Trekking days involve 6-8 hours of walking, and although there are no technical parts to the trek, a medium to high level of fitness is required. Integral to this tour, is also supporting a local Mongolian charity, Autism Mongolia. $100 of your tour price will be donated to this charity in Ulaanbaatar at a special presentation when we arrive. There will be the opportunity to meet with representatives from the charity and make additional donations if desired.

Trip Code: IFN

You will be met and transferred from the airport to the group hotel. Following an orientation tour of the city and a traditional Mongolian concert, we will meet in the evening for a group dinner and briefing. We will also be making our charitable donation to a representative of Autism Mongolia. Overnight: Best Western Premier Hotel or similar

Meals:  D

Following breakfast we transfer to the airport for a flight to the far western town of Ulaangom (the capital of Uvs province). Uvs is home to several ethnic groups, the majority of whom are Dorvod Mongolians who speak a dialect that differs from the Khalkh Mongol language of Central Mongolia. Uvs is particularly famous for its strong tradition of wrestling. As we fly in, you will see just to the north of the town a large body of water known as Uvs Nuur which is by area the largest lake in Mongolia. In Ulaangom we will lunch together in a restaurant before travelling by Russian four wheel drive to the village of Tarialan. The drive will be around one hour and just beyond the village at the entrance to the gorge on the Kharkhiraa river we will unload and make camp. Here we will meet the local team of horsemen with the camels who will be portaging our equipment and travelling with us over the Kharkhiraa pass. Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

PLEASE NOTE: This day a contingency day intentionally built into the trip to allow for uncontrollable changes to the itinerary such as the ever changing schedule of the domestic flights. Should the flights run to schedule, and there are no other hold ups (such as weather-related events) we’ll have have an extra day in the mountains. Your leader will determine the best options for the group depending on the prevailing conditions and flights. Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

Our route will take us immediately to a saddle, from where, in good weather we can view the glacier capped peaks of Turgen, and get a great overview of the days ahead. Today’s trek will include 2-3 low passes to navigate, as we make our way along migratory trails of nomads. Khoton people migrate themselves from the plains near here into the mountains for summer. If we are lucky we will meet some families moving in camel trains into the mountains, children and babies strapped into the cane baskets high up on the back of the camels. The Khoton people are a strongly nomadic minority group numbering about one or two thousand and live primarily in the Kharkhiraa mountains. They are believed they have Turkic origins. The landscape today is a combination of grassy mountain hills, rocky ridges, and some stands of larch forest. Our aim is to eventually drop down to the grassy banks of the glacier fed Kharkhiraa River. Trekking: ~13km, +300m Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

A day of winding our way upwards when we may catch a glimpse of the ice-encrusted peaks of the high Kharkhiraa rising as spectacular pyramids and domes. Along the way we will meet with many nomad families who are making the most of the alpine pasture. We may have a chance to visit a ger and drink their ‘salty tea.’ On our way today we will pass Turkic grave marker stones and camp near a nomad camp on grassy steppe. The Turkic grave markers and ‘kurgan’ graves date back to the bronze age (about 2,000 years ago) and can be seen as circular piles of rocks surrounded by squares or circles. In one Kurgan up to 45 people would have been buried with many horses. They are the distant nomad ancestors of the Mongols and Khoton people. In fact, the Kharkhiraa are part of the greater ‘Altai’ mountain range which is said to be at the very heart of Asia. Iranians, Turks, Mongols, Kazakhs, and many other people trace their history back to the people who came from the Altai and moved down to the steppe to tame horses, yaks and camels. Even today the Altai splits Russia, Kazakhstan, China and Russia and is the meeting point of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Shamanism. In the evening we will enter a deep valley and the peaks above will be hidden from view. Camp will be made once again in the vicinity of nomads. Please note that there are many options for today’s route, including for those wanting a greater physical challenge. There is an option to hike up to an alpine lake en route, or to follow the ridgeline high above the lateral moraine. Your leader will make decisions at the time in terms of what options will be available. Trekking: ~17km, +600m Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

After a possible stop among nomads for morning tea to watch how they make traditional vodka from yak yoghurt, the river valley makes a bend and suddenly before us the mountains will be revealed. The highest peak is Kharkhiraa itself at 4037m, encrusted in glaciers. This is a particularly surprising view since these particular peaks have actually been hidden until now. From here we make our way directly up towards the high pass in between the main peaks of the Kharkhiraa range. Near the base of the climb to the high pass we will make an early camp. There will be an opportunity in the evening to trek up towards the Kharkhiraa glacier at the headwaters of the Kharkhiraa River. Trekking: ~17km, +400m Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

We wake early and make our way up a steep pinch on the final climb to the pass (quite steep, but fairly short and on foot poses no real risks). The pass itself is a wide plain. You have the sensation that somehow you have reached the clouds because many of the glaciers are well below eye level and the summits are only about 1000m above. Weather permitting we will lunch on the pass together with the camels. The view expands again when we reach beyond the highest point of the pass. Conditions permitting the distant ‘Sayan Mountains’ of Russia will be in view and far below a series of alpine lakes pock-mark the steppe. From here there will be the option of descending to camp on the south side of the pass or climbing up to 3600m on Turgen mountain. This trek, which is the most challenging and steep of the journey, takes us to a high ridge from where the extent of the mountains, including Kharkhiraa peak itself, will will be in view. Glaciers flow down from below your feet to the east and to the west is the airy drop down to the high pass. The mountains right before us form a breathtaking amphitheatre draped in ice. We make the descent via different route to camp and won’t arrive until late evening. Although this high trek is quite physically challenging and gives a real sense of mountain exposure it is a very safe route that anyone with a good level of fitness could complete. Trekking: ~15km, +1000m (including optional climb) Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

We will spend two nights camped at nearly 3000 metres on the Kharkhiraa pass, allowing for a day to rest and savour the mountain landscape, or join an optional trek around Khokh Nuur – a spectacular, blue alpine lake at the end of a glacier on Kharkhiraa mountain. If the weather did not permit a climb to Turgen the previous day, this day can also be used to attempt a climb of the high ridge on Turgen. Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

Having reached the high point of the journey it is time to begin our descent to the west. We make our way among a myriad of hills and alpine lakes and get a different perspective of the Kharkhiraa mountains. Eventually we will begin encountering gers and nomads once again and will make camp along a river valley. Trekking: ~19km, -600m Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

A spectacular, and at times challenging day of trekking. The river that began as a trickle at the high-pass camp is now sunken deep into a gorge below. We trek along the steppe above following the routes of the nomad camel trains and eventually descend into a forested gorge. Here a stream cascades down among boulders. The smell of fresh forest and water will be a change from the past few days. Here we will make camp and celebrate with a wash in the stream. Trekking: ~17km, gradual descent for most of day, steep descent to camp into gorge. Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

Camped next to the cascading Khargat River, you will have the chance to rest up, or explore the gorge. Your guide will provide various options available to you for this day. Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we will make our way up a spectacular glacial river valley, into which three hanging valleys enter. As we travel, we will witness various waterfalls and cascades, larch forest, and glimpses of towering rock cliffs. The three valleys, and the connected ridges and peaks, are all known collectively as the ‘three brothers’ and are considered remote refuges, particularly for wild ibex, and argali sheep. We aim to reach camp by lunch. You will have the option for an afternoon hike up onto a high ridge, or time to enjoy camp, and keep an eye out for wildlife on the slopes. Trekking: ~7km, +250m Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we will remain at the same campsite and aim to climb up onto one of the high ridges, and reach a high point around 3600m. The landscape up top includes unusual rock tower formations and other glacier-formed features. From the top we will have the opportunity to see far out into arid steppe lands, and other peaks of the Altai range in the Kazakh province of Bayan Olgiy. Optional Trekking: ~12-14km, +/-1000m Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

A day of ever changing landscapes - from the river gorge and forest, to high plains, a sea of green steppe, a spectacular waterfall for lunch, and desert-like mountains and plains. We will meet more nomads and encounter ancient graves. Eventually arrive in the tiny settlement of ‘Khovd Brigad’ which is actually just a summer camp of Khoton people in their gers (much like having a mobile village). The ‘winter village’ is Khovd Sum through which we will travel on our way out. By the time you set foot here it does feel as if we have come a long way. This is as far as vehicles can make it, and we will be met here by our Russian jeeps. Trekking: ~18km, gradual descent with some small climbs Overnight: Tented camp

Meals:  B,L,D

By jeep we will travel down from Khovd Brigad through a landscape of arid hills with granite features before we eventually reach the Khovd River – the longest river in Western Mongolia which flows into an inland lake system. Our journey will broadly take us along the Khovd River as far as the regional capital of Khovd. It is worth noting that Khovd has one of the most diverse mix of ethnic minorities in the country, including Kazakhs. Our aim is to reach a regional hotel or a ger camp in Khovd for the night and farewell our staff at dinner. Overnight: Regional hotel or ger camp

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we will fly back to Ulaanbaatar. Depending on the flight schedule, we may reach the capital any time ranging from mid morning to late evening. Today is set aside as a transit day. Overnight: Best Western Premier Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Today you will have free time to explore the city. In the evening we will have a final farewell dinner. Overnight: Best Western Premier Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Trip concludes following breakfast. Transfers will be organised to take you to the airport.

Meals:  B


  • 17 breakfasts, 16 lunches and 17 dinners
  • 3 nights in comfortable hotel accommodation on a twinshare basis
  • 1 night in regional hotel or ger accommodation and 13 nights fully supported camping on a twinshare basis
  • Internal flights within Mongolia
  • Airport transfers on day 1 & day 18
  • Accompanied by Tim Cope and an expert local guide
  • Pack animal support during trek with 20kg allowance
  • Souvenir World Expeditions 50l kit bag
  • Medical kit and satellite phone for emergency use
  • Private vehicles
  • Sightseeing and entry fees as listed in itinerary
  • AUD100 donation to Autism Mongolia
  • Domestic airline baggage allowance of 20kg per person (for check-in and carry-on in total) for each internal flight. Note - any excess baggage charges above 20kgs are to the client's account.
  • Optional (additional cost applies) - You can choose to hire a horse for the treks should you wish. A horse must be hired for the full length of the trek and for them to get to you and return to their homes. For example, 8 days ride equals 10 days hire. Please notify your travel consultant in advance to make arrangements - additional cost applies. Riding experience preferred but not necessary - in this case you will be led by a horseman or guide until you are competent enough.

  • Aerated and alcoholic drinks
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry, etc.
  • Tips and gratuities
  • International airfares & departure taxes
  • Visa costs
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory)
  • Excess baggage charges above 20kgs per person for each internal flight. Subject to change, the approximate excess baggage charge is US$2 per kg above the 20kgs (for both check-in and carry-on in total) luggage allowance; which is payable in Cash at the check-in counter.

About Your Leader

Tim Cope is an award winning adventurer, author, and film-maker who is passionate about adventure as a vehicle for understanding landscape, culture and history. His most renowned journey was a three year, 10,000km horse back trek from Mongolia to Hungary across the great Eurasian Steppe. He is the creator of the three-hour television documentary series,‘On the Trail Of Genghis Khan’ and wrote a best selling book by the same title. In 2015 Tim was given the Mongolian Tourism Excellency Award, and was made the international ambassador for Mongolian tourism in recognition of his work to celebrate and promote Mongolian nomadic culture. A veteran of multiple adventures and recipient of the Australian Geographic ‘Adventurer of the Year’award, he has also been working with World Expeditions in Mongolia for more than a decade. To find out more about Tim’s work visit

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Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad - Hiking poles - HireUSD$29
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad - Sleeping pad hire (thermarest type)USD$60
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad -Tent Only Single SupplementUSD$100
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad - Sleeping Bag hire (-10 degrees C)USD$180
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad Hotel only Single SupplementUSD$310
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad Single SupplementUSD$460
  • Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad - Horse Hire (helmet & saddle incl)USD$520
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Mongolia In the Footsteps of the Nomad with Tim Cope trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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In the steppes of Mongolian nomads: trekking to the end of the Earth

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