Cycling in Mongolia - Naadam Festival Special Departure

17 days
Activity level:
Moderate / Challenging
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Trip code: 
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Group size:

Cycle across the vast Mongolian steppe and experience traditonal games

Mongolia remains a mysterious presence in the heart of Central Asia, a traditional country where visitors are still an unusual sight. Nomads wander the grasslands, setting up their white gers (tents) where the pasture is lush for their horses. On our bikes, we follow good trails across wide, open steppe, into expansive mountain scenery and through larch and pine forests. Camping wild under the wide skies adds an adventurous edge to what is certainly one of our most intrepid cycle tours. Adding to the experience this special departure spends two days taking in traditional wrestling, archery, horse-riding, bone flicking and Mongolians dressed in their best clothes at the Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaator.


  • Variety of landscapes as we cycle through open steppe and larch and pine forests
  • A visit to Erden Zuu Monastery and Genghis Khan's ancient capital
  • Wild camping and overnight at hot springs
  • Attend Naadam Festival and witness traditional games 

Key information

  • 9 nights wild camping, 4 nights hotels, 2 nights traditional Mongolian gers, and 1 night sleeper train
  • 11 days cycling (including 2 half-days) with 100% vehicle support
  • Group normally 4 to 14, plus leader. Min. age 16yrs
  • Countries visited: Mongolia

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 13 lunches and 15 dinners included
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (from £155)
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Internal flights for land only passengers
  • Airport transfers for land only passengers
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

Those on the group flights will be taken to the airport early for their flight back. For other travellers the trip ends after breakfast.


Low altitude; 100% good quality dirt tracks

Day by day breakdown
Day 350.0km/31.0miles
Day 470.0km/43.0miles
Day 560.0km/37.0miles
Day 650.0km/31.0miles
Day 760.0km/37.0miles
Day 860.0km/37.0miles
Day 945.0km/28.0miles
Day 1040.0km/25.0miles
Day 1160.0km/37.0miles
Day 1260.0km/37.0miles
Day 1335.0km/21.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


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  • Day 1

    Start Ulaan Baatar.

    Arrive in Ulaanbaatar, transfer to the group hotel. Those not on the group flights will meet the group at the hotel. 
    Bayangol Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Morning sightseeing followed by a traditional Mongolian show; overnight train to Erdenet.

    This morning we start the day after breakfast with the trip briefing and then strike out on an introductory tour of Ulaanbaatar, including Sukhbaatar Square, the National Museum and Gandan Monastery. In the afternoon/evening, we enjoy a performance of traditional Mongolian song and dance by the world famous Tumen Ekh Troupe before boarding the overnight train to Erdenet in the early evening. Erdenet being Mongolia's third largest city and home to one of the largest copper mines in the world. Overnight in comfortable sleeping compartments on the train.
    Sleeper Train

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Ride to Tal Tolgoi Well via the small township of Bugat; camp.

    Our train arrives early in the morning and our support vehicles and crew meet us and we leave town. After breakfast, we set up the bikes and head out towards the wilderness. The small township of Bugat makes a convenient lunch stop. After lunch, our route takes us over Chuluutiin Davaa, a long pass on which care must be taken as the surface is loose in parts. With a steep descent, we arrive at a long plain leading to tonight's camp near Tal Tolgoi Well. Cycle approx. 50km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Cross Tuluugiin Pass; camp.

    After our first night near local herding families, we cycle through undulating country before descending to a bridge over the Altaan (Golden) River. Rock formations in the area hint towards a volcanic past. The riverbanks make an idyllic spot for a picnic lunch. It is a long steady climb to Tuluugiin Pass where the scenery changes dramatically as the forests give way to open steppe, at least for a while. Today is our longest cycling day on the trip. Cycle approx 70km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Arhangai steppe ride through undulating country to open green valley below Mt. Khairkhan (1862m); camp.

    Today we pass through rolling hills, past small lakes and herds of horses. Steppe eagles can be seen in this area. We stop for lunch with views across the steppe. After lunch we continue on tracks around the southern side of Mt Khairkhan (1862m) and make camp in an open green valley beneath Kholbooriin pass (1649m). Cycle approx. 60km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Short climb to cross Kholboogin Pass (1649m) before descending to Khairkhan Lake camp.

    The day begins with a bit of exertion as we make the short climb in the morning up to the pass, giving us far-reaching views across the countryside. Down the other side we wind along gentle river valleys before emerging at the township of Khairkhan. After lunch on the outskirts of town we pass a series of small lakes before choosing a camp for the night. Cycle approx. 50km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Cycle up Khunjiin River Valley to camp beneath Mt. Chingeltei.

    Today we follow the Khunjiin River as it rises gently towards its headwaters. River valleys like this provide fertile pasture for grazing livestock and are popular campsites with local herders. Wetlands near the river attract birdlife, including demoiselle crane. Overnight in the upper reaches of the river valley, beneath Mt Chingeltei. Cycle approx. 60km
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Short climb past the headwaters of the Khunjiin; descend into Tamir River Valley; camp near Great Rock of Ikh Tamir.

    After a short climb to the headwaters of Khunjiin River at Uran Khutul pass, it is downhill to the Tamir River where we have lunch on the banks. Near the river we will pass burial grounds dating back to 8th Century AD. We camp tonight on the banks of the Tamir, not far from Ikh Tamir, or 'Great Rock'. Locals say that if you can throw a rock over the rock, it will bring you good luck for the rest of the journey. Cycle approx. 60km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Half-day ride to Tsetserleg; capital of Arhangai, afternoon free.

    Today is a half-day and we make a good start to make the most of the afternoon for a chance to rest. Gurviin Dava Pass is a long but steady ascent through forest for the most part, with a short steep climb at the end. Arriving at the provincial capital of Tsetserleg makes the effort well worthwhile. Tsetserleg means 'garden' and this township has one of the most attractive settings of any in Mongolia, nestled in a cul-de-sac of mountains. We pitch camp by the Tsetserleg River. The afternoon is free to relax, enjoy a hot shower and experience staying in a traditional Mongolian ger. Cycle approx. 45km.

    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Morning ride in foothills of the Khangai Mountains.

    We are now close to the Khangai Mountains and a short ride takes us to the foothills. The rolling country of Arhangai has been replaced by forested hills of larch and pine with dramatic alpine peaks in the distance. There are three short passes today, with lunch on the third before descending to tonight's camp. Ride approx. 40km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Cycle across undulating steppe to Mt. Ondor Khairkhan (2312m).

    Our route now takes us into the heart of the Khangai Mountains, following well-marked 4WD trails. Herders still inhabit the valleys, yet yaks have replaced cows as the milk-producing animals. We follow picturesque valleys and camp beneath Mt Ondor Khairkhan (2312m). A relatively long day that can be challenging if conditions are windy. Cycle approx. 60km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Ride the Khangai Mountain Range on good jeep tracks; descend to Orkhon River Valley.

    Today we cross the Khangai Mountain range on good jeep tracks and drop down to the Orkhon River on the longest, smoothest descent of the journey. This Orkhon River flows to the ancient capital, Karakorum, then on to Lake Baikal in Russia and further northwards to the Artic Ocean. After lunch we continue downstream to our overnight camp on the river banks. Overnight camp by the Orkhon River. Cycle approx 60km.
    Wild Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Ride to Karakorum and Erdene Zuu Monastery; overnight in traditional ger camp.

    We ride out from camp following undulating terrain, crossing and recrossing the Orkhon River as we make a beeline for the fertile plain chosen by Genghis Khan as the location for the capital city of his empire. 'Karakorum' is derived from a Turkic language and means black rock, and shares this name with mountains in Pakistan. Arriving in the ancient capital in the early afternoon, we check into the Karakorum ger camp for hot showers and a well-earned rest. This afternoon we head out to explore Erdene Zuu Monastery, the largest and most famous monastery in Mongolia. Built in 1586 under the direction of Abtai Khan on the ruins of the ancient capital, much of the monastery was destroyed during Stalinist purges of the 1930's, but an impressive wall with 108 stupas and a number of temples still remain. We spend the night in traditional Mongolian gers.Cycle approx. 35km.
    Ger Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Drive to Ulaan Baatar, visit sand dunes at Mongol Els; free afternoon.

    We make a good start this morning for the 400km drive back to Ulaanbaatar. Travelling at an easy pace, we stop at the Mongol Els to view the sand dunes. Picnic lunch along the way. Check into our hotel on arrival in Ulaanbaatar - hot showers and cold beers!
    Bayangol Hotel or Similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Days 15-16

    Naadam Festival

    The Naadam Festival celebrates the ‘three games of men’ (or Erin Gurvan Naadam) which are wrestling, horse racing and archery. More recently a fourth game, knuckle-bone flicking was added to the competitions. The festival is celebrated throughout the country but the biggest festival is in Ulaan Baatar.
    Over the next two days, we attend the Naadam Festival horse racing, Deeltei Mongol Naadam (Mongolia National Costume Festival) and the Grand Opening Ceremony before we watch Mongolians compete in all four sports. We also get to mingle with hordes of Mongolian spectators as the grounds around the stadium (where wrestling, archery and bone-flicking takes place) and the horse races are filled with stands selling food, games, flags and various other things.
    The atmosphere is a big part of the experience and many Mongolians dress in their best traditional clothes for the occasion.
    In 2010 the festival was entered into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list and is great celebration of the Central Asian nation’s culture.
    Bayangol Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 17

    End Ulaan Baatar.

    Those on the group flights will be taken to the airport early for their flight back. For other travellers the trip ends after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects. Almost all nationalities, including British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand, require a single entry visa for Mongolia. If you think you may be exempt you must check requirements with your local authorities or your agent. The current cost of a visa for British Citizens is £50 and further information can be found here. American passport holders are offered 30 days visa-free entry to Mongolia on presentation of a valid passport at the time of entry. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.



There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All meals are included.

In the countryside our support vehicles will carry the kitchen, food supplies and kitchen staff including a professional chef. Meals are western style with a strong Asian influence. Breakfasts are typically cereals, toast and a hot dish. Lunches on the road are sandwiches, cheese, meats and salad. Dinners are a variety of vegetables, meat, rice, potatoes and pasta dishes. Filtered or purified drinking water is supplied on all cycling days, as are tea, coffee and fruit drinks. Dining in Ulaanbaatar is excellent and includes Mongolian, Indian, French, Chinese and Mexican restaurants. If you follow a vegan diet you should expect that variety of food may be limited whilst on this trip. As this kind of diet is relatively uncommon in this region we cannot guarantee that the hotels and restaurants will provide meals that have the necessary variety to be considered satisfying when on a more restricted diet.


June, July and August are the summer months in Mongolia, characterised by daytime temperatures of 20ºC to 30ºC and evenings around 15ºC. Summer is also the wet season and rainy days are certain over a two-week journey. September is the start of Autumn, expect daytime temperatures 15ºC to 25ºC, nights 5ºC to 10ºC. Mongolia is a land of tremendous seasonal change, as temperatures plummet to -40ºC in the wintertime. It can snow on any day of the year and there is the potential that very cold weather could be experienced on these trips.



Is this trip for you?

This is a moderate/challenging cycling trip and is classified as off-road. We advise that you be reasonably fit and a confident cyclist, with some off-road cycling experience. Please also take the number of nights camping into consideration; hotels are only used while in Ulaanbaatar. We believe that camping allows you to experience the wonderful remoteness of Mongolia.

Average daily distance: 50km (31 miles)

No. of days cycling: 11 (including 2 half days)

Vehicle Support: 100%

Terrain and route: good quality, vehicle width, hard-pack dirt tracks across undulating forest and steppe. Roads vary from being tarmacked to rocky in places with some short steep passes.

Two vehicles will support the trip (depending on group size) including a 4WD minivan for people and a separate one for bikes and equipment. You may ride as much or as little as you like. The only things you need to carry with you on the bike are your valuables, sun cream, extra top, camera and water bottle, etc. One vehicle will travel at the front and one at the rear of the group. The bikes will return from Karakorum with the support vans at the end of the trip.

The terrain is best described as undulating, as the rolling steppe grasslands of Mongolia are. Our route mostly follows jeep tracks along river valleys and over ridgeline mountain passes, with some better quality sealed tarmacked roads in the early stages of the trip. Trails are mostly hard-packed 4WD dirt tracks, however, mountain passes often have loose gravel on the descent, requiring extreme caution. Sandy patches are hazardous in places, particularly at the base of small dips in the road. Our route passes through some more mountainous areas where roads follow rivers upstream and occasionally cross up and over into the neighbouring watershed. The passes referred to in the itinerary are universally low - usually requiring just 100-200m of vertical rise/descent. Some of the descents can be rocky. Typically there are 4 to 7 hours of riding each day.

This trip will appeal to anyone who is physically fit, enjoys riding off-road and is happy to camp in beautiful and wild places (we use good quality camping equipment, but home comforts are not a feature of this trip). Our tented camps include a kitchen tent, communal dining tent, wash tent and toilet tents. Mongolia is a country with just 1500km of sealed roads and these tend to be heavily trafficked and in poor condition. By far the most appealing travel is away from the main transit corridors and this is where our route takes us.

If you are bringing your own bike, please ensure that suitable off-road tyres are fitted - if in doubt please contact our office for clarification. Due to the open nature of the country and fully supported trip, flexibility to adjust the daily itinerary according to circumstances is best. The exact location of campsites can be changed, as circumstances require, but weary cyclists are free to join the support vehicle. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to call us.

Please note that the route and distances described in the itinerary are fluid and depending on the local conditions and how the group feel as well as potential encounters with locals along the way on any particular day we may cycle further or less far that day.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Camping, Hotels, Mongolian Gers & Sleeper Train

Most of the trip is spent wild particapatory camping and you will be asked to put up and take down your own tents. A toilet tent is put up at lunch and in the evening and a shower tent is put up when not camping near a stream (you should bring bio-soap for washing in streams as well as wet-wipes). When we stay in the ger camp these are comfortable yurt-type felt tents with beds inside and shared bathrooms. The hotel in Ulaanbaator is comfortable with en suite bathrooms. The sleeper trains have 4 berths per compartment.

There may occasions when we replace a night camping with a Ger stay should local circumstances, such as the weather, dictate it.

Single Supplement

If you prefer to have your own room, please request a single supplement at the time of booking. Availability is limited and these cannot be guaranteed however when available a single supplement will cover all nights of the tour with the exception of the sleeper train, which is shared with 4 berths per cabin. 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed July 2019
    Linda Cunningham

    Perfect Adventure

    I can not recommend this adventure enough: Mongolia is a special country and Exodus provided the ideal adventure to highlight all aspects of Mongolia and Mongolian life. We aren’t really mountain bikers but the biking was superb - not particularly easy - but truly enjoyable in terms of terrain, scenery and fun riding. We aren’t really campers - but have to admit it was kinda enjoyable in the end 😎. Food on the trip was exceptional - we were v well fed: breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon snack, substantial dinner. Ghana and her assistant certainly kept us well fed. We even had a shower and a proper sit down toilet on camp 😎. The whole Mongolian support team were superb and NK - our guide - was a special guy. Knowledgable, funny, kind and considerate - he really made our adventure special.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Biking along with a herd of Mongolian horses zooooming alongside us was pretty special. Although the laugh we had playing football v Mongolian team was hilarious 😆

    What did you think of your group leader?

    NK was superb: can’t fault him in anyway. Knowledgeable, funny, cheerful, friendly and v capable. He made our adventure special.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get out on your mountain bike and get away on this adventure: you’ll love it. I’d highly recommend going on the Naadam departure.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is a v special holiday. Mongolia was special, NK and his team were special. Naadam Festival was exciting and fun and I felt Exodus has pulled out all the stops to make the Festival experience great for us.

Dates & Prices

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

Fields with * are mandatory.

Please call one of our experts to discuss your private group requirements on 0203 993 4668, or fill out the form below and we will give you a call back.

Please provide as much information as possible below so we can best help with your holiday requirements.

Fields with * are mandatory.

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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