Let's Get Social

Mongolia Photo Tour - Naadam Festival

Dates: July 6th to July 13th, 2013

Locations : Ulaanbaatar, Naadam Festival, Karakorum, Erdene Zuu, Bogd Khaan's Palace

Attendees: We leave July 5th...

Fitness Level: Some low level to medium intensity physical activity involved in this photo tour. Extended Yak rides and horse rides are included if you wish to take them.

Price: $3390USD

Deposit required securing spot: $750, (balance due 120 days prior to travel)

Pro Photographer Guide:

My goal in Mongolia is to answer all of your questions while we are together. But because of the nature of this photography trip, the key learning opportunities will be on:

Apertures & Shutter Speeds: We will discuss the different modes on your camera and the effect your aperture and shutter setting has on your images as we take some landscape photos and photograph performers and athletes at the festival.

Composition: Learn how to improve your photography by applying ‘rules’ of composition.

Digital Darkroom: A photo tour with the Photographer's Lounge is the perfect opportunity for any photographer to refine their post processing skills.

Day 1. july 6 . Arrival in Ulaanbaatar: Tour of the city, including the Gandan Monastery and National History Museum.

We will arrive in Ulaanbaatar and will be met at the airport after custom formalities and transfered to the hotel. The city tour of Ulaanbaatar takes us through some of the principal sights of this unique city. You visit the Gandan Monastery, housing a 26 meter high gilded statue of the Buddha. Your tour also takes you to the Genghis Khan monument on the Sukhbaatar square and the Museum of National History, which has a number of fascinating displays of traditional Mongolian clothing and weaponry, as well as exhibits charting the course of Genghis Khan's empire-building.

During the casual walks of the first day I will talk to all attendees individually about their photographic experieince and what they want to learn while on this exotic trip.

Stay in 3* Hotel (L)

Ulaanbaatar introduction

Like nearly one half of the Mongolian population, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar herself is a nomad. The city has changed locations more than twenty times over the past 350 years before taking root in her current location in a sweeping valley bounded by four sacred peaks, including Bogd Khan mountain to the south. Indeed there aren’t many world capitals in which you can ride a horse, visit a nomadic family, and enjoy fine dining and luxurious spa treatments all in the same day. Ulaanbaatar today is a vibrant city of more than one million residents. The city reflects a close and sometimes amusing juxtaposition of nomadic traditions and modern society, perhaps best summarized by her skyline dotted with both gers (felt tents) and towering skyscrapers. The city’s contrast can also be found among those who call it home, from traditional-clothing-clad herders, to Armani suit-wearing business men and women, to a growing number of ex-patriots hailing from nearly every corner of the globe. Only in Ulaanbaatar might you find a horse cart bouncing down the central avenue alongside a Mercedes Benz, or a market selling both livestock and designer clothing. In short, there is something for everyone, and always a site to behold in Ulaanbaatar.


After breakfast at the hotel, we pack the vehicles and depart to the west toward Karakorum, the ancient capital city of Mongolia. Transfer to camp near the Mongol Els Sand Dunes. Optional hiking in Khogno Khaan with a visit to the Ovgon monastery ruins.

Elsen Tasarkhai introduction

The common border share of Tov, Ovorkhangai and Bulgan provinces, this place is a picturesque combination of Mongol Els sand dunes, rocky mountains of Khogno Khaan, green meadows and lovely lakes. The nearby Khogno Khaan national park is a good place for hiking with spectacular views & several small monastery ruins that is perfect for photographic opportunities.

Ger Camp Acomodation (B,L,D)


We visit legendary monastery Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Central Mongolia founded in 1586, Museum of Karakorum and its surroundings the Turtle Rock and the Phallic stone etc. In the afternoon we visit the Karakorum museum.

Karakorum , the ancient capital of Mongolia was established by Genghis Khan in 1220 in the Orkhon valley. For 140 years Karakorum served as the capital of the United Mongol tribes until it was destroyed by the Chinese troops in 1391. The remains of the capital that stood at the crossroads of the Silk Road are extensive underground archaeological assets and two granite turtles that once stood at the main gate to the city. Four of these turtle sculptures used to mark the boundaries of ancient Karakorum, acting as protectors of the city (turtles are considered symbols of eternity).

In 1586, Erdene Zuu, the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia was built on the ruins of the 13th century capital. Vast walls of 400 m in length with 108 stupas surrounding the monastery are the symbol of Karakorum. Time and history were not merciful to Erdene Zuu monastery but it still carries the traces of its former glory and provides a great insight into the rich religious and cultural past of Mongolia.

Ger Camp Acomodation (B,L,D)

Day 4. July 9. A day excursion to Tuvkhun monastery.

Breakfast at the ger camp in Karakorum. We then drive to the Tuvkhun monastery in the ardent Khangai mountain range crossing the renowned Orkhon river. Visit the legendary Tuvkhun monastery and surroundings. The green valley of the Orkhon is the cradle for many nomadic states including the Turks and the Mongols, and a UNESCO world heritage site along with ancient capital Karakorum. Spend the afternoon and evening in the Orkhon river valley visiting nomadic families and enjoying optional hiking or horse riding while focusing on the expansive scenery through our lenses. Return to Karakorum in the evening.

Tuvkhun Khiid Monastery ruins of an ancient temple partially restored, sits atop a mountain on the north of the Orkhon Valley. The temple gives a stunning view of the surrounding landscape to which one can get by hiking or horseback riding. Zanabazar, the first Mongolian Buddhist Saint, thinker and sculptor, built the temple in 1653 where he lived, worked, and meditated for 30 years.

Ger Camp Acomodation (B,L,D)

DAY 5. July 10. karakorum - ulaanbaatar.

We drive to the east to Ulaanbaatar, arrive and transfer to the hotel. Rest and prepare for the Great Festival of the next day. This is a lifetime experience indeed and everyone wants to take part in it. The Mongols have the saying “If you be healthy, you will see the Naadam”.

During the later part of the day we will have the opportunity to capture Ulaanbaatar and its people by night and create stunning night images in this ancient city.

3* Hotel (B,L)

Day 6-7. July 11-12. Naadam Festival.

For two days you will bare witness to the fantastic opening ceremony of Naadam festival and watch the first round of Wrestling, and then Archery and Ankle bone shooting competitions for two days.

Our tour company has also aquired special photographic passes for our group so that we can go beyond the stadium seats... we will be allowed to get down on the field and live the moments with the athletes, capturing the dissapointment and the elation of victory.

We will also drive to the horse racing location to experience the horse races, and visit horse trainers’ tents to meet and hear their stories. Also we will visit the Bogd Khan’s palace museum. Meals at restaurants and hotel overnight.

About the Naadam Festival

The Naadam Festival originates from Hunnu era (209BC) and has come to our time through centuries. It consists of the 3 Games of Men, namely, archery, wrestling and horse racing. The Mongols started celebrating Naadam Festival nationwide on 11-12 July each year since 1921. The Opening Ceremony is the most impressive part of this glorious festival, and everyone loves taking part in it. During the Opening Ceremony you will admire the ritual of Genghis Khan’s 9 white flags carried into the stadium by soldiers in the military uniform of Genghis Khan. Hundreds of artists in traditional Mongolian costumes of different eras perform dances and songs for the Opening Ceremony while are parading with hundreds of musicians and Tsam masked dancers.

512-1024 wrestlers take part in the wrestling competition of Naadam for high ranking titles. They dress in traditional wrestling costume, the “zodog”, “shuudag” and “Mongol boots”.

Horse racing consists of 6 races with 6 ages of horses. Horses race for 15-30 km depending on their ages and 300-500 horses compete in each race. The jockeys are aged between 6-12 years of age.

Archery is one of the oldest sports of the Mongols besides wrestling and horse racing. Male archers shoot for 75m while female archers shoot for 60m with traditional Mongolian bow and arrows.

We take part in the Naadam opening ceremony, see the first round of the wrestling, final rounds of the archery competition and enjoy the horse racing. Meals at restaurants and stay overnight at the hotel.

Bogd Khaan’s Palace Museum

Built between 1893 and 1903, the Winter Palace of Bogd Khaan is where Mongolia’s eighth Living Buddha, and last king, lived for 20 years. The palace museum is an excellent place to visit, with a great collection of priceless Buddhist art works and instruments. The Bogd Khaan’s penchant for unusual live animals explains the extraordinary array of stuffed animals in the palace – including an elephant that had to walk for three months from the Russian border to Ulaanbaatar!

At night we can gather and go through your photos in the digital darkroom prior to your departure.

Both nights in 3* Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 8. july 13 . Departure from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

You are transferred to the airport/train station after breakfast. End of service.

Your Price Also Includes:

  • Accommodation in hotel (twin share), ger camps (twin/triple sharing) - Single suppliment is $350USD)
  • All served in hotels
  • All private vehicles with chauffeurs
  • Guiding and interpreting service
  • Naadam ticket & arrangement
  • Naadam Festival photographic pass
  • All transport as listed in itinerary
  • All internal flights specified in the tour
  • All meals as listed in itinerary. (Breakfast-B, lunch-L and dinner-D).
  • All entrance fees of attractions, national parks and protected areas.
  • Mineral water during the tour
  • English speaking guide

Exclusions of the trip

  • Visa to Mongolia (tourists must obtain before traveling to Mongolia)
  • International flights to and from Mongolia
  • Airport departure tax if required
  • Travel insurance (trip, medical and personal)
  • Daily personal expenses
  • Early check-in or late check-out at hotels
  • Tip and gratuity for local tour guides and drivers during the tour
  • Items not listed as included

Contact Information

The tour company that has created this tour for us is Selena Travel. Selena Travel is based in Mongolia. All payments are to be sent directly to Selena Travel to secure your spot on this trip that they have created for us.


When you contact the tour company, tell them that is for the photography tour with Kevin Pepper of the Photographer's Lounge.

Location: Selena Travel Group office. Room 201, 202, 203

Peace Avenue 79 – 1, 10 th micro district of Bayangol district 6.

Telephone: 976 – 7018 3499; Fax: 976 – 7017 3499

Cell: + 976 9910 3499, + 976 9909 0087, + 976 9509 2550

To get your questions answered in regards to the photographic details only please contact:

Kevin Pepper

Phone Number: 519 620 9185

Email Address: [email protected]

Emails: [email protected]

Find Selena Travel on FB: http://www.facebook.com/SelenaTravelMongolia

Postal: POB 349. Ulaanbaatar 26