Mongolia and Japan

Faculty: Carlisle Chambers and Jim Smart
Class meeting time: Tuesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
Trip Dates: May, 2025



Get ready for an unforgettable adventure with our trip to Japan and Mongolia, where ancient traditions meet modern marvels, where state-of-the-art cities meet rugged natural beauty! Experience the sensory delights of Tokyo's bustling streets, the majestic temples of Kyoto, the awesome beauty of Mount Fuji, and the resilience of Hiroshima. But the adventure doesn’t end there! Venture into the vast landscapes of Mongolia, where the nomadic spirit still thrives. Experience the raw and vast expanses of Mongolia, from the rolling grasslands of the steppe to the rugged beauty of the Gobi Desert to the majestic alpine Khuvsgul Lake to the incredible flaming cliffs of Bayanzag. Along the way, immerse yourself in the rich nomadic culture: stay in a traditional ger (yurt); learn the art of horseback riding from local herders; ride a camel! Experience the best of both the ancient and modern cultures in Japan and Mongolia, to experience first-hand their religion, cuisine, and way of life. This trip promises to ignite your sense of adventure!

Need a little appetizer? Mongolia! Japan!

NOTE: This trip will include some long days of travel, hiking, and staying in ger (yurt) camps. Participants must be willing to occasionally deal with minimal accommodations and possible adverse conditions.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1 Travel to Tokyo
Day 2 Tokyo City Tour
Day 3 We will visit several sites around Tokyo, including the TeamLab, Japanese sword museum, and the Tokyo Sky Tree (2080 ft). TeamLab is an international art collective that brings together artists, programmers, engineers, animators, mathematicians, and architects
Day 4 Kyoto: We will travel to Kyoto by bullet train. Our trip will take afford a tremendous view of Mt. Fuji. Once in the historic city of Kyoto we will visit the Golden temple and Ryoan temple (a Zen temple known for a beautiful rock garden).
Day 5 Hiroshima: After a free morning we will travel to Hiroshima by bullet train in the afternoon. In Hiroshima we will visit the International Peace Memorial Museum and Park. We’ll sample the local cuisine, "hiroshima-yaki" for dinner.
Day 6 Hiroshima-Miyajima: Miyajima is an island that hosts a national park. We will visit the island and say hi to wild deer during our hike. During our visit we will tour the Shinto shrine Itsukushima. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 7 Travel to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Day 8 We will visit Sukhbaatar square and the National History Museum of Mongolia
Day 9 Yol Valley (Vulture Canyon): In the morning we will drive to Yol Valley (Vulture canyon). Vulture Canyon, nestles between the beautiful peaks of Gurvansaikhan of the Three Beauties. After arrival at the canyon, we will take a 2-hour hike through the canyon. On our way in/out of the park we can visit the local Natural History Museum where dinosaur eggs and bones, petrified trees and a snow leopard are on display. Overnight in ger camp.
Day 10 Khongor sand dunes and hiking to the sand dunes: Today we will drive to Khongor sand dunes. At 28 m in height the giant sand dunes stretch lengthwise some 180 kms. Sometimes the area is only several hundred meters wide but can grow to 7-20 kms. We will hike to the top of the sand dunes. Camel riding will be possible. Overnight in ger camp.
Day 11 Bayanzag (Flaming Cliffs): Visit to the Bayanzag area. Known as the Flaming Cliffs "Cradle of Dinosaurs" this is where the first nest of dinosaur eggs ever discovered was found in 1922. We will explore the area where dinosaurs once roamed and see saxaul trees (Haloxylon ammodendron) and other classic desert vegetation. Stay in ger camp.
Day 12 Ongi temple ruins: We will visit Ongi temple. Ongiin Khiid is a complex of ruins of two monasteries called Barlim Khiid and Khutagt Khiid. There are plenty of interesting ruins to explore and one of the monasteries was recently rebuilt. Overnight in ger camp
Day 13 Kharkhorin and Erdenezuu Monastery: We drive to Kharakhorin in the morning and visit Erdenezuu monastery. Karakorum is the ancient capital of Chinggis Khan’s Mongolia. The city was established in 1220 and served as the capital for 140 years. The Monastery was built in 1586 and is surrounded by a massive 400m x 400m wall. Only a few temples remain standing after the communist purges of 1930s. In previous times the grounds held over 60 temples with 10,000 monks using them for daily worship. Overnight in ger guesthouse.
Day 14 Kharkhorin: Tuvkhun Temple - From Kharkhorin we will travel to Tuvkhun temple, which is located on the rocky hill of Undur Shireet mountain(2300 m.) In 1653, One of the oldest monasteries of Tuvkhun was erected by Zanabazar who was the spiritual head of Mongolian Buddhism. We will hike to and around the temple complex. We will then return to Kharkhorin and stay in same ger camp.
Day 15 Kharkhorin: Tsenkher hot spring - From Kharkhorin we will travel to the Tsenkher hot spring and take a relaxing hot spring bath. We will walk in the surrounding steppes. We will then return to Kharkhorin and stay in same ger camp.
Day 16 Great White Lake and Khorgo Volcano: We will travel to Khorgo, an extinct volcano. Our trip will take us along the Chuluut River, which has carved a deep canyon into the basalt rocks. Stay in ger camp along Lake Terkhiin.
Day 17 Khuvsgul Lake: We will drive to Khuvsgul Lake, close to the Siberian border. Here we will have the opportunity to truly understand the Mongolian way of life. Lake Khuvsgul is the second largest freshwater lake in the world, after Lake Baikal. Overnight at ger camp.
Day 18 Khuvsgul Lake: Hiking and horseback riding around Khuvsgul lake. Overnight at ger camp.
Day 19 Return to Ulaanbaatar.
Day 20 Return to PDX

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