Adventure - Art - Culture - Juniors Abroad at George Fox


Faculty: Paul Chamberlain, Carlisle Chambers
Meeting Time: T - 6:30 - 9:00 PM

Our trip will travel to two of the remotest regions in the world, Mongolia and Siberia, Russia.  Mongolia is well known for its nomadic traditions and lifestyle which are still practiced today in the rural areas of the country. Following a seasonal routine based on the raising and breeding of goats, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camels and horses, Mongolian nomads migrate from place to place taking advantage of the most favorable pastures and campsites.  We will have the opportunity to share this ancient culture and learn about their religion, cuisine, and way of life. Our trip begins in Ulaan Baatar, the capital of Mongolia.  From there we will travel to the Gobi Desert, an unforgettable landscape mixture of desert, mountainous terrain and borderless steppe. You will experience the family-like, warm hearted local herders who extend their hospitality the year-round. Here we will have an opportunity to embrace cool climates and hot sand dunes as well as the remains of ancient cities, monasteries, and dinosaurs. This historical area linked Europe and Asia through the famous Silk Road.  We will also visit Karakorum, the ancient capital of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan’s Mongolia. We will also stay in traditional ger (yurt) camps.  Half of the Mongolian population still live in these traditional tents.  Finally, we will have the opportunity to do some hiking and participate in the riding of both horses and camels. 

From Mongolia, we will travel overnight by train to historic Irkutsk, the de facto capital of Eastern Siberia and the most popular stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  Siberia accounts for 77% of Russia’s land area and 23% of the country’s population, making it one of the least populated regions on Earth. We will begin our exploration of Siberia in Irkutsk, exploring its history and culture.  We will then spend several days exploring Lake Baikal (a UNESCO World Heritage site), one of the world’s oldest geographical features, formed 25 to 30 million years ago).  Lake Baikal is both the deepest and the largest lake, by volume, in the world  and contains one-fourth of the world’s freshwater. This magnificent lake is the highlight of Eastern Siberia. We will enjoy incredible vistas across the waters of the deepest blue to soaring mountain ranges on the opposite shore during a three-day trek.

NOTE: This is an adventurous Juniors Abroad trip that will include some long days of travel, hiking and staying in ger (yurt) camps.  We will also be hiking for three days averaging about 10 miles, a day.  Participants must be in good physical condition and willing to deal with primitive conditions.

Weather: The weather will be mild with highs in the low 60's and very little if any rain.


Preliminary Itinerary:

Day 1 Travel from Portland to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 

Day 2 Arrive in Mongolia and city tour of Ulaanbaatar
We will be picked up from the airport and transferred to our hotel. After some rest at the hotel, we will visit Sukhbaatar square and the National History Museum of Mongolia.

Day 3 Drive to Tsagaan Suvarga
Today we will drive to Tsagaan Suvarga. The scarp of Tsagaan Suvarga is located in the Ulziit soum of Dundgobi province. It will be interesting to see the sheer slope, facing east, which forms a cliff 30 meters high and 100 meters wide. For thousands of years the wind has created this amazing structure.  Overnight in a ger camp.

Day 4 Drive to Yol valley (Vulture Canyon) and walk in the valley
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 5 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 km. Sometimes the area is only several hundred meters wide but can grow to 7-20 km.  We will hike to the top of the sand dunes. Camel riding will be possible. Overnight in ger camp.

Day 6 Bayanzag or Flaming cliffs and walking around
Visit 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 can walk around where dinosaurs once roamed and see saxaul trees and other classic desert vegetation. Stay in ger camp.

Day 7  Drive to Ongi temple ruins
We will visit Ongi temple. Ongiin Khiid is a complex of ruins of two monasteries called Barlim Khiid and Khutagt Khiid. Thre are plenty of interesting ruins to explore and one of the monasteries was rebuilt recently. Overnight in ger camp.

Day 8-9  Orkhon valley and Ulaan Tsutgalan waterfall
Today we will drive to Orkhon valley, registered as World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.  This Orkhon River valley is known as the cradle of the Mongolian civilization holding many of Mongolia’s ancient monuments. We will see Orkhon Waterfall that marks the halfway point of the Orkhon River, Mongolia’s longest river that runs about 1120 km to the north before it joins the mighty Selenge River. The waterfall, also called Ulaan Tsutgalan was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions about 20.000 years ago. On the way to the waterfall, we will visit a nomadic family. Stay in ger camp.

Day 10 Kharkhorin and Erdenezuu monastery
We drive to Kharakhorin in the morning and visit the Erdenezuu monastery. Karakorum is the ancient capital of Chinggis Khan’s Mongolia and 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 the 1930s. In previous times the grounds held over 60 temples with 10,000 monks using them for daily worship. Stay in ger guesthouse.

Day 11 Drive to Khustai National park and hiking
We will drive to Khustai National Park. The park lies in the foothills of the southern Khentii mountain range and it is where we can see the wild horses called Takhi, also known as Przewalski horse to the world. The wild horses now survive in nature by themselves since they have been reintroduced successfully to their homeland after 40 years of extinction. The number of Takhi has already reached more than 300. Stay in ger camp.

Day 12. Drive back to Ulaanbaatar
We will return to Ulaanbaatar and take a short city tour

Day 13 – Travel Ulaanbaatar to Irkutsk, Siberia Russia
Travel overnight by train to Irkutsk

Day 14Irkutsk City Tour
After arrival via train, we will take a tour of Irkutsk. The very centre of Irkutsk is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The wooden buildings, some constructed as far back as the eighteenth century, have recently been restored to their stunning brilliance.  We will also see one of the oldest ice-breaking ships, visit the Central Market, and  tour a local Orthodox church or two.

Day 15 – 17 – Trekking on the Great Baikal Trail
We will travel a short distance by bus to begin our three-day trek on the Great Baikal Trail along Lake Baikal the deepest (almost a
mile deep) in the world.  We will walk through the Siberian Taiga forest-covered Sacred Lake shores. We will walk 22 km from Listvyanka to the gold miners' village, Bolshie Koty.  On the 2nd day, we will trek 7 km to the Skriper mountain, and then another 7 km  along the amazing Baikal shore to Cape Kadilnyi.  On the last day, we will trek 18 km to Bolshoe Goloustnoe.  Then return to Irkutsk by bus.

Day 18 – 19 Olkhon Island
We will travel by bus then ferry to the island.  Once on the island, we will travel on  Russian military jeep UAZ’s  to visit the spirit place Shamanka Rock and Cape Burhan, making a stop at Khuzhir village.  We  will also visit Kharantsy, Sandy Bay and a part of a Stalin times prison (GULAG), the famous Three Brothers rock, and finally the north part of Olkhon Island - cape Khoboy,

Day 20 – Return to Irkutsk

Day 21 – Return to Portland