15 days for £6,495 28 August and 11 September 2021
Join New Scientist on a thrilling and unique expedition to find dinosaur remains in the wilderness of the Gobi desert with professional palaeontologists from the Mongolian Institute. Fully participate in live prospecting and fossil digging across keys sites, and potentially be the first person in 80 million years to set eyes on your discovery.
Visit the stunning Flaming Cliffs where the first ever dinosaur eggs to be discovered where found nearly a 100 years ago and book end the expedition in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. Where you will visit best-known museums and sites such as the Laboratory of the Mongolian Institute of Palaeontology.
Accompanied by journalist and New Scientist writer John Pickrell, who has visited and written about Mongolia and dinosaur fossils extensively. With no more than 12 guests on the tour, you will have plenty of access to the guides and experts.
DAY 1: ARRIVE INTO THE CAPITAL ULAANBAATAR
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to downtown Ulaanbaatar. You will enjoy a welcome dinner with journalist John Pickrell who will be acting as your guide throughout the tour.
Ulaanbaatar offers a contrast between ancient traditions and the dawning of a 21st century democracy, which can be seen in the traditional gers (a yurt like accommodation) and Buddhist monasteries coexisting with modern high-rises.
DAY 2: EXPLORE ULAANBAATAR
You will begin the day with a visit to Gandan Monastery. The monastery is considered as the seat of Buddhism and a popular spiritual destination for Mongolians from all across the country. You will meet the 26-metre-tall standing Buddha and visit monks in service. Next, you can marvel at the National History Museum for an excellent overview of Mongolia’s history and culture. The exhibition includes Stone and Bronze Age art crafts, historical costumes of Mongolia’s minority tribes and sacred religious relics.
After lunch, inspect Hunnu Mall, where a temporary field museum of Palaeontology is on display. Followed by a visit to the Paleontological Laboratory of Mongolia. Here, you will have hands on experience about how the institution runs and carries out its research. Finally, visit Bogd Khan Winter Palace museum, which was home to the last Buddhist leader of Mongolia in the 20th century.
DAY 3: ENTER THE GOBI DESERT
After breakfast, fly over a vast steppe to Dalanzadagad. This is the gateway to the Gobi Desert, comprised of mountains, sand dunes and fossil beds.
Upon arrival, you will meet our drivers and transfer to a ger camp at the Hongoryn Els sand dunes, the largest of the dune in the Gobi Desert. This amazing landscape offers yet another of Gobi’s diverse ecosystems. Here you will meet the accompanying palaeontologists from the Mongolian Institute who will help you hunt for fossils whilst in the Gobi. Some of the best finds have been unearthed by tourists and amateurs.
The next 8 days are in wilderness of the Gobi and the itinerary is flexible based on conditions, recent finds and what is discovered on this expedition. Should a specific site yield a lot of interesting finds, the itinerary will be rescheduled to investigate further.
DAYS 4 & 5: NEMEGT MOUNTAINS
The central and western parts of the Gobi Desert date from the middle to the late Cretaceous period, about 90-60 million years ago, which was a key period for dinosaur evolution.
In the morning, you resume driving further west, cruising through Gobi’s vast basins and plains until you arrive at the first important locality, the Nemegt Basins. Here you will spend two nights prospecting through its red cliffs, looking for new trails of newly exposed fossils. For the remainder of your time in the Gobi, you will be living a life of an expedition member, staying in well-appointed tents.
Every day after breakfast, you will be divided into two groups and begin prospecting the valleys under the guidance of the guest palaeontologist. You will return back to the base camp for lunch. It might be necessary on certain days to wait out the afternoon sun, until it gets cooler. Hearty meals will be served each day in a group expedition tent by an expert field-chef following adventurous days of field prospecting, working and exploring the local flora and fauna.
DAYS 6 & 7: ALTAN ULA
Drive a short distance to set up camp for the next few days at Altan Ula within the Tarbo area. Another of Gobi’s vast and rich fossil beds where some of the best discoveries of large carnivorous dinosaurs have been made recently.
Daily prospecting walks will continue with snacks provided. During one of these days, your palaeontologist will ask you to participate in the removal of promising looking finds which sometimes can take hours, depending on the size of the find.
In the evenings you can enjoy a welcome drink around the campfire or in the mess tent whilst reviewing the days discoveries.
DAYS 8 & 9: BUGIN TSAV
In the last leg of your expedition, you will move to more remote area of the Gobi, known as Bugiin Tsav, where you will prospect for more fossils. Recent Japanese and Russian joint expeditions have been working here.
Each of the prospecting sites differs from one another in different ways. Some have different sediments while some has different topography. Continue working under the guidance of your palaeontologist.
DAY 10 & 11: RETURN TO HONGORYN SAND DUNES
This morning, you will drive back towards the central part of the Gobi, reaching Hongoryn Els sand dunes later in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in gers or log cabins.
DAY 12: THE FLAMING CLIFFS
After breakfast, you will drive to a ger camp conveniently located near the Flaming Cliffs. En route, you will stop at a petroglyph site of the Gobi Desert.
By late afternoon, you will reach the legendary Flaming Cliffs, red sandstone formations that stretching over 3 kilometres in width, where hundreds of dinosaur fossils have been discovered over the course of the last century. Paleontological expeditions from many countries, including from the U.S, Poland, Japan and Russia have worked here during last 90 years. Each year, rain and wind reveal yet more fossils and every summer, exceptional new discoveries are made. You will explore the cliffs in the footsteps of legendary American explorer Roy Chapmen Andrews who discovered the first dinosaur eggs that the world had ever seen nearly a 100 years ago. Enjoy sunset dinner at this majestic place before returning back to our ger camp.
DAY 13: FLY TO ULAANBAATAR
After breakfast, you will drive to Dalanzadagad fory our return flight to Ulaanbaatar. Following lunch, vist the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum, named in honour of the renowned 17th century artist and politician, who was also the first Buddhist leader of Mongolia. The museum contains one of the best collections of Buddhist art and artefacts in the world, including many of Zanabazar’s original works. In the evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 14: DEBRIEFING AT THE INSTITUTE OF PALEONTOLOGY
You will spend the day for visiting the Institute of Paleontology and Geology and getting an opportunity to provide a report on your field works. Approximately 8 weeks later you will be issued with a final trip report from the institute. Afterwards visit the Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs which contains a stunning cache of recently confiscated fossils that were previously smuggled out of the country.
The remainder of the day is available for last minute sightseeing. In the evening, you will attend a performance featuring traditional Mongolian dancers and hoomi (throat) singers.
DAY 15: DEPARTURE
After saying farewell at breakfast, you will transfer to the airport for departure.