Mongolia’s Gobi Desert is the setting for perhaps this winter’s most obscure excursion. Nomadic Expeditions (800.998. 6634, www.nomadicexpeditions.com) is taking 15 travelers on an otherworldly 11-day trip to Mongolia, timed to coincide with the country’s Lunar New Year and Thousand Camel Festival. Upon arrival, participants will ring in the Year of the Monkey with a visit to the legendary Gandan Monastery. They will attend the opening ceremony of the Ulaanbaatar-based New Year celebration prior to a traditional feast (featuring Mongolian barbecue, steamed dumplings, and, of course, vodka). Next, the trip will venture into the Gobi with local nomads and their hordes of Bactrian camels. Despite its title, the festival features only a few hundred camels competing in ceremonial races and games.
Accommodations on the trip, which runs from February 18 through 28, are in Mongolia’s finer hotels. Double occupancy ranges from $1,645 to $2,270 per person.