Type of horses:
Nature of horses:
Strong, tough, docile. All are unshod and live wild on the plains.
Height of horses:
12 - 14 hh
95kg / 15st / 209lbs
A hybrid of a Russian treed saddle which has been adapted for visitors. English/Western saddles are too long for the horses short backs. These saddles have a deep seat and a comfortable cushion strapped to the top. They are simple but functional.
The Bayan Gobi (rich desert or mini Gobi) is officially called the Khogno Khan Park and is located 280km from the capital of Mongolia. The landscape consists of large rock formations and cliffs shaped by erosion, which overlook vast semi-desert plains which are reminiscent of the sandstone citadels of the Wadi Rum in Jordan. The park is also home to huge sand dunes which contrast against the green grasslands on the border.
Amongst this spectacular setting sits the Ovgon Khiid monastery which was built in the 17th century.
In stark contrast, the Orkhon Valley is a lush grassland flanked by mountains where nomadic herders gather in the summer for their livestock to graze. With the Orkhon river flowing through the valley, this is a beautiful and green garden of eden which will amaze you after the barren desert.
Experience both of these spectacular locations on this trail which includes horse-riding in both parks. Each night you camp in a new location and as Mongolia is one of the few places where you can still camp wherever you like, you can be assured of wilderness. A couple of nights offer the opportunity to stay in traditional ger camps and experience the life of a nomadic herder.
The trails end at Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire which was founded in 1235 by Ogodei, Genghis Khan's son. The capital was transferred to Ulaanbaatar in 1250 by Kublai Khan and in 1388 Karakorum was destroyed by troops of the Ming Dynasty. Only the turtle statues which guard the entrance to the city walls remain. In 1585, Erdene Zuu monastery was built outside the city using stones from the ruins of Karakorum and despite being damaged and rebuilt, the monastery is still active today.
Traditional Mongolian accommodation on the vast steppes/grasslands are the yurts or gers - circular structures with a central stove and containing up to five single beds. There are tourist ger camps which are specially set up in popular locations, and also some nomadic families have guest gers for visitors. You spend three nights in yurts on this trail and must be prepared to share.
When truly off the beaten track you camp in one or two person tents. Showers are a rarity but water can be boiled over the fire for washing. Comfortable sleeping mats are provided. This trail include 7 nights of camping.
Your first and last night are in a two star hotel in Ulaanbaatar, in twin or triple rooms with private bathrooms.
Mongolian food is essentially based on animal products - meat (red food) and dairy (white food). Traditionally these are eaten at different times of year with summer months being dedicated to white food and winter months the red food. During the summer months the females are breeding and therefore lactating, producing milk for cheese, butter, yoghurt etc. The nomads' energy requirements are lower during the summer months as well, as the temperatures are stable. During the winter months they consume a lot of meat as they require much larger quantities of calories to bear the extreme cold.
On these trails the traditional Mongolian diet has been adapted to accommodate western tastes.
There are some non-riding visits included, such as to monastery's and special sites, but this is predominantly a riding tour and non-riders cannot be accepted.
All of the rides include lots of cultural interactions with nomadic families which delight both riders and non-riders.
Health requirements: You must be in good health and with good physical fitness.
Age limit: 16+ recommended.
Included: Accommodation; riding; all meals except for one dinner, from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 13; tours as described
Not included: Flights; dinner on one day; drinks except water, tea and coffee; travel insurance; visa
There is a choice of airlines flying to Mongolia but none are direct. Popular choices include Air China (through Beijing) and Turkish Airlines (through Istanbul) and we recommend the Turkish Airlines flight simply because the airport transfers are set to coincide with this flight. However, if you wish to arrive early/stay longer, then any flights are ok.
Airport transfers are included provided to arrive/depart at set times:
Arrival: You must arrive by 11:05am for the transfer which departs at 11:30am
Departure: Your flight must depart after 08:00am to allow time for the transfer (everyone is transferred together so if you book a late flight you will have a long wait).
Airport: Genghis Khan International Airport (Ulaanbaatar)
You don't have to choose between the desert or the steppes on this Mongolian trail which combines riding in both the Gobi and the Orkhon Valley. Experience the dunes of the Bayan Gobi contrasting with the lush grasslands of the Orkhon Valley.
You will be met at Ulaanbaatar airport at 11:30 and transferred to your 2 star hotel in the city (Dream hotel or similar). Lunch is to your own account today.
During the afternoon you will be taken to visit the Gandantegchinlin Monastery and the National Museum of Mongolian History. Dinner with the group in the evening will be taken downtown before overnighting at your hotel.
Day Two: Ulaanbaatar - Bayan Gobi desert
After breakfast you are transferred by 4x4 vehicle to the Bayan Gobi desert - the "rich Gobi". A picnic lunch is taken en-route.
On arrival you meet the nomadic herder who will be your guide for the next three days of riding in the wilderness of the Bayan Gobi.
Set up camp in a sparsely populated area on the southern edge of the desert. Each rider erects his/her own tent (single tents are available if requested in advance). A shower tent and large dining/meal preparation tent is also erected.
Days Three and Four: Bayan Gobi desert
Set off riding on your trail through the typical landscape of the Gobi desert. There are no horses in the southern Gobi and so this is your only chance to experience the desert landscapes. This area is Mongolia's true geographical centre and is the junction of three major ecosystems: the main mountain ranges of the country - Khangai and Khentii - and the northern edge of the Gobi desert. Mount Batkhan overlooks the area and gives rise to several rivers and springs which mix with the sand dunes of Elsentasarkhai forming the "sand break" - an ever changing and spectacular landscape.
Each night, after riding between dunes, rivers and steppes you set up camp in a new location.
Day Five: Khogno Khan
Continue riding through the beautiful Gobi landscapes until reaching the Khogno Khan cliffs where you visit the Ovgon Khiid monastery which is set amidst dramatic scenery.
Dinner and overnight in a yurt camp which is nestled at the base of the cliffs (2-4 riders per yurt in single beds). Showers and toilets are available in a separate building.
Day Six: Bayan Gobi - Orkhon Valley
After breakfast you are transferred c. 4-5 hours to the famous Orkhon Valley. The change in environment is striking: leaving behind the desert and sandy expanses of the Bayan Gobi you enter a mountainous region with a maze of green valleys and forested slopes.
Meet your nomadic herders and guides and enjoy lunch before setting off on your first ride. Heading upstream in the Orkhon Valley you enter the larch covered slopes of the Naiman Nuur park. Set up camp in the wilderness.
Days Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten: Orkhon Valley
Each day you ride through the beautiful grasslands of the Orkhon Valley, discovering the Orkhon Falls, Tovkhon monastery and Khangai mountains which form the northern part of the valley. On three nights you will set up camp in remote wilderness locations but on one night you will stay in a guest yurt close to a nomadic family - due to the nomadic nature of these families, who move their herds according to the grasslands, the exact night will be decided nearer the time, depending on their location.
Day Eleven: Karakorum
Your riding journey through the Orkhon Valley continues until you reach Karakorum, the ancient capital of the Mongolian Empire. Here you visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery.
Spend the night in a touristic yurt camp close to Karakorum - 2-4 people share each yurt and there are showers in a separate building.
Day Twelve: Ulaanbaatar
After an early breakfast you depart for Ulaanbaatar by vehicle, stopping en-route for lunch and arriving in the afternoon. There should be time for shopping in the downtown stores or the Narantuul market where you can find traditional clothing and artefacts.
In the late afternoon you are taken to a show featuring traditional dances, music and songs, including the amazing Khoomei.
Dinner is not included tonight so that you can choose from the many options on offer. Overnight in the Dream hotel or similar (2 star).
After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight, which must depart after 8am.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||You should be a competent rider who is confident and capable at all paces across varied terrain. The open steppes provide plenty of opportunities for fast riding.|
|Type of ride:||Trail|
|Total riding time:||13 days / 12 nights / 8 days riding|
29 April-11 May; 6-18, 13-25 May; 20 May-1 June; 27 May-8 June; 3-15, 10-22, 17-29 June; 24 June-6 July; 1-13, 8-20, 15-27 July; 22 July-3 August; 29 July-10 August; 5-17, 12-24, 19-31 August; 26 August-7 September; 2-14, 9-21, 16-28 September.
£1316 per person sharing
There is a small group supplement of £213 per person if there are only 2 or 3 riders in the group. This is removed/refunded when the group reaches 4 riders.
Single rooms are possible in Ulaanbaatar only and the single supplement is £51 for those who request a single room - there is no supplement if willing to share.