Orkhon Valley Trails riding holiday in Mongolia - Far and Ride
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Orkhon Valley Trails, Mongolia





Reviews



An amazing holiday. Good group of fellow riders. A great team of Mongolian staff. Guide, horsemen, drivers and chef did a fantastic job of looking after us at all times - very attentive. Other than the guide, none of them spoke English but that didn't stop us having a good time with them all. Good tents, lovely warm Gers and decent hotel. The chef was great and kept us well fed and managed to prepare 2 birthday cakes with basic, mobile cooking equipment! Even though we were warned that they (horses) were semi wild, they were all extremely well behaved. Saddles were comfortable. English speaking guide did a fantastic job of translating between us and the Mongolians and providing info on Mongolia. Horsemen looked after horses and riders very well and were always aware. (Favourite memory?) Hard to say as lots of them - lovely long gallops, camp fire, singing horsemen, beautiful landscapes, welcoming nomads...

Natasha G. (August 2017)
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Mongolian

Nature of horses:

Strong, tough, docile. All are unshod and live wild on the plains.

Height of horses:

12-14 hh

Weight limit:

95kg / 15st / 209lbs

Tack type:

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.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

The Orkhon Valley is an extensive area of pasture land which stretches c. 80km in length and 15km in width between the banks of the Orkhon river. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, it's considered the cradle of nomadic Mongolia and many families still perpetuate the traditional way of life. Yurts nestle alongside the rivers and herds of horses, yaks, sheep and goats graze the grasslands.

The well-known Orkhon Falls are actually the Ulaan Tsutgalan River Falls - as the river falls into a spectacular canyon created after an earthquake and volcanic eruption more than 20,000 years ago, they form a cascade of water which is 20m high and 10m wide. The white foam from the falls is contrasted by the black rock which forms the canyon walls - yet deep within the walls of the canyon there are trees and flowers which benefit from the abundance of water.

With your nomadic Mongolian guides you can discover this beautiful region on horseback. The hardy and tough little Mongolian horses are perfect for traversing the wide open spaces of the grasslands as well as the surrounding mountains. This is the Mongolia of your dreams with the steppes stretching out in front of you and the yurts and herds dotted all around.

Riding in Mongolia is always an adventure and a cultural experience, but it is your choice as to how rustic you wish to be. Trails are available which offer the comfort of traditional yurts every night, together with the luxury of showers! Or you can spend your nights camping in really remote areas where there are no ger camps - Mongolia is one of the last countries where you can literally camp wherever you wish. Your belongings are transported by vehicles so that you are unencumbered and can enjoy exhilarating canters.

The itineraries also include visits to the Bayan Gobi, where the desert sand-dunes contrast against the lush grasslands. Visits to Karakorum - the ancient capital of the Mongolian Empire are also included together with visits to monasteries that you discover along your journey.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Traditional Mongolian accommodation on the steppes are yurts or gers - circular structures with a lattice framework which contain 2-5 beds. Nomadic families live in these gers which can be dismantled and moved on yak carts.

There are trails where you spend all your nights in ger camps - either touristic camps which are set up specifically for visitors, or staying with nomadic families. These trails are the most comfortable option within the Mongolian countryside.

There are also trails which include camping in 1 or 2 person tents. These are more rustic but you can camp in some very remote locations away from other groups.

See the individual ride itineraries for specific details of the accommodation.

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.

 

Activities

There are some non-riding visits included, such as to monastery's and special sites, but the trails are predominantly riding tours and non-riders cannot be accepted.

However, the Nomadic Life Experience ride can accommodate non-riders and a vehicle is on-hand to show you the sites. These rides are also suitable for children.

All of the rides include lots of cultural interactions with nomadic families which delight both riders and non-riders.

 

Further Details

Languages: English

Health requirements: You must be in good health and with good physical fitness.

Age limit: 16+ for trails. Children are accepted on the centre-based ride.

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation; riding; full board from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 13 (except one day); tours/visits as described in itinerary

Not included: Flights; dinner on one day; drinks except water, tea and coffee; personal expenses; insurance; visa

 

Travel Information

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 10:05am for the transfer which departs at 10:30am
Departure: Your flight must depart after 07:00am 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)

 

Programmes


Orkhon Valley Comfort (Yurt) Ride



Ride through the spectacular Orkhon Valley whilst spending your nights in comfortable yurts and discover the nomadic way of life in Mongolia. One whole day is spent with a nomadic family who will show you how they survive in these vast grasslands. Enjoy the best of Mongolia in the best accommodation available.

Day One:

You will be met at Ulaanbaatar airport at 11:30 and transferred to your 3 star hotel in the city (Nine 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 - Khogno Khan Park

After breakfast you will be transferred c. 5 hours (depending on road conditions) to Khogno Khan Park. Lunch is taken en-route.

In the afternoon you will have your first short ride in the Bayan Gobi - this is your only opportunity to ride in the typical Gobi desert landscape as your hosts have no horses further south in the Gobi desert. Ride to the small Ovgon Khiid Monastery which is set within dramatic scenery.

This evening you will spend your first night in a touristic yurt/ger camp - each ger sleeps up to five people in single beds and there are showers in a separate building.

Day Three: Khogno Khan

After breakfast set off for a full day of riding through the Bayan Gobi's semi-desert steppes. The dramatic scenery offers the high dunes of Elsentasarhai against black cliffs and the winding river adding a stripe of green. Your picnic lunch is brought to you by your support vehicle and so you carry nothing on horseback which allows you plenty of chances to canter!

In the afternoon you continue riding through this amazing landscape, where the contrast between the desert dunes and the marshlands which border them is spectacular. You will pass suddenly from the desert to the garden of eden where nomads gather with their herds on the vast wet plains - a wonderful sight.

Arrive at your ger camp which is located in a semi-desert environment - the yurts here sleep 2 - 4 people in single beds.

Day Four: Khogno Khan - Orkhon Valley

After breakfast you are transferred to the Orkhon Valley (4-5 hours drive) where you meet the nomads who will be guiding you through the valley. After a late lunch, the horses are allocated and you set out on your first ride into the valley - this is a short ride to give you time to get acquainted with your horse - there are different horses if you are not happy with the initial choice.

The rest of the day is free to spend time with the nomadic family - you can get involved in their daily tasks and get to know different members of the family. You spend the night in guest yurts which are close to the nomadic family yurts - these yurts are more simple than the ones in the tourist camps but are more authentic.

Day Five: Orkhon Valley

Today you set off on your first full day of riding within the Orkhon Valley. Ride upstream into a landscape which gets wilder and wilder. This is a volcanic region and the ancient black lava flows contrast with the foaming white water of the Orkhon River. After a picnic lunch brought by the support vehicle, you continue riding until reaching a forest at the base of the Naiman Nuur mountains. Here you spend the night in a remote ger camp in the forest, with 2-4 riders in each yurt.

Day Six: Orkhon Falls

Continue riding upstream until reaching the impressive Orkhon Falls. A picnic lunch is enjoyed en-route and you eventually reach your ger camp which is situated not far from the falls.

Day Seven: Uurt

Today's ride takes you into the surrounding mountains to get a higher view of the Orkhon Valley. You return to the same ger camp for a second night.

Day Eight: Khujirt

After breakfast set off riding to the southern mountains which border the Orkhon Valley in the Khujirt region. Khujirt is famous for it's pure water which is bottled and distributed throughout Mongolia. There are spectacular views of the river which is now much wider as it weaves through the grassy hills - this is the Mongolia of your dreams.

In the afternoon you reach a unique and environmentally friendly ger camp which has spectacular views of the whole valley. As the camp is eco-friendly there are no showers but warm, wet towels are brought to you twice a day - surprisingly effective! You can also request a unique "yurt coiffeur" if you need your hair washing! The gers here sleep 2-3 riders.

Day Ten: Karakorum

Today is your last day of riding within the Orkhon Valley and takes you through some of the most beautiful areas of the park. The river is very calm here and the water reflects the sky like a mirror; the dark blue water contrasts with the lush green grass and the many white yurts. Many herds roam the steppes and you can take numerous photographs which typify Mongolia. In the last few miles before reaching Karakorum - the former capital of the Mongolian empire - the valley narrows offering wonderful views of the river from the mountain slopes.

After saying goodbye to your horses and nomadic friends you spend the night in a yurt camp (2-4 riders per yurt).

Day Eleven: Karakorum - Hustai National Park

After breakfast you visit Erdene Zuu Monastery before being transferred to Hustai National Park, home to the wild Przewalski horses. The drive takes c. 4 hours depending on road conditions. In the afternoon you set out into the park in vehicles to try and view the wild horses, known locally as Takhi. Dinner and overnight in a ger camp (2-4 riders per yurt).

Day Twelve: Hustai - Ulaanbaatar

After an early breakfast you are transferred back to Ulaanbaatar (c. 2.5 hours). After lunch there is time for discovering the city and doing some shopping. In the late afternoon you are taken to a show where traditional music, songs and dances are performed, including the Khoomei.

Dinner is not included this evening so that you can choose from the many options on offer in the city. Overnight at Nine hotel or similar (3 star).

Day Thirteen:

After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight home (which must depart after 8am).



Accommodation: 9 nights in ger camps - each ger contains single beds (2-5) and a central stove. Showers are usually available in separate buildings and restaurant tents provided comfortable eating facilities.

1 night in a nomadic family guest yurt - these are simpler but more authentic with single beds but no showers, although water can be boiled over a fire for washing.

2 nights in a 3* hotel in Ulaanbaatar with twin or triple rooms and private bathrooms.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be an experienced rider who is capable and confident at all paces in the outdoors. The terrain allows for long canters.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 13 days / 12 nights / 8 days riding
Departure dates: 2018:
26 May-7 June; 2-14, 9-21, 16-28 June; 23 June-5 July; 30 June-12 July; 7-19, 14-26 July; 21 July-2 August; 28 July-9 August; 4-16, 11-23, 18-30 August; 25 Aug-6 Sept; 1-13, 8-20, 15-27 September.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£1745 per person sharing

There is a small group supplement of £220 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 £88 for those who request a single room - there is no supplement if willing to share. You must be prepared to share whilst on the ride.

**2018 rides confirmed before 31st July 2017 are eligible for 2017 prices**



Orkhon Valley Camping Ride



A camping trail ride through the remote Orkhon Valley with the benefit of a support vehicle for all except three days in Naiman Nuur where you are supported by pack yaks. Guided by authentic Mongolian nomads you will discover the heart of Mongolia and the beauty of the summer pasturelands.

Day One:

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: Ulan Bator - Kharkhorin/Karakorum

After breakfast in your hotel you are transferred to Karakorum, Mongolia's ancient capital, with a picnic lunch en-route. There is also time to visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery.

Today is a long day of travelling, with c. 6-7 hours on the road (depending on road conditions!) but by this evening you will be within the Orkhon Valley and ready to start your riding tour tomorrow morning. Your wilderness camp is by the entrance to the valley and here you have dinner and overnight.

Day Three: Orkhon Valley

After breakfast you meet the nomadic herds and horses which will be your companions through central Mongolia. After being allocated a horse, you mount and set off in the northern mountains of the Orkhon valley. Your picnic lunch is brought by the support vehicles and as you are carrying no supplies on horseback with you, there are plenty of opportunities to canter. After your ride you set up camp in a remote location for dinner and to overnight.

Day Four: Orkhon Valley

After breakfast you continue riding in the Khangai mountains. Again the support vehicles bring your picnic lunch to you and camp is set up within the wilderness.

Day Five: Tovkhon Monastery

Set off riding to Tovkhon Monastery, one of the major Buddhist sites within Mongolia, situated at an altitude of 2,400m. Stop here for your picnic lunch before riding downhill to the valley. The views are astonishing and the valley is laid out before you, flanked by forested mountains in the distance - you can see how it got its name as the "cradle" of nomadic life. Again camp is in a remote wilderness location.

Day Six: Orkhon Falls

Continue riding upstream through the valley where the landscape will become wilder. This region has ancient black lava flows which contrast with the foaming white water of the Orkhon river and will remind you of the volcanic history of the country. After viewing the falls and stopping for a picnic lunch, you reach the larch forests at the base of the Naiman Nuur mountains where you set up camp.

Day Seven: Naiman Nuur Park

For the next three days you will be riding within the wild and remote landscapes of the Naiman Nuur Park (translated as 8 Lakes Park). Pack yaks will carry your belongings and the camping equipment as this beautiful and isolated area is not accessible to vehicles. After packing all the luggage and equipment onto the yaks you set off riding steeply uphill into the mountains. After a picnic lunch along the way you reach a nomadic family which live within the park and breed yaks. You will stay with this family in their guest yurts which sleep up to five people.

Day Eight: Naiman Nuur

Today's ride allows you to explore on horseback the beautiful forested mountains and scenic lakes of the Naiman Nuur Park. This is considered one of the most beautiful sites within Mongolia so keep your camera out. Return to the gers for dinner and to overnight.

Day Nine: Orkhon Valley

Today you depart Naiman Nuur with your pack yaks to return to the Orkhon Valley. Ride through steep mountains where you will appreciate the surefootedness of your horses and the skills of your yak herders! Set up camp close to the yurt of a local yak breeder and have dinner and overnight in camp.

Day Ten: Nomadic Family Life

Your final day within the Orkhon Valley is spent with a nomadic family. The day is dedicated to discovering the traditional lifestyle of the nomads where you will be able to take part in some of the daily activities. You can still spend some time in the saddle as you help to round up the herds or simply explore the region on a local ride. Spend the night in a guest yurt close to the families own gers.

Day Eleven: Khogno Khan Park

After breakfast you are transferred c. 4 hours to the Khogno Khan park which has a landscape similar to that of the Gobi desert in southern Mongolia. After a picnic lunch visit the Ovgon Khiid Monastery and take a short hike within the Elsentasarhai sand dunes.

For your final night on the Mongolian steppes you stay within a touristic ger camp - these traditional yurts are decked with colourful Mongolian furniture and are a magical experience. Each ger sleeps up to five riders and there are showers available in a separate building.

Day Twelve: Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast you are transferred back to Ulaanbaatar - you stop for a picnic lunch en-route and should arrive in the afternoon. The rest of the day is free for you to explore downtown and do some shopping - traditional clothing and objects are popular purchases.

Later you are taken to a show with traditional dances, music and songs.

Dinner is not included tonight so you can choose from the many options within the city. Overnight in the Dream hotel or similar (2* with twin or triple rooms).

Day Thirteen:

After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight home (which must depart after 8am).



Accommodation: 6 nights in tents: French Decathlon tents are modern and well maintained - they sleep 1 or 2 people. Self-inflating mattresses provide extra comfort and a large tent is available for dining, with tables and chairs. A shower tent is erected and water can be heated over the campfire.

3 nights in guest yurts with a nomadic family: each ger sleeps 4-5 people on single beds and has a central stove. Gers are simple and you eat in your host families ger or outside (weather dependent). Shower tents and dry toilets are available.

1 night in a tourist ger camp: the most comfortable accommodation on the steppes, with beds, small tables and stoves. There are showers, toilets and washbasins in a separate building and restaurants provide the meals.

2 nights in a 2* hotel in Ulaanbaatar: twin or triple rooms with bathrooms.

Single accommodation is not possible on the trail and can only be guaranteed for the two nights in Ulaanbaatar. Single tents can be requested (numbers are limited) but you must be prepared to share in the yurts.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: You need to be a competent rider who is happy, comfortable and in control in all paces across all terrains. The wide open spaces offer ample opportunities to canter.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 12 nights / 13 days / 7 days of riding
Departure dates: 2018:
5-17, 12-24, 19-31 May; 26 May-7 June; 2-14, 9-21, 16-28 June; 23 June-5 July; 30 June-12 July; 7-19, 14-26 July; 21 July-2 August; 28 July-9 August; 4-16, 11-23, 18-30 August; 25 Aug-6 Sept; 1-13, 8-20, 15-27 September.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£1314 per person sharing

There is a small group supplement of £220 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 £53 for those who request a single room - there is no supplement if willing to share.

**2018 rides confirmed before 31st July 2017 are eligible for 2017 prices**



Nomadic Life Experience



The perfect option for families with children who want to visit Mongolia and experience life with a Mongolian family. There is lots of variety to keep children interested plus the shortest transfer times possible. Dates outside of school holidays are perfect for mixed groups with novice riders who also want to experience the beauty and hospitality of Mongolia.

Day One:

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 - Hustai National Park

After breakfast you will be transferred to Hustai national park which is home to the wild Przewalski horses. You have lunch at the Hustai ger camp and in the afternoon set out in a 4x4 vehicle to try and find the wild horses - known as Takhi locally.

Return to the ger camp for dinner and to overnight (2-4 people per yurt).

Day Three: Hustai National Park - Kharkhorin (Karakorum)

After breakfast you are driven to Karakorum - the ancient capital of the Mongolian Empire. A picnic lunch is taken en-route. On arrival there is time to visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery before retiring to your yurt camp for dinner and to overnight (2-4 people per yurt).

Day Four: Orkhon Valley

Set off after breakfast to transfer to the Orkhon Valley on dirt roads with a picnic along the journey. There is a stop en-route to visit the Tovkhon Monastery - a short hike of c. 1 hour up and 45 minutes down is required to reach the monastery, or you can hire horses locally if you prefer (at extra cost).

By the end of the day you will have reached the yurt camp of the nomadic family where you will be spending the next four days. The guest yurts are close to the family yurt and have single beds but there are no showers here. You will experience the true nomadic way of life with dry toilets and water boiled over a fire for washing.

Days Five, Six and Seven: Orkhon Valley

These three days are devoted to horse riding and discovering the traditional lifestyles of nomadic families in Mongolia. The programme is very flexible and you are free to tailor your activities depending on your wishes. The horses are at your disposal, together with a translator and equestrian guide so that you can ride whenever you like. The nomads adapt the riding pace to the ability of the group, so could organise a gentle ride for beginners in the morning and a faster ride in the afternoon for experienced members of the group. If you all ride together then the pace will be set to that of the weakest rider.

As well as horses, there is also a driver and vehicle available if you wish to visit sights which cannot be reached in a single day on horseback.

Despite all the riding trails and vehicle tours on offer, try to spend some time sitting quietly in camp, playing with the children, helping to care for the herds and experiencing the unique lifestyle and sweetness of life in the wilderness.

If you choose to do only one riding tour during your stay then we recommend the one to Orkhon Falls, but for keen riders there are many routes.

On your final evening your hosts will prepare a special meal - the Khorkhog or Mongolian barbecue.

Day Eight: Orkhon Valley - Khogno Khan Park

A final morning to spend with your nomadic family, either sitting with them or taking a final ride or hike. After lunch it's time to say goodbye - a difficult moment as you will have forged friendships over the last few days.

You are transferred to Khogno Khan Park - the mini Gobi - where you can take a camel ride through the dunes and visit the Ovgon Khiid Monastery.

Dinner and overnight in the guest yurt of a different nomadic family.

Day Nine: Khogno Khan - Ulaanbaatar

After an early breakfast you are transferred back to Ulaanbaatar with a picnic lunch en-route. You should arrive in the afternoon with enough time to do some shopping. In the late afternoon you are taken to a show with 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 in the city.

Overnight at the Dream 2 star hotel or similar.

Day Ten:

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Flights should depart 8am or later.



Accommodation: 2 nights in ger camps - each ger sleeps up to 4 or 5 people in single beds. Showers are available in separate buildings.

5 nights in a yurt with a nomadic family - guest gers are situated close to the family ger - this is more rustic than the touristic camps but a more authentic experience.

2 nights in a 2 star hotel in Ulaanbaatar.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: Beginners and novice riders are accepted. A horse is available and at your disposal if you wish to ride, but you are also welcome to partake of different activities if you prefer. Experienced riders should accept that riding pace will be limited to that of the weakest member of the group.
Type of ride: Centre based.
Total riding time: 10 days / 9 nights / 3 days of riding
Departure dates: 2018:
5-14, 12-21, 19-28 May; 26 May-4 June; 2-11, 9-18, 16-25 June; 23 June-2 July; 30 June-9 July; 7-16, 14-23, 21-30 July; 28 July-6 August; 4-13, 11-20, 18-27 August; 25 Aug-3 Sept; 1-10, 8-17, 15-24 September.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£1103 per person sharing

There is a small group supplement of £176 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 £53 for those who request a single room - there is no supplement if willing to share.