Winter in Mongolia riding holiday in Mongolia - Far and Ride
Home  >  Riding Holidays  >  Mongolia   >  Winter in Mongolia

Winter in Mongolia, Mongolia




Programme


• Orkhon Valley, Gobi and Hustai

 

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

Winter rides in Mongolia are not for the faint-hearted! The weather in Mongolia from November to March is very cold, but also very dry, so you will experience the wonder of the steppes glittering under a forever blue sky. Discover on horseback the magic landscapes of the Orkhon Valley, the dunes of Bayan Gobi desert and the wild Przewalski's horses in Hustai national park, all in a wintry white wonderland that few tourists will witness.

The Mongolian horses, whilst small in stature are huge in strength and resilience. They live out all year in harsh conditions in almost wild herds, but are still docile and obedient when caught for riding. They do still retain an element of "wildness" however and these rides are for competent riders only. Nothing beats cantering across the endless steppes on your Mongolian horse, alongside your nomad hosts and guide.

As most of the tourist ger camps are shut during the winter months, you will spend most of your nights with a Mongolian Nomadic family, sharing their lifestyle and discovering how they survive the harsh winters. This is a unique experience to interact with nomads and their livestock - horses, yaks and sheep.

Another highlight of these trails is the chance to ride in Hustai national park, where the Przewalski's horses can still be found. These rare and endangered wild horses have never been domesticated and remain the only truly wild horse in the world. It was once believed that Przewalski's horses were ancestors of the domestic horse, but recent DNA tests have shown that they are in fact a unique species!

One date in particular each winter is set around the Tsagaan Sar or Mongolian New Year, which is set according to the lunar calendar. Tsaagan Sar means "white month" and begins with the rising of the new moon. A trip to Mongolia during Tsagaan Sar is always colourful as everybody dresses in their newest and finest clothes and celebrates with their family. A special celebration cake is offered which consists of an odd number of large layered biscuits (two layers of happiness to frame a layer of evil!) covered with sweets. It is important to honour it if offered, by touching the base with your left hand and using your right hand to take a sweet (not a biscuit!).

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

You sleep in heated yurts or guesthouses whilst out on the trail, and in a hotel in Ulaanbaatar (first and last night).

For most of the trail you will be in a mixture of Guest yurt camps and Nomadic family camps. Many yurt camps shut in the winter months and so a highlight is spending time with nomadic families.

In Guest yurt camps, each yurt contains a number of single beds (2-5), small tables and a stove. Showers, washbasins and toilets are in separate buildings.

In Nomadic Family gers, the accommodation is more basic but you still have single beds and stoves. A shower tent is usually provided and dry toilets are available.

It is not possible to request a single yurt/ger and you should be prepared to share.

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, but there is still likely to be a lot of meat on these winter trails, particularly when staying with the nomadic families.

 

Activities

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.

 

Further Details

Languages: English

Health requirements: You must be in good health and with good physical fitness. Temperatures can drop as low as -20c in Dec/Jan so you should be prepared for this.

Age limit: 16+

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation, riding, full board (except in Ulaanbaatar), tours/visits as described in itinerary

Not included: Flights, drinks (except water, tea and coffee), lunch on day one and dinner on day ten, insurance, visa, tips

 

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)

 

Programme


Orkhon Valley, Gobi and Hustai



Discover the unique experience of riding in Mongolia in winter, when the famous sites are deserted except for traditional Mongolian nomads. Ride through the World heritage site of the Orkhon Valley, the sand dunes of the Bayan Gobi Desert and, with luck on your side, view the wild Przewalski horses in Hustai national park. Riding in Mongolia in winter is a personal challenge of extremes.

Please note that riding may not be possible in extremely bad weather but your hosts will endeavour to make your experience enjoyable.

Day One:

You will be met at Ulaanbaatar airport at 10:30 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 Naran Tuul market where you can buy some last minute supplies - fur hats are very popular here!

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 driven to Hustai National Park, where the wild Przewalski horses live - keep your fingers crossed! After lunch at Hustai yurt camp, you head out in the truck to look for them as well as the rich wildlife within the park.

Overnight at the Hustai yurt camp, which is quite modern and even in the heart of winter, you can normally have a hot shower - make the most of it! Dinner and overnight in the ger camp where 2 to 4 people share a ger/yurt.

Day Three: Horse riding tour at Hustai National Park

Breakfast at the yurt camp.

Today you will spend the whole day on horseback in the Hustai steppe landscape. You ride in vast white undulating spaces, then into the valley, in the middle of which you will find the river is frozen by the cold weather. Fascinating and unique experiences throughout...

Lunch will be served back in the warmth of the yurt camp, before you head out on an afternoon ride, allowing you to adapt your equipment depending on how warm you were in the morning.

Dinner and overnight at the yurt camp.

Day Four: Hustai - Karakorum

After breakfast you will be transferred by road to Karakorum (Kharkhorin), arriving in time for lunch. There will be time to visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery before transferring to your accommodation. Tonight you will either sleep in a yurt camp or with a nomadic family or in a guesthouse in Kharkhorin, depending on availability (most ger camps close in winter) - this will be confirmed to you before your departure.

Day Five: Karakorum - Orkhon Valley

After breakfast you are transferred by road to the Orkhon Valley - your journey is slow as you are on basic tracks through a wintery landscape. In winter the nomads move their yurts to winter sites which are protected from the winds - these are usually in the hollow of a valley or near a forest. An enclosure is erected to gather the herd together and enable them to keep warm.

You will be staying with a nomadic family and so the duration of your transfer will depend on their location, but you should arrive in time for lunch. There will be your first ride in the Orkhon Valley this afternoon before returning to the yurts for dinner and to overnight. The guest yurts are installed alongside the families and sleep up to five people.

Days Six and Seven: Orkhon Valley

During these three days you will discover the wonderful Orkhon Valley on horseback. Every day you ride to a different part of the valley, viewing the famous Orkhon Falls which are frozen in the cold, or perhaps a pass from where you will get a fantastic view over the whole valley. The precise itinerary depends on the weather as the climate can be very challenging in winter and your safety is the number one priority. If it is very cold then you may explore further afield by vehicle rather than on horseback.

As it is impossible to stop for a picnic lunch during the day, due to the cold temperatures, you do not stop during the day but return to the yurt camp for a late lunch.

These days are also a wonderful opportunity to discover the traditional way of life of Mongolian nomads and how the whole family cope with the extreme weather - how they protect their children, yaks, horses and sheep herds. This nomadic family will take great care of you and a fire will be kept burning in the stove even at night.

Day Eight: Orkhon Valley - Khogno Khan / Bayan Gobi Park

After breakfast you will have your final morning in the beautiful landscape of the Orkhon Valley. After lunch with your hosts and a sad farewell you are transferred to Khogno Khan / Bayan Gobi Park.

Tonight you will have dinner and overnight in a guest yurt alongside your host family.

Day Nine: Camel ride in Bayan Gobi

You will spend the whole day with your nomadic family amongst the dramatic scenery of the Bayan Gobi desert, between cliffs, sand dunes and wide open spaces. You will experience a camel ride, where you will get to ride through semi-desert steppes until reaching an area of golden sand dunes called Elsentasarhai. The contrast between the desert dunes and the frozen marshland which borders them is spectacular. It is difficult to imagine that this area is a Garden of Eden in summer with many nomads gathering their herds on the vast, wet plains.

There is also time to visit Ovgon Khiid Monastery which is set amongst dramatic scenery.

Dinner and overnight with the same host family as last night.

Day Ten: Ulaanbaatar

After breakfast you are transferred back to Ulaanbaatar by road through this amazing frozen landscape. After lunch in a small restaurant along the route you will arrive in Ulaanbaatar in the afternoon. There is time to visit the National Museum of Mongolian History.

Dinner is to your own account tonight before spending the night in the 2 star Dream Hotel or similar.

Day Eleven:

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport.



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. You need to be fit and prepared for the extreme conditions. Average daytime temperatures can drop as low as -20c (Dec/Jan), -10c (Feb) or -5c (Nov/Mar).
Type of ride: Trail ride
Total riding time: 10 nights / 11 days / 5 days of horse riding (c. 2-5 hours each day) plus a camel ride
Departure dates: 2017/18:
30 Sept-10 Oct; 7-17, 14-24, 21-31 October; 28 Oct-7 Nov; 4-14, 11-21, 18-28 November; 25 Nov-5 Dec; 2-12, 9-19, 16-26 December; 23 Dec-2 January; 30 Dec-9 Jan; 6-16, 13-23, 20-30 January; 27 Jan-6 Feb; 3-13, 10-20*, 17-27 February; 24 Feb-6 Mar; 3-13, 10-20, 17-27 March; 24 Mar-3 Apr; 31 Mar-10 Apr; 7-17, 14-24, 21 April-1 May; 28 Apr-8 May.

*Special Tsagaan Sur ride (Mongolian/Lunar New Year): 10-19 February 2018
 
Pricing: 2017/18:

£1314 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.