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Gobi and Grasslands Ride

Overview

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…

Highlights

  • Cross the golden sands of the Bayan Gobi on horseback
  • Long canters over the grasslands of the Orkhon Valley
  • Camping in true Mongolian wilderness
  • See the 17th century Ovgon Khiid monastery
  • Visit Karakorum, the ancient Mongol Capital

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 4 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg / 15st / 209lbs

Description

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.

Horses & Riding

Tack

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.

Horses

Mongolian

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Dunes and Steppes Ride is a trail ride
  • Mongolia Express Trail is a trail ride

Ages

16+ years recommended.

Health

You must be in good health and with good physical fitness.

Weight

95kg / 15st / 209lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

Mongolian cuisine is mostly based around animal products - meat (red food) and dairy (white food) - from the family herds of sheep, cattle and horses. 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 female animals are breeding and therefore lactating, producing milk for cheese, butter, yoghurt etc. The diet is calorie rich in the harsh winter months in order to provide ample energy for warmth. The nomads' energy requirements are lower during the summer months and the temperatures more stable. Many traditional nomadic Mongolian dishes are either fried in fat or oil or steamed in large pans over the central stove which is used both for heating and cooking.

During these trails the traditional Mongolian diet has been adapted somewhat to accommodate western tastes. However, you will still have opportunities to sample many of the traditional foods eaten by your nomadic hosts.

Accommodation

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.

Once you are truly off the beaten track you will be camping in one or two person tents. Showers and in fact bathrooms are a rarity once you are outside of Ulanbaataar. During camping nights and whilst staying in the guest yurts, water can be boiled over the fire for washing. Tents and comfortable sleeping mats are provided for the nights in camp, but guests will be required to bring their own sleeping bag. This trail includes 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.

Itineraries

Dunes and Steppes Ride Tented accommodation.

Mongolia Express Trail Tented accommodation.

Other 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.

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

Travel

There is a choice of airlines flying to Mongolia but none are direct. Popular choices include Air China (through Beijing), Turkish Airlines (through Istanbul) and Aeroflot (through Moscow). We recommend the Aeroflot 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 7am for the transfer which departs once the Aeroflot flight has landed.
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).

Testimonials

Sharon H., May 31, 2018

Completely life changing and very emotional, memories made that I will never forget and some smells too! Favourite memory?: Riding amongst vultures feeding on a carcass. Accommodation & Food?: Unfortunately it was colder than expected and I had never camped before - this added to the fun for me although it was very testing - the tour operator brought extra sleeping bags. The food was excellent and our chef went above and beyond to make sure I ate well (vegetarian). Horses?: The first horse was a total saint and perfect in every way. The second horse was not really suitable for me but I swapped with another person after two rides and then we had the perfect horses to suit us.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

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 National Museum of Mongolian History. Dinner with the group in the evening will be taken downtown before overnighting at your hotel.

Day 2 - Ulaanbaatar - Bayan Gobi desert

Riding: No riding.

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 3 to 4 - Bayan Gobi desert

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

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 5 - Khogno Khan

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

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 6 - Bayan Gobi - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

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 7 to 10 - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

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 11 - Karakorum

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

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 12 - Ulaanbaatar

Riding: No riding.

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).

Day 13

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for your flight, which must depart after 7 am.

Accommodation

2 nights at the Dream Hotel in Ulaanbaatar, in shared rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

4 nights in mobile camps in the desert. 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 - the 'shower' is actually a hand-pumped pressure-washer but it does the job.

2 nights in tourist yurt camps. 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.

5 nights in a guest yurt which is set up next to your nomadic herdsman family hosts. Each yurt/ger sleeps 4-5 people on single beds and has a central stove. Gers are simple and you eat in your host family's ger or outside (weather dependent). Shower tents and dry toilets are available.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

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.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

July 6, 2021 - July 18, 2021

Aug. 3, 2021 - Aug. 15, 2021

Aug. 24, 2021 - Sept. 5, 2021

May 10, 2022 - May 22, 2022

May 17, 2022 - May 29, 2022

May 24, 2022 - June 5, 2022

May 31, 2022 - June 12, 2022

June 7, 2022 - June 19, 2022

June 14, 2022 - June 26, 2022

June 21, 2022 - July 3, 2022

June 28, 2022 - July 10, 2022

July 5, 2022 - July 17, 2022

July 12, 2022 - July 24, 2022

July 19, 2022 - July 31, 2022

July 26, 2022 - Aug. 7, 2022

Aug. 2, 2022 - Aug. 14, 2022

Aug. 9, 2022 - Aug. 21, 2022

Aug. 16, 2022 - Aug. 28, 2022

Aug. 23, 2022 - Sept. 4, 2022

Aug. 30, 2022 - Sept. 11, 2022

Sept. 6, 2022 - Sept. 18, 2022

Sept. 13, 2022 - Sept. 25, 2022

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£1425 $1975 €1695
2022
Sharing
£1450 $2010 €1725
Included 12 nights accommodation, 8 days of riding, all meals from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 13 (except for dinner on day 12), set-time airport transfers and all tours as described in the programme.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, Mongolian visa, dinner on day 12, drinks except water, tea and coffee during the riding days.

Extras

2021/2022 - Single Supplement £67 $93 €80
Paid to Far and Ride
Single rooms are possible in Ulaanbaatar only and the single supplement is only payable by those who request a single room - there is no supplement if willing to share.
2021/2022 - Small Group Supplement £210 $290 €250
Paid to Far and Ride
To confirm with only 2-3 riders in the group. This is removed/refunded when the group reaches 4 riders.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: No riding.

You will be met at Ulaanbaatar airport at 11:30 and transferred directly to the start of the start point of the ride. This is a fairly short two-hour drive which takes you out to the endless plains of the Mongolian steppe, dotted with the home ger of the nomadic herders. You'll be able to spot the first herds of horses, roaming free across the road in front of your vehicle. Dinner and overnight in a tourist ger camp.

Days 2 to 6

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

You will spend the next five days on horseback, exploring through Central Mongolia. Guided by a nomadic herder and with the help of your English speaking translator, you will ride through the amazing steppes, hills and valleys of this area, over small mountains and through sparse larch forest.

Many nomadic Mongolian families inhabit this region, with their herds of horses, cattle, goats and sheep grazing close by. This tour will give you the chance to discover and their traditional way of life and the unique opportunity to experience it all for yourself. You will camp with a host family for at least one night during the ride and be able to help with their day to day tasks, including gathering the herds in each evening and milking at mares and yaks come day-break.

You will spend 5 night in campsites which are chosen carefully, perhaps one night in the middle of nowhere in the steppes; another close to a river and maybe a night in the forest where steppe wolves can often be heard calling late into the night.

Day 7

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

After breakfast this day you will be able to enjoy a final morning ride and picnic lunch on the steppe. Then, with a fond goodbye to your guides and horses, you will transfer back to Ulaanbaatar.

In the late afternoon, you will attend a show in the city with traditional dances, music and songs from Mongolia, including the amazing Khoomei. Overnight in a hotel. Dinner is to your own account this evening.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your flight, which must depart after 7 am.

Accommodation

1 night in a tourist yurt camp. Tourist gers are well furnished, with comfortable beds (usually 2-3 per yurt), small tables and central stoves. There is generally a shower & toilet block and sometimes a small washbasin in the yurt itself. There is also a restaurant to provide the meals.

5 nights camping. Modern tents are used, sleeping 1 or 2 people in each. 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 - the 'shower' is actually a hand-pumped pressure-washer but it does the job.

1 night in a 2* hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

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.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

May 23, 2021 - May 30, 2021

June 13, 2021 - June 20, 2021

Aug. 1, 2021 - Aug. 8, 2021

Aug. 22, 2021 - Aug. 29, 2021

Sept. 12, 2021 - Sept. 19, 2021

May 8, 2022 - May 15, 2022

May 15, 2022 - May 22, 2022

May 22, 2022 - May 29, 2022

May 29, 2022 - June 5, 2022

June 5, 2022 - June 12, 2022

June 12, 2022 - June 19, 2022

June 19, 2022 - June 26, 2022

June 26, 2022 - July 3, 2022

July 3, 2022 - July 10, 2022

July 10, 2022 - July 17, 2022

July 17, 2022 - July 24, 2022

July 24, 2022 - July 31, 2022

July 31, 2022 - Aug. 7, 2022

Aug. 7, 2022 - Aug. 14, 2022

Aug. 14, 2022 - Aug. 21, 2022

Aug. 21, 2022 - Aug. 28, 2022

Aug. 28, 2022 - Sept. 4, 2022

Sept. 4, 2022 - Sept. 11, 2022

Sept. 11, 2022 - Sept. 18, 2022

Sept. 18, 2022 - Sept. 25, 2022

Pricing

2021
Sharing
£890 $1235 €1060
2022
Sharing
£915 $1270 €1090
Included 7 nights accommodation, 5.5 days of riding, all meals from lunch on arrival day to breakfast on departure day (except for dinner in Ulaanbaatar), set-time airport transfers and all tours as described in the programme.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, Mongolian visa, dinner on day 7, drinks except water, tea and coffee during the riding days.

Extras

2021/2022 - Single Supplement £34 $47 €40
Paid to Far and Ride
Single rooms are possible in Ulaanbaatar only and the single supplement is payable for those who request a single room - there is no supplement if willing to share.
2021/2022 - Small Group Supplement £152 $205 €180
Paid to Far and Ride
To confirm when only 2-3 riders in the group. This is removed/refunded when the group reaches 4 riders.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.