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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

  • 3 itineraries available
  • Max 11 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 3 itineraries:

  • Gobi and Orkhon Valley Ride is a trail ride
  • Hike & Ride Tour 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

Gobi and Orkhon Valley Ride Tented accommodation.

Hike & Ride Tour 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. The dates and transfers have been chosen to coincide with Turkish Airlines (through Istanbul) as they have proven to be the most reliable over the last couple of years. Alternative options include Air China (through Beijing) and Aeroflot (through Moscow), but these are both still experiencing problems due to Covid and/or the situation in Ukraine. Our partners recommend not booking MIAT flights as the company is financially weak.

Airport transfers are included provided you arrive/depart at set times, which coincide with the arrival/departure of the Turkish Airlines flight. If you choose to arrive later or depart earlier, then you will have to take a taxi, which costs c. 35-40 USD each way. Turkish Airlines change their flight schedules throughout the season, but if you book the Turkish Airlines flight then your transfer is definitely included!

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 transferred from Ulaanbaatar airport to your four star hotel (transfer timed to meet the Turkish Airlines flight). After lunch you take a short walk through the Yurt District to visit the Gandantegchinlin Monastery. Return to your hotel to rest (there's a swimming pool, spa and gym - extra cost, payable locally) before dinner with your group.

Day 2 - Ullaanbaatar - Kharkhorin

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast you're transferred to Kharkhorin (Karakorum), Mongolia's ancient capital, with a picnic lunch en-route. This is a long day on the road (6-7 hours, depending on road conditions) but this evening you will be within the Orkhon Valley World Heritage Site and ready to start your riding adventure.

Visit Erdene Zuu Monastery on arrival and then set up camp in the wilderness near the entrance to Orkhon Valley.

Day 3 - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Meet your horses and nomadic herdsmen who will accompany you on your trail. Mount up and head towards the northern mountains of the famous Orkhon Valley. Your picnic lunch will be brought by vehicle so you don't need to carry it on horseback and can enjoy many canters.

After your day on horseback set up camp in the wilderness before dinner.

Day 4 - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Continue you ride in the Khangai Mountains with another picnic lunch provided by the support vehicle and another new wilderness camping location.

Day 5 - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

This morning you ride to Tovkhon Monastery, one of the major Buddhist sites in Mongolia and situated at 2400m. After lunch you ride down the mountains into the Orkhon Valley, with astonishing views across the valley to the wood-studded mountains in the background. This area is known as the cradle of the nomadic way of life in Mongolia.

Set up camp in the wilderness before dinner.

Day 6 - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

This mornings ride takes you to the famous Orkhon Falls. Continue riding through the upstream part of the valley, where the landscape becomes wilder and wilder. This region has black ancient lava flows which contrast with the white running water of the Orkhon river and remind you of Mongolia's volcanic past.

After a picnic lunch you ride to the larch forests with the impressive Naiman Nuur mountains beyond. Set up camp.

Day 7 - Naiman Nuur Park

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

For the next three days you will experience a different pace - after the wide open spaces of Orkhon Valley you now ride in the wild and remote landscapes of Naiman Nuur which means the 8 Lakes Park. Pack yaks will carry your equipment and personal belongings for these three days as this beautiful and isolated area is not accessible to vehicles. Pack your luggage and camping equipment onto the yaks and start your steep ride into the mountains, stopping for a picnic lunch en-route.

You will spend the next two nights in guest yurts (5 people per yurt) with a nomadic family living in this remote park - they are yak breeders.

Day 8 - Naiman Nuur Park

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Todays ride takes you into beautiful forested mountains, discovering the wonderful scenic lakes of the Naiman Nuur park before returning to your guest yurt.

Day 9 - Naiman Nuur - Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

On horseback you depart Naiman Nuur with your pack yaks and head back into the Orkhon Valley. Ride through steep mountains where you'll appreciate the sure-footed horses and ability of your yak herders!

Dinner and overnight in a guest yurt close to a nomadic family.

Day 10 - Orkhon Valley - Bayan Gobi

Riding: 2 hours

After breakfast you depart by 4x4 vehicle to the Bayan Gobi desert ("rich Gobi"). Here you'll meet your nomadic herder who will be your riding guide for the next two days through the dunes and steppes of the Bayan Gobi.

After a first afternoon ride, set up camp in the desert, in a sparsely populated area on the southern edge of the Bayan Gobi.

Day 11 - Bayan Gobi

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

A full day on horseback in the Bayan Gobi, which is the only opportunity to ride a horse in the typical Gobi landscape as the southern Gobi only offers camels. This area is the geographical heart of Mongolia and located at the junction of three major Mongolian ecosystems - two of the main mountain ranges, the Khangai and Khentii, and the northern edge of the Gobi desert.

Mount Batkhan overlooks this area and gives rise to several rivers and springs which mix their waters with the sand dunes of Elsentasarkhai ("sand break") forming a changing and spectacular scenery.

In the afternoon you reach the Khogno Khan cliffs where you visit Ovgon Khiid monastery which is set in dramatic scenery.

Dinner and overnight in a guest yurt close to a nomadic family.

Day 12 - Bayan Gobi - Ullaanbaatar

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast and early departure to Ullaanbaatar where you should arrive in the afternoon, after taking lunch en-route. The rest of the afternoon is dedicated to shopping in stores downtown or at the Narantuul "black market" where you will find traditional clothing and objects of daily life.

In the late afternoon you attend a show with traditional dances, music and songs from Mongolia, especially the amazing Khoomei. Dinner is not included this evening so that you can choose from the many dining opportunities available in the city.

Overnight at the 3 star Nine hotel or similar.

Day 13

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast and transfer to the airport in time for the Turkish Airlines flight.

Accommodation

Two nights in hotels, four nights in yurts and six nights camping.

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 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

May 16, 2023 - May 28, 2023

May 30, 2023 - June 11, 2023

June 13, 2023 - June 25, 2023

June 27, 2023 - July 9, 2023

July 11, 2023 - July 23, 2023

July 25, 2023 - Aug. 6, 2023

Aug. 8, 2023 - Aug. 20, 2023

Aug. 22, 2023 - Sept. 3, 2023

Sept. 5, 2023 - Sept. 17, 2023

Pricing

2023
Sharing
£1670 $2055 €1950
Included 12 nights accommodation, 9 days of riding, all meals from lunch 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

2023 - Single Supplement £129 $158 €150
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.
2023 - Small Group Supplement £240 $295 €280
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 transferred from Ulaanbaatar airport to your four-star hotel (transfer timed to meet the Turkish Airlines flight). After lunch, you take a short walk through the Yurt District to visit the Gandantegchinlin Monastery. Return to your hotel to rest (there's a swimming pool, spa and gym - extra cost, payable locally) before dinner with your group.

Day 2 - Ulaanbaatar - Khogno Khan Park (Bayan Gobi)

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast will be served at your hotel this morning before you meet your driver and team ready to begin the journey to Khogno Khan Park. You will stop for a picnic lunch along the way before enjoying your first short hike to the Ovgon Khiid Monastery and the Elsentasarhaï sand dunes.

Dinner and overnight in tents in the wilderness, with mattress and shower tent.

Day 3 - Khogno Khan - Tsenkher Hot Springs

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast in camp, you will help to pack everything away and continue your journey by road to the Tsenkher Hot Springs. Another tasty picnic lunch will be enjoyed along the way and once you have reached the hot spring you might like to enjoy a relaxing bath!

Overnight in yurt camp (2-4 people per yurt in individual beds) with shower and toilet in a separate building.

Days 4 to 7 - Hiking in the Khangai Mountains

Riding: No riding.

The next four days will be spent hiking through the Khangai Mountains, heading in a southwesterly direction.

From the hills surrounding Tsenkher, you will reach the peaks that dominate the Orkhon Valley to over 2400 m. Discover Tovkhon Monastery, one of the most sacred places in Mongolia, nestled high in the mountains. Eventually, you will descend through larch forests to the Orkhon Valley and see your first glimpses of its famous waterfalls.

Each day you will hike between 4 and 6 hours in gentle mountainous terrain.

The nights are spent in tents in the wilderness, with mattresses provided. Dinner and overnight will be in tents.

A 4x4 support vehicle joins the group each night with the cooking and camping equipment.

On the evening of day 7, you will be driven to the yurt of a nomadic family. This is the opportunity to discover the unique lifestyle of Mongolian nomads. This night will be spent in a guest yurt close to the family yurt.

Days 8 to 11 - Horse riding in the Orkhon Valley

Riding: 4 - 5 hours

These next four days will be spent trekking on horseback through the famous Orkhon Valley.

Each day you will ride for between 4 and 5 hours, depending on the riding ability of the group, and therefore the pace of the rides (the slower you ride, the longer you will spend in the saddle!).

The support vehicle meets you for picnic lunches (nothing to carry on horseback) and then again in the evening to set up camp.

The first three nights are spent in tents in the wilderness, with mattresses and a shower tent provided. The last evening will be in a tourist yurt camp in Karakorum (2-4 people per yurt, in single beds) with showers and toilets in a separate building.

Day 12 - Karakorum - Ulaanbaatar

Riding: No riding.

After breakfast this morning, you will be able to pay a visit to the famous Erdene Zuu Monastery.

You will then begin the long drive back to Ulaanbaatar where you should arrive in the afternoon, after taking lunch en route. The rest of the afternoon is dedicated to shopping in stores downtown or at the Narantuul "black market" where you will find traditional clothing and objects of daily life.

In the late afternoon, you attend a show with traditional dances, music and songs from Mongolia, especially the amazing Khoomei. Dinner is not included this evening so you can choose from the many dining opportunities available in the city.

Overnight at the 3-star Nine hotel or similar.

Day 13

Riding: No riding.

Breakfast and transfer to the airport in time for the Turkish Airlines flight.

Accommodation

Two nights in hotels, 3 nights in yurts and 7 nights camping.

Experience Beginner / Intermediate / Experienced

All levels of rider are welcome from beginners to experienced equestrians. You should ideally have some prior experience of horse riding before booking the trip, but your guides and horsemen will be able to assist you when needed.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 11
Departure windows

May 9, 2023 - May 21, 2023

May 30, 2023 - June 11, 2023

June 20, 2023 - July 2, 2023

July 11, 2023 - July 23, 2023  (*Naadam festival)

Aug. 1, 2023 - Aug. 13, 2023

Aug. 22, 2023 - Sept. 3, 2023

Sept. 12, 2023 - Sept. 24, 2023

Pricing

2023
Rider/Hiker; Sharing
£1670 $2055 €1950
Included 12 nights of accommodation, 5 days of hiking, 4 days of riding, all meals from lunch 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, and drinks except for water, tea and coffee during the riding and hiking days.

Extras

2023 - Single Supplement £129 $158 €150
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.
2023 - Small Group Supplement £240 $295 €280
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 7, 2023 - May 14, 2023

May 21, 2023 - May 28, 2023

June 11, 2023 - June 18, 2023

July 2, 2023 - July 9, 2023

July 23, 2023 - July 30, 2023

Aug. 13, 2023 - Aug. 20, 2023

Sept. 3, 2023 - Sept. 10, 2023

Sept. 17, 2023 - Sept. 24, 2023

Pricing

2023
Sharing
£1130 $1390 €1320
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

2023 - Single Supplement £64 $79 €75
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.
2023 - Small Group Supplement £154 $190 €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.