Classically wonderful and semi-tailorable, Terelj National Park, offers travelers an ability to experience the Nomadic Lifestyle and Horseback Travel without having to spend days in vehicles to reach a remote destination - which translates as more riding and more time with the families if you only have a short duration in Mongolia.
Imagine riding horses or even hoping on the back-end of an ox cart and touring along amazingly picturesque mountain river valleys lushly filled with trees, wild flowers and open green pastures - on the horizon you can see nomadic families herding their animals under the golden rays of the summer sun. Nomadic Lifestyle in the region offers you an amazing cultural immersion opportunity to learn more about horses, livestock, Mongolian traditional clothing and garments, archery and even how to make nomadic dairy products with the families.
Difficulty of trip: Easy going
Method of travel: mainly horseback w/ some ox-carts and trekking (camping)
Community Fee: $391 USD for 8 days/ 7 nights
Community Fee: $301 USD for 6 days/ 5 nights
Community fee: $234 USD for 5 days/4 nights
Community fee: $211 USD for 4 days/3 nights
Community fee: $164 USD for 3 days/2 nights
Community fee: $109 USD for 2 days/1 night
Additional In-Country Travel Expenses
UB to Terelj Park Bus Fee (approx.): $2 USD
Booking & travel orientation w/ handbook: $25 USD
National Park Fee: $3 USD
Day One - Saddling Horses and Prepping an Ox Cart (L,D): You will depart Ulaanbaatar and will have an approximate 2 hour bus ride to Terelj National Park. Upon arrival at the 2nd to last bus stop (Terelj Village), our local guide will greet you with either an ox cart or horses. From here you will begin your 3 kilometers horseback travel with the crossing of the Terelj River and continue northwards through an incredibly stunning mountain river valley to your first nomadic family. Upon arrival you you will dismount and enter into Mr. Chuluunhuu’s Ger where you will be greeted with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional Mongolian tea. During your stay, Mr. Chuluunhuu will show you the techniques of how to saddle a horse and prepare ox cart to which you will have time plenty of time to refine your skills and continue practice it yourself afterwards. Tonight you are going to have a fun filled time learning how to play a variety of Mongolian traditional games with sheep’s bones (shagai) after a heart warming nomadic dinner with the family. Nights in the Park are amazing, before retiring to your tent for evening, its a great opportunity to just enjoy a bit of star gazing and take in the fresh air - which is always great for a deep and relaxing sleep.
Day Two - Bridles and National Patterns (B,L,D): Eat well as soon after your breakfast, you will begin the 24 kilometer horseback adventure through forested landscapes over to an open and picturesque green plain where Ms. Amarjargal’s family will prepare and serve you with a much deserved hot nomadic lunch and tea. Ms. Amarjargal, a locally well known and talented local nomadic seamstress (she sews much the traditional garments for the local nomads), will teach you how to tie a bridle as well as how to make Mongolian patterns for traditional garments which will be followed by a wonderfully hot nomadic dinner and traditional tea with the family.
Day Three - Tether Livestock and Traditional Knots (B,L,D): Today after breakfast, you will continue traveling for 9 kilometers to the next family with a local nomadic guide. Upon arrival at Mr. Bold’s family, they will prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. Later that afternoon, you will be shown how to properly tether livestock together as well as how to make a button by cotton or silk for traditional garments before your evening dinner with the family and retiring for the evening to your tent.
Day Four - The Ancient art of Mongolian Archery (B,L,D): After breakfast, Mr. Boogi will guide you for 9 kilometers by horseback or ox cat to Mr. Zorigt’s Ger where you will have a chance to learn a bit about Mongolian traditional bow and arrows. We our selves having shot bows and arrows, we have spent hours just having a lot of fun - we are sure that you will too! Once you get obtained a certain level of ‘mastery’ you can compete among yourselves or even organize a little (friendly) archery competition with the local nomads before returning for your evening dinner.
Day Five - Learn how nomadic families make dairy products (B,L,D): After breakfast you will prepare for your 8 kilometer ox cart ride with Mr. Ganzorig through lush forests along the Terelj River to Ms. Khashuu's family where they will prepare and serve you with a hot nomadic lunch and traditional tea. After your meal and some rest, she will show you the process of how to make dried nomadic curds and some before your evening dinner with the family.
Day Six - Steer an Ox Cart: After breakfast, Mr. Khashuu, will teach you how to steer an ox cart and you can refine your skills with him around the area. Before you begin your 1 kilometer ox cart or horseback ride back to Terelj National Park (Bus back to UB), the family is going to prepare and serve you with a farewell lunch - you last taste of nomadic lifestyle, enjoy!
Visiting nomadic families
All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Herder guide service on route
Horse riding according to itinerary
Traveling by ox cart according to itinerary
Pack animals on route
Cultural activities (archery, collecting dung, play ankle bone game etc)
Boiled water on route
Mongolian Cultural Travel Tips & Information
Horseback Riding in Mongolia
Mongolia's Gobi Desert Camels
Mongolians and horses have historically co-exist since the early times and It’s impossible to imagine Mongolians without horses. There are many horse related folk legends, stories about horses, epic literature and songs written about horses. Mongolians prohibit the cursing of horses, beating horses and whipping of horses on their heads and chests. Mongolia’s horse culture according to their traditions teaches to show to respect to the horse during its life and honorifically place the horse’s head on an Ovoo or other sacred place to show their respect to the nobility of their horse’s life. The head of a horse is often decorated with white stones or horse dung. Heads of especially fast racing horses are usually wrapped in a blue scarf. The Mongolian traditional horse head fiddle further glorifies the station of the horse by its artistic design and traditional sounds. The culture of the Mongolian horse even spreads to embroidery, handicraft, wooden carving, metal and silver crafts – Mongolia’s respect of the horse can be found everywhere throughout the country.
The world’s rare two-humped Mongolian Bactrian Camel is considered to be the tolerant and noble animal among five animals (horse, cow, sheep, goat and camel) and is sand colored herbivores mainly found in the Gobi Desert region of Mongolia. Mongolia leads the number of Bactrian camels in the world and Mongolian camels were domesticated in olden days and are traditionally used as nomadic transport. When Mongolian camels are used for nomadic transportation their noses are pegged and they are outfitted with a leading rein, halter, saddle, saddle cloth and stairs. Mongolian camels weight is between 400-800kg and camel meat is low in fat and lean. Mongolian camel milk is a staple food for Gobi Desert nomads and is more rich in fat and protein than cow’s milk. A female camel produces about 3 to 4 liters of milk a day; camel milk can readily be made into airag (fermented beverage), hoormog (yogurt diluted with milk) and dried curds. Mongolian camel wool is produced as a natural insulation against the cold and easily sheds in the heat. Mongolian camel wool has unique characteristics of silky softness and strength.
Riding Mongolian Camels
Mongolian nomads say that it’s much closer to the sun from the top of the tallest animal of desert - so while you are riding a Mongolian camel you will always have a panoramic view of the Gobi Desert. Generally, Mongolia’s camel guides are Mongolian nomads that are born and live in the Gobi Desert. Mongolians often start to ride camels at a very early age and have plenty of experience to share with you about how to saddle, groom and command to lay down a camel to mount and dismount. During your camel trek, you can help the Mongolian nomad by looking after your camel; learn how to groom it, saddle and unsaddle it as well as bring water and feed it. Kind attention between the camel and the rider always contributes towards establishing a close. Almost any traveler can ride a camel (in reasonable physical condition) and learn how to control it quickly – though its highly recommended to review the camel riding tips that can be found in the Ger to Ger Travelers’ Handbook. Its good to apply your knowledge and practice on a camel with a Mongolian nomad around their Ger (traditional dwelling) before starting a long trek. A camel trek could cover between 5 to 25kms a day between nomadic families or even for a short roundtrip for sightseeing.