This is a definitive horseback expedition with a nomadic guide that will accompay you for the duration of the entire journey. Along this challenging yet rewarding horseback riding route, you will ride between 20 to 26 kilometers a day making your way up into the mountains where you will spend most of your time traveling remotely from family’s as you make your way to the Black Lake that is only accessable by trekking, horseback riding and/or helicopters. As you journey into remote and unspoiled scenic landscapes, you will experience the broad diversity of mountain geographies as well as learn the basics of managing your pack horse for the duration of the expeditions. Upon arrival and before departure from the location, you will have opptonuties to experience the warm side of nomadic culture as well as their day to day lifestyle in this region of Mongolia.
Difficulty of trip: Challenging
Method of travel: mainly horseback with some trekking possibilities (camping)
Community Fee: $604 USD for 12 days/ 11 nights
Group size: 2-10 persons
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 - Herding, Tethering and Milking Livestock (L, D): You will depart Ulaanbaatar by local bus to the picturesque Terelj National Park, we known for its scenic mountainous landscapes, stunning river valleys and lush green forest that is habitat to local wildlife and an array of wild flowers too. Upon arrival at the Terelj Village bus stop our nomadic guide and will greet you and you will begin your three kilometer journey across rivers heading northwards into a prestine mountain valley home to nomadic families. Upon arrival, at our family’s nomadic dwelling they will prepare and serve you with a welcoming hot nomadic lunch and tea. In the afternoon, you can spend the rest of the day with the family learning the techniques of how to herd nomadic livestock, tether sheep and goats for milking as well as trying out your Mongolian language skills in preparation for your long horseback expedition before the evening dinner and retiring to your tent for the night.
Day Two - Horseback Riding through Scenic Mountain Valleys (B, L, D): After breakfast, you will pack your horse with your guide and travel for 23 kilometers to Mrs. Amarjargal’s Ger where many years ago, CBS’s The Amazing Race was film in this very region, this is a great chance to explore the film production’s stomping grounds and absorb the truly wonderful environment. Here she will show you how to fill up and carrying water jugs, much like in the competition, as simple as it sounds, this is back breaking work – but fun. When you are finished, you have plenty of time to relax, cool down and Mrs. Amarjargal will start to prepare the evening dinner before you retire for the evening (overnight at tent).
Day Three - Horseback Riding into Daichingin Adag’s Scenic Mountain Valleys (B, L, D): After a warm and hearty breakfast, its time to saddle up the horses and prepare for a ride that will extend for 20 kilometers into scenic mountain range valleys. You will soon realize that you are slowly leaving civilization behind and entering the wilderness surrounded by birds, marmots, squirrels and other small wildlife. In the evening we will reach our overnight destination and will setup the campsite and have some dinner.
Day Four - Horseback Riding through Khuleriin Davaa’s Rich Pine Forest to Tuul and Hagiin Rivers (B, L, D): Today we follow the Tuul River after your morning meal and enter the dense pine forest at the southern tip of Siberian Taiga. Throughout the 3 1/2 hour ride there may be opportunities that you will come across Golden eagles, woodpeckers, and other birds – so make sure that you have a handy pair of binoculars with you. Our destination for today is at the merging of the Tuul and Hagiin rivers where you will setup camp, have a hot meal and overnight.
Day Five - “Khagiin Khar” The Black Mountain Lake (B, L, D): As you leaving the Tuul Valley camp site behind with a full stomach, you will enter the tundra forests. Historically, this environment is typically a moose habitat and by the end of the day you may have developed a keep sense and eye to detect their presence or even find marks of this magnificent animal around the region. After an hour of riding, you will start to ascend the mountain through lush forests noted for its abundance of wolves, bears, deer and moose. Upon reaching the summit, you will have a great panoramic view and this is a great chance to pull out the camera and wide-angle lens and take shots of the breathtaking Black Lake before setting up camp. This is a picturesque camp site, a great idea to keep the camera out and take those memorable base-camp photos i.e. making dinner, goofing off or just relaxing, etc.
Day Six - Explore The Three Pearls - Small Lakes (B, L, D): After breakfast, it’s time to saddle-up the horses and continue the horseback journey to three smaller lakes further on in the valley known locally as the ‘three pearls’. The most adventurous of you can climb the surrounding mountains and admire the superb panoramic vintage points, as the camp-site will be setup in a nearby valley.
Day Seven - Horseback Journey to Zuun Mod Forest (B, L, D): After breakfast today, you will have an excellent 25 kilometer horse trek to Zuun Mod Forest where along the way you have an opporunity to have scenic picnic lunch. Upon arrival and after setting up the camp site, dinner will be prepared and served before retiring for the night.
Day Eight - Horseback Ride Down the Khongorin River Valley (B, L, D): Today after you morning meal, you will begin a four hour ride downstream through the Khongoryn River valley to reach the river crossing. Upon arrival you will continue the journey for a couple more hours before arriving at a mountainous forest that is primarily made up birch, pine and age-old cedar where the camp site will be setup near a flowing stream.
Day Nine - The Golden Cradle’s Khavirgin Pass (B, L, D): Today you will transverse the Khavirgin Pass which involves both a steep ascent and descent, it located at the eastern shoulder of Altan Olgii Peak that translates as the ‘Golden Cradle’. The Golden Cradle is measured at 2646 meters above sealevel and is one of the highest peaks of the Khentii Mountain Range. Today’s horseback trek will continue towards Terelj National Park through the Dund Bayan Gol Valley where you will setup the next camp site late in the day, just in time for a hot meal, hot tea and good night’s rest.
Day Ten - Horseback Riding to the Legendary Gunj “Princess” Temple (B, L, D): In the early morning you will start your next leg of travel by horseback for 22 kilometers to the Buddhist temple ruins where you will overnight known as “Gunj Soum”. History states that when Tusheet Khan of the Khalkha was living nearby, his grandson Dondovdorj won the title of “Ephu” and as a result, Enkhamgalan Khan of Manchu honorifically bestowed his 6th princess to Dondovdorj to which she later became queen. Enkhamgalan khan also awarded the title of ‘Diligence and Kindness’ to his princess and presented her with a ‘Golden Leaf Award’ made of five kilograms of gold. When the princess passed away in 1740, Ephu Dondovdorj erected a marble monument and burial temple in her honor. Historically, the Manchu Khan intended his pricess to become a spy for the Manchu Empire and when she changed her loyalties to the Mongol Empire, the Manchu Khan sent assassins to successfully end her life.
Day Eleven - Mastering the Traditional Bow and Arrow (B, L, D): This morning you will conitnue your 24 kilometer horseback journey towards Mr. Zorigt’s nomadic family where you will have a fun filled day learning the techniques of shooting a traditional Mongolian bow and arrows with the family. After obtaining some ‘mastery’, you can try a friendly competition among yourselves or even try your luck with the local herders before your evening dinner with the family and retiring for the night.
Day Twelve - Trekking and Departure (B, L): After your breakfast, you will have plenty of free time to trek around the surrounding mountain river valley filled with lush forests and wild flowers before your farewell lunch. In the late afternoon your local guide will take you for 13 kilometers scenic ox cart or horseback ride to Terelj Village where you will depart back to Ulaanbaatar.
All nomadic breakfast, lunch and dinner which are stated on itinerary
Herder guide service on route
Horse riding on route
Pack horse on route
Visit nomadic families
Cultural activities (make dried curds, pack on yak cart 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.