Orkhon Valley Horseback Adventure

About the Experience

After a day of riding through the jaw-dropping green steppe of the Orkhon valley, you feel as though you have stepped into another world. It isn’t just this place – this land of such raw, expansive beauty, with its fascinating Chinggis Khan history, and immaculate Tibetan style temples – it’s the way you are moving through this space.

Over the course of 14 days, you saddle up and play explorer. You wander to hot springs, where you pause for a curative soak. You clomp through paths of edelweiss, into the heart of a forest thick with pine. You pause beside the refreshing lakes of Naiman Nuur National Park. And you laugh with Nomadic children, as they teach you how to hold the smooth game pieces for a round of knucklebones.

Later, you feast upon Mongolian barbecue, while your head swims with the hypnotic sound of Khoomi song. And at night, ready for rest, you slip into your yurt beneath a dizzying display of stars.

You can feel the contradictions of this place taking root within you. It brings to life the quiet, contemplative space in your heart – the glorious scenery, and sacred temples inviting you to seek inward. But what you find inside isn’t still.

Rather, it is vibrant and loud, and as you cross large swaths of black lava, you feel your own inner rumblings, as alive as the volcanic earth upon which you ride. Someone has come upon their trusty steed to save you. And it is you.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Orkhon Valley Horseback Adventure

About the Experience

After a day of riding through the jaw-dropping green steppe of the Orkhon valley, you feel as though you have stepped into another world. It isn’t just this place – this land of such raw, expansive beauty, with its fascinating Chinggis Khan history, and immaculate Tibetan style temples – it’s the way you are moving through this space.

Over the course of 14 days, you saddle up and play explorer. You wander to hot springs, where you pause for a curative soak. You clomp through paths of edelweiss, into the heart of a forest thick with pine. You pause beside the refreshing lakes of Naiman Nuur National Park. And you laugh with Nomadic children, as they teach you how to hold the smooth game pieces for a round of knucklebones.

Later, you feast upon Mongolian barbecue, while your head swims with the hypnotic sound of Khoomi song. And at night, ready for rest, you slip into your yurt beneath a dizzying display of stars.

You can feel the contradictions of this place taking root within you. It brings to life the quiet, contemplative space in your heart – the glorious scenery, and sacred temples inviting you to seek inward. But what you find inside isn’t still.

Rather, it is vibrant and loud, and as you cross large swaths of black lava, you feel your own inner rumblings, as alive as the volcanic earth upon which you ride. Someone has come upon their trusty steed to save you. And it is you.

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL IN ULAANBAATAR

A driver will meet you at the airport or train station upon arrival in Mongolia. Once you arrive at your hotel you will have a chance to settle in, and rest before lunch. Meet your local Mongolian guide and group at noon and head out for lunch.

After lunch, we will head to the National History Museum to immerse ourselves into the heart of  Mongolian history. The museum holds three floors of a rich, glorious, violent and noble past, from prehistory to the Soviet period, including the creation of the great Mongolian Empire by Chinggis Khan. Upon leaving the museum we will explore the center of Ulaanbaatar with highlights being the Chinggis Khan Square and the House of Parliament.

Relax over dinner at a traditional Mongolian restaurant and then experience a traditional Mongolian show at Tumen Ekh. We will enjoy the beautiful folkloric dances, contortionists, and of course listen to the mesmerizing sounds of khoomi. Khoomi is a replacement of musical instruments with all aspects of vocal organs. To hear it for the first time is a wonder. It is said that there is no other nation in the world that can combine such human physical capacity in place of musical instruments, definitely an invaluable contribution to the rest of the world.

 

DAY TWO: KHUSTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Today we travel from Ulaanbaatar to Khustai National Park. We’ll visit the Gandantegchinlen Monastery and the Mongolian Buddhist Centre where we may have the chance to hear monks chanting the morning sutras. Spin the prayer wheels and make a wish!  

Leaving Ulaanbaatar, you’ll experience the local traffic and a stop at the local supermarket. After about 1.5 hours, we arrive at a nomadic family camp, where we enjoy a traditional lunch. Then we meet our first Mongolian horses and local guides.  Just an easy, warm up ride today, about 2 hours at a walk and easy trot.

Later, we’ll drive into the national park. This vast park covers an area of 500 square kilometers (193 square miles), and the conservation efforts in the park include the reintegration of the Przewalski’s horse, ”Takhi” and to protect the forest-steppe ecosystem. “Takhi” means “spirit” or “spiritual” in Mongolian and the species is a symbol of the Mongolian national heritage. In 1945 there were only 12 breeding takhi in the world. We drive off road in hopes to see the Przewalski horses (takhi). We’ll walk to the river where they drink, and observe them in their natural habitat.  

Stay tonight in fully furnished yurts with Khustai National Park as the backdrop.

  • Riding: 2 hrs (approx) at mostly walk
  • Driving: 3 hrs (approx) on paved and bumpy off road

 

 

DAY THREE: VISIT KHARKHORIN

Journey to Kharkhorin, the former capital of Mongolia. The legendary city of Chinggis Khan was founded in 1220 and was one of the destinations along the silk road. The Mongolian Empire was governed from this city until Kubilai Khan set up the capital in Beijing. Today, there are only a few vestiges left of the former capital. At the Museum of Kharkhorin, we can learn all about the original city and its critical role in history. 

Next, we visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery. The Chinese and Tibetan-inspired buildings are surrounded with 108 sacred stupas. We’ll also visit the Museum of Kharkhorin and the local market.

Outside Kharkhorin, you will stay in a family run yurt camp. The yurts are decorated with a perfect blend of traditional elements and modernity. 

  • Driving Time: 4.5 hrs (approx) on both bumpy backroads and paved roads

 

 

DAY FOUR: RIDING INTO ORKHON VALLEY

This morning we meet our next team of Mongolian horses and local horse guides. For the next 7 days, you will likely ride the same horse every day, unless it’s not a good match or the horse needs a rest.  

We go riding along the Orkhon River, in the Orkhon Valley that is inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List. Orkhon Valley is a land of nomadism where many breeders settle down their summer camp, when we are there we will get the unique opportunity to attend the daily nomadic life.

This evening, we settle into comfortable yurts where you can relax and enjoy a unique hair washing experience followed by some stargazing.

  • Riding: 5-6 hrs at trot and canter with breaks and lunch covering about 42km

 

 

DAY FIVE: ORKHON VALLEY RIDE

We go on riding in the green steppe. Here, herds of yaks, sheep, goats, and horses graze in total freedom. A picturesque Mongolia stretches in all directions and we go from surprise to surprise. We go to the place called “bend of Uurt” at the foothills of the Khangai Mounts.

This afternoon, rest, shower or hike along the river. Dinner together in the evening at the camp’s restaurant.

  • Riding: about 3 hrs covering 20 km at a steady trot

 

 

DAY SIX: RIDE TO TOVKHON MONASTERY

From our camp in Uurt, we ride through another long valley towards mountains and forests. Picnic under huge larch trees before saddling up for the climb to Tovkhon Monastery. Here, Zanabazar, the first religious leader of Mongolia, created the Soyombo alphabet. The monastery is located 2312 meters (1,44 mile) above the sea level and from that place we’ll have a wonderful view on the whole Khangai range. We lead our horses as we make our way back down to the valley floor, and return the way we came. If you’re tired, you can catch a ride in the support van anytime.

We spend a second night at Talbiun Camp tonight.  

  • Riding: 5-6 hrs covering 35 km at a steady trot

 

 

DAY SEVEN: MOGOIT HOT SPRINGS

We leave the enchanting Uurt’s bend to ride South towards the mountain range that lines the valley. While we cross entire areas of black lava, we become wholeheartedly aware of the volcanic aspect of the place. Then we climb into a neighbouring valley.

As soon as we go higher, we find again the forests of larches and climb on this undulating valley until Mogoit hot springs, where we can see in the hot water flowing out of the ground. You can enjoy the hot springs in the two pools fed by the hot springs.

We camp in yurts nearby so you can relax in the hot water all evening.

  • Riding: 5 hrs (approx)covering 30 km at a steady trot

 

 

DAY EIGHT: HOMESTAY WITH A NOMADIC FAMILY

We ride easy this morning en route to the camp of our homestay family, located in the heart of the valley. We meet the family of our horse guides and discover the Nomadic breeders’ life: milking the animals, preparing dairy products, cutting wood, etc.

Pull out a lawn chair and relax by the gers. Play with the children or read a book. Perhaps the group will visit Orkhon falls today.

We’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner with our hosts and spend the night in guest yurts at the family’s camp.

  • Riding: about 3 hrs (approx) covering 25 km at a steady trot

 

 

DAY NINE: NAIMAN NUUR NATIONAL PARK

Rise and shine to another adventurous day. The group offers their gifts and after a warm send-off from our Homestay family, we visit Ulan Tsutgalaan (Orkhon) waterfall. This 16-meter (52,49 feet) waterfall is just magical! Formed 20,000 years ago, as a result of a unique combination of earthquakes and volcano eruptions it now contributes to the awe of the landscape. *If there hasn’t been any rain, the waterfall may not be flowing or will be very small.

We ride to the entrance of Naiman Nuur National Park. We’ll follow a path across the steppes scattered with edelweisses, then we’ll ride along the forests of larches and pines, before stopping for the night at Boorgiin Oroi, on the edge of a small wood, in front of the mountains of Naiman Nuur Park. Our family ran yurt camp tonight is surrounded by forests of larches and overlooked by the Khangai Mountains.

  • Riding: 3 hrs ( approx) covering 25 km at a mix of walk and trot

 

 

DAY TEN: DISCOVERY RIDE

We enter Naiman Nuur Park via Khangai Nuuru pass and the landscape completely changes. The green infinite steppes give way to much more diversified landscapes: forests of larches and pines, wild roses and wildflowers, junipers, gooseberries, and wild onions. This rich alpine-styled vegetation that will delight botany lovers.

First, we go to Lake Bugat, then we will ride across plains and forests to reach Lake Shireet, the largest lake of the park (10 square kilometres, 3,86 square miles) and the highest (2366 mètres, 1,47 mile). This wild lake is lined with forests, and Tengri, the blue sky, reflects in it – it will delight your senses. Enjoy a lakeside picnic and cool off your feet in its cold waters. We ride into the next valley and stay in a family camp, where we again stay in their guest yurts.

Today we have to say goodbye and ‘Bai -ri- la’ to our horses and guides.

  • Riding: 8 hrs covering 32 km at walk and trot with many uphill sections and we will lead our horses downhill multiple times

 

 

DAY ELEVEN: INTO THE MINI-GOBI

We depart the family camp and travel by vehicle along bumpy gravel roads back towards the mini Gobi. After lunch, we arrive at the splendid sand dunes and rocky formations of Khogno Khan.

The afternoon is either spent discovering the park or relaxing depending on the weather and the group’s desires. This area features semi-desert steppes, taiga, stunning rock formations, and 80-kilometre (49,71 miles) long sand dunes that are characteristic of this arid area nicknamed “Mini-Gobi”.

Tonight’s camp is in fully furnished teepees. Rest and relax this evening while enjoying the rocky formations of the Mini Gobi.

  • Drive Time: 6.5 hrs (approx) over mostly bumpy back roads

 

 

DAY TWELVE: EXPLORING THE MINI GOBI

This morning we meet more Mongolian horses and horse guides and take a short 2-hour ride. Direction will depend on the group’s interest and the time of day we ride. A  visit to the ruins of Erdene Khambiin Monastery is a sure thing.  “Monk Erdene’s Monastery” dates from 17th century and was built right into the mountain. Zanabazar built it in honour of his teacher, monk Erdene.

We can also drive to have a closer look at the beautiful sand dunes of Elsen Tasarakhai. We have time to explore and take photos, soaking in the splendour of the dunes.

The evening is spent back at the tepee camp reflecting on the time spent in the Mongolian landscape.

  • Riding: 2.5 hrs ( approx) covering 12 km at mostly walk but some trot

 

 

DAY THIRTEEN: RETURN TO ULAANBAATAR

We depart our last camp, making our way to the city.  If we are lucky, we might catch a glimpse of the last herds of wild horses crossing the road. Watch the last yurts smoking far away pass by, enjoying views of the steppe until the last moment.

Once in Ulaanbaatar, the rest of the day is free for you to relax or explore the city. Your guide can make recommendations for shopping in the center of the city. Enjoy a group farewell dinner, sharing highlights from your Mongolian adventure.

  • Driving Time: 4.5 hrs (approx) over some bumpy backroads and then paved highway

 

 

DAY FOURTEEN: JOURNEY HOME

You can depart anytime today. Breakfast is included at the hotel this morning and then you can relax until your transfer to the international airport or train station.


ABOUT MONGOLIAN RIDING

Riding Pace & Terrain: This adventure covers vast distances requiring the group to trot more often than not! The riding on this trip will test your endurance, but thankfully, you can always opt to catch a lift in the support van.

Each day the terrain varies from grass steppes to lava flows, to climbing mountain trails. You should be comfortable riding outdoors and over a wide variety of terrain.

 


 

Naadam Festival Extension

( July 11-13th, 2019)
This 2-night extension is $500 USD. 

The great Naadam festival held in Ulaanbaatar is the most awaited and favoured event of the Mongolian people. The first day you will attend the opening ceremony in the stadium, then attend competitions of wrestling, also archery, and the very interesting ankle bone game. The second day will bring you out of the city for the main event all the Mongolian people wait for the horse races.

Extremely popular games, the great atmosphere full of colours, this is the event to not miss in Ulaanbaatar!

 

DAY ONE: INTRODUCTION CEREMONY

Meet the group in the lobby at 9 am and head over to the stadium grounds. During this first day, we will enjoy the elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. It will then be time to see the beginning of the Mongolian wrestling competition. In the aisles of the stadium, we also witness the archery and ankle bone shooting competitions.

  • Overnight: Holiday Inn Hotel

 

DAY TWO: HORSE RACES

Early in the morning, we will drive 40 km to the Khui Doloon Khudag race field to enjoy the horse races. The best horses from across the country meet in Ulaanbaatar for these races. Mongolian people train horses in their very nature and win the race in Ulaanbaatar bring them immense glory. We are witnessing the first race.

  • Overnight: Holiday Inn Hotel

 

DAY THREE: DEPARTURE

Today you either depart or start your Wild Women Expedition.

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!