Ride Overview - Best Orkhon Valley Yurt Ride
Landlocked between China and Russia, Mongolia is a mythical paradise for riders who are seeking an amazing adventure. This magnificent 13-day horse ride will allow you to enjoy the highlights of Mongolia in the best accommodations available with 10 nights in yurts with traditional beds and showers every evening (except at the nomadic family’s yurt) and 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Ulan Bator. The 13th-century traditional yurt (ger in Mongolian) is constructed of wood and felt held together with braided horsehair straps. The hut is richly decorated with color and symbols. Inside, a wooden floor and carpets will isolate you from cooler temperatures and moisture. Beds, also used as sofas, are positioned left and right of the door. Your guide, native to Mongolia and resident of France, understand the quality requirements of foreign riders, and the specificities of Mongolia. Your trail leads you to the astonishing rock formations of the Hogno Han Park, the rich desert of the Bayan Gobi, the volcanic formed Ulaan Tsutgalan River Falls and the famous Uurt Canyon. In addition, you will spend a day with a nomadic family residing in the lush Orkhon Valley. Non-riding tours of Ulan Baton, Karakorum and Hustai National Park will make this a ride of a lifetime!
“A trip made of encounters, sharing, fun and scenery. Never far from horses and always in the middle of nature … Thirteen unforgettable days. A lot of encounters and a basket full of sparkling moments as keepsakes. I wish all those who will have the chance to go to Mongolia to cross paths with people as caring and vibrant as I myself met !! “- Laetitia
Ride Itinerary - Best Orkhon Valley Yurt Ride
You will be welcomed in the lobby of the Ulan Bator Airport at 10:30 AM by your English-speaking translator. If you have arrived the previous day, you will be met in the lobby of the Nine Hotel. Lunch is on your own. You canl visit the Gandantegchinlin Monastery. Built in 1809, the monastery, formerly known as the Gandan Monastery, is built in the Tibetan Buddhist style. Its name means “Great Site Full of Joy.” Several hundred monks currently reside there as well as the statue of Megjid-Janraiseg (Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara – called Chenrezig in Tibetan). The figure is 87 feet tall, weighs over 20 tons, adorned with gold and nearly 2,286 precious stones, and is covered with nearly 100 kg of silk clothing. Next, you will visit the National Museum of Mongolian History that provides the story of the country, from prehistoric times to today. In this museum, there is also an ethnographic section with costumes and jewels from various ethnic groups of countries: Kazakhstan, Buriats, Üzemchins. After dinner, you will overnight in a hotel.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Hogno Han Park (5 hours drive – strongly depending on the condition of the roads). Lunch will be served along the way. This park will astonish you with its rock formations, cliffs shaped by erosion overlooking vast semi-desert plains irresistibly reminiscent of the citadels sandstone from Wadi Rum in Jordan. The region is also nicknamed “Mini Gobi” as it is home to vast sand dunes that create a variety of stunning landscapes. In the afternoon, your group will begin the ride in the Bayan Gobi, the “rich desert.” Next, you will ride to the 17th century Ovgon Khiid Monastery, set in dramatic scenery. Dinner and lodging will be in the yurt camp (2 to 5 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building).
After breakfast, your ride will depart for a spectacular day, as your horse will carry you from the cliffs of the Mini-Gobi to the semi-desert steppes. At the end of the morning, you will reach an area of golden sand dunes called Elsentasarhaï, where your mount will show their remarkable endurance. Lunch will be served along the way and you will have the opportunity to enjoy invigorating canters. In the afternoon, your trail will continue through these amazing landscapes. The contrast between the desert dunes and the marshland that borders them are spectacular! You will then suddenly travel from the desert to the Garden of Eden. Nomads often gather their herds in this vast wet plain, a wonderful vision. Your day ends at the yurt camp, located in a semi-desert environment. Dinner and lodging will be in the camp (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building).
After breakfast, you will embark on a 4 – 5-hour drive to a family of nomads who will next guide your group into the Orkhon Valley. You will become immersed in their culture and find new friends as you share strong equestrian and human connections as well as become acquainted with their family and their lifestyle within their yurt. Each yurt camp is home to a family whose daily lives are punctuated by the care of herds: milking mares, sheep, goats and dris (female yaks), caring for sick or debilitated animals, moving animals to new pastures. Women also take care of children; they cook, prepare different milk products (butter, cheese, fermented mare’s milk, drinking milk); and maintain the interior of the yurt. The men look after animals, maintenance of hardware and harness horses. They also cut wood for cooking. You will be able to participate in these activities as well as spend a few hours in the saddle, helping them to round up the herds, or just going for a ride to explore the region. In the evening, your hosts will prepare a traditional specialty, the Khorkhog, the “Mongolian barbecue.” The Khorkhog is a nomadic steppe recipe and almost never found in a restaurant. To prepare the Khorkhog, nomads cook pieces of mutton or goat, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and seasoning over twenty fist-sized stones heated by fire. The mix is then steamed in a metal container. After the meal is served, the warm stones will be offered to you to warm your hands as the Mongols consider them beneficial to health. Your lodging is a “guest-yurt” close to your nomad family’s yurt. The comfort is simpler than in the yurt camps as there are no showers, but you will experience the real nomadic way of life.
After breakfast, your ride begins towards the upstream part of the Valley where the landscape becomes wilder and wilder. This volcanic region has black ancient lava flows, which contrast with the white running water of the Orkhon River. The afternoon brings a picnic lunch and more canters. Your horse will carry you to a deep forest fronted by the impressive Naiman Nuur Mountains. After the ride, your group will dine and lodge in a remote yurt camp deep in the forest. (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building).
The Orkhon Falls are actually the Ulaan Tsutgalan River Falls. The river falls into a spectacular canyon formed after an earthquake and a volcanic eruption more than 20,000 years ago. The site is enchanted by the contrast between the whiteness of the foam and the black rock that forms the canyon walls. Going down along the walls to the foot of the fall, you will discover trees and wild peonies. You will enjoy both a traditional picnic and many opportunities for invigorating canters. After the ride, your group will set up camp and be served dinner.
Another beautiful day on horseback as you will ride to one of the most famous sites of the Orkhon Valley: Uurt Canyon. You will enjoy both a traditional picnic and many opportunities for invigorating canters. Your ride is now in the downstream section of the Valley, the landscapes are vast and towered by two mountain ranges. You will meet many nomadic families with their herds grazing in the rich grass of the valley. The arrival at the yurt camp (ger camp) is a nice surprise as it is located in a superb site, bordering the canyon of the Orkhon River. Your group will spend two nights in this beautiful yurt camp. Dinner and night are offered in the camp. (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building).
Today, your horse will carry you on an ascending trail through the surrounding mountains for a panoramic view of the Orkhon Valley. You will then return to the yurt camp for dinner and lodging. (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds).
Your trail will lead you along the southern mountains bordering the Orkhon Valley, the Khujirt region. Khujirt is famous for its water, which is bottled and sent all over Mongolia. The river view is spectacular as it meanders along the grassy hills. This is the Mongolia of your dreams! You will enjoy both a traditional picnic and many opportunities for invigorating canters. Your day ends at an eco-friendly yurt camp as there are no “real” showers, rather wet towels are at your disposal: quite surprising but efficient! The view from the camp on the endless valley is incredible! (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds).
This is your final riding day in the Orkhon Valley. In the last miles before Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongolian Empire, founded in 1235 by Ogödei, the son of Genghis Khan, the valley narrows affording wonderful views of the Orkhon River. The waters are calm creating a mirrored reflection of the sky. The dark blue river contrasts with the lush green of the grass dotted with white yurts to create an amazing scene. Many herds roam in the steppe and you can take many pictures of today’s typical Mongolia. After you say goodbye to your horse and to your wonderful nomadic friends, you will have dinner and lodging in the yurt camp (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building).
After breakfast, your group will be driven to Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongolian Empire, founded in 1235 by Ogödei, the son of Genghis Khan. Lunch will be served the Karakorum ger camp. You will then visit the Erdene Zuu Monastery, a wall with 108 stupas surrounds it. 108 is a sacred number in Buddhism, and it is also the number of beads in a Buddhist rosary (mala). For centuries, Erdene Zuu was the most important religious shrine in Mongolia. In 1939, the communist leader Horloogiyn Choybalsan destroyed the monastery, in a purge that resulted in the disappearance of hundreds of monasteries in Mongolia and killed over ten thousand monks. Three small temples and the outer wall with the stupas remained; the temples became museums in 1947. After the fall of communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was given to lamas and Erdene Zuu again became a place of worship. The site was restored at the end of the century and regained part of its religious aspect. Today, Erdene Zuu remains an active Buddhist monastery as well as a museum that is open to tourists. After the tour, you will be driven to Hustai National Park (4 hours drive – strongly depending on the condition of the roads). Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2002, the Hustai National Park covers 50,000 hectares of steppe and mountain forest and is home to many species of mammals and birds. It is best known for hosting the conservation project to protect the endangered Takhi. This wild horse, also known as Przewalski’s horse, had completely disappeared from its natural habitat. Only a few specimens were still present in zoos around the world. In the afternoon, your group will go on a drive to search for the Takhi. Dinner and night will occur at the yurt camp (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building.
After breakfast, your group’s early departure to Ulan Bator will provide an afternoon arrival. Lunch will be served 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 will attend a show with traditional Mongolian dances, music and the amazing Khoomei. The Khoomei is an overtone singing (throat singing) in which the singer produces two distinctively audible pitches at the same time, including a low pedal note, or drone, derived from the fundamental frequency of the vocal cord vibrations, and higher melodic notes that result when the singer’s mouth acts as a filter, selecting one note at a time from among the drone’s natural overtone series pitches. The sound is reminiscent of the Jew’s harp. Dinner will be enjoyed in the village center and lodging is provided in a 3* hotel.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for flights departing after 7:10 AM.
Guide reserves the right to change the itinerary due to weather or other unexpected changes.
Ride Details - Best Orkhon Valley Yurt Ride
Dates: May 25th – June 6th, June 15th – 27th, June 29th – July 11th, July 13th – 25th, July 27th – August 8th, August 10th – August 22nd, August 24th – September 5th Departing every Saturday. The final day is Thursday.
Meeting point: Ulan Bator Airport
Riding days: 8
Daily Riding Hours: 5
Group size: 2 to 10
Riding Ability: INTERMEDIATE: Confident and in control at all paces including posting trots, two point canters and gallops in open country.
Saddles: Mongolian saddle designed to fit rider and horse
Visa Requirements: Holders of US passport, who travel to Mongolia for official, private business and tourism for up to 90 days are exempted from visa requirements in accordance with the New Visa Policy, which is effective since July 18, 2001.
Vaccinations: Please check with your physician.
Hotel/s: Mongolian “GER” yurt camp, 3* hotels in Ulanbatar
Non-rider Activities: none
Price: $2,600.00 per person, double occupancy $120.00 single supplement (2 nights in Ulan Batan only)
$275.00 small group supplement if the guide only has 2 or 3 total for the ride.
*Price is based on the USD/EURO exchange rate and will be fixed at your final payment.
Includes: 12 nights lodging which includes 10 nights in a yurt, and 2 nights in a hotel, all meals listed in the itinerary, 9 riding days, horses, tack, entrance fees, sightseeing as per itinerary, 4WD vehicle transportations, English speaking guide
Not Included: airfare, pre or post ride hotel, 1 dinner, booking fee (15 euros)
**Day 1: Meeting at the arrival of the Turkish Airlines flight, at 11:30 AM. If you do not arrive on this flight: please book private transfers
***Day 13: Transfer to the airport for the Turkish Airlines flights after 8:00 AM. If you do not leave on these flights: please book private transfers
ANNUAL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL:
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Best Orkhon Valley Yurt Ride