Ride Overview - Gobi Desert Dunes and Mongolia Steppes Ride
Landlocked between China and Russia, Mongolia is a mythical paradise for an amazing horseback riding vacation! This ride uniquely combines both the desert dunes and steppes in Central Mongolia. The change in your terrain is dramatic. For three days, your trail will lead you across the windswept sand dunes and rocky cliffs of the Gobi Desert. This region covers about one-third of the surface of Mongolia and served as the Silk Road. Pack camels will move your belongings. The next five days will be experienced in the verdant grasslands, savannas, and shrublands of the Orkhon Valley steppe. The valley is considered the center of the Mongolian Empire. Your mount is the ancient small Mongolian horse, legendary for its toughness. Your lodging is 7 nights camping – 2 nights in a yurt camp, 1 night in a yurt with a nomadic family, 2 nights in a 2* hotel in Ulaanbaatar. 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. Showers, washbasins and toilets are available in a separate building. The nomadic family yurts provide shower tents, water can be heated on the stove and dry toilets.
guide, native to Mongolia and resident of France, understands the quality requirements of foreign riders, and the specificities of Mongolia.
“It took us years to prepare this tour: we wanted to offer a horse riding tour including both steppe and dunes. Camels add an exotic touch to the ride in Bayan Gobi Desert.”
Ride Itinerary - Gobi Desert Dunes and Mongolia Steppes Ride
You will be welcomed at 10:30 A.M.(via Turkish Airlines) at the Ulan Bator Airport by your English-speaking translator. Lunch is on your own. Afterward, you can 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 the Dream hotel or similar (2* – twin or triple room).
After breakfast, you will be transferred in a 4×4 vehicle to the Bayan Gobi Desert, the “rich Gobi.” Lunch will be served along the way. On arrival, you will meet the nomadic herder who will be your equestrian guide for the next three days of horseback riding amongst the dunes and steppes in the Bayan Gobi wilderness. Your first camp will be erected in a sparsely populated area on the southern edge of the Bayan Gobi Desert. You will be responsible to set up your own tent. A shower tent and a large tent for the preparation of meals make our camp comfortable. Dinner will be served in the common meal tent.
Days 3, 4 and 5:
You will ride for three days in the wilderness of Bayan Gobi. In this environment of dunes, mountains and steppes, the pack camels are very useful to carry luggage, tents and supplies. Camels are also the typical mode of transportation in the region so riding a horse is a unique experience. Truly, the heart of Mongolia, it is at the junction of three major Mongolian ecosystems: two of the main mountain ranges in the country – the Khangai and Khentii – and a northern edge of the Gobi Desert. Mount Batkhan overlooks this area and gives rise to several rivers that mix their waters with the sand dunes of Elsentasarkhai, the “sand break,” forming changing and spectacular scenery. Every night, your group will set up camp.
On day 4, you will have an opportunity to ride camels at the end of your ride.
In the afternoon of day 5, your ride will reach the Khogno Khan Cliffs, where you will visit the Ovgon Khiid Monastery located in a dramatic setting. You will dine and overnight in a yurt camp nestled at the foot of the cliffs. (2-4 riders per yurt in individual beds, showers, and toilets in a separate building).
After breakfast, a 4-5 hours drive will take you to the Orkhon Valley, a famous World Heritage Site in Central Mongolia. You will meet the nomadic herders and horses who will be our companions during the next 8 days horse ride. The change in environment is striking: after the desert and sandy expanses of Bayan Gobi, you are now in a mountainous area, a maze of green valleys with forested slopes. After lunch, you will start your ride on horseback in the larch forests covering the first slopes of the Naiman Nuur Park, located in the upstream part of the Orkhon Valley. you will set up camp in the wilderness for dinner and overnight.
Day 7 – 1o:
These 5 days on horseback are dedicated to exploring the famous Orkhon Valley, starting from the upstream region close to Naiman Nuur Park down to Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire. During this ride, you will see the Orkhon Falls, visit Tovkhon Monastery, high in the Khangai Mountains bordering the northern part of the Valley, and have a bath at Mogoit Hot Springs! Your ride ends in Karakorum where your group will visit Erdene Zuu Monastery.
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 as well as 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. Your group’s dinner and night will be at the ger camp (2 to 4 riders per yurt, with single beds, showers in a separate building).
Breakfast and early departure to Ulan Bator where your group will arrive in the afternoon. Lunch enroute. 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 dances, music and songs from Mongolia, especially the amazing Khoomei. You will be “on your own” for dinner and will have a varied choice of opportunities in Ulan Bator. Night at Dream hotel or similar (2* – twin or triple room).
You will be transferred to the airport for departing flights after 7:10 AM.
This itinerary may change based on unforeseen circumstances or weather.
Ride Details - Gobi Desert Dunes and Mongolia Steppes Ride
Dates: May 4th – 16th, May 25th – June 6th, June 15th – 27th, July 6th – 18th, July 27th- August 8th, August 24th – September 5th, September 14th – 26h Departing every Saturday. The final day is Thursday. This ride can be extended by 7 days to either Lake Khusvgul.
Meeting point: Ulan Bator Airport, Turkish Airline is the preferred carrier
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 and canters
Saddles: Mongolian saddle designed to fit rider and horse, Western
Hotel/s: Tents, Mongolian “GER” camp, 2* hotels in Ulaanbaatar. For 3 nights, camp and tents in the wilderness, 1 night will be spent in a guest yurt close to a nomadic family (up to 5 persons per yurt), and the last night will be spent in a touristic yurt camp in Karakorum (2 to 4 persons/yurt – showers in a separate building).
Non-rider Activities: none
Price: $2,095.00 per person, double occupancy $75.00 single supplement (2 nights in Ulan Batan only)
$296.00 supplement for groups under 4.
Single occupant tent available upon extra cost and request.
*Price is based on the USD/EURO exchange rate and will be fixed at your final payment.
Includes: 12 nights lodging which includes 7 nights in a tent, 3 nights in a ger and 2 nights in a hotel, all meals listed in the itinerary, 8 riding days, horses, tack, entrance fees, sightseeing as per itinerary, 4WD vehicle transportations, English speaking guide
Not Included: airfare, 1 dinner, booking fee (15 euro)
**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 flight departing after 8:00 am. If you do not leave on this flight: please book private transfers
ANNUAL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL:
Gobi Desert Dunes and Mongolia Steppes Ride: Gallery
Gobi Desert Dunes and Mongolia Steppes Ride