My Mongolian expedition by Steve Derne

Posted on October 11, 2019

In The Saddle guest Steve Derne recently returned from the Camping Trail in Mongolia. He reflects on the highlights of his wonderful adventures in Mongolia below.

Steve with one of the local herdsmen

Firstly, thank you to In The Saddle for arranging this trip and so many more.  All the rides have been fantastic and none have been a disappointment. I’m a lucky guy.

The horses and team

Saddling up with comfortable tack.

We were well matched with horses. The driver, horsemen and cook were a delight. The translator gave good interpretations, the food was fantastic and the riding was fun.

Loose horses accompany you on this trail.

Experiencing living with the herds was wonderful – watching people milk mares and herd horses, yaks and cows; seeing the goats come in on their own at night for protection from wolves and leave in the morning when they’re hungry. One night after rain, we stayed with a family in an adhoc fashion and that was really special.

Pack yaks carry the luggage on part of this trip.

I really loved..

There were many small enchantments – watching an eagle swoop down to catch a squirrel, riding in hail just after we’d transferred to rain gear, a huge double rainbow up at the lakes, the night sky, the sounds at night of thundering hooves, baahing sheep, snoring yaks.

Tovkhon monastery

I just loved the Buddhist monasteries – Erdene Zuu reminded me of Bodhnath in Nepal. The one on the hilltop was beautiful and the last one in the scrublands had that great smell of incense and the steppe. The smell of the steppe – sage and mint – is a great memory.

Some of the abundant wildflowers that dot the Mongolian landscape.

I recall the swarms of birds one morning – that moment was very special. The wildflowers were just beautiful, especially on the hillside campsite after the hilltop monastery. That was really delightful – flowers all around.

A game of volleyball.

The pure joy of life in the herder encampments – especially playing ‘volleyball’ without nets.

We were looked after well

The food is a mixture of traditional Mongolian and European cuisine.

Often, our cook Muugii would make fresh fried bread for breakfast, and there was usually bacon and sausages – always a good start to the day. I was glad that I had chosen the camping trail which allowed for more time in guest gers near families.


Visiting with a local family

All the accommodation along the trail was interesting. Staying with the herding families was a great experience for me. But the hillside campsite after the mountaintop monastery and the riverside campsite before our climb with the yaks, were perfect too. And of course, it was nice to have a shower (and a drink with the team) in the tourist ger in the scrubland before the long ride back to UB (Ulaanbaatar).

One of the expert horseman.

Thank you for your sharing your trip with us Steve. We look forward to booking your next riding holiday!

For more information on the Camping Trail or any of the other rides in Mongolia, please call Claire on +44 1299 272 243 or email



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