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The vast, treeless steppes of Mongolia were the homeland of the largest herds of horses the world has ever seen. In the early days of mankind, somewhere in these steppes, nomads invented riding and opened up vast new horizons.
Joining a Mongolian ride means choosing to experience the life of the nomad and glimpsing a way of life so different from our own. The Mongolian people are famous for their hospitality and to spend some time with them is a privilege.
You ride through the homelands of your horse guides. There are many areas in Mongolia where there are no fences, no tracks and no telegraph poles, the only signs of life the nomadic herders you meet along the way, but progress comes to every country and the roads and communication networks are improving.
The Orkhon Valley rides offer you the diverse landscape of Mongolia; from the cliffs of the Mini-Gobi through semi-desert steppes to Orkhon Falls, where the river falls into a spectacular canyon formed after an earthquake and a volcanic eruption more than 20,000 years ago.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004 as the cradle of nomadic Mongolia, the Orkhon Valley covers an extensive area of pastureland that stretches approximately 80km long and 15km wide on both banks of the Orkhon river.
On these trails you also spend time with a nomadic family as they go about their daily lives, and visit various cultural sites including Karakorum (Kharkhorin), the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire founded in 1235 by Ogödei the son of Genghis Khan.
Orkhon Valley Camping Trail
The beauty of Mongolia is its landscape, in the heart of which nestle white gers and colourful Buddhist temples. This trail takes you to the most remote sites of the Orkhon Valley. The trail is vehicle supported except for three days when you ride into Naiman Nuur Park with pack yaks. Accommodation on the trail is in two person dome tents, with one night in a ger close to a nomadic family and one night in a semi-permanent ger camp.
Orkhon Valley Ger Trail
Enjoy the best of Mongolia in the comfort of gers, the practical and typical Mongolian dwelling. (The word “yurt”, which is in fact a Turkish word, is used in many countries to describe the ger). Following the river along the Orkhon Valley, you stay in comfortable semi-permanent ger camps each night (two to five guests per ger). One night is spent in a ger close to a nomadic family. This trail is vehicle supported.
The trail ends with a visit to Hustai National Park, best known for hosting the conservation project to protect the endangered Takhi (Przewalski's horse), which had completely disappeared from its natural habitat.
The Ger Trail would be suitable for accompanying non-riders, or guests who do not wish to ride all day every day. Non-riders will stay with the driver (who will likely not speak any English) and join the riders for lunch and at the end of the day.
Dunes & Steppes of Mongolia
This trail combines the dunes and the steppes of central Mongolia, offering riding in the Bayan Gobi Desert and the diverse landscape of the Orkhon Valley. The trail is vehicle supported. Accommodation on the trail is in two person dome tents, with one night in a ger close to a nomadic family and one night in a semi-permanent ger camp.
Hiking & Riding Tour
This adventure tour is ideal for groups of mixed ability, or less experienced riders. After five days hiking through the mountains of Khangai, you then spend four days on horseback in the Orkhon Valley. The trail is vehicle supported. Accommodation on the trail is in two person dome tents, with one night in a ger close to a nomadic family and two nights in a semi-permanent ger camp.
For the Orkhon Valley Camping Trail, Ger Trail and Dunes & Steppes of Mongolia trails you should be a fit and competent rider capable of riding spirited, forward going horses over varying terrain for up to seven hours a day. The riding includes long trots and canters. The Mongolian horses are small in stature, from 12 - 14 hands, but strong in character, sure-footed and willing.
Mongolians stand in the stirrups at all paces and so the horses are not used to riders sitting in the saddle. You should be fit enough to stand in the stirrups at trot and canter for periods of up to twenty minutes.
The Hiking & Riding Tour is suitable for novice riders who have had a few lessons and are happy at trot.
There is a rider weight limit of 95kg.
The saddles used are tailor made, adapted to both the Mongolian horse and the European rider.
Please note that hard hats are mandatory on these rides.
This ride has 4 choices of itinerary.
Please note that the itinerary may vary due to local conditions, but always with your best interests in mind.
Please note this is a participatory ride, and each rider puts up their own tent. A washing tent and a large tent for the preparation of meals are also provided.
Saturday - Ulaanbaatar
You are met on arrival at Ulaanbaatar and transferred to your hotel. After lunch visit Gandantegchinlin Monastery and the National Museum of Mongolian History. Dinner downtown and overnight at the hotel.
Sunday - to Karakorum
After breakfast transfer to Karakorum and visit Erdene Zuu Monastery. You will stop for a picnic lunch on the way. After the visit, set up camp at the entrance of the Orkhon Valley for dinner and overnight.
Monday - in the Orkhon Valley
After breakfast you meet the nomadic herders and horses. The ride today starts in the northern mountains of the Orkhon Valley. The vehicles will meet you with a picnic lunch, so there is the opportunity to try out the paces of your horses. Set up camp for dinner and overnight.
Tuesday – Riding in the Orkhon Valley
Another day riding in the Khangai Mountains. Lunch is brought to you by support vehicles again and after lunch you continue to ride on before setting up camp for dinner and overnight.
Wednesday - Tovkhon Monastery
Another day riding in the Khangai Mountains. In the afternoon, you climb to Tovkhon Monastery, which towers above the Orkhon Valley at an altitude of 2,400m. After a picnic lunch you ride down the mountain to the Orkhon Valley with amazing views of the valley and forested mountains. This areas is known as the cradle of the nomadic way of life in Mongolia. After the ride, set up camp for dinner and overnight.
Thursday - Orkhon Valley
After breakfast, you ride through the valley to the Orkhon Falls. The ride continues upstream in 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. After lunch you reach the forest with the impressive Naiman Nuur mountains in front of you. Set up camp for dinner and overnight.
Friday - into Naiman Nuur Park (with pack yaks)
For the next three days the ride will have a totally different pace. After the wide open spaces you now ride into the wild and remote Naiman Nuur Natural Park ('The Eight Lakes Park'). Pack horses or yaks carry the equipment and your personal belongings for these three days as this beautiful and isolated area is not accessible to vehicles. You pack the luggage and camping equipment on the yacks and start the steep ride to the mountains. For the next two nights you will stay in guest gers (2 – 5 guests per ger) with a nomadic family of yak breeders who live in this remote park.
Saturday - Naiman Nuur Park
Today you ride in beautiful forested mountains, discovering the wonderful scenic lakes of the Park. Dinner and overnight at the guest gers.
Sunday - towards Orkhon Valley (with pack yaks)
Today you leave the Naiman Nuur Park with the pack yaks and return to the Orkhon Valley. The ride takes you through steep mountains and you will appreciate the sure footed horses and the ability of your yak drivers! Camp is set up close to the yak breeder's ger. Dinner and overnight in tents.
Monday - with the nomad family
This last day in the Orkhon Valley is spent with a nomadic family. This day is devoted to discovering the traditional lifestyle of the Mongolian nomads. During the day you can still spend a few hours in the saddle, helping the family to round up the herds, or perhaps just going for a ride to explore the region. Overnight in a "guest-ger", close to the nomad family's ger (2 - 5 guests per ger).
Tuesday - Khogno Khan Park (mini-Gobi)
After breakfast you transfer to Hogno Han Park with a picnic lunch enroute. Located about 280 km from the capital, Khogno Khan Park has amazing rock formations; cliffs shaped by erosion overlooking vast semi-desert plains. Here you will discover the Ovgon Khiid Monastery, built during the 17th century. If you wish you can take a short hike in the Elsentasarhaï sand dunes. Your last night in the steppes are spent in a permanent ger camp, close to the majestic cliffs, with dinner in the ger camp restaurant.
Wednesday - Ulaanbaatar
An early departure this morning to Ulaanbaatar with a picnic lunch enroute. The rest of the afternoon is free for shopping in Ulaanbaatar. In the late afternoon, you attend a show with traditional dances, music and songs from Mongolia, including the amazing Khoomei. Dinner downtown (own account) and overnight in a hotel.
Thursday - Ulaanbaatar
Transfer to the airport after breakfast for your flight home.
On the Orkhon Valley Camping Trail, the Dunes & Steppes of Mongolia and the Hiking & Riding Tour you will stay in two-person tents. A loo screen and washing tent will be erected each evening (except for the wild camping nights on the Orkhon Valley Camping Trail), but washing facilities are limited and you are asked to bring only biodegradable toiletries. One night is spent in a guest ger next to the nomad family, and another night in a semi-permanent ger camp with shower facilities (two nights on the Hiking & Riding Tour). There is no supplement for a single tent on the trail (except for the nights spent in gers, where single accommodation is not possible). A communal tent is erected for meals and evenings should the weather turn bad.
On the Orkhon Valley Ger Trail you will stay in comfortable semi-permanent ger camps (two to five guests per ger) in proper beds. Showers are available on most nights. A central stove is lit for warmth on cold nights, particularly welcome early and late in the season. There is no single accommodation available on the trail (except in Ulaanbaatar).
On each trail, the first and last nights are spent in a hotel in Ulaanbaatar. If you are a single traveller, there is no single supplement if you are willing to share.
ORKHON VALLEY CAMPING TRAIL (12 nights) $1,821
ORKHON VALLEY GER TRAIL (12 nights) $2,418
DUNES & STEPPES OF MONGOLIA (12 nights) $1,943
HIKING & RIDING TOUR (12 nights) $1,870
Small group supplement: $321 per person (group size 2 to 3)
INCLUDES Interpreter; horses and all riding; full board (except dinner on the last night); accommodation; camping equipment if required (except sleeping bags); local transport; tours and visits as per the itinerary; transfers to and from airport at set times.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT There is no single supplement if you are willing to share. Single hotel rooms in Ulaanbaatar are available at a supplement - Orkhon Valley Ger Trail $122; Orkhon Valley Camping Trail, Dunes & Steppes of Mongolia and Hiking & Riding Tour $73 . There is no single supplement for a single tent for the camping nights on the Orkhon Valley Camping Trail, Dunes & Steppes of Mongolia and Hiking & Riding Trail, but you must be willing to share for the nights spent in gers. Single accommodation is not available on the Ger Trail (except in Ulaanbaatar).
PAYABLE LOCALLY Wine, beer and canned drinks; 1 dinner; tips.
NEAREST AIRPORT Ulaanbaatar. Due to flight arrival and departure times you may require additional nights in Ulaanbaatar and we can arrange these for you.
TRANSFERS: Return airport transfers are included on the first and last days of the ride at set times. For the shared transfers, flights should arrive before 10:05 and depart after 07:10. For flights arriving/departing outside these set times, you will need to make your own way from/to the airport by taxi.
NOT INCLUDED International flights to Ulaanbaatar.
In The Saddle Gallery
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