Discover the rich and unique landscapes of the Eastern Gobi on horseback.
Instead of camel riding in the Gobi Desert, you will ride a Mongolian horse on this horseback riding tour to East Gobi Desert. This is a different eXperience than usual rides in the Gobi Desert.
This eXperience is hosted by the Steppe Nomads themselves, the largest remaining pastoralist people on Earth.
Steppe habitats once made up 25% of the global land area. Today the Pampas, the Puszta, the Prairies and the Ukrainian steppes have largely been developed for agricultural output. Only the Mongolian steppes have survived.
The high elevation of Mongolia creates unusually clear air and starry nights the year round. It is an overwhelming visual eXperience of emptiness and vastness to ride into the great Mongolian void. The silent, treeless steppe, completely devoid of any fences.
Stretching away into the distance: no trace of human activity except for the pastoralists themselves and their herds.
This ride covers surprisingly contrasting habitat, patchy water sources along the way nurturing wildlife. Wolves may be heard vocalizing at any time in the summer, but usually, they are not seen.
eXperience a true nomadic lifestyle meeting and living like and with the local people and the local equestrian traditions, without vehicle support in wild terrain. Apart from the short drive to the starting point of your eXperience and back to the city you will not rely on any motor vehicle support. Instead traditional wooden carts, that mongolian families still use moving from one pasture to another, will travel with you.
A close encounter with nature always with a full respect for the horses and all the animals.
Stay in spacious Tentipis, with foldable bed-cots. You will travel accompanied by a Mongolian Ger (yurt) to serve as your mobile restaurant, as well as showers and compost toilets housed in traditional Mongolian marquee style tents. For two nights you will stay at a low-impact Ger camp at Ikhnart Rocks. Two nights will be passed in Ulaanbaatar at a centrally located hotel.
11 days | 10 nights
Mid May to Mid October
Upon your arrival in Ulaanbaatar you will be transferred to your hotel. There will be a briefing tour and dinner.
After breakfast, you will be transfered to the train station and board* the domestic train bound for Sainshand in the East Gobi. The train ride is a great way to experience the gradual change of landscapes from the central grasslands into the drier Gobi. It takes a bit more than six hours and a picnic lunch will be provided on board. You get off at the station Shivee Gobi. You are met by your local driver and will soon be on your way across the Gobi plains until the Ikh Nart plateau. You will pitch camp at Adaatsyn Hudag, one of the many Gobi wells, which is about an hours drive. Here you will meet the local herders with the camel carts and your horses. You will get to know the horses and go an short trial ride.
After breakfast, in your fully private Tepee camp, the entire camp, including the ger, is packed up and loaded onto the caravan of camel carts. You will head out in a long loop eastwards, while the camel carts will take a straight route to Zuun Khöndlön, which is only 8km away. Along your way you pass by some ponds and tiny lakes with rocks with fossilized trees from prehistoric times. Actually one of the longest surviving animals on the planet are the Desert Tadpole Shrimps, which are living fossils, having survived and changed little since the early dinosaur era. If it is arid there is no water, and no shrimps, but be sure to have a look if you find any small puddles. You also see some burial sites and tombs dating to the 13th century, i.e. from the times of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan and his sons and grandsons.
Today you start your ride to Baruun Khöndlön. Early in the morning you first ride around the Ovoot Mountain to spot some wildlife which might be Mongolian Gazelles (Procapra Gutturosa) and some waterfowl near a lake. This area is strewn with basalt stones from ancient volcanoes and many small lakes and ponds sometimes appear between the rocks.
Today you ride over the vast plain to the south to reach the Ikh Khad area. Ikh Khad means “many rocks” in Mongolian as this place has many interestingly shaped and colored rocks. Along the way you have a fair chance seeing Argali Sheep, Siberian Ibex and Mongolian Gazelles.
After breakfast, you ride to the southwest where many raptors like eagles, falcons and vultures will be spotted. Mongolia has an unusual large diversity of rodents, which explains the numerous raptors everywhere. The Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius Monachus) is the largest of all Eurasian raptors, and rivals the Condor of the Americas in wing span and weight. This vulture builds huge nests made of twigs on rocks and in small trees.
You pack up and ride to the southwest along the plain until you reach a rocky and sandy area, where many 13th century burials and tombs of local kings and lords can be found. There is also a burial site of Buddhist lamas dating to the 1700s to 1800s. There are many petroglyphs and Tibetan writings on the rock faces. Togrok Lake is tiny and does not always hold water. Ground water however comes up and there are very tall grasses surrounding it. It is located in very a scenic area of rock granite formations.
In the morning you ride to the Ikhnart Rocks Wilderness Ger Camp. You ride north to Red Rock Valley, on of the the spring-fed green places, with elms and poplars. Wildlife come here for water and so do small birds on migration such as warblers. In May, sometimes one can see Japanese Sparrowhawks on feeding frenzy targeting warblers. You continue to ride north until Khalzan Springs, where there is a derelict camp from the Soviet era, frequently used by locals, as the springs has medicinal properties. To the east, in the Khalzan Mountains, there are more petroglyphs and tombs dating from the Hunnu period, called Xiongnu by the Chinese, which may date back to 200 BC. Later the Huns evolved to become the first pastoral people, and perhaps some made it to Europe, to topple the Roman Empire. You will ride south until Bichigt Had, (Rock Inscriptions), where close by the Red Rock Wilderness Ger Camp is set up during season.
From the Ikhnart Rocks Wilderness Ger Camp you ride to the east between the rocks. You visit the natural wonders of Bichigt Had, Els Had and also have a chance to spot Argali Sheep. You can also visit a Gobi nomad family and learn about their daily life. You may also try riding a camel. You ride back to the camp before dinner time.
After breakfast you are picked up by a driver and return to Ulaanbaatar. Picnic lunch will be provided along the way. Back in Ulaanbaatar check into your hotel. You have free time to relax or explore the city on your own. Distances are short and nearly all points of interest may by reached on foot.
Transfer out back to the airport or on to your next destination.
*Train ticket Ulaanbaatar-Saishand not included
Own sleeping bag required
All transfers included | Airport Gateway ULN
Additional beverages and lunch in Ulaanbaatar are paid separately
The services of local herdsmen will be required along with their animals. The horsemen follow a traditional lifestyle in the areas where you will be riding
If the group consists of 4 riders or more, you will also have a Mongolian doctor come along as part of the crew