This eXperience across the Mongolian steppe lands is hosted with the Steppe Nomads themselves, the largest remaining pastoralist people in the world.
You will saddle up and load all your gear onto a caravan of camel carts, and head out across the steppes on to the Gobi grasslands.
An eXperience not available anywhere else on Earth!
Steppe habitants 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 as it has patchy water sources, giving room for wildlife. Wolves may be heard vocalizing at any time in the summer but, usually, they are not seen.
On this eXperience you won’t have to squeeze yourself into a sleeping bag or a tent and it's tailored for small groups. All guests sleep in Gers (Mongolian yurts) which are moved to a new location every 2 days by camel cart caravan that Mongolian families still use when moving from one pasture to another. This way you will be able to stay in the basic comforts of a bed (sturdy cot) with full linens and a Ger heated by a stove.
11 days | 10 nights
2019: June 19 to 29 | June 30 to July 10 | August 06 to 16 | September 07 to 17
Upon your arrival in Ulaanbaatar you will be transferred to your hotel. There will be a briefing tour followed by dinner and entertainment.
Before leaving the city you will visit the Gandan Monastery, the center for the Buddhist revival in Mongolia. Youe will be driven south and enjoy a picnic en route. Your small mobile Luxury Wilderness Camp of Gers has been set up in the vast pastoralist landscape near a water source at Tseel. The crew here are your hosts, the steppe nomads of the area. They have brought their horses and camel carts and if you arrive on time, youe can saddle up and try the horses.
Today you have your first full riding day and you will ride to the rather high mountains of Hoyd Önjuul, seen in the distance to the west. It is a wilderness area with vertical rock faces, hills and mountains up to an elevation of about 1800m above sea level. Nomads do not come here much due to the lack of water sources. For this reason the area harbors some 400 Red Deer, and some Argali Sheep (Ovis Ammon), the world’s largest wild bighorn sheep. You are at the edge of the Gobi now. After exploring the area on horseback you ride back over the grasslands to your camp.
Today you break up camp and all gers, provisions and luggage will be loaded on to the camel carts. While the camel caravan will move straight on to your next destination at the sacred mountains of Zorgol Hairkhan, you will ride a detour easterly across the fantastic grasslands to Bayan Mountain, home to Gobi high altitude fauna like Siberian Ibex (Capra Sibirica) and Argali Sheep. They take shelter in the hills and rocks, and quite possibly, may be seen during this day. Moreover, small herds of gazelle might be seen on the steppe, perhaps some wolves. You will pitch camp at Zorgol Hairkhan and remain here for 2 nights.
The landscape is quite diverse here since you are in the transition zone of the Gobi, there is true steppe, semi arid steppe, and also giant rock formations. For the full day you will explore the Zorgol Hairkhan massif on horseback and ride around and through rock formations, several hundred meters high, a striking feature the middle of the flat steppe. Zorgol Hairkhan is mentioned in the Secret History of the Mongols, the oldest surviving Mongolian-language literary work, which chronicles the life and genealogy of Genghis Khan. The Khan himself is said to have wintered here while in conflict with a competing leader. There is a breeding population of Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius Monachus), the largest of the Eurasian vultures, it’s size on par with the Condor of the Americas. Their nests are quite low, on rocks and in small trees, and very visible. You can also visit Khuh Sudliin Am, the valley of Great Burnet (Sanguisorba Officinalis). Mongolians use this circumpolar medicinal plant in traditional medicine for stomach problems, by making a tea from its red pod-like flower.
Again you break camp and the camel caravan starts moving in a straight line to your next destination at Saikhan, skirting Baga Zorgol Hairkhan Uul. Baga means “small”, it is the smaller version of Ikh “big” Sacred Zorgol. Here you will probably encounter quite a few nomadic families, as you head for Hariin Nuur (Remote Lake), a steppe lake useful for the steppe nomads. Usually the lake attracts different species of birds. Your private camp has been set up already at Saikhan Ovoo.
A full day ride takes you across the steppe to Uushig, which again is an uninhabited area, featuring a small spring and some spectacular rock formations. Here it is even more likely to spot Argali Sheep, Cinereous Vultures, Saker Falcons (Falco Cherrug) and other wildlife. You will also be able to see some of the petroglyphs, for which Mongolia is so famous. You ride back to Saikhan Ovoo for the night.
Today your camp is broken for the last time and you ride for half a day, across the Gobi grasslands to Arburd Sands. These are the northernmost sand dunes of Mongolia. Here you find a seasonal and fully collapsible low-impact ger camp. Instead of picnic lunch you will enjoy a hot lunch at camp. In the afternoon you will ride a short way to some seasonal steppe lakes, which are kept in place by the underlying permafrost. You can visit nomads with large herds of cattle, especially cashmere goats. You return to Arburd Sands Ger Camp for the night.
On your last day on the grasslands you will make a loop with the horses, riding across the 20 km long Arburd Sands, which are a hideout for wolves. You may also relax back at camp. Today you bid farewell to your steppe nomads horsemen.
In the morning you will be picked up by a driver and return to Ulaanbaatar. Check into your hotel. See the capital city on your own. Distances are short and nearly all points of interest may by reached on foot. Your guide is standing by to assist you in your shopping or sightseeing activities. You will have a farewell dinner in local restaurant and entertainment.
Transfer to the airport, railway station or your next Mongolian destination.
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