Horseback Riding in

Mongol Horse Trails


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On this trip you will explore two very different environments on horseback: First, ride across the vast treeless steppe, which is summer pastureland of Mongolian herders. Gradually you will come through the very scenic forest steppe and up into the southern taiga zone of the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area. You will experience steppes, wooded meadows, forests and mountains and enjoy camping along winding rivers. We will undertake this horse ride without vehicle support, in wild terrain. All the luggage will be loaded onto yak carts; even a ger (Mongolian yurt) will be carried to serve as the mobile restaurant.

This horseback journey offers close encounters with Mongolian horsemen, nomadic people who have thus far been able to withstand modern pressures and lifestyles. There is no other nation in the world that depends on horses to such an extent. Mongolian horsemanship is famous and in many ways different than anywhere else. The herders keep their horses in a semi- wild condition, allowing them to live freely in harem groups. During the harsh winter with extreme subzero temperatures, the horses fend for themselves and protect their foals against predators such as wolves. Fences or stables are virtually unknown.

Accommodations on the first and last nights are in a hotel in Ulaanbaatar, clean and comfortable, but not luxurious. While on trek, nights are spent in Tentipi Safir tepee tents or gers (felt tents) with foldable cots, with two nights in a permanent ger tent with additional facilities.

Food is prepared by the camp cooks, who are adept at western, vegetarian and Mongolian meals.

  • Overview:
    Sturdy Mongolian horses and English type tack is used.
  • Horse Breeds:
  • Trip Pace:
    Walk, trot and canter
  • Tack:
    Russian style English
  • Weight limit:
    190 lb (riders between 190-220 lb /85-100 kg can participate with an additional supplement)

Chinggis Khan international airport in Ulaanbaatar

Trip Itinerary

Day 1


Arrive and transfer to your hotel. Tour briefing after dinner.

Day 2

To Tseel

After breakfast, visit the Gandan Monastery, the centerpiece for the revival of the Buddhist Lamaism in Mongolia. With luck you can catch the prayer times. Then drive south out of the city and enjoy a picnic lunch on the grasslands. Continue across the steppe to a remote location called Tseel. Your nomad hosts will meet you at Tseel with their horses and Bactrian camels. You will select your riding horses and there will be a briefing and a short trial ride. Overnight here for two nights.

Naadam Itinerary

On the Naadam itinerary you spend Days 2 and 3 in Ulanbaatar at the festival, traveling to Tseel on Day 4. The rest of the itinerary follows the progression below.

Day 3

Hoyd Onjuul

Today you will start your ride going west to the mountains of Hoyd Onjuul. In the surrounding area it is usually possible to spot herds of the Mongolian Gazelles also known as the white-tailed Gazelle (Procapra gutturosa). You may even glimpse the black-tailed goitred Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), which is better adapted to arid environments, indicating that you are riding in the transition zone of grasslands and desert steppes. In the mountain area you may be able to spot Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), which Americans call Elk or Wapiti. Certainly Wolves (Canis lupus) are around, but seldom seen.

Day 4

To Suman

Following breakfast you’ll break camp and load all the gers, equipment and provisions onto the camel carts caravan. You will ride for the full day south to the area of Bayan Hills, where high-altitude fauna such as the Siberian Ibex (Capra siberica) and Argali Sheep (Ovis ammon), the largest sheep in the world, sometimes are seen. Pitch camp at Suman. Usually there are many nomadic families in the immediate area, as there is a water source nearby.

Day 5

To Zorgol Hairkhan

Today you will turn east and ride to the rock wall-like mountains of Zorgol Hairkhan (Sacred Zorgol), which can be seen in the distance all day. It is a striking feature on the otherwise undulating and 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 are more nomads and livestock emerging now, and you will be able to meet some during the ride. At Zorgol there is also a breeding population of the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypus monachus), the largest Eurasian vulture – its size on par with the Condor of the Americas. The nests are quite low on rocks and small trees. The camp tonight will be at the larger massif, called Ikh Zorgol Hairkhan Uul.

Day 6

To Baga Zorgol Hairhan

Continue riding east, passing a small Gobi lake, Hariin Nuur, with perhaps some interesting birds. The distance is 25 km to the smaller – but still impressive – Baga Zorgol Hairhan Mountains and rock formations. The lakes act as “islands” for waterfowl flying across a “sea of grass.” Usually the pastures are excellent here, so you may encounter some nomadic families with their livestock. Pitch camp here and scan the ridges of the spectacular rock wall for Siberian ibex and lammergeiers. Gobi high altitude fauna such as Argali sheep are present in the hills and rocks, and may be seen during the day.

Day 7

To Ovor Burd

The Gobi steppe in this area is quite variable since you ride through the transition zone of the Gobi, meaning there is true steppe, semi-arid steppe, sand dunes and also giant rock formations. On the day’s ride you will have an opportunity to pass archeological grave sites dating back to the Hunnu empire before the Christian era. You will ride for 25-30 km across populated steppe and for the full day you can see the Zorgol Hairhan giant rock formations in the distance. They are several hundred meters high, and are the central feature in the middle of the steppe.

Day 8

To Shine Khudag

Today’s ride turns north, a shorter distance to the Shine Khudag, meaning “new well.” Water sources are important in the Gobi Grasslands. As with each day, this morning your camp is loaded onto the camel caravan and sometimes you will ride alongside but often will stray away from its straight course to explore interesting landscape features or great views.

Day 9

To Arburd Sands

A full day ride, for 25-30km to Arburd Sands. Today you will pass several nomadic herder families. The human occupants of this open and vast landscape are perhaps the most interesting, since all families in the area are nomadic herdsmen. The sand dunes of Arburd extend for about 20 km. They are a hideout for wolves and often we can see tracks here. It is a Sahara-like landscape in the middle of the grasslands, and the caravan will take a route around we you ride over the dunes. Overnight at Arburd Sands Ger Camp next to the dunes.

Day 10

Arburd Sands

Stay at the ger camp another night, allowing the opportunity today to ride out and visit some nearby families. Nomads here have large herds of cattle, and especially cashmere goats. You may also choose to stay back at camp and just relax and enjoy the scenery. Overnight at Arburd Sands Ger Camp.

Day 11


Morning return drive of about three hours to Ulaanbaatar, where you will be checked into the hotel and have a free day in the city. Distances are short and nearly all points of interest can be reached on foot. You guide will be standing by to assist you in your shopping or sightseeing choices. Have a dinner all together as a group in a local restaurant followed by folk music entertainment.

Day 12


Transfer to the airport or your next destination.

Itinerary Addendum

The Naadam Itinerary includes two extra days at the festival in Ulaanbaatar at the start of the trip. This is a suggested itinerary only. Changes to the itinerary and camp locations may occur due to weather and other unforeseeable circumstances. The trip may be done in reverse.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

The July 9-22 trip includes a visit to the Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar, the additional 2 days have a supplement of $1010.

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