Horseback Riding in Mongolia

Mongolian Classic with Naadam Festival


This horse riding trek in Mongolia combines the lush beauty of the Blue Khentii Mountain, the austere landscape of the Gobi Desert, and the colorful Naadam Festival.

The mountains of Gorkhi-Terelj National Park are breathtaking; lush green forests, crystal-clear lakes, mountain streams, waterfalls and spectacular mountain scenery. The wild flowers, which carpet the meadows and hillsides in profusion are quite beautiful and occasionally one glimpses elusive wildlife including mountain elk, wildcat, bears, Argali sheep, foxes and wolves.

After several days of riding and hiking at the mountain camp, drive back to Ulaanbaatar for Naadam Festival, the most colorful and enjoyable of all Mongolian celebrations. It is a time when all the country celebrates the three national sports of horse racing, archery and wrestling.

Then fly south to explore the historical, cultural and natural sights of the Gobi Desert which are enthralling but rarely visited. This dramatic and varied landscape has attracted several generations of explorers and adventurers from around the world. Mongolian Classic Treks are scheduled at times other than in conjunction with the Naadam Festival. That itinerary is the same at the mountain camp and in the Gobi Desert, but does not include the festival.

Accommodations range from a 4 star hotel in the city, standard twin-share ger accommodations in countryside, tented accommodation while on riding.

In general, the food will be simple and healthy to ensure a balanced diet. Most of the provisions will be locally produced and the menus will be based on the best possible harvest available.

  • Overview:
    The horses used are supplied by local nomad horseman, and although small are tough and responsive. They are adept at negotiating sand dunes, open steppes and rocky mountains. Their owners have no objection to impromptu races, and you will be surprised at the speed and agility of these tough little horses. Mongolian horses are usually unshod except in very rocky areas of the country. Mongolian tack generally comprises a head collar (halter) and lead rope, which is never removed from the horse, a bridle with a simple steel snaffle, hobbles and either a Russian steel- framed or an Australian Stock saddle.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Mongolian horses
  • Trip Pace:
  • Tack:
    English, Mongolian, Russian
  • Weight limit:
    200 lbs

Non-riders can be accommodated, typically more successfully on bespoke trekking, walking, fishing and camping holidays, which we can arrange on request.

Quick Reference for Naadam festival itinerary: Day 1 Arrive Ulaanbaatar, sightseeing. Day 2-6 Camping in the Khentii Mountains. Day 7-8 Naadam Festival in UB. Day 9 Fly to Gobi and visit Eagle Valley. Day 10 Drive to Khongoriin Els. Day 11 Drive back to Dalanzadgad. Day 12 Fly to Ulaanbaatar, sightseeing and shopping. Day 13 Depart Mongolia.


Trip Itinerary

Day 1

International Arrival

On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. There will be a visit to Gandan Monastery, the Bogd Khan Winter Palace (home to the last religious king of Mongolia), and the Fine Arts Museum. Lunch and dinner will be at local restaurants.

Day 2

Fly to South Gobi

Today you will be take flight to the South Gobi aimag, either in the morning or in the afternoon depending on domestic schedule. The flight from Ulaanbaatar to the capital of the South Gobi takes one and half hours, and you will be accompanied by your guide. On arrival at the airstrip in the Gobi you will be met by a driver and jeep and taken to the ger camp. After lunch you will visit Yolyn Am, or Eagle Valley. This is about 40 km from your ger camp and approximately a one-hour drive. The valley is about 10km long and is completely shaded from the sun in some parts by the high cliff walls. It is possible to walk through the valley and out the other side. You may be lucky enough to spot wild sheep and goats grazing high on the cliff walls. The valley is also full of soaring eagles hunting for prey. At the opening of the valley there is a local Natural History Museum displaying interesting information about the animals of the area. Return to you ger camp for dinner and overnight.

Day 3

Khongor Sand Dune

Today you drive west along the Altai Mountain range until you reach Khongoriin Els. Reaching heights of 800m, these are Mongolia’s largest sand dunes. The drive is about 4 hours long. Locally they are called the ‘singing dunes’ because of the tons of sand which shift in the wind, making a strange sound similar to that of distant aircraft. Though largely inhospitable to human settlement, the Great Gobi does support a remarkable variety of flora and fauna: more than 400 plant species, 150 bird species, and nearly 50 mammal species, some unique to this Central Asian habitat, including Gobi bears and Bactrian camels.   During this stay in the Gobi you will have the opportunity to use a different type of transport. You will be riding on camels today to explore these massive sand dunes.

The two-humped camels are very comfortable to ride, as they walk slowly and gently and you will be well supported by the humps, sitting comfortably between them.  The camel man will take you to the sand dunes. Overnight in a ger camp close to the dunes.

Day 4


Today you will drive to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve to Bayanzag, with its striking Flaming Cliffs, the red-rock bluff reminiscent of areas in the American West. Internationally renowned as the place where celebrated explorer and naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews first discovered dinosaur eggs on his ground-breaking expedition in the 1920s, Bayanzag boasts a treasure-trove of important fossils that you will be able to see all over the rocks.

Day 5

Back to UB / Terelj National Park

After breakfast you will be driven to the desert airstrip with your guide for your return flight to UB and then be driven to the Khentii Mountains. The drive will take you into the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and past the small township of Terelj. You will cross the Terelj River, past nomadic families’ gers to meet our local horsemen.
After a light lunch, the journey will continue, either on horseback or yak cart, into the Baga Khentii Mountains, the smaller sisters of the Khentii Mountains to the north. Overnight in tented camp with kitchen support.

Day 6

Terelj National Park

You will spend 3 more nights in tents moving location in the mountains, accompanied by local horsemen, your guide, and cooking staff. There will be a tent for meals and social time in the evenings.  In the daytime your activities include horse riding, yak cart riding, hiking and visiting the ruins of Gunjin Monastery.  The river which flows past your camp is deep enough for a dip in the cool waters, or you can try your hand at fishing with the locals.  If you like wildlife, this area is perfect.  There are musk deer, moose, brown bears, roe and elk.  Birds spotted in the area include whooper swans, spoonbills, great white egrets and a variety of birds of prey.

Day 8

same as above

Day 9

Tuul Lodge

Spend tonight at Tuul Riverside lodge. An intimate and fully sustainable traditional Mongolian ger camp on the foot of the Bayanzorik Mountain, the beautiful camp’s surrounding invites to be explored and discovered! Your gers are prepared by a dedicated team of people, giving you a warm welcome.

Day 10

At Tuul Lodge / back to UB

Please feel free to channel your inner discoverer and explore the beautiful surroundings of the Tuul Riverside Lodge camp! Try archery using traditional bow ancient, styled 13th century made of animal horn, wood, and sinew or do some botanical hiking. After lunch transfer back to UB city. Depending on the river water level transfers will be arranged by airboat or by people carrier truck over the mountain pass. There will be an evening program of traditional song and dance, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in UB hotel.

Day 11

Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar

Today, enjoy a full day at the Naadam Festival. The biggest and the most widely watched traditional festival among Mongols, also locally named as “Eriin Gurvan Naadam” – “the three games of men,” where wrestling, horse racing and archery are practiced during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13. Women have started to participate in the archery as well as horseracing games, but not in the wrestling. Naadam is a formal celebration of the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country. Celebration of Naadam was accredited on representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO in 2010. Today, you will have the opportunity to watch the opening ceremony at the Mongolian State Academic Theatre featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.

Overnight in UB hotel.

Day 12

Horse racing

Today you will drive to Hui Doloon Khudag which is outskirts of Ulaanbaatar to watch horse race competition. The tradition is said to date back to the Bronze Age Horse-racing. It’s considered as one of the three traditional skills of the Mongolian young men where good horses and skillful horse-riders race one another. Therefore, horse-racing has naturally been a favorite activity cherished by the herdsmen in Mongolia. The horses are categorized according to age; the distance
of the race is determined by the age of the horse and may range between 15 and 35 kilometers.
Mongolian horses are short and stocky with robust feet, a large head, and a thick neck. They bare a certain resemblance to the Przewalski’s horse and are said to be largely unchanged since the time of Genghis Khan.

Overnight in UB hotel.

Day 13

International departure

Transfer to the airport in time for your departure.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and changes may occur at the guides' discretion due to unforeseen circumstances. Flight schedules are subject to alteration with little or no advance notice. The guide will make every effort to provide the itinerary as presented, but your patience and understanding are appreciated if the itinerary should change.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

There are other trips in May and August without Naadam.

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Jul 3, 2023
Jul 15, 2023

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $4,920Per person with 2-3 guests
  • Pricing Variation
  • $4,510Per person with 4-5 guests
  • $3,990Per person with 6-8 guests
  • Single Supplement
  • $765

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Jul 1, 2024
Jul 13, 2024

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $5,015

    Per person with 2-3 guests

  • Pricing Variation
  • $4,600

    Per person with 4-5 guests

  • $4,085

    Per person with 6-8 guests

  • $3,805

    Per person with 9 guests

  • Single Supplement
  • $485

Additional Pricing Information:
Deposit amount is $1,300 for this ride. Ride price is set, guaranteed and final at the time deposit is paid.

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Contact Megan Barrett

The guide was outstanding.  Excellent presentation of meals.  There were comfortable long trots and canters on wonderful little horses.

Marjorie Julian, 2008